Author: Jennifer Roberts

Usage Data as of June 2018

Here are the results of the latest X-Plane 11 usage data as of 04 June, 2018. If you’d like to compare, here is the previous post from November 2017.

X-Plane collects diagnostic & usage data on a strictly opt-in basis. All information we collect is anonymous; it does not include contact information like your name or email address. We share the aggregate usage data with the community but we do not share or sell (or even have direct access to) the raw data.

Below is a handful of easy-to-digest charts, plus the raw data at the bottom of the post for those that are interested. Read More

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Meet the X-Plane Team at FlightSimExpo

X-Plane will be attending FlightSimExpo 2018 in Las Vegas, NV on June 8-10. Nearly the entire team will be there–they’re even letting me attend this event!

Members from the development team, such as Austin Meyer and Ben Supnik, will be presenting the latest news and behind-the scenes-information on our work on X-Plane on Saturday, June 9 at 10:15 am.

We’ll also have a booth open all weekend so you can stop by to say hello. Add-on developers should come by and pick our development team’s brains while we’re all in one place!

 

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X-Plane 11.20r1 Available

Before Ben left on his family trip (and he was very adamant that it was not a “vacation” because the kids were going along) we got an X-Plane 11.20r1 build ready for possible release this week. Tyler and I must feel lucky because we’ve gone ahead and pulled the trigger to make this build public now.

This means that we need you to test your add ons now–seriously we mean it–speak now or forever hold your peace. All our features and changes that are going in 11.20 are in*, and the only changes we will put in from here on out are any regression bugs you bring to our attention. Read More

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TGIF

A while back, during branch testing for X-Plane 11.20-something, I encountered this little gem:

Happy Friday!

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WED 1.7r1

Release candidate builds for WED 1.7 are now available for testing. A big thanks to Michael for leading a lot of this development. He kept all this moving along at a much faster rate than if we’d been left to our own devices! Here is his summary of the changes you’ll find in this version:

Selection of items

When selecting any item in the map pane, WED now prioritizes the items by a what appears to be on top when viewing the scenery in X-plane. So if you click on any .OBJ in the middle of a taxiway – it always selects the .OBJ, line marking or ground painted taxi sign rather than the underlying taxiway. Similarly, it selects the facade or forest rather than anything that is flat and draped on the ground.

Technically, this means object type and LAYER_GROUP rather than WED hierachy based prioritization.

Exclusion zones and airport boundaries are now kindof “hollow” items, they can no more be selected by clicking inside of them, but only by their frame/outline or perimeter. That should greatly help with not having to lock or otherwise get those large area items out of the way.

All items can now be single-click selected, even if they are located within the area of an already select item. This eliminates the need to de-select (CTRL-D) e.g. a taxiway every time the last attempt to click select a .OBJ turned out to be just a bit to far away. And therefore accidentially selected the whole taxiway underneath it instead.

Drag-moves are now subject to some “stickyness” , i.e. the move/copy only starts after the drag exceeds a few pixels. This helps avoiding accidential very short distance drag-moves. Once the item has “broken free”, the item can be moved back to within a single pixel of the initial location, so small moves can still be achieved.

Several bugs that prevented adding bezier handles to nodes under some conditions or selecting very closely spaced items are fixed as well. All operations now require a click no closer than 4 pixels from the “correct” location. Any very closely located items having the same piority (like two nodes of the same polygon) are now selected using a “whatever is closest” strategy, rather than having overlapping bounding boxes prevent access to all but one of them.

Validation warnings and results browser

Some validation issues can now be a warning only, rather than a hard error. This allows WED to try more validation of frequently found problems, even at the risk of creating a few false alarms in rare cases. If such a warning is ignored for gateway submissions, the gateway moderator will determine on a case-by-case base if the issue can in fact be waived or still reject the scenery submission.

After validation, a full list of ALL validation issues will pop up, allowing to browse and zoom to / highlight all issues to help planning out the work required to pass validation. This also allows to select multiple validation errors to e.g. select ALL duplicate vertices in ALL polygons – allowing to fix all with a single editing operation.

New validations

Validation now catches all types of self-intersecting polygons. Previously there were certain cases of bezier-curves that caused taxiways/polygons to stop showing up at certain zoom levels or not at all in X-plane, despite they looked fine in WED or vice versa.

The coordinates and names of runways need to be exactly in sync with the CIFP data used by X-plane for FMC SID/STAR and GPS approaches. For this reason, gateway airports are occasionally edited by a script by “WEDbot” to achieve this, but any user re-submission that touches the airport may break this effort. WED now validates the runways against CIFP data oit obtains direct from the gateway server and requires the runway threshold to be within 10m of the exact location. Note this is the thereshold – the wide white bar only.

There is a separate warning only if the displaced part of the runway (the optional part from the end of the runway to the threshold – with the centerline arrows pointing towards the displaced threshold) mismatches official documentation. Some of the CIFP data mis-states that displaced distance, so it is a warning only. Please thoroughly verify such warnings against current orthoimagery and draw as per current real world markings.

A *lot* of ATC flows on the scenery gateway are non-functional because of misunderstandings how flows work. The most common mistake is to define one flow per runway and then expect that X-plane somehow finds all flows that fit the current weather pattern and uses them all togther. But that’s not how flows work. Validations will now try to find such duplicate condition flows (that are effectively never ever used) and will warn about it.

The airport naming is covered by several new errors (like ALL CAPTIALS – THATS SHOUTING IN THE INTERNET AGE !) and warnings if undesired elements are included in the names.

Smart runway rename

When a runway is re-named due to magnetic variation changes, not only the runway name, but also all ATC taxiroutes, flows and taxisigns need to be fixed up to reflect the changed designation. WED now will detect such edits of a runway “name” property, find all these references, update them and let you know. This greatly helps when the runway validation tells you it’s missing some runway at that airport – which usually means some existing runway was recently renamed due to magnetic variation changes.

More library item previews

Type 1 facades are now displayed in the library preview panel. Please be patient – the more complex “type 2” facades as used in all airport terminals and the new terminal kit are not showing, yet.

Many library items come with multiple variants that X-plane will select at random from when placed in the scenery. For such items, a button will show up to view each variant. But keep in mind – there is no way to tell X-plane to always use a specific one. Its just a true “FYI”, only  …

All forest/facade/object previews will show some textual information about their size and features available.

The World Map in the background now has 9x the resolution and shows true X-plane ground texture colors.

ATC taxi route names are displayed in the ATC TAxi & Flow view – please verify them for consistency, as the X-plane ATC uses and even speaks these names when providing taxi instructions.

Don’t import from the apt.dat for gateway airports

The apt.dat and .dsf formats are lossy, i.e. they contain less information and use less precision than a direct import of the airport from the scenery gateway. WED will now warn anytime it detects such an import for an gateway type airport.

Upon im/exporting to/from the gateway WED will now also show warnings if the gateway is currently not accepting new submissions for that particular airport.

Facade editing

Facades without roof’s or filled areas, like fences and skylights in the XP11.10 terminal-kit are now allowed to have 2 nodes only – previously facades of any type had to have 3 nodes minimum.

Two bugs were fixed, too – these prevented selecting certain wall types in the terminal-kit facades and displayed some facades as being “closed rings”, rather than line-type items in the map window.

Orthophoto import

Georeferenced image “geotiff” import used to require mercator projected, WGS84 referenced coordinates. On Linux and OSX it will now understand pretty much all coordinate systems defined in the EPSG standards – although WGS 84 lat/lon coordinates are still the preferred encoding.

Display speed and memory use

When zooming in at airports with very large, single piece taxiways, the WED display speed used to slow down significantly.

The 64-bit versions of WED (OSX & Linux. Windows is still 32 bits, only) used a lot of RAM with large sceneries, e.g. im/exporting the *whole* global airport scenery (thats what WED is used for at LR, all 28,000 airports in one scenery !) maxed out a 16GB RAM machine. Now its down to near half that and everybody else gets a small speed boost, too.

Preferences menu

Some user adjustable settings (like meter vs feet) are now moved to the File->Preferences (OSX: WED->Preferences) menu, stored in WED’s global preferences and no more loaded/stored with each individual scenery file.

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Now Serving 11.20b1

X-Plane 11.20b1 is the first beta that includes non-VR improvements. Full release notes are here, but a non-comprehensive short list of the most exciting additions is:

Formation flying: this beta includes Jörg’s new code to improve network sync, both for external visuals and multiplayer/formation-flying. X-Plane now calculates the total latency between machines and adjusts network aircraft to compensate, with error correction. This means you see your friend flying where he is, not where he was when X-Plane sent an aircraft position update over the wire 100 ms ago.

Night lighting: X-Plane’s night lights come from the autogen, but for performance and memory reasons, X-Plane doesn’t build autogen far from the aircraft. Petr has added night lighting textures for the far view to fill in the night sky. Here’s a comparison at KSEA (looking toward KBFI) at about 10k feet.

New Sydney landmarks:

Steam users: the beta will be up on Steam over the weekend if we don’t find any major problems.

This is going to be a relatively short beta – most of the technically risky stuff went into the VR previews. We still have a plugin bug with fuel flow to fix, and Linux performance problems to investigate. Third party authors: please try your add-ons on an 11.20 beta soon.

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Private VR Beta Testers

UPDATE: After receiving around 70 requests, we are closing applications for private beta testing at this time.


X-Plane’s native VR is nearly ready for beta. Possibly as soon as next week, we will be moving into private beta testing of VR-capable builds. We are looking for a small number of volunteers to participate in the initial private beta.

Read More

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X-Plane 11 Airport Usage Data

We had a request for information on the popular airports, so here’s a small addendum to the usage data from a couple weeks ago. We don’t currently track whether the airport is a default, Gateway airport or an add on, but we do have it on our radar to track the most popular add ons in the future.

We’ve filtered out demo users again, and this information is for the entire life of X-Plane 11 (1 Nov 2016 to 21 Nov 2017) since we’ve never published airport data before. I’ve only pulled the top 50 airports for this list, but we track 11,281 locations. Read More

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Beta Testing 101

X-Plane 11.10 is the first major version release with a lot of code changes and new features. By design, this version has a lot of big changes in it that we’ve held back for weeks or even months. This also means it is more likely to be unstable and buggy, especially for the first few beta releases.

We’ve recently progressed to internal beta testing. Now we should have a public beta sooner rather than later, so I wanted to bring back out some great tips on beta testing that Chris wrote way back in 2012. Nearly all of the info remains as relevant today as it did 5 years ago, and I’ve included his best practice tips below. Read More

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