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Back From Vegas

Thanks to everyone who came out to see us at FlightSimExpo – it was great to get to meet so many people in person. Just a few quick notes:

I don’t have an ETA yet on video of our talk that was shot by the event coordinators (the cameras you might have seen dead-center). We’ll post slides soon. There is an audience-shot video that some people have seen – the audio is understandable.

Regarding the new particle effects system, the biggest single question has been: will it work on scenery objects? The answer is: yes, eventually. Right now you can attach a particle system to an object attached to an airplane or created with the XPLMInstance API. Scenery-attached particles are on our road map, and if they don’t make the initial release in 11.30, we’ll get them as soon after as we can. (The same thing actually goes for FMOD sound – we intend to have FMOD sound on scenery objects, but we don’t have this done yet.)

Regarding “research mode”: the intent here is to have a non-versioned beta flight model available for longer periods of time in an otherwise final sim so that people doing experiments on the flight model or building new aircraft designs have access to the latest in Austin’s physics without having to build a new permanent version for the physics on every single release. Up to now, it has been really hard for Austin to get useful feedback on the FM because it is either hidden (non-beta) or locked down, except for tiny 8-week windows, during which the rest of the sim is so unstable that aircraft developers don’t want to touch it.

So you can think of research mode as getting access to in-progress 11.40 physics within 11.30. If you’re the kind of person who holds a flair over the air-stream of your aircraft, this is a useful way to compare the real world to Austin’s latest work.

Research mode is not available in Plane-Maker as a setting because there’s no versioning control, so an add-on that depends on it is asking for trouble. When we reach a point where the research-mode physics seem well-behaved, we’ll make a real “version” and make them default for all non-old aircraft (as defined by when saved in Plane-Maker).

A lot of the new systems announced (new engine types, new auto-pilots), etc. are strictly opt-in. e.g. the old behavior is unaffected if you pick an old autopilot or engine model. This is a case that’s fairly easy for us to do without compatibility problems.

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Next Stop, Vegas

I have a bunch of stuff I need to post that I haven’t gotten to because this week has been the usual last minute chaos that always precedes a show.

In this case that show is FilghtSimExpo in Las Vegas, and if you click on that link you’ll see what a user told me — Saturday is completely sold out! While this is unfortunate for any X-Plane users who were on the fence about going and hadn’t registered, I think it’s great for flight simulation. For years now we’ve been wondering if the US can have a “big” flight sim trade show like the ones in the UK and Europe, and I think the answer is a resounding yes.

For those not going, there will be a team video taping the Laminar Research talk, and it sounds like they’re bringing some serious equipment, so I’m hopeful for the resulting video.

One note for third party developers: if you need to talk with me about a technical issue (e.g. you have some programming or add-on problem you want to get resolved) and you’re arriving at the show the day before, email me and maybe we can set up a time to talk early. For family reasons I have to leave very early Sunday morning so getting time to talk Saturday is going to be hard.

We are bringing almost the entire X-Plane development team, so with Philipp, Alex and Ted also present there will be plenty of people around to get add-on questions answered even when I’m not.

There have been a lot of questions about X-Plane’s road map and we’ll get into them in a lot more detail on the developer blog once the show is over.

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X-Plane 11.21 Release Candidate 2 Available

X-Plane 11.21 is available in public beta. Like most “.1” releases, this is last minute bug fixes to 11.20.

Like every other website and app you use, X-Plane will now pop up a GDPR notification. We’ve been rolling notices into all of our apps and websites, and unlike RC1, in RC2 you can actually click the check-box to accept the notice and move on with life. (In RC1, the check box was outside the dialog box for some users, making the sim impossible to authorize.) Our actual private data use is almost entirely unchanged; we’re really not in the business of collecting or selling private data, and the data we do collect are for very specific purposes (e.g. your email address for the Q/A site so that you can receive notices that your question was answered. Once you accept GDPR, it is saved to prefs so you won’t get asked again.

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XPlane2Blender v3.4.0-rc.2 is out!

XPlane2Blender v3.4.0-rc.2

This RC has two simple fixes that are non-breaking and totally awesome.

  • #347: Optimization that brings export time down by a third to a half. The file size remains the side and nothing is needed to activate it. Using the “Optimize” checkbox was not optimized this time around.
  • #350, #351: Two animation bugs that would cause strange offsets when using bones. You may or may not have experienced this. Again, there is nothing to do to activate this, it is part of every export.

If you run into problems, please file a bug. If you do not notice a decreased export time with large models, also please tell us. We’d love to benchmark this on more data.

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X-Plane 11.20 Escaped Captivity

X-Plane 11.20 is, of course, final! Like all good Klingon software, it was not so much released – rather it escaped captivity, leaving a trail of blood in the path of all whom opposed it.

I am aware of two plugin-related issues we are tracking:

  1. Some legacy plugins with widget UIs are missing buttons when the UI is at 150% or 200% scaling. We have a fix for this, but for now you can work around the problem by turning off UI scaling in the graphics settings tab.
  2. Some Mac plugins compiled against libstdc++ crash with the Steam version (but not the non-Steam version).

Philipp and I are still discussing what to do about this second thing, but if your plugin is in this category (so far we’ve seen it with HeadShake and X-Ivap), my suggestion is: compile and link against clang’s libc++ on OS X – it’s the native Mac C++ runtime and the one that’s going to work well in the long term.

We’ll release an 11.21 release candidate either late this week or early next week, once we collect the bug fixes that got away.

EDIT: HeadShake has been fixed by SimCoders!

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Better Fuselage Dynamics Through Science

It turns out that my teachers in college, a ton of engineering textbooks, and the internet in general all seem to understand what wings do. Also my airplane has wings, and those wings are designed to interact with the air as much as possible, so I can flight-test my airplane at any time (and I constantly do) to collect information about what the wings in said airplane do. And then I use the information from the several sources listed above to really dial in the flight dynamics in X-Plane. Without question, on my death-bed I will look back on my many flights flown while frantically scribbling down notes and flying the airplane at the same time fondly. This is a challenge that not enough people get to enjoy, and then turning that knowledge into a simulator that then turns into money for me… well, let’s just say I have very little to complain about. Read More

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Plugin Developers: Please Try This Fix

X-Plane 11.20r2 has only one bug that we are trying to fix: a bug in the plugin SDK that can cause some plugins to crash when creating and destroying windows.

Tyler and I dug into this and found that the fix was a bit more intrusive than we wanted for this late in an RC.

So: if you are a plugin developer and you are working with the new SDK, either for VR compatibility, to use the new 3.x APIs, or just because you are updating the plugins, and you have time this weekend, please email me and I can send you our new fixed XPLM DLLs.

My hope is to get half a dozen plugin developers to bang on them over the weekend, so that when we cut 11.20r3, it really will be the release.

Edit: RC3 is live – thanks to everyone who helped!

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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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