Visit the Github release page to download!
XPlane2Blender for 2.80 has crossed a new milestone! Exportable Collections are in! They work just like root objects (which we are now calling Exportable Objects), the settings for them are just where Layers Mode settings used to be, and Layers Mode projects keep their OBJ settings automatically. More details down below.
As always, make backups! This is still an alpha and how collections work could change!
As mentioned, Root Objects – the concept – has been renamed to “Exportable Objects”. Everything is the same, it is only the name that is changing in the UI and the docs. This was done to let people know there really isn’t much difference between using the new Collections and the old Root Object system. Half the name is the same! Otherwise it sounds like “Root Objects vs Exportable Collections” are as different as how it used to be with “Root Objects Mode” vs “Layers Mode”. From here on I will use the new names – Exportable Collections and Exportable Objects.
We’re very excited about this: Collections are in! Many thanks to the people who talked about it on #450. I think the feature will be able to do all or most of what you wanted. Here’s how to use them.
Showis on but you can’t see the contents of a collection, try right clicking on it in the outliner, go to Visibility and ensure Render and Viewport are enabled.
Exportable Collectioncheckbox. Viewport visibility doesn’t matter.
Here is a picture showing a side by side comparison of the relevant UI in 2.79 and 2.80, using the BD-5J Microjet. After opening the file I hit export and it just worked!
In this picture I’ve unchecked Exportable Collection on Layer 2_Scene. Now it won’t export.
Split Animations is one of our most exciting new features – something never before possible in XPlane2Blender! See the guide in the manual, click here to find more.
There appears to be a Blender bug in 2.80 where sometimes after every export (of any exporter) the objects drift apart. It is unknown why this happens but there are two ways to fix it.
Apply > Transformations > Scale. And if that doesn’t work,
Apply > Transformations > All Transformations. These are drastic, but, if it works, please e-mail and help confirm this bug that we can report to Blender.
The updater has had some changes and not all of them tested 100 times over like I normally like. I don’t think it will be a problem however. Please e-mail me if you have trouble. If you have a multi-scene project, double check your updated OBJ settings and tell me if you see an automatically made collections with names like “Collection.001”. They should have been renamed.
For those of you patiently waiting for an e-mail back from me about a problem you’ve had with your .blend file, thank you for your patience. I’m going to try to respond to all of them this week!
The initial beta for X-Plane 11.41 is now available for LR customers, and we expect Steam to be available within 24 hours or so.
This is a small patch that focuses on fixing a security vulnerability. Small bug fixes are also included, and you can see the full release notes here.
X-Plane 11.40 is now final! You will be prompted to update to X-Plane 11.40 when you start X-Plane; Steam users will receive the update automatically via Steam. Here’s what’s next in the pipeline:
We are working on a bug-fix update (11.41) to catch one or two bugs that didn’t make the RC, as well as the inevitable bug that will be reported after go final. I expect to cut an 11.41 release candidate some time next week, and it should be a pretty quick release.
In the meantime, we are pushing hard to get Vulkan/Metal ready so that we can do an X-Plane 11.50 beta. We may start private testing of Vulkan and Metal before 11.41 is done, depending on what gets fixed first.
The limiting factor on getting to a public Vulkan/Metal beta will be bug fixing – it doesn’t make sense to go public beta with known bugs that will be reported over and over and make the beta unusable. There are also two remaining areas of development we need to close up:
Vulkan and Metal fight stutters by pre-loading everything they need to render the frame – this means whatever we need to draw, it’s ready. But this also means X-Plane needs to prepare every shader it might need to render a given aircraft and scenery pack.
Because X-Plane’s shaders are so flexible, this can mean tens of thousands of shaders, and that hurts load time. We have new code that tries to analyze exactly what we’ll need for a given frame. For example, if an object comes from a DSF, we never need an “interior” shader for it because the scenery object can never be inside an aircraft. By carefully applying this kind of logic, we can cut down the number of preloaded shaders and speed up load times.
With Vulkan and Metal, X-Plane manages its own use of VRAM – this is a totally new capability that we have had to code from scratch for the Vulkan/Metal port. We watch our total memory usage and reduce texture resolution dynamically (hopefully on less important and less used textures) to stay within budget.
While this code is working, it hits a wrinkle on Windows:
Sidney is working on compacting our textures so that some of the big blocks can be given back to OpenGL – yet more new memory management code for Vulkan.
Once we have the number of shaders cut down and memory compacting working, we’ll begin heavier testing of the Vulkan/Metal build – I can’t say how close to public beta we are because we haven’t gotten the initial wave of bugs from this testing.
Release Candidate 2 is now available for LR customers, and we expect Steam to be available within 24 hours or so.
This is a very small patch with a few minor fixes. At the risk of sounding like a broken record: if you haven’t tried your add on aircraft in 11.40 yet…do it now! The reports have been pretty quiet the last couple weeks, and nobody enjoys a last minute surprise bug.
Release Candidate 1 is now available for LR customers, and we expect Steam to be available within 24 hours or so.
We are moving towards the end of the beta period, so we’re minimizing the number of code and flight model changes at this point. If you haven’t tried your add on aircraft in 11.40 yet…the time is now!
This update contains mostly tweaks to AI & ATC interaction to improve landings, replay sound improvements, and includes a few new datarefs requested by devs.
Beta 9 is now available for LR customers, and we expect Steam to be available within 24 hours or so.
This update includes a few more fixes for crashes and issues with third party add ons. The rate of bugs and crashes reported has slow down dramatically in the last week or two, and we don’t have open third party compatibility bugs, so we are getting ready to wrap up the beta.
Developers: expect r1 soon, and make sure you test your add ons.
This post has been on my todo list for a while – long enough that X-Plane 11.40 came out before I had time to write up a post saying “X-Plane 11.40” is coming. But just to put 11.40 into context, here’s what our patch roadmap looks like for X-Plane 11 this year.
X-Plane 11.40 is a physics release. Almost all of the changes in X-Plane 11.40 come from Austin’s work on the physics engine over the last six months. This is a new approach for us. In the past, when we’ve updated the physics or systems, it would be in a giant “omnibus” release, where everybody’s latest code went out at once (e.g. X-Plane 11.10).
The problem with the omnibus releases is that they would take forever to get debugged. With so many people changing so many things, we never knew what had gone wrong when a bug report came in. And with all of the code changed, we had to investigate every single bug report carefully (no matter how unlikely or vague the report) because anything could have been broken.
So far, at risk of jinxing the beta, it appears that the physics-only approach is working a lot better. It has been quicker to find bugs when they are reported, and the overall level of crazy is a lot lower than in past releases.
There aren’t many open bugs left in the 11.40 beta, but one particular bug has caused the beta count to run up: we were seeing crashes due to NaNs in the flight model.
NaN stands for Not A Number, and it’s what you get when you have divide-by-zeros run amok in the physics. To catch them, we’ve turned on a lot of auditing code and we’ve been collecting automatic crash reports. At risk of jinxing it, I think Austin has fixed one of the two root causes in beta 8. We are going to keep chasing them until the other one is fixed, then turn down the checks once we’re done. So we may make it to beta nine or ten and we may have another week with two betas; the high tempo is just to get more checks in fast.
There have been a number of questions in the comments on the state of the experimental flight model, so I want to clarify how it works and what is happening in 11.40.
Normally, new X-Plane features get beta tested during the beta of an X-Plane patch. This means we have somewhere between two and eight weeks to debug the feature and get it ready to ship. Once it ships, if we change the feature, we have to consider how this would affect authors using the feature and whether it would screw up their add-ons.
That’s not a lot of time to debug! In particular, it’s really not enough time for the flight model, where people need months just to develop the aircraft and measure the performance to get us feedback.
The experimental flight model is basically a giant year-long open beta of a future revision of the flight model that hasn’t shipped yet. By checking the “experimental FM” box, you’re getting to beta test the flight model of the future, now. By keeping the experimental flight model as an experiment for so long, this frees Austin up to simply fix bugs and improve it, as opposed to worrying how the X-Plane 11.40 experimental FM changes will affect X-Plane 11.30 users.
To be clear: there is no attempt at backward compatibility between the experimental flight model from one sim version to another! The goal is to have the experimental flight model not interfere with the “normal” flight model at all.
Physics changes in 11.40 fall into two broad categories:
Features in the first category require the experimental flight model to be enabled, while the second category of features is always on.
At some point in the future, the experimental flight model will become the flight model for X-Plane, but we are not there yet, and we are not planning to do this as part of making X-Plane 11.40 final.
If you develop a third party aircraft, you need to test it now against both the experimental and non-experimental flight mode. If the non-experimental flight model doesn’t fly the same as 11.36, please file a bug, and please provide flight testing details. For the experimental flight model, you may see book numbers change a little bit; the real question is whether the overall physics response is better or worse.
X-Plane 11.50 will be the next major patch once X-Plane 11.40 is out of beta, and it will feature Vulkan and Metal support.
The marketing guys showed the Vulkan build of X-Plane live at Cosford last week; that build did not have any support for texture paging. Since then, Sidney has a basic texture paging implementation running, so hopefully we’re in good shape to get this into developer’s hands after 11.40.
Our expectation for add-on compatibility is:
I expect the Vulkan beta to be a relatively long one. We want it to start this year, but it probably won’t end this year, and my guess is that initially Vulkan will be fantastic for some users and will crash for others. During the beta we’ll gain useful information about how well Vulkan works “in the field” for different cards and drivers.
One reason I am looking forward to the Vulkan beta: we now have tremendous visibility into what the rendering engine and driver are doing. With OpenGL, the driver was often a black box. We still get reports of “the 3-d mouse in VR make my machine really slow” and frankly, we may never know why this happens to just some users and not others with the same hardware, drivers, and version of X-Plane.
With Vulkan and Metal it is going to be different. A lot more of the graphics work happens inside X-Plane, and the work that happens inside the driver is much more predictable, bounded, and can be viewed via modern profiling tools.
So while we will have a lot of debugging to do based on user feedback, it should be straightforward to get the information we need to really make the Vulkan renderer scream.
It’s a little too soon to discuss what comes after Vulkan, but I can say this: for almost two years now, Sidney and I have been rewriting the rendering engine with a rather strange goal: performance and predictability, but with the same visual output. So anything that looked ugly on the screen is supposed to keep looking ugly. Vulkan was a change of the how but not the what of our rendering engine.
Once Vulkan is out the door, that all changes. We have a number of fundamental changes we want to make to how we deal with light, with the atmosphere, with color, and with organizing our frame. Once we have Vulkan, we get to use it as our foundation for what comes next.
Beta 7 is now available for LR customers, and we expect Steam to be available within 24 hours or so.
This is another small update. We have a few more tweaks to the flight model NaN crash reporting to help us track this down, a couple bug fixes, and improvements to AI airliner landings.
This is the first release of XPlane2Blender for Blender 2.80! As always, make backups, because there is no going back from overwriting your 2.79 .blend file with Blender 2.80.
The goal of this release was to having something people can play with right now without worrying about the design decisions coming down the line about Collections and LODs.
Root Objectsis the only useable mode (despite
Layersbeing left in the enum). Attempting to use
Layerswill cause the exporter to fail.
The 1st LOD bucket is the contents of the first collection (alphabetically), the 2nd LOD bucket is the contents from 2nd collection, etc. The list of collections is taken from every single scene Again, the goal was “make it export” not “make it export perfectly”. I don’t recommend trying to use LODs when trying out Blender 2.80.
Even with just these limitations, I was able to successfully export several scenery objects and two of Laminar Research’s planes. As you can see, the converter is doing its job well!
(F-4 process from 2.49 to 2.79 then 2.80 going from left to right. Ignore the odd geometry under it. I simply forgot to take it out for the picture.)
Things to watch out for:
Right Click the collection > Visibility > Enable In Viewportsto see it in the 3D View.
Thank you so much for your patience while the converter got its last push during September! I can’t wait to see those Blender 2.80 screenshots!