Posts by arno.

scenProc stable release almost there

Just this morning I realised that I have fixed all the remain issues I had marked for the scenProc 1.0 release. So except for finishing the user manual, release 1.0 of scenProc is done. So I think I’ll try to focus on the user manual first now. Having a stable release as a fallback is probably a good idea, since I have some new features in mind that will mean some things have to be recoded in scenProc. Such actions might always give new bugs, so then it’s good to have a stable fallback. Hopefully I can have the manual done in a week or two.

Bring out the camels

While working on some new scenProc feature I also decided to experiment with a new naming scheme for the steps. This was suggested on the forum a while ago to make the script more readable. I’m using CamelCase now for the step names. So that means that a step like ADDATTRIBUTEIFINSIDE would now become AddAttributeIfInside.

I think it’s an improvement so I plan to make this the default for all steps soon. To not break old scripts I’ll make sure the old names keep working as well of course (scenProc is case sensitive when it comes to validating the script).

SPLITGRID additional attribute

The scenProc SPLITGRID step has been updated and now requires an additional attribute. So if you just run your existing script with the latest development release you will notice an error. But it is very easy to fix this. If your line now is:

SPLITGRID|AGN

Just change it to:

SPLITGRID|AGN|*

What does the additional attribute do? It is a bounding rectangle for the area you want to process with the SPLITGRID step. This way you can process only part of the loaded data. Especially when running batch jobs I needed a way to make sure features outside the desired area were not processed. So that’s why I added this.

If you would like to process all features between N51 E5 and N52 E6, you would now write:

SPLITGRID|AGN|5;6;51;52

Of course the manual has also been updated for this change, so you can find the information there as well.

The wishlist

WhishlistOn the forum you will quite often read that I put some feature or bug on the wishlist. But how do you know as a user which items are on the list?

Until now you could not see my wishlist. But I have now made the list public. So from now on you can see what’s on the list and which things have already been reported.

For the different tools there is some priority defined with different versions. But I have to warn you that I don’t follow these very well, when implementing features I jump around based on the priority of the day.

Moving

Finally the date we will move to our new house is nearly there. In a few days we will be moving, so at the moment we are busy packing all our stuff in boxes. Needless to say I’ll be offline for a while, while we are packing and unpacking.

I’m looking forward to have some more time after we have finally moved houses, there are a lot of interesting ideas for my tools I would like to look at.

Merging autogen configurations

Now that I can use scenProc to easily create new autogen, the urge to add custom autogen models increases as well. To make the autogen even more realistic I want to add custom roofs, custom vegetation models, etcetera. But all these modifications to the autogen configuration files give developers some headache when trying to deploy their scenery. How to make sure that the end user gets these modifications as well?

The problem is that there is one autogen configuration that all developers modify. So if not done correctly a developer might wipe out the modifications done by another developer. There are a few approaches that are used nowadays:

  1. Some developers just copy their modifications over the existing files, whiping out previous modifications
  2. Some developers merge their modifications into the autogen configurations files
  3. Some developers merge their modifications and the modifications of sceneries often used together with their product into the autogen configuration files

Obviously one approach 2 is the right way! Approach 1 is bad because it just erases any modification done by other developers. Your scenery will work fine, but others will stop working. Approach 3 might sound like a nice service to the end user, but what happens if the other scenery you include the modifications from update their custom autogen configuration? In that case your product would still include the old one and in that case the order of install will determine the result the end user gets. That’s not good.

So I would say the only way developers should distribute their custom autogen configurations is to only distribute their own modifications (not the default MS configurations, not those of other developers). And developers should properly merge their configurations into the main configuration file.

But of course we will have the issue of developers who don’t play it nice and remove other developers modifications, how do we deal with that? It would be annoying that end users have to reinstall your scenery again just to restore the autogen configuration files.

So I would propose that we make a tool that mimics the behaviour the Microsoft should have added out of the box already. A tool that allows each scenery to have their own local autogen configuration files. Each developer will put his own modifications in a folder within his scenery and the tool will scan all these custom autogen configurations at startup of FS and merge them into one main autogen configuration file. And if this is done at each startup of the sim, developers who wipe out your configurations don’t do any hurt anymore.

I plan to try to create such a tool soon. But I would love to hear back from other developers if this sounds like a good approach. Do you have other use cases in mind that such a tool should cover? Or would you like to help me develop and test this tool? Just let me know!

Support for FSX:SE

fsxsteamAbout two months ago a new edition of FSX was released on Steam, which is basically the same as the FSX Gold Edition. My different tools have been updated by now to be able to support this new edition as well.

When you have both FSX and FSX:SE installed the tools will try to detect FSX first and if found they will use that path to load FS specific items from. If you only have FSX:SE installed that version will be used as FSX install by the tools.

The main difference is that FSX:SE does not include the SDK tools, which are used by most of my tools. And this week we finally got an answer from Dovetail Games as well that they will not include these tools either. This means that developers with only FSX:SE will need to get the SDK tools in a different way.

Installing the FSX SDK only works if you have the boxed version of FSX, since only SDK updates can be downloaded. But you need to install the original SDK from the disc first. So that’s not an option in general for FSX:SE only users. Luckily you can download the P3D 1.4 SDK, which contains equivalent tools and can be downloaded for free. So if you want to use my tools to make scenery and only have FSX:SE installed, be sure to grab the P3D 1.4 SDK and install that. The tools will find the location of the SDK automatically based on the registry settings.

Crashes at startup

Since I moved to .NET 4.0 a few weeks ago, some of the tools had random crashes, usually at startup. It turned out this was an issue in the text editor control that is used in the tools. Mainly scenProc and FXEditor were affected, because the text editor is a main part of the GUI there, but ModelConverterX also uses it in some editors.

Yesterday I have fixed these issues, by disabling the buggy part of the control (it was a part we don’t use in the tool anyway). So please make sure to grab the latest development release.

Recent changes

Just a quick note, I am aware that after the recent changes to my build server that the recent changes page is not always very useful. The change log message are sometimes truncated, meaning that not all information is visible. I will try to fix this, so that a good overview of changes is available.

Different .NET version

From today the development releases of my tools target a different version of the .NET framework. You’ll need .NET 4.0 from now on for all my tools. So be sure that you have it installed.

For scenProc I have used some of the new functionally of .NET 4.0 directly. As a result of the better parallel processing the image analysis of the feature detection step is now a lot faster. On my PC almost three times faster, but that depends on how many CPU cores you have as well of course.