I had came across the OpenStreetMap project before, but only when I revisited it earlier this week the reail power of it struck me. Let me start with a little explanation about what OpenStreetMap is. It is a free Wiki world map as their slogan says. I has been created by people collecting GPS tracks and combining that with other copyright free GIS data to get a really free world map. On their website you can browse to all the data in a similar way as Google Maps.
But that is not all, the real powerful thing is that you can also download this data. That is what I took a look at earlier this week. I came across some shapefile version of the data and looked at their OSM XML format. Then I realized that this data could be very useful for FSX as well. Because it does not only contain vector data about roads and railways, but it also contains information about the location of bridges. And not the speak about all the point features that are included. If I would like to put mailboxes for the Netherlands in a scenery I could do that.
So I have started writing a little tool now that will take the OSM XML data and turn that into shapefiles with the correct information for shp2vec. And the tool also writes the XML style ExtrusionBridges for BGLComp. That way I am trying to get better looking rail and road data in FSX now. I am doing the tests on a small scale now (only one country), but I guess there is no limit later to extend it to entire Europe to improve the default FS scenery. And I am sure I will come across some other nice features in the dataset that can be used for FS as well.