7 days, 7 tools


Most of you know that I make all those flight simulation development tools for fun, it is my hobby. This means I have no tight schedule for when I work on certain features, I just work on the tool or the feature that I most enjoy at the moment.

So that means that sometimes I jump around between development of different tools quite a bit. Usually this is a lot of fun, but sometimes the distraction means that a certain feature does not get finished as quickly as I would like.

Most of the time I don’t even notice that I work like this. But about a week of two ago I noticed that I had worked on about 7 different tools or projects in one week. Just for the fun of it, let me share with you how my distraction can work during a week… (and luckily for myself it is not always like this, that would probably drive me crazy :))

  1. Sunday, triggered by some discussion on the forum about the ModelConverterX object report I decide to start working on a new feature that should make it easier to save screenshots in any resolution and without rendering the object on screen first. This feature is on my wishlist for a while already and it gives me the chance to try some new OpenGL functions as well.
  2. Monday, while browsing through some geo data on the internet I find interesting vector data that contains population density data of the Netherlands. This is exactly the kind of data I have been looking for, since it will allow me to let scenProc set the distribution of the building heights based on this data. So I quickly jump to scenProc to implement this new feature.
  3. Tuesday, still working on the new scenProc feature. I actually got it implemented and working. Great!
  4. Wednesday, while browsing the same website as Monday I also find some new elevation data for the Netherlands. For the NL2000 project we have been looking for better elevation data for quite a while already. Using GDAL and resample and I put the data into FSX quite quickly. Only problem is that the data has not been filtered for the cities, so that buildings are visible in the elevation data.
  5. Thursday, I remember that I have some vector data laying around that has contour lines for the Netherlands. Using GDAL (once again) I create raster elevation data from these contour lines. I then use this data to replace the data I found on Wednesday in the city areas. Luckily some vector data was supplied with the elevation data that tells which data has not been filtered. It is really amazing what you can do with gdal_rasterize and gdal_calc! So I have much better elevation data now.
    Within the NL2000 project we get questions quite often if we can make a version for X-Plane as well. Triggered by one of those discussions again I decide to check how the tool that converts FS scenery to X-Plane works. ModelConverterX can already read X-Plane OBJ files and adding support to write them is on my wishlist for a while already. But to make a useful conversion I should figure out how the placement of objects works in X-Plane. This is also something I was planing to do for a while already. So let’s print the X-Plane DSF file format description and read it before going to sleep.
  6. Friday, the DSF file format is well documented and should not be that difficult to read. I am looking forward to experiment with reading and writing that format a bit. But to be able if I read the format correctly it would be best to be able to display the objects defined in it on a map. That’s exactly what the ObPlacerX² tool I made a prototype of last year does. So let’s dust off that prototype again!
  7. Saturday, to get the ObPlacerX² tool working with the most recent version of my other tools, I would need to make some changes to the way that object placements are represented internally. This is also something that I have been thinking about before, as it would also make ModelConverterX more efficient and better structured. So let’s start and make those changes first.

7-Tools-I-use4 (1)

4 thoughts on “7 days, 7 tools

  1. Dave R says:

    I recently came upon your ModelConverterX tool and it is a godsend. I really enjoy using it. As for the X-Plane export, that would be fantastic. Since most of my time now is devoted to X-Plane 10 it would be very useful functionality.

  2. pfabian says:

    You know… you probably already realised this… but compare the elevation that has buildings in it and the one one with buildings filtered… bam, instant building height data…

  3. arno says:

    Yes, but it is quite hard to find accurate data that does not have buildings included. That can be quite a challenge. Especially when you are looking for free data :).


  4. Kevin Firth says:

    Hi Arno,
    Would you be willing to go into a bit more detail about how you used GDAL to create mesh from contour data please? 🙂

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