Friday, June 30, 2006

Tools - it'll get worse before it gets better

Here are some musings on the scenery tool situation...first the bad news:

I think 850 will ship with no WorldMaker at all. WorldMaker 8 cannot edit terrain, airport editing is being moved to a separate program, and navaids and fixes are now edited inside X-Plane.

The new scenery tool will probably not be ready by 850 beta 1. I hope to have the first beta of the scenery tool available during the X-Plane 850 beta process - but the scenery tool beta may go on longer.

I am considering 850 airport editing to be higher priority than overlay editing - Jonathan Harris already has a cross-platform overlay editor, but there are no 850 apt.dat editors, so I may release the scenery tool with airports first, then put overlays in later, to get people started with the new airport technology.

Finally the new editor will not be able to save older airport layouts. It will be able to read them, but they will be converted and saved in the new format. If you need to edit old layouts I suggest you use TaxiDraw.

So is there any good news? Well, the main work on the apt.dat format is done, so we'll have a ton of new features for modeling detailed airports. Bezier curved pavement, taxilines, signs
specified by their text, and a whole new lighting system.

Also once 850 ships, scenery tools will be my number one top priority, so I think that while the first few betas of the new scenery tool will be painful and awkward (as we get the basic UI and usability features in place while simultaneously trying to fix X-Plane bugs) I think that we'll pick up a lot of momentum once 850 ships.

Also one note on platforms: the new scenery tool will ship for Mac first, then Windows. I don't have specific plans for Linux, but how soon it happens dependes partly on who I can enlist to help with a port (I don't have a Linux box) and partly on whether it works under WINE (I suspect it may). The whole project will be open-source too so anyone who wants to try to get it working on system X will be able to. With the first beta I should have a "real" source distro, as much as is possible given the development tools I'm using.

No comments: