Saturday, September 13, 2008

I Can't Talk Now, I'm Flying a Plane!

Traditionally, a pilot's priorities are: aviate, navigate, communicate.

But that might not be true for X-Plane for the iPhone.

It's real! And it pretty much is X-Plane - there really are OBJs and DSFs in there, as well as an ACF model, all tuned for the iPhone.

In the next few posts I'll blog a little bit about the impact of doing an iPhone port on scenery development. The iPhone is an embedded device; if you go digging for system specs you'll see that it's a very different beast from the desktop. The porting process really helped me understand the problems of the rendering engine a lot better, and some of the techniques we developed for the iPhone are proving useful for desktop machines as well.

12 comments:

Photos said...

blog a little more about the bad_alloc...

My two little cents

Benjamin Supnik said...

Not much to more say about bad_alloc. There will be one or two bug-fix patches off 920 to put in more languages and fix this bug, relatively soon. There will be a 930 after that with new feature and fps improvements.

krz said...

uhm oook...first you complain that there is too many hardware choices on the market and now you did a iphone port? i hope its brings lots of money.

Dieter Rosenkranz said...

Please do not forget your promised Update WED 1.1!
helgo

Benjamin Supnik said...

Dieter, I'm sorry to single you out on this, but this happens a lot to us: we mention a current project and it becomes a "promise" to users, when all it ever was was a "plan". In the past I've put a lot of crud in my blog that "I make no guarantees that X will happen" bla bla bla - maybe I need to start doing that again.

In particular, I wrote this:

"I don't know exactly how long this work will take - my rough guesstimate is about 2 weeks. But...that depends on my working on WED for two weeks straight without interruption!"

Suffice it to say, I did _not_ get two straight weeks to work on WED - my two weeks were interrupted by X-Plane for iPhone, which is a more important product than a patch to WED.

Now I _have_ gotten at least another half a day to work on WED since then, but I do not expect to make rapid progress, since I have a number of irons in the fire at once.

Benjamin Supnik said...

krz, you are correct -- porting to the iphone makes the span of hw we support WIDER, not narrower. :-)

Photos said...

9.20 bugged, tons of new features...not documented, waiting for tools (since V8...) but, Iphone version ! WOUHOU

I feel a little bored by wasting time in 3D pits and scenery...

Kaminari said...

The first time I read Austin's newsletter, I thought it was a bad joke. Not that I don't think it was "impossible" to make it happen, but because I thought it was a huge waste of time and resource. Besides, if X-Plane can run on a measly iPhone, it must tell you something about the sheer lack of optimization in the desktop version. Right?

Now I realize it's much more than simple bling bling. It has the potential to actually bring in a truckload more money to Laminar than the desktop version, and this is not negligeable for a commercial company.

But is it a good thing for us desktop users and developers? I am not sure. From this side of the Atlantic, I can see that a large part of the French dev community is rather pissed off. As some people here have already noticed, X-Plane is choke-full of little and not so little bugs, but Laminar has the time to develop an embedded version. What does that tell us? Not sure really.

I can only hope that the level of optimization required to run X-Plane on the iPhone will significantly impact the desktop version as well... As a long time Amiga user, I am the forever (and probably naive) optimist.

Benjamin Supnik said...

Kaminari,

It doesn't surprise me that either:
- Existing X-Plane users would be grumpy about the existence of a different category of X-Plane for the phone (how dare Austin and Ben do anything but work on X-Plane for the desktop, etc.) or
- That the French X-Plane community is grumpy about 920.

Now regarding 920, I can say two things: there will be a 921, relatively soon, and we are having a difficult time with the French translation. The French translation in the sim now is not complete, not even close to it, nor is it what's going to ship soon. But we did 6 languages for 920, and French is the one that is getting done the slowest. I can't fix this myself, I don't sepak French. If any of the aforementioned users are willing to help speed up the effort at getting the language files done, we would appreciate the help.

Does X-Plane running for the phone indicate that it is not optimized for the desktop? Definitely not. It proves that it is a SCALABLE product. If it performed and looked the SAME on the desktop and phone, that would indicate a lack of optimization on the desktop.

Does having the phone version, a successful commercial product, help the desktop sim? Yes. Simply put, the amount of resources we can bring to bear on any bit of code has to do with how much leverage we get by selling that code. If there is any overlap in technology between two products, that shared technology can be supported commercially by two products and get more resources.

At this point I have said enough - perhaps too much. I will continue to approve blog posts based on my normal criteria, but I'm not going to speak to any more comments on the quality of x-plane's code or where we put our dev resources. In the end of the day, such conversations are impossible because LR employees are limited by what we can announce about the inner workings of our business and our source code, and everyone who doesn't work for LR can't get this proprietary information anyway. I try to be open about what I do, but there are limits in a commercial environment.

I will say this though: if you think X-plane is not well optimized, stick "Shark" on it, take a profile, and show me the fat! :-)

Gerard said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Benjamin Supnik said...

Gerard - thanks for the recommendation - I have contacted your son directly. I deleted your comment to protect your son's email address from email-scraping spam bots!

Reuben said...

Ben, although I don't own an iPhone, but am a small time developer for X-Plane (desktop edition), I commend your idea of broadening the X-Plane market to include a mobile device such as the iPhone. Although I don't personally benefit from it, I recognize your absolute and complete freedom to do whatever you like with X-Plane- after all, X-Plane started out as a program Austin built for himself. If he wants to scale the program - good. :) I'm a bit sick of the wingers to be honest.

Anyway, great work. I love every new version of X-Plane, and wish you all the best as you continue to work on this great simulator.

Cheers,
Reuben