- DSFs - the files we distribute scenery in.
- XES - the "X-Plane Editable Scenery" file format, which you won't see very much of.
When I was first working on the scenery system design, we decided on a pre-processed approach, which implied two types of file formats: pre-baked (editable source data) and post-baked (distributable finished scenery). XES is a GIS container format for the source data.
When we create the global scenery, the process is something like this:
- Import lots of data from multiple sources in multiple formats, so that it is all in one giant tile in our format.
- Process the data, deriving new information (like terrain type) from existing data (like slope) and fixing problems (like bumps on runways).
- Export the data as a DSF, which involves additional conversions (such as converting generic road types to x-plane roads) and DSF encoding.
If you have ever tried to use MeshTool, you may have used XES files yourself - the landuse and climate data that MeshTool needs are saved as XES files - it's an easy way to encode a few variable sized raster maps with portable enumeration encoding.
WED does not use XES files - when I started work on WED, I realized that the XES container format was too GIS oriented and not application-oriented, so I created a file format particular to WED. WED will continue to use .wed files, which can contain anything that WED can edit.
In the long term, I don't see XES as being used by anyone except for LR internally; WED will continue to have a WED native format, and we will try to use common simple GIS formats for import/export - most likely SRTM hgt files for elevation and .shp (shape) files for vectors.