FlightGear Newsletter July 2011
We would like to emphasize that the monthly newsletter can not live without the contributions of FlightGear users and developers. Everyone with a wiki account (free to register) can edit the newsletter and every contribution is welcome. So if you know about any FlightGear related projects such as for example updated scenery or aircraft, please do feel invited to add such news to the newsletter.
On July, 17th, the release branches were created in the GIT repositories of the source-code and data. This was the last major step in our Release Plan before the actual release of FlightGear 2.4.0. During the next weeks, we are working hard to remove the last known bugs in the code before we start creating the packages for the major platforms. To get an impression of what has changed since our last release (which was version 2.0.0), a changelog is currently being written at Changelog 2.4.0 (work in progress).
Some of you might know that James and Gene have spent a lot of time assembling a nightly build server for the FlightGear project. This monitors the git repository for any source code changes and then spawns builds for Windows, Linux, and Mac.
You can find the build server at http://flightgear.simpits.org:8080/
This is really great work and a huge contribution to the FlightGear project. Unfortunately, to run a nightly build from the build server, you still have to pull the latest data tree from the git repository. That's not all that hard, once you work through the details, but it's a bit "fiddly" for some folks.
So Curt has been playing around with creating a developer's snapshot release which would be similar to our official release. It is one big setup.exe that includes all the programs and the data. We are hopeful that this will eventually make the current development version of FlightGear more accessible for "joe average" users which would then in term hopefully give us more feedback and bug reports ahead of our official release.
None of this would be possible without the "Jenkins" (formerly Hudson) build server that Gene and James set up.
There are a couple things that are done with this snapshot package:
- An unique app name of the form FlightGear YYYYMMDD is assigned so you can have multiple versions installed concurrently and they don't step on each other and don't step on the official release. If people maintain multiple snapshots installed on their systems, that might help narrow down when a bug was introduced.
- The openal installer "oalinst.exe" is included and vcredist_x86.exe ... neither of these may be required in the long term if we can just ship the needed dll's, but that probably needs further testing.
Does it basically work? Are there any major packaging blunders? Please note, FlightGear bugs and feature request should still be handled through normal channels. But I am interested in packaging issues right now.
To provide feedback please use this forum thread.
For downloads please see: this location
Nasal for newbies
New software tools and projects
Michat has been working to start a questions and answers (Q&A) service for the FlightGear community based on Shapado AGPL.
FGAnswers is an attempt to provide an easy way to find first hand brief information around the massive info-data that FG generates. Michat designed the basis of the system, giving space to a broad range of languages, in order to reach as many pilots and developers as FG used to enjoy.
FGAnswers, offers all kind of services: Live Chat Support, Flight Center, Training Center, FGSoft Center, ATC Center, VA Center. From easy FAQ's to the deepest Q's. Classic routes, flying techniques, school, fly essentials, dedicated Wiki pages for ATC, VA's, Pilots, or Simply for How to's.. writters-readers, video makers.... and many more.
With almost infinite possibilities, for sure that FGAnswers will need your help, but how? Easy just using it for free, with honor and honesty. Make your questions here.
Happy answers, have a good summer.
FlightGear addons and mods
In the hangar
The warning and advisory system of the Boeing 747-400 has been dramatically improved. The new system is derived from the 777-200ER's but has been fine-tuned for the 744. Besides this, the landing gear failure system is now more "realistic", as it supports single gear failures. The simmer can decide what gear will get stuck (and thus no longer listen to control inputs). When the gear is extended above the maximum extension speed (270kts), all gear units will automatically get stuck.
Algernon is planning to publish a new alpha release of the ongoing Eurofighter Typhoon project. This will coincide with the next release of FlightGear, and will only be compatible with that new version - some code is used which is not backwards compatible (development of the aircraft for version 2.0 and earlier is not currently taking place, and may not be resumed if FGFS 2.4 is widely adopted). New features include a revised flight control system and autopilot, improved Multi-Function Displays and HUD (good approximations of the real aircraft), and a pared-down Manual Data Entry panel which gives mouse control over navigation systems, autopilot, radar and communications equipment. More comprehensive information of the systems found in the upcoming release can be found in the Flight Manual article.
The livery database's functionality has been extended. Visitors can now finetune the looks of the livery and aircraft lists. One can choose between a text only, or a image only layout. Besides that the number of liveries to be shown per page can be set.
Checkout for yourself at liveries.flightgear.org
Aircraft of the month
Airport of the month
New SketchUp exporter plugin
SketchUp models which are completed using the existing SketchUp to AC3D exporter are rendered in FlightGear with double sided faces. Though there is nothing wrong with double sided faces, there is a considerable saving in FlightGear processing if single faces can be used. This affects frames per second and is particularly noticeable when entering an area which is heavily inhabited by buildings/models.
It is possible to export SketchUp models with single faces by using a new version of the exporter (adapted by VicMar and i4dnf). This new version is named ac3dS_export.rb and is available for download from http://vicmar.weebly.com/downloads.html
The ac3dS_export.rb file should be placed in the same folder/directory as the existing exporter. In the SketchUp ‘Plugins’ menu, it will appear as “Export to AC3D (Single_Faced)” and will appear with the existing exporter.
The new version is recommended for use with SketchUp models which DO NOT have any see-through (alpha) textures. It is also not recommended if your model has apertures like hangar doors, which allow a view inside the building, as the opposite walls will be invisible.
There is a work around for models which have see-through textures, but it is a chore to do, so it is recommended you use the existing exporter. If you would like details of the work arounds, yes there are two, just ask.
Any feedback will be welcomed at the forum.
Screenshot of the month
The FlightGear Wiki used to block open proxy IP adresses. Several people reported that they were unable to register an account because of that. Such issues should be solved by now. So, if you were unable to register before, please try again.
FlightGear on youtube
- A video uploaded by El Flauta performing some aerobatic maneuvers in a Zlin 50 lx over Chubu International Airport, Japan.
New tutorials and screencasts
And finally ...
One of the regular thoughts expressed on the FlightGear forums is "I'd like to contribute but I don't know how to program, and I don't have the time". Unfortunately, there is a common mis-conception that contributing requires programming and lots of free time. In fact, there are a huge range of ways to contribute to the project without needing to write code or spending days working on something.
For ideas on starting to contribute to FlightGear, you may want to check out: Volunteer.
Call for volunteers
- The OpenRadar project is looking for a new maintainer.
- The FGFSPM (FlightGear Package Manager) is looking for a new maintainer.