FlightGear Newsletter May 2012
- 1 Development news
- 2 Interview with a contributor (Jon Berndt)
- 3 Snapshot releases
- 4 Nasal for newbies
- 5 New software tools and projects
- 6 FlightGear addons and mods
- 7 In the hangar
- 8 Scenery corner
- 9 Aircraft of the month
- 10 Airport of the month
- 11 Screenshot of the month
- 12 Suggested flights
- 13 Aircraft reviews
- 14 Wiki updates
- 15 Community news
- 16 Useful links
- 17 And finally ...
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 news or projects such as for example updated scenery or aircraft, please do feel invited to add such news to the newsletter.
Preparing a new release
In preperation for the next FlightGear release, repositories will be frozen as of June 17. This means that no new features or major changes shall be pushed onto the development streams (neither source nor data). The repository remains open for aircraft developments till the day of the release, with the exception of base package aircraft that should not receive major changes from June 17 onwards.
See our release plan for more details.
For a long time, FlightGear's multi-language support for the menus was broken. The language feature has been restored now, so it is again possible to translate the menu into different languages. Currently, only plain ASCII characters and its Latin1/ISO-8859-1 extension are supported though, which covers Western European languages only (Portuguese to German, Italian to Norwegian).
Please see Howto:Translate FlightGear if you are interested in helping to translate FlightGear. We're currently looking for someone volunteering to update the existing, but incomplete Spanish, French and Italian language resources. Also, you're welcome to add support for additional languages (e.g. Portuguese, Swedish, ...).
If your language isn't supported by FlightGear's limited character set yet (i.e. Japanese, Chinese, Russian, ...) then please be patient - a rework of the GUI library, which will also improve support for arbitrary fonts and character sets, is already in progress.
Interview with a contributor (Jon Berndt)
In each edition we have an interview with a contributor. Suggestions for possible questions are available on interview questions, you are invited to come up with new questions and interview ideas obviously! Anyone is free to write an interview (with him-/herself or others) for next month's newsletter!
- How long have you been involved in FlightGear?
For over ten years. I'm the development coordinator (and occasionally accused of being the BDFL) for JSBSim. It's been just a few months more than ten years since JSBSim became the default flight model for FlightGear - although it should be said that in these days a "default" flight model has less (or no) meaning compared to back then.
- What are your major interests in FlightGear?
Flight dynamics and control, but I really like the whole aspect of specifying a model in XML (and other) files - a truly data-driven simulation.
- What project are you working on right now?
Continued development of JSBSim. There are always things to tweak. Recently, I extended the PID (Proportional-Integral-Derivative) control component in JSBSim to support some work I have been doing.
- What do you plan on doing in the future?
Writing more documentation. Adding more features to JSBSim as needed. And trying to get an official v1.0 release out.
- Are you happy with the way the FlightGear project is going?
I really enjoy seeing the progress being made in the visuals (as a spectator) - in particular I find the Rembrandt project fascinating.
- What do you enjoy most about developing for FlightGear?
Since JSBSim is a standalone project, there are other applications that use it such as Outerra, OpenEaagles, and others. However, FlightGear has the longest history with JSBSim and the most active developer community. It has been both enlightening and exciting to see developers stretch the limits of JSBSim, and use it within FlightGear in ways that were not foreseen previously. For instance, the P-51D that Hal Engel has been developing over the past couple of years (or more?) is very good. Also, the recently published skydiver flight model was an instance of a commercial use of FlightGear with JSBSim that resulted in code being shared with us in the spirit of the GPL. With that said, the most exciting part for me of working with the FlightGear community is seeing the very real strengths of open source development on display, and contributing to that effort.
- Are there any "hidden features" you have worked on in FlightGear that new users may miss?
There are many features that are not hidden, but are not known about because they are not yet part of our reference manual.
- What is your background in Flight Simulation?
I was graduated from the University of Minnesota (as was FlightGear Development Coordinator Curt Olson). I earned a degree in Aerospace Engineering there and in 1987 I went to work for Link Flight Simulation. I wrote the flight control simulation code for the F-16 as it was migrating from an analog control system to a digital control system. In the years following that I supported the Engineering Directorate at NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, working with flight simulators almost continuously since then. Most recently, I went to work for Sierra Nevada Corporation to do simulation and analysis work, as well as supporting some wind tunnel testing, all for the Dream Chaser lifting body project. I have been a member of the AIAA Modeling and Simulation Technical Committee along with Bruce Jackson, author of LaRCSim.
- What else do you enjoy doing, besides coding in C++ late at night?
I enjoy playing acoustic guitar (fingerstyle), photography, hiking along the Colorado Front Range, playing catch/fetch with my dogs, tending to a 150 gallon saltwater aquarium, and doing various home remodeling projects. But what I really need is more sleep! Read previous interviews at our website's archive.
Every now and then, easy-to-install development snapshots are created (usually, twice montlhy). These snapshos depict a recent state of the development version of FlightGear. By using them users can test out features that will be included in the upcoming release. Testers are encouraged to file bugs at the issue tracker.
Nasal for newbies
New software tools and projects
FlightGear addons and mods
In the hangar
All the way back in May 2011, we addopted a new status-rating system for aircraft. So far, only a few have actually been rated, as can be seen in the list 'hockenberry' set up at Google Docs. If you're an aircraft developer and your aircraft is/are not on the list, please consider rating their status. All you'll need to know/do is described at Formalizing Aircraft Status. If you'd just like to get started contributing to FlightGear, this would also seem like an excellent way to get started.
Aircraft of the month
Airport of the month
The airport of the month may is the V.C. Bird Intl Airport (TAPA) on the island of Antigua. More can be found here in the forum.
Screenshot of the month
New aircraft articles
type=new count=10 categoryRoot=Aircraft
type=hot count=5 categoryRoot=FlightGear Newsletter
FlightGear on YouTube
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.