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Revision as of 13:49, 6 October 2011 by Martin.spott (Talk | contribs) (Some ressources for The Manual have moved)

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Many people think that contributing to FlightGear requires writing C++ code or doing 3D modeling, and therefore feel that they cannot contribute directly. Not so. There are a whole variety of ways to make a valuable and satisfying contribution to FlightGear without having to be a developer. This page is intended to provide a starting point for those wanting to contribute, but who don't know how.

Of course, these are just suggestions for some possible ways for getting involved, and there are obviously plenty of other options. So if you have already a specific idea in mind, please do get in touch with the community to ask for feedback. This can be easily done using the mailing lists, forum or the IRC channel (chat).

Often, work in such non-development related areas will at least be as appreciated by other users as are contributions by developers, simply because it is in the nature of non-development related contributions that they will specifically appeal to non-developers/users. So, if you would like to help the FlightGear project improve, please take a look at the following opportunities and feel free to make suggestions for new ones.

If you are contributing to the core simulator, or an aircraft in the master repository, you should be part of the FlightGear-devel mailing list, which is the primary point of contact for all discussions regarding the development of the simulator.

Tell us if FlightGear works with your hardware

You can help fellow FlightGear users by telling us if FlightGear works with your hardware. Please see FlightGear Hardware Recommendations, Problematic Video Cards and Notebooks known to run FlightGear.

Create FlightGear screenshots

Another easy way for getting started contributing is to create nice FlightGear screenshots, you can upload these to the wiki where they can then be used for the "picture of the week": http://wiki.flightgear.org/index.php/Category:Picture_of_the_week_2011

Create FlightGear videos

Many users like to capture their flights in FlightGear as a video, youtube is for example an excellent way for sharing such videos with fellow FlightGear users. Youtube videos can also be directly embedded in forum postings.

Create FlightGear screencasts (video tutorials)

Creating FlightGear related video tutorials is another excellent way for getting started contributing.

Participate in the FlightGear Forums

If you haven't done so already, please consider registering at the FlightGear forum, this is a very simple thing to do, but it makes it very easy to obtain and provide help and other support within the FlightGear community.

Taking extra care in your posting to avoid requiring the attention of the moderators is in some ways also a contribution. Doing so helps self-police the forums so that the moderators can spend their time doing constructive development.

Check out the FlightGear Chat channel

1rightarrow.png See FlightGear IRC channel for the main article about this subject.

To talk to fellow FlightGear users in realtime, you may want to check out the IRC chat channel. This is also an excellent way for getting and providing community help, or for getting the latest news about FlightGear.

Tell us about your own ideas and feature requests for improving FlightGear

If you think you have a good idea or feature request for improving FlightGear, the FlightGear forums and the IRC channel are also an excellent way for getting feedback.

Another new way for posting feature requests and making suggestions is provided at http://code.google.com/p/flightgear-future/issues/list This is a Google code based issue tracker, specifically meant to be used for posting suggestions for new features.

Help us write the FlightGear Newsletter

The FlightGear newsletter is a community driven newsletter that is created and edited using the wiki. All FlightGear users are invited to contribute to the newsletter. The only thing that is required is a wiki account, which is free and easy to register. Please feel free to add news about your own FlightGear related projects, or projects started by others to the newsletter.

You can find the draft of next month's newsletter at: Next newsletter

Just tracking the forums, mailing lists or the IRC channel should provide you with plenty of opportunities for things that could be added to the newsletter. One simple thing for getting started -even without writing anything- is uploading screen shots showing recent FlightGear developments for use in the FlightGear newsletter.

Write FlightGear reviews

Another thing that can be easily done is reviewing FlightGear (or just certain parts of it, like for example scenery and/or aircraft) and submit your reviews to some of the flight simulation portals. Of course, you can also directly write your reviews using the FlightGear wiki.

Help improve the Wiki

You can easily register a new account and help improve the wiki, for example by editing existing articles or creating new ones. Also, many articles could be greatly improved just by adding a handful of relevant screenshots for illustration purposes. Proof reading existing articles is also greatly appreciated.

Registering an account takes less than 10 seconds. To register an account, please go here.

After registration, you'll have to confirm your registration by clicking on the link sent to you by email.

Help review Wiki articles

Many wiki articles are outdated, or may simply need to be reviewed and improved for other reasons - your help in reviewing existing articles would be highly appreciated!

Help translate the Wiki

1rightarrow.png See Help:Translate for the main article about this subject.

You can also help localize the Wiki by translating important articles into different languages. Please see translation requests.

Also, FlightGear itself can be easily translated by updating the files in $FG_ROOT/Translations. For details please see Translating FlightGear.

Submitting bugs to the Bug Tracker

Bugs are currently being reported at this tracker. Feel free to contact one of the project owners to be added to the member list, if you would like to add a bug (or two). Reporting bugs accurately helps make bug fixing significantly easier for the developers. Another thing that is very helpful, is reviewing posted bug reports and see if you can reproduce/confirm them.

Providing patches for aircraft's -set.xml status fields

One way you could easily contribute would be to submit patches to HEAD setting the "status" flag on each aircraft accurately. While it will require learning a bit about SCM, and XML, that would be a fine contribution. For a details on how the status should be arrived at see Formalizing_Aircraft_Status.

Screenshot managers

In order to illustrate FlightGear's impressive and advancing capabilities it was recently suggested (and agreed) to conduct monthly screenshot competitions where users are encouraged to submit their best FlightGear screenshots, so that the very best screenshots will be posted on the webpage for one month. Participants are expected to make their submissions at the end of each month, submissions should not be directly sent to the user mailing list as attachments, rather participants are expected to upload their screenshots to some free webspace and send mails containing links to their screenshots to the FlightGear User mailing list. It will be the decision of the screenshot managers to determine which screenshots shall win the monthly competition and are thus uploaded to www.flightgear.org

Currently the screenshot competition is on hold.


The FlightGear project is currently looking for people who are willing to help maintain the FAQ (which is quite out of date). If you you would like to get involved, please subscribe to the FlightGear Developers mailing list in order to discuss the details or simply start editing the wiki FAQ

Creating interactive tutorials

FlightGear has a built-in tutorial system that is based on its scripting language Nasal, this system is very flexible and can be used for creating interactive tutorials (or even missions) for use in FlightGear itself, in other words these tutorials run directly in the simulator.

Creating new tutorials, or updating and improving existing ones, is another great way for getting more familiar with FlightGear. For details please see Tutorials.

Scenery Model Creators

The FlightGear project maintains a steadily growing repository of 3D models for adding some eye-candy to the scenery. The world has always enough room left for your contribution. Please take the time to investigate what is already there and enjoy populating your favourite area.

Note that you don't have to create any models yourself. You can simply place existing models using the UFO. For example, placing objects in the scenery with the UFO and submitting them to the Scenery Objects DB is pretty straightforward and takes very little time. Even an hour spent doing this would make a difference.

Artwork Creators/Contributors

FlightGear itself would not be possible without the contribution of various types of artwork:

  • Often aircraft developers have to use different resources to accomplish the goal of realistically modeling a particular aircraft. Contributing photographs, images, sounds all have value.
  • A splashscreen is displayed when loading the simulator, and can be specific to the aircraft being loaded. Why not create a spashscreen of your favorite aircraft: Howto: Create custom splash screens
  • Sound recordings of aircraft are also valuable - particularly engine sounds for unusual aircraft.

Also see:

HowTo Writers

Various parts of FlightGear are currently not yet sufficiently documented, also available documentation is often not really suitable to be used by non-developers. This results in users being unaware of the wide range of features and possibilities that FlightGear supports already.

As "HowTo writer" you should be able to document your own experiences with FlightGear in a clear and concise style, so that others can easily follow your instructions on order to make use of FlightGear's less known features. HowTo guides do not need to be very comprehensive, they shall only serve the purpose of providing users with easy to follow instructions about how to set up their version of FlightGear.

Adding screenshots to articles is another excellent way for improving the existing documentation.

Topics that could use some HowTos are listed in Article requests.

Documentation Editors/Reviewers

As already stated on the Wiki main page, FlightGear comes with a set of illustrated documentation, notably "The Manual". This piece of documentation aims at being printed onto paper and being read as a reference while you're exploring FlightGear - or simply taken with you on a long trip. If you are a skilled writer and a little bit familiar with LaTex, please take the time to dig into the PDF or HTML version. Instructions on how to get the source code are here. It lies in the nature of FlightGear development that The Manual is always a bit behind current development. We invite you to pick information from a) your personal experience with FlightGear, b) the available README's in the FlightGear source tree or the Base Package or c) the Wiki and merge these into an appealing shape for The Manual. Turn your head to the FlightGear developers' mailing list and you'll find someone to talk about how to improve The Manual.

Currently, some of the other documentation that comes with FlightGear is lacking, terse or simply inaccurate (outdated) in various places due to the advances in FlightGear's code since the time when the original documentation was written. This state is not improved by people's tendency to create new documents instead of maintaining what already exists.

As a documentation editor/reviewer, it would be your task to check the current documentation and identify areas for improvement. Preferably you should also be able to directly make corresponding suggestions for augmentations, or even write new help documents altogether (possibly based on evaluating recent mailing list discussions). You would be expected to thoroughly check the documentation folder ($FG ROOT/Docs) and review all relevant documentation for obvious shortcomings or mistakes, smaller corrections shall be sent by email to the developer mailing list, preferably in unified diff format (for patch to work).

Alternatively, small text files can also be sent directly to the mailing list, more complex modifications should be only made available by uploading them to a webpage and linking to the corresponding files from your emails. If you are not now familiar with the process of creating unified diff patches, but would like to make it easier for the developers to work with your changes, please consider trying KDiff3, a GUI frontend to the diff and patch utilities that works on several platforms (also Windows).

If you intend to redo a major part of the current documentation, it is recommended that you first discuss this with the developers, to ensure that you do not end up documenting code that may also be subject to major changes or even removal altogether. Please contact the developers before launching into a major documentation effort.

Pre-Release Testers

Pre-release testers will be regularly offered the opportunity to test development code without having to build the corresponding binaries themselves, it will be expected of you to provide feedback about your experiences with experimental code to the developers, you should be able to provide details about your hardware and software setup, as well as being able to follow developer requests to track down any potential issues. You should also be willing to test run all aircraft that are by default included in FlightGear's base package on the platforms you have access to in order to ensure that all default aircraft are working properly.

By directly providing feedback about your experiences with FlightGear's development code, you will become a crucial part of the development process and you will basically serve as quality control for FlightGear, your experiences will determine whether FlightGear's development code is ready for a next official release or not. If you are willing to volunteer in this way to the FlightGear project, please consider subscribing to the FlightGear announcements mailing list, where future pre-releases are likely to be announced in order to attract a greater number of potential pre-release testers.

Note: If you are interested in actually doing development for FlightGear, make sure to check out the Developer section.

Hosting a multiplayer server

If you have access to a unix based server, another good opportunity for contributing would be to set up a multiplayer server for use with FlightGear, for details please check out Howto: Set up a multiplayer server.