Howto:Create animation XML files from Nasal
Objective: Use Nasal scripting to dynamically create an XML file by using the setprop() API call to set up your XML file's PropertyList-encoded structure and then writing the result to the file system using the write_properties() wrapper found in $FG_ROOT/Nasal/io.nas.
There are two wrappers provided: read_properties() and write_properties. These are wrappers for the corresponding fgcommands loadxml ($FG_ROOT/Docs/README.commands#l133) and save-xml ($FG_ROOT/Docs/README.commands#l139).
So, you don't need to look into the low level XML processing routines, you can directly use these PropertyList-wrappers - these allow you to directly dump a property tree sub branch to an XML file. So you can create your structure dynamically using setprop() and at the end use the write_properties() wrapper to write the resulting XML file to disk. That should save you some time.
# come up with a path and filename in $FG_HOME, inside the Export sub folder, file name is test.xml var filename = getprop("/sim/fg-home") ~ "/Export/test.xml"; # use the write_properties() helper in io.nas, which is a wrapper for the savexml fgcommand (see README.commands) io.write_properties( path: filename, prop: "/sim" );
This will dump the sub branch of the /sim property tree into $FG_HOME/Export/test.xml
For additional examples, see $FG_ROOT/Nasal/io.nas
To learn more about PropertyList processing via loadxml and savexml, please see $FG_ROOT/Docs/README.commands
Internally, all read/write access is validated via an API called fgValidatePath(), for details please see $FG_SRC/Main/util.cxx
In general, this shouldn't really be necessary - because XML files are meant to be created and edited manually. On the other hand, due to the lack of a simple 2D drawing API accessible from Nasal, more and more complex "glass cockpit"-style instruments are getting implemented using the XML-based approach. These files (often more than 100-200 kbytes in size) contain fairly repetitive markup that could (and should) be created procedurally in an automated fashion. So, the approach suggested here is to use a separate Nasal script to create the required XML markup dynamically, rather than having to copy/paste and customize hundreds of XML animations manually using a text editor.
The following piece of Nasal creates a new XML file, in the standard FlightGear PropertyList encoded form:
var location= "/temp/test/foo"; # location in the global FG property tree var filename="test.xml"; # location in the local file system (will be OVERWRITTEN/DELETED!) setprop(location, "hello world"); io.write_properties(filename, location);
The created output is:
<?xml version="1.0"?> <PropertyList> <temp> <test> <foo>hello world</foo> </test> </temp>
Once you understand how this works, you can dynamically create PropertyList-encoded XML files for your instruments. Consider the following XML file containing a single animation:
<path>vsd.ac</path> <animation> <type>select</type> <object-name>vsd</object-name> <condition> <greater-than-equals> <property>systems/electrical/outputs/efis</property> <value>9</value> </greater-than-equals> </condition> </animation>
Now, to create this snippet of XML procedurally, you can use this piece of Nasal:
var location = "/temp/test/"; var filename="xmltest.xml"; setprop(location~"path", "vsd.ac"); setprop(location~"animation/type", "select"); setprop(location~"animation/object-name", "vsd"); setprop(location~"animation/condition/greather-than-equals/property", "systems/electrical/outputs/efis"); setprop(location~"animation/condition/greather-than-equals/value", "9"); io.write_properties(filename, location);
Note that multiple setprop() calls like this would obviously overwrite the previous animation, so you would need to use explicit indices here:
This also holds true for any child nodes (once you have several identically named nodes):
So, it is always a good idea to explicitly add the index, too.
This is identical to how the property tree internally works already: /sim/foo is equivalent to /sim/foo If you don't understand how this works, please take a look at: $FG_ROOT/Docs/README.xmlpanel#l162
If you want this to be even easier, you could use the props.nas module, because its methods have support for adding indices automatically.
Next, you could add a handful of helpers (or even a class wrapping animations) to make things a bit easier. Anybody interested in coming up with an OOP wrapper for this, should look into using the props.nas module available in $FG_ROOT/Nasal.
If you already have some prefabricated XML file that you'd like to continue using, then you could also just automate the creation of certain animations and save them in a separate file. This is supported by including a PropertyList file in another file using the "include" attribute:
<PropertyList> <animation include="vsd.xml"/> </PropertyList>
<?xml version="1.0"?> <PropertyList> <foo include="someotherfile.xml"/> </PropertyList>
<?xml version="1.0"?> <PropertyList> <bla>data</bla> </PropertyList>
This would result in /foo/bla=data
Some additional info is available in $FG_ROOT/Docs: