Virtual FSweekend Hackathon 2021

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This is the landing page for the Virtual FSweekend Hackathon 2021.

Normally in mid-November a group of FlightGear enthusiasts participate in FSWeekend in Aviodrome at the Lelystad Airport in the Netherlands. Over the years this has been a focal point for both finishing existing development/releases and a catalyst for new ideas in FlightGear, as well as an opportunity for FlightGear enthusiasts to share a beer. Like in 2020, FSweekend 2021 was unfortunately cancelled due to COVID-19 uncertainties (it will maybe take place in March 2022).

To keep the spirit alive and repeat the successful execution of the Virtual FSweekend Hackathon 2020, we are planning to hold another Virtual FSweekend Hackathon on the weekend of 5/6/7 November 2021 (in -936 days).


For those who have not participated in a hackathon before, the broad idea is to get people from a wide variety of experience and backgrounds together to solve problems over a short period of time - typically 24 or 48 hours. Details vary, but typically at the start of the event, people pitch ideas and groups form organically based on what people are interested in. The groups then work together intensively, often fueled by pizza and caffeine etc. At the end of the hackathon the groups present their work and there are often prizes for the best hacks.

The general idea of virtual FSWeekend hackathons is to encourage existing and new contributors to collaborate over the course of a weekend to create new and exciting features for FlightGear in the broadest sense. The core developers would particularly like to use it as an opportunity to encourage people to get their hands dirty in the core code, so they will be primarily there to help/coach people rather than hacking themselves, but anything is possible :)

No prior development experience is necessary - there might be run some education sessions ahead of the weekend so people can hit the ground running (otherwise you will learn during the hackathon). Also, do not feel you have to commit to coding the entire weekend to the exclusion of all else. We think participants will still get real value if they can just commit to one day and some late evenings.

Only Core Development?

While the core of the hackathon incl. support previously has been dedicated to development in the very core of FlightGear (mostly C++, Nasal and xml), you are also welcome to participate if you are developing stuff, which contributes to the general FlightGear ecosystem (e.g. Addon, visual artwork or osm2city). However, in that case you might need to provide your own support.

Sign up

Note  There is space for many participants, so don't be shy. Rick is happy for people to register right up to the Friday night, but we will not be able to help out with getting builds and git working if you leave it that late!

To register your participation, please contact Rick either on the forum post This is a link to the FlightGear forum., by PM on the FlightGear Discord server or via the devel list.

Confirmed participants (in alphabetical particular order):

Name aka. Role Remarks
Fernando García Liñán Icecode Mentor (core dev) Can provide help regarding core development and graphics (OSG, Compositor and shaders)
Julian Smith cgdae Mentor (core dev) Can help with thread-safe properties, recording/replay, CompositeViewer, multiplayer
Lars Toenning Lars, LarsT on FG Discord Participant
Marc Eberhard Participant
MariuszXC, MariuszXC on FG Discord Participant
Nia Participant/Infrastructure Hit me up if you've got trouble with mattermost or jitsi.
Pat Callahan callahanp Participant
Rick Gruber-Riemer vanosten, HB-VANO on FG Discord Organiser/mentor Can coach osm2city and OSM data processing
Roman Ludwicki PlayeRom on FG Discord Participant
SDeAstis Participant
Stuart Buchanan stuart Mentor (core dev) As well as WS3.0, he can provide advices on a wide range of the codebase, as he has touched lots of different parts over the years

Ahead of the Hackathon

There are a couple of key activities ahead of the weekend in 2021.

Getting started

So we can hit the ground running, we really want everyone participating to already have:

  • SourceForge credentials
  • A working build environment with OSG, PLIB etc.
  • A Git checkout of simgear/flightgear (cf. FlightGear_Git)
  • A Git checkout of fgdata
  • Some experience with Git :)

At the very least you should be able to work with a nightly version of FlightGear.

James and Stuart will pull together (and improve) the wiki resources to make this easier.

Ideally, we would have a couple of weeks upfront to identify articles that would be useful to provide rough guidance, either to update these or rewrite/merge them with other articles.

Candidate articles are being put into the dedicated Hackathon Materials category.

If we can agree on a set of articles that seem useful (to walk people through the process of patching FlightGear to add self-contained functionality), it might make sense to reach out to the community to help with reviewing/proof reading and possibly translate such articles. Also, encouraging people to contribute artworks might be a good idea (screen shots, images, diagrams, drawings etc).


Being completely remote, we need the ability to collaborate in teams as well as video conference as a group.

There will be a Mattermost server for the weekend. We'll be using that for organization, discussion and collaboration.

We'll be using a Jitsi Server for video conferencing and demos.

To use the server, please start the Jitsi calls from within Mattermost (click on that power plug symbol in the top bar next to the search). Preferably use an app or Chrome/Chromium.


The core of the Hackathon! These are the projects, idea and problems that participants will be working on during the weekend. In the weeks before the Hackathon itself, participants can, and should, propose things to work on. Simply create a wiki page describing your idea, and encourage people to contribute and get interested.

Check out the Hackathon 2021 Ideas category page for a how-to as well as links to existing proposals.

You can also take a look at proposals from the previous year.

Not having an idea? No problem! Have a look at the ideas above, leave a comment on the Discussion page, and add yourself as an Interested Party for those you might consider working on during the Hackathon. There is no commitment until the start of the Hackathon on Friday evening.



With (hopefully) a world-wide group of participants, and varying real life constraints, at any given time over the weekend there will hopefully be a couple of people active.

We will have two big get-togethers:

Friday 5th November 2000-2200 UTC. Kick-off

  • General welcome
  • Introductions
  • Hack pitches
  • Team formation

This is the point at which participants will decide, which Hacks they want to work on. The sponsors of each of the Hacks proposed ahead of time will be invited to give a 5 minutes pitch to the group, with some questions from the audience. Slides/screenshots optional.

After all the Hacks have been pitched, we will have a little break for people to chat and work out which Hack they want to work on.

If a Hack ends up with fewer than 2 people wanting to work on it (including the sponsor), then it will normally be dropped. This is to encourage people to work in groups - larger teams can get more done in the time, and have more opportunities to learn from each other, plus it is more sociable!

Sunday 7th November 2000-2200 UTC. Wrap up and demos

At the end of the hackathon we will have a get together and have each team present the results of their hack.

Depending on the number of hacks, each team will have 5-15 minutes to demonstrate their hack, describe what they have learned, and what their next steps are.

We will finish with voting for the best hack of the weekend.


Q: What is the aim of the Hackathon?
A: To learn and have fun hacking FlightGear. Encourage people to get their hands dirty and modify code. Try out new ideas. Working with other people. Ultimately to increase the number of core developers.

Q: What can participants expect to get out of the weekend?
A: The primary goal is for people to learn through experimentation. To try out new ideas and in the process learn about the internals of FlightGear. James, Stuart and Fernando will be be providing coaching over the course of the weekend.

Q: What organization will be provided?
A: We will provide tools for collaboration, and organize a couple of meetings, but not much more. The idea behind hackathons is that participants largely self organize - teams form around interesting ideas on Friday evening and organize themselves. Participants will need to provide their own computers, pizza, Haribo, beer. The last three are traditional, but optional.

Q: How much time do I need to commit?
A: The more the better. A traditional hackathon would be 24-48 hours of solid work with sleep optional. That is not realistic for most people, but 20 hours over the weekend would be a good amount to aim for. Certainly if you can only commit to a couple of evenings you may not get much out of Hackathon.

Q: What skills do I need?
A: It depends on what you want to do. You need to know C/C++ already to be able to hack the core of FlightGear. The Hackathon is not a good place to learn C++ for the first time. However, there are lot of interesting projects using Python, Nasal etc.

Q: I have got a great idea for the Hackathon. What do I do?
A: Great! Create a wiki page describing it to enthuse other people and collect comments (see #Ideation section above), and post a link to the Ideation section above so everyone can see it.