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Aircraft Rating System

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Re: Aircraft Rating System

Postby turtle » Sat Oct 01, 2011 10:32 pm

Personally, I wish there was a filter system at the top of the aircraft download page. Also, one the selections for the filter be "unique 3D cockpit". In the past I downloaded several of the airliners (737 and so forth) only to find out they lacked a panel (not even a working compass or fuel indicators which I think all turbine type aircraft should have).
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Re: Aircraft Rating System

Postby longfly » Sun Oct 02, 2011 9:22 am

Have a look at my aircraftlist: http://flightgear.bplaced.de/aircraftlist/

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Re: Aircraft Rating System

Postby hvengel » Sun Oct 02, 2011 4:05 pm

longfly wrote in Sun Oct 02, 2011 9:22 am:Have a look at my aircraftlist: http://flightgear.bplaced.de/aircraftlist/

Longfly


This site does not have any information on how the aircraft model is rated. That is you can't tell if the status is based on the new rating system or the old non-system. As the OP pointed out most are not rated using the new system. For those aircraft that did not use the new system the status setting is basically meaningless since it is not based on an objective rating criteria. Most aircraft status settings that are not based on the new system will tend to overstate the status compared to those aircraft using the new system. That is an aircraft that does not use the new system might have a status of production but when it is re-rated using the new system it might end up being early production or perhaps even beta status.

For cockpit ratings if the new rating system is being used there is a clear indication of how good the cockpit is in the rating since there is a cockpit category in the rating system. If the full rating is included as part of a web page then users would know that some aircraft X has a cockpit with a 4 rating and would know that the cockpit is very good but not perfect. By the way the new system is very strict and it is very difficult to get a 5 in any given rating category. So be very skeptical of any aircraft that has all or mostly 5 ratings.
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Re: Aircraft Rating System

Postby turtle » Mon Oct 03, 2011 7:53 am

You make a good point hvengel.

How about listing the total size of your created aircraft? Usually, the aircraft that are 10 MB are good (very minor problems = 1 or 2 buttons on cockpit don't work). I don't see how this would be a problem for the authors since most Operating System will tell you how big a file is just by hovering your mouse over it (or checking properties).

For example:
IAR80: IAR 80A (six MG variant)
Author: Emilian Huminiuc
Version: v20110727
Status: advanced production
Total File Size: 30.7 MB (person can assume plane will work and have a nice model).

B-2: Northrop B-2 Spirit
Author: Markus Zojer
Version: v20101217
Status: alpha
Total File Size: 1.2 MB (person can assume plane will probably not work and will have a basic model).
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Re: Aircraft Rating System

Postby longfly » Mon Oct 03, 2011 10:58 am

This site does not have any information on how the aircraft model is rated.

... because to less aircrafts are using this system :?

The idea with the file size is quite good but this can give you only a rough overview ...

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Re: Aircraft Rating System

Postby kyokoyama » Mon Oct 03, 2011 10:07 pm

longfly wrote in Mon Oct 03, 2011 10:58 am:... because [too few] aircraft are using this system


Then start rating some of these aircraft using the new, standardized rating system?
(I can help out on rating some of them, if you would like?)
Look for "B-BIRD" "N127KY" or "AVA0004" -that's me.

Despite having over 1700 posts here, I am not even close to being the most skilled guy here... I'm just words and bad drawing, not experience. :P
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Re: Aircraft Rating System

Postby turtle » Tue Oct 04, 2011 4:10 pm

@LongFly
Well it would be better than what is currently in place (status and version). Now, for new people to the game, it's hard to find a good working aircraft besides the default ones. I think the file size would probably not even have to be explained to new user (bigger file means more coding and models). I hope to see this implemented for the next FlightGear version. :)
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Re: Aircraft Rating System

Postby HHS » Tue Oct 04, 2011 4:17 pm

@turtle:

As Stuart said on the first page of this thread we have already a Aircraft Rating System: http://wiki.flightgear.org/Formalizing_Aircraft_Status
We had a very long discussion about how the new system will look, and how it will be used. File size was one possibility we considered but we dumped it for good reasons, as it doesn't give the inputs the user wish.

With the rating system we now have, the user can easily see which parts of the Aircraft is good, which is not, which needs work etc. Cockpit, systems, fdm, exterior-3d...

The current problem is: only very few aircraft does make use of it. But it doesn't need the maintainer itself to do it. Users can help as well.
If we have a good amount of Aircraft rated, we hopefully could implement a Search System for the Aircraft Download page.
I must admit- I did not yet rated my own aircraft yet.... :oops:
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Re: Aircraft Rating System

Postby Hooray » Tue Oct 04, 2011 5:04 pm

HHS wrote in Tue Oct 04, 2011 4:17 pm:If we have a good amount of Aircraft rated, we hopefully could implement a Search System for the Aircraft Download page.
I must admit- I did not yet rated my own aircraft yet.... :oops:


I agree, the real problem is not the quality (or lack thereof) of the new rating system, rather it's the fact that it is not yet used and in fact poorly implemented at the moment, which is the reason for the former:

There were countless discussions here on the forum and on the mailing lists, and it seemed everybody agreed that features like a "search system" (filtering) would be desirable (not just for downloads, but also for launchers), yet somehow people ended up implementing the rating system directly as embedded markup inside the aircraft-set.xml file, however long before this particular rating system got established, we talked about (the benefits of) adding the corresponding markup to a SEPARATE XML file, and simply include it in the aircraft-set.xml file using the include directive supported by SimGear.

Why would that matter? Simple: Adopting the new system would merely be a matter of including an existing file in the base package, in fact the SimGear/XML/PropertyTree API supports parametrization of included files, too. All of this could be done EASILY by using "standard" -and long-established- FlightGear techniques.

Anybody who's done programming before also knows that having a separate XML file that is simply included would also be much easier to deal with from a programming point of view, i.e. web frontends (filterable downloads) or GUI launchers, simply you could by default just look for one certain PropertyList-encoded XML file with a well-defined name (such as status.xml) in each aircraft's folder.

Instead, the new rating system made it more complicated than necessary to be adopted.
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Re: Aircraft Rating System

Postby stuart » Wed Oct 05, 2011 9:11 am

@Hooray: I disagree completely. Having a separate Status.xml file would be more complicated to implement and has significant practical issues.

The launchers and download page already parse the -set.xml file.
* In the case of FGRun this is to determing the actual aircraft name, and the model to be displayed in the preview pane
* In the case of the download page this is to list the (old) status tag, the author name and the aircraft name

It's pretty trivial to expand that parsing to include this rating information. One of the things on my TODO list is to enhance FGRun to support filtering - unfortunately I have a very long TODO list :) Obviously, as they already parse the -set.xml file, there would be no point in adding code to look for a Status.xml file.

The only case where there might be an argument for looking for a Status.xml file directly is where there isn't any existing parsing of the -set.xml file. The FGo launcher doesn't parse any xml files at present (IIRC). However, if I was modifying it to include status information, it would be much more useful to parse the -set.xml file so it could display the proper aircraft names as well.

So, I can't really think of any case where you'd parse the Status.xml file rather than the -set.xml file. I guess if you were very memory-limited and were concerned about the size of the -set.xml file. However, the -set.xml files themselves aren't particularly large, and using a SAX XML parser the memory footprint will be fairly small.

Finally, from a practical perspective, we have a number of aircraft where there are different -set.xml files using different FDMs, or with different variants of the same model. In some cases the different -set.xml files will have widely different ratings. For example, under Aircraft/p51d there are two -set files: p51d-jsbsim-set.xml which include's Hal's superb FDM, and the old p51d-set.xml which (IIRC) uses an inferior YASim FDM. You couldn't have a single Status.xml file that would apply to both.

Therefore, this information really does belong in the -set.xml file.

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Re: Aircraft Rating System

Postby Hooray » Wed Oct 05, 2011 11:56 am

Actually, I don't disagree with any of the points you are making - however, given that the *-set.xml is already parsed by default, you could have the best of both worlds just by supporting the include directive, too.

That would allow people to keep their status information separate, so that it can be easily copied, shared and reused by others.

I never meant to say that the *-set.xml file shouldn't be parsed anymore. Honestly, if the goal is wider adoption of the new rating system, it simply has to be as simple and straightforward as possible. Some of the more experienced FG users and developers tend to forget the user experience every once in a while (myself included).

The new rating system is an important step in the right direction, but it's just scratching the surface:

Both of us know that FlightGear's flexibility also causes some new challenges, the PropertyList-encoded XML format is widely flexible, especially due to features like the include attribute and parametrization, but it's sort of non-trivial for new users to understand how things are hanging together. How could they possibly understand? There simply is no standard way of doing things.

Bottom line being, in FlightGear it really doesn't matter at all where certain markup is stored, as long as there is one single *-set.xml file, you could basically go pervert and store each property/XML node in its own dedicated XML file and just include all files - however that would obviously add to the obfuscation unnecessarily.

There are new challenges caused by FlightGear's "flexibility" - for example, it isn't straightforward to provide an aircraft/instrument panel editor, simply because it really doesn't matter at all how certain files are named, where tags are stored, how aircraft-specific Nasal files are loaded and so on.

The thing to keep in mind here is that just because FlightGear is so extremely flexible, doesn't necessarily mean that we should make "overly creative" and excessive use of this very flexibility: We don't want FlightGear to become obfuscated due its intrinsic open nature, do we?

For instance, just have look at the way FlightGear aircraft are increasingly structured in $FG_ROOT/Aircraft (see http://wiki.flightgear.org/Standard_aircraft_structure ). As you know, there is absolutely no technical requirement whatsoever to structure files and folders like this. Yet, it does make things easier and more intuitive. And people sort of arrived there by duplicating what others did.

It is for a reason that most aircraft share a pretty common file system layout: we as human beings are better at dealing with it this way. It is out of question that we could dump all XML markup and even Nasal code into a single file, but it doesn't add to the clarity and self-documenting nature of FlightGear as an application and framework at all.

Basically this is all about "convention over configuration": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convention ... figuration

As another example, have you recently had a look into $FG_ROOT/preferences.xml ?
That's another excellent example for a huge XML file that could be EASILY split into a number of separate XML files that could be simply referenced from the top level preferences.xml via an include directive, so that the defaults could be stored separately - i.e. in $FG_ROOT/Preferences or $FG_ROOT/Defaults

You would end up with separate XML files for all important setting:
  • $FG_ROOT/Preferences/startup.xml
  • $FG_ROOT/Preferences/rendering.xml
  • $FG_ROOT/Preferences/sound.xml
  • $FG_ROOT/Preferences/systems.xml
  • $FG_ROOT/Preferences/views.xml
  • $FG_ROOT/Preferences/multiplay.xml
  • $FG_ROOT/Preferences/terrasync.xml
  • $FG_ROOT/Preferences/controls.xml
  • $FG_ROOT/Preferences/instrumentation.xml
  • $FG_ROOT/Preferences/logging.xml
    and so on


It's not that the current technique would be bad, it's just that it isn't as intuitive and self-documenting as possible.

I don't know if you agree or disagree, but I can assure you that if you do disagree, then it's because you are also a long-time FlightGear user and developer with plenty of experience ;-)

Finally, I do know you know for yourself that one of the more frequently asked questions on FlightGear is about creating new aircraft, our standard response is usually to start modifying existing aircraft step by step and then take things from there by referring to other aircraft and the "documentation".

Yes, we do have some basic info to get people started:
http://wiki.flightgear.org/Howto:_Make_an_aircraft
http://wiki.flightgear.org/Standard_aircraft_structure

However, the truth is we could also do better here, just by providing a set of boilerplate files in a predefined default structure (maybe even as part of the base package), so that new aircraft developers could simply populate all important files, without having to understand all of the markup in one single *-set.xml file.

Just imagine a "dummy" aircraft folder that new developers could copy and customize by following conventions and guidelines.

If you disagree again, just take a look what the "Linux Standard Base" is all about: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux_Standard_Base ;-)

It is always much easier to understand one small self-contained portion of information that is following well-defined conventions, rather than having to browse and filter through plenty of irrelevant information.

Really, we don't need to agree on this, and even if you should feel inclined to invite me now to "scratch my own itch" to prove my point: I am not at all affected by this and I honestly don't believe this can be tackled by a single person, it'd require wider community effort; you have seen for yourself how long it took to "implement" the new rating system, including dozens of lengthy discussions and a number of sizable wiki articles over 5+ years.

I guess that goes to show the weaknesses of open source ;-)
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Re: Aircraft Rating System

Postby stuart » Wed Oct 05, 2011 3:31 pm

I guess I'm not sure of the advantage of keeping a relatively small amount of status information in a separate file - we're talking here about 5 property values, 4 of which are integers.

IMO the small piece of XML in the -set.xml file is easier for a newcomer to understand than an include directive and a separate file. The instructions for rating an aircraft would longer if we have to tell them to make one change to the -set.xml file, then copy a template XML file and modify it's contents.

The thing to keep in mind here is that just because FlightGear is so extremely flexible, doesn't necessarily mean that we should make "overly creative" and excessive use of this very flexibility: We don't want FlightGear to become obfuscated due its intrinsic open nature, do we?

Surely this is an argument for keeping things simple and storing the information in the -set.xml file? ;)

I think we're arguing over a very small implementation detail here, and getting to the point where we "agree vociferously" :). People are welcome to put it wherever they wish, provided it's in the correct location in the property tree.

If you'd like to document using an <include> directive in the wiki article on the Rating System, please go ahead, though I'd ask that you leave the existing instructions so people are aware they can do either. My prediction is that almost every aircraft designer will simply modify their -set.xml file, as that is the simplest way to include a rating.

(OT: I very much like your idea of providing a "template" aircraft, and also splitting up preferences.xml)

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Re: Aircraft Rating System

Postby turtle » Fri Oct 07, 2011 5:00 am

HHS wrote in Tue Oct 04, 2011 4:17 pm:@turtle:

As Stuart said on the first page of this thread we have already a Aircraft Rating System: http://wiki.flightgear.org/Formalizing_Aircraft_Status
We had a very long discussion about how the new system will look, and how it will be used. File size was one possibility we considered but we dumped it for good reasons, as it doesn't give the inputs the user wish.

What?!? :shock:
How is not knowing how long it is going to take you to download a file before clicking on it useful? I honestly cannot comprehend you guys actually agreeing otherwise. The first thing people ask themselves before they download something is, "how long is it going to take?" This is just one of the uses why adding File Size: as part of the requirement for aircraft would be beneficial. The other as I stated previously, would help determine which aircraft is more likely to be a good working model. The suggested rating system seems like it still needs work in progress (reason why it would be great to implement the file size requirement). In addition, not to be a hater but couldn't something less complicated have been created? Separating the rating system into different categories seems a bit intimidating for a new or average users (I am sure the community and developers want to attract new users). The best part of the file size requirement is that anybody can do it. Someone can just download the whole aircraft and take it a look at the file properties which they can add to the aircraft download information.

I am not sure how close FlightGear developers are with the community, but I think it deserves to be put in a poll at least.
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Re: Aircraft Rating System

Postby Gijs » Fri Oct 07, 2011 6:00 am

Luckily one can get the filesize automatically with PHP, it some other language. No need to add that kind of info to -set.xml (also, it can change frequently, so it'll be.hard to keep it up to date that way). ;-)
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Re: Aircraft Rating System

Postby turtle » Fri Oct 07, 2011 8:22 am

Gijs wrote in Fri Oct 07, 2011 6:00 am:Luckily one can get the filesize automatically with PHP, it some other language. No need to add that kind of info to -set.xml (also, it can change frequently, so it'll be.hard to keep it up to date that way). ;-)

No excuse for laziness when it's a free. :( If you guys don't want to do it, then let me or another volunteer do it. :wink: I am sure someone will thank that they can just quickly look over a plane and read how long it would take them to download (just like anything else on the internet). Why is the aircraft information coming from the -set.xml file? Seems like a lot less work if developers would just send you guys (in charge of hosting the website) the information or do it themselves (reupload with new information). Also, I think would be great if there was a volunteer tester for aircraft. In the past, one of the aircraft I downloaded screwed up the game. Luckily, I had not deleted the downloaded FlightGear file.

By the way, if a developer did all the work to create an aircraft, checking the file size will be as easy as blinking (it only takes 2-3 seconds to right click and select properties :roll: ). Again arguments against adding file size seem silly when is requires very little effort to implement. As for keeping up with the updates, how often do aircraft get updates? Unless I am visiting the wrong website, the download aircraft page of FlightGear has not received updates after 2.4 release. :?
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