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Some pointers

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Some pointers

Postby astracrazy » Thu Nov 25, 2010 12:04 pm

Hi

I'm new to Flightgear and I'm most likely going to download it, although i just got some questions to ask. I used to play FS a lot but now i have a mac, this seems the safest option. I'm not convinced FSX would work well on it (been caught out with this on other games!) so won't buy that!

I just have a few questions to ask about FlightGear

Does Flightgear have ATC like FS does?
Does Flightgear have AI aircraft? I also remember there was a website where you could download real flight plans for companies like British Airways, Virgin etc etc so there planes would fly around giving you that real world feel. Is there any addon's like this?

Thanks for your help, I am just trying to find out whats available for Flightgear compared to FS.

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Re: Some pointers

Postby Hooray » Thu Nov 25, 2010 12:25 pm

1) no, but it's work in progress - and people can add custom scripted extensions
2) yes, see the AI forum

If you are used to FSX, you may also want to look into X-Plane ... while it's not free, it's a pretty good piece of software actually. Especially, if you are primarily a user, and not interested in the lower level (technical) aspects of the simulator.
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Re: Some pointers

Postby HHS » Thu Nov 25, 2010 12:30 pm

Hooray wrote:If you are used to FSX, you may also want to look into X-Plane ... while it's not free, it's a pretty good piece of software actually. Especially, if you are primarily a user, and not interested in the lower level (technical) aspects of the simulator.

Yep, FlightGear is ugly, simple but too complex for MSFS-users, outdated- we should stop the development immediately! ;-)

Just take a look into this forum, and on the wiki.

I recommend you also to take a look into our Newsletters which shows the developement progress.

Comparing with MSFS FlightGear is completly different. On some things we are much better, in some things we are worse. You have to know: we are OpenSource, which explains the differences a lot.

We don't have ATC like MSFS, but provide real ATC using an Addon called FGCom on many airports.
And yes of course we have AI traffic, very similar to the one of MSFS. There is no Addon available, as the basic traffic is already included, and can be easily enhanced by yourself.

The current available version 2.0.0 is nearly outdated, as we expect a new release-process in the next few weeks.....
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Re: Some pointers

Postby Armchair Ace » Tue Nov 30, 2010 3:14 pm

HHS wrote:Yep, FlightGear is ugly, simple but too complex for MSFS-users, outdated- we should stop the development immediately! ;-)


Oh, get real! FlightGear is uglier compared to other sims. Of course, this most certainly does not mean it's a worse simulator, indeed, it's a better simulator in terms of accuracy than the 'big two'. Look at your 733, for example. The developers who work with the other sims start to demand money to produce a 733 that can rival the FG 733 in accuracy!

Either way, the days of FlightGear being uglier than it's payware counterparts are numbered, I think. :)

Anyway, if instant gratification is what you want, you should try X-Plane. (Just get the demo, and see what you think). If you think that you'd rather save your money, and wait for FlightGear's next release, that's your choice. Personally, I'd recommend trying the X-Plane demo, playing around with that for a bit, and then getting FlightGear's next release.

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Re: Some pointers

Postby Hooray » Wed Dec 01, 2010 3:08 pm

I didn't respond to that, because I am pretty sure that HHS knows what I was trying say, also thinking that I would not need to explain myself given my involvement here.
Also, I am pretty sure that HHS is himself aware of FlightGear's shortcomings, too :-)

Seriously, people who are just interested in USING a flight simulator without wanting to access the internals or without wanting to modify or customize things, are not too well advised to check out FlightGear first and foremost. There are much more usable and much more intuitive products available today, that don't require a lot of technical understanding.

As a real life pilot: if you just want to brush up on your IFR skills, FlightGear is really not the most attractive solution available today. Not even FSX or X-Plane are necessarily the first choice either.
There are dedicated products like ASA's IP Trainer, ASA's OnTop, ASA IPC that are much better suited.

It takes A LOT of time and dedication to become productive in FlightGear, especially if your background is non-technical in general.
Unfortunately, this assessment even applies to professional airline pilots: FlightGear is NOT easy to set up and use right away.

Look, I consider myself pretty familiar with FlightGear, but still I refrain from recommending it to other pilots who just want to USE a simulator for maintaining currency.

If they are engineers, programmers or in any way interested in the inner workings of a flight simulator: FINE, THEN FlightGear is obviously the first choice - but if someone is just looking to get prepared for an instrument checkride, FlightGear is NOT a particularly good tool at the moment, there are MUCH better products available - including, but not limited to, FSX and X-Plane.

So my reply was only meant to represent the situation accurately and honestly.
Somehow, many of us who have become intimately familiar with FlightGear -and who spent probably hundreds or even thousands of hours in the process of doing so- tend to forget this fact more and more often.


FlightGear's most active community members are the ones creating new things and improving the simulator, for a flight simulator that is not necessarily the typical application at all - just ask real life pilots, no matter if they are PPL or ATPL holders.

Yes, I would love to see this situation change for the better, but at the moment new users should really be made aware of the shortcomings FlightGear has, especially when compared to commercial products likes FSX or X-Plane.
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Re: Some pointers

Postby HHS » Wed Dec 01, 2010 4:57 pm

My first sentence was meant ironically. :wink:
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Re: Some pointers

Postby Armchair Ace » Wed Dec 01, 2010 6:23 pm

HHS wrote:My first sentence was meant ironically. :wink:


I know, and I treated it as such. :)

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Re: Some pointers

Postby horacio » Wed Dec 01, 2010 6:25 pm

I think the points raised by Hooray are very good and interesting ones, the same as I think was perfectly understood that this sentence of HHS was said ironically.

The fact that most of us are customized with FG and have learned after a lot of time, and most of this by trial and error system, is not a reason to do not tell the truth to possible new users. And we often forget all the trikcs that we have incorporated as normal in our flying sessions to supply FG's shortcomings.

This reminds me that many times have thought in the need (as many other things) to develope an appropriate and more atractive interface programing for the sim. Many of very important options for performance, functionality, shortcuts, keyboard, mouse and joystick using instructions are visible and usable only when you are already running FG, and many changes needs to restart it to may apply them. This simple fact is horrible waste of time for many impatient new users, and this finally take them away from FG. This is because this was my experience when I started using FG, and read impressions of users that has tried it, in different forums and dowload sites. And every possible user is important, but perhaps FG is losing a lot of possible productive (or simple enhusiastic) users for "simple" poor usability of it.
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Re: Some pointers

Postby Hooray » Wed Dec 01, 2010 7:15 pm

horacio wrote:This reminds me that many times have thought in the need (as many other things) to develope an appropriate and more atractive interface programing for the sim. Many of very important options for performance, functionality, shortcuts, keyboard, mouse and joystick using instructions are visible and usable only when you are already running FG, and many changes needs to restart it to may apply them. This simple fact is horrible waste of time for many impatient new users, and this finally take them away from FG. This is because this was my experience when I started using FG, and read impressions of users that has tried it, in different forums and dowload sites. And every possible user is important, but perhaps FG is losing a lot of possible productive (or simple enhusiastic) users for "simple" poor usability of it.


Actually, this issue is two-fold: making the simulator fully runtime configurable is a declared goal of the project, and many original developers worked into this direction. You can clearly tell so when you look into things like for example the property tree, or its support for listeners. But the reality is that the code isn't really consistent enough to really support this for the time being.

Once you browse the forum or the mailing lists, you can find countless postings asking for the sim to become more configurable at runtime, for instance by allowing airplane selection at runtime - but it's not just about providing a GUI dialog and a command to do this (those are simple), it's also about telling the program how to do what it is supposed to do: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=865&p=94288&#p94288

On the other hand, the somewhat archaic user interface (PLIB PUI) is a completely different matter - while many people may think it's too simple, "just" replacing the GUI library with something more "modern" and powerful, isn't really going to solve many problems at all.
This is because the appearance of the GUI is just one thing, but changing the code so that settings become fully runtime configurable is a completely different matter.

And then there are also certain requirements to be kept in mind (GPL compatible licensing, C++, OpenGL and so on), the wiki contains actually a fairly old list of GUI libraries: http://wiki.flightgear.org/index.php/Op ... _RESOURCES

But to be honest, none of those libraries seem (at least to me) like a good replacement for FlightGear's GUI library.
Some people have suggested Qt or WxWidgets - but those are really HUGE dependencies.

But actually, this might be another good idea for a Google Summer of Code project.
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Re: Some pointers

Postby horacio » Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:28 pm

Hooray wrote:On the other hand, the somewhat archaic user interface (PLIB PUI) is a completely different matter...


Somewhat??!!... please take a look at this:

Image

Image

Besides the fact that FG interface has no design at all, there are some points as follow about its structure:

- It has no organization at all. As we say in spanish "están mezcladas peras con manzanas", or it similar in english "there are mixed apples with oranges". Can be possible to have 8 completely different items in the same windows?? Which new user will understand correctly this window?. And, of course... all every other important and misterious things are under the labeled button "Advanced..."

- Good simulator doesn't mean complex titles to each item. In FS each item is under a correctly and easy understanding labeled tab (as any simple well organized software most be), and every option in each item is described in "normal english" to anybody. What the hell is... "atc610x Protocole" or "debugging, log level" (I mean reading as a new user), that you find inside the "advanced options"?? Yea, this sim is very advanced and is for very advanced super smart users...

- Every option has a very explicit indication about its ranges and posibilities. "Car traffic? ok, how many? 1%, 2%.... 100%? how many?" At least, looking this percentage of traffic you may suppose how many will be required the CPU, RAM, etc. In FG you find "Random objects".... ¿¿¿¿¿¿ ?????? how many????? will my CPU, Card, RAM suport it?

Come on, man, you mean this "somewhat"?? FG sins of careless simplicity. The winner is who think in to be the best, not who think to do just what needed to function.

Of course, a new interface is not the 1st or 2nd priority need, but yes an important one. Good things come for the view, and then... they earn our sympathy.

I will say again what said sometimes in other post:

FG is a project. When you begin a project, the absolutely first point is to seat at a table a draw some lines. Each lines have its own each steps to follow to complete the line draw. And each step is consecutive to the previous one: this first, this second, this 3th, and so on. And finally, when you have your drawing, with your lines, with each step to follow... then you ideally set times to have completed each step of each line.... a Gant Chart...

... which I'm still looking for it.
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Re: Some pointers

Postby Hooray » Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:42 pm

just quickly: you may not be aware of it, but what you are referring to is actually NOT the FlightGear GUI: it's the GUI of the FlightGear launcher frontend (called "fgrun"): http://sourceforge.net/projects/fgrun

This is a SEPARATE program that is used for starting FlightGear. FlightGear itself doesn't even have such a full featured GUI at all.


FlightGear's GUI is actually much more basic than what fgrun (which is FLTK based) offers. I am referring to the built-in GUI. The external GUI (fgrun) can obviously change more settings because it starts/restarts FlightGear, while the internal GUI doesn't support re-initialization of the whole program.

Many of the points you are rasing are actually related to UI design.
You could probably add suggestions for improving to the fgrun feature request tracker: http://sourceforge.net/tracker/?group_i ... tid=510696
Once you search the forum, you should be able to find a number of discussions related to improving the FlightGear GUI and even fgrun in particular: http://www.flightgear.org/forums/viewto ... 702#p75271

I am not saying this to generally disagree with your points, but you need to check your facts first, before you can make informed suggestion ;-)
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Re: Some pointers

Postby horacio » Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:50 pm

Hooray wrote:I am not saying this to generally disagree with your points, but you need to check your facts first, before you can make informed suggestion ;-)


Yes, I may not correctly expressed. I was meaning about fgrun... it's the default window launcher that find almost every new user in Windows... doesn't it?. It's his first contact with FG. Or I'm wrong again?
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Re: Some pointers

Postby horacio » Wed Dec 01, 2010 9:08 pm

I forgot to say... when I was looking for a sim, and find FlightGear in sites like Softonic, and read comments of users, I remember some of them that never return to FG... just for this launcher window.

I think that if something like this happen is because that is the worst "face" that a software can show.
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Re: Some pointers

Postby richter » Thu Dec 02, 2010 6:04 am

Admittedly the fgrun interface is rather sparse, and maybe even old-fashioned looking, but I think you're really making a poor comparison here.

horacio wrote:Besides the fact that FG interface has no design at all, there are some points as follow about its structure:


If by "design" you mean eye-candy like excessively shaded, contoured, garishly colored controls and backgrounds which serve absolutely no function, I'd rather have none at all. Fgrun is written with FLTK, a cross-platform GUI toolkit that is lightweight and easy to use. It looks exactly the same on both Linux and Windows, and I assume, Mac OS. By comparison, the screenshot of FS doesn't look like Windows or anything else I've used, because of all that pointless make-up.

- It has no organization at all. As we say in spanish "están mezcladas peras con manzanas", or it similar in english "there are mixed apples with oranges". Can be possible to have 8 completely different items in the same windows?? Which new user will understand correctly this window?. And, of course... all every other important and misterious things are under the labeled button "Advanced..."

I'd rather have everything in one window than have to click through eight different wizard panels for stuff I never change.

- Good simulator doesn't mean complex titles to each item. In FS each item is under a correctly and easy understanding labeled tab (as any simple well organized software most be), and every option in each item is described in "normal english" to anybody. What the hell is... "atc610x Protocole" or "debugging, log level" (I mean reading as a new user), that you find inside the "advanced options"?? Yea, this sim is very advanced and is for very advanced super smart users...

I don't know exactly myself, but it's an advanced feature, presumably enabling something called the ATC610x protocol. That's why it's in "Advanced Options"! Should we instead call it something in "normal English" like "Funky Communication Thingy For Advanced Users (Not You)"? Or perhaps you think it's not hidden enough, so it should be placed in the "Super Duper Advanced Options", which is accessed through "Super Advanced Options", which is... ;)

- Every option has a very explicit indication about its ranges and posibilities. "Car traffic? ok, how many? 1%, 2%.... 100%? how many?" At least, looking this percentage of traffic you may suppose how many will be required the CPU, RAM, etc. In FG you find "Random objects".... ¿¿¿¿¿¿ ?????? how many????? will my CPU, Card, RAM suport it?


Those sliders are useful as a means of setting a value, but the percentages serve absolutely no purpose. I can guess that 0% means no traffic, vehicles, etc., but what does 59% mean? 59% of what? Does 100% Airline traffic density mean the entire sky is completely packed with aircraft? If not, then just how dense is it? Note that this not some meaningfully quantifiable value like "contrast" in a graphic application. Rather, it's just a range for a random number generator to determine how many objects to create, so changing the value from 59% to 58% likely has no discernible effect.

By contrast, fgrun is a simple on-off selection, because the simulator itself currently only has an on-off setting, where "on" corresponds to some predetermined value to set the random number range. If FG implements a variable setting for this, it will most likely be supported by a corresponding sliding control in fgrun. (But hopefully it won't have a meaningless percentage attached to it).

And how can any of this be used to meaningfully determine system load? Is there any way to find out the difference between 12% and 54% Road vehicles than to actually try the game with those settings an compare the effect?

Fgrun is probably used for about five seconds -- launch, Select Aircraft, Select Airport, Run, and the sim is running. And occasionally you might go back to try other settings. Any user who finds this too confusing probably doesn't want to be running a flight simulator. 8)
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Re: Some pointers

Postby timjschong » Thu Dec 02, 2010 6:49 am

I thought the Mac FG launcher looked OK.
Image
The simplicity is one of the nice things about it.
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