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Janov

All you ever wanted to know about X-Plane scenery...but were afraid to ask!

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Hi everyone,

 

with so many new people dipping their toes into the frigid X-Plane waters (yay and welcome!!) I thought it would be helpful to write something about the way that X-Plane reads and handles scenery. I will amend this post as necessary, and am happy to hear your input and additions. :smile:

 

 

For the casual user:

 

  • Don´t download airports ("global airports") from the Scenery Gateway https://gateway.x-plane.com/
  • Look at this map http://x-plane.cleverest.eu/ to see which airports are ALREADY IN (or will be added soon automatically) X-Plane (no need to download!!)
  • If you download a "custom airport" from another website, place it into the Custom Scenery folder. (You may need to also download an "object library" to make that airport appear nicely, instructions should be included with that airport.)
  • If you don´t like it anymore, simply delete it (no uninstalling needed)

 

Do you want to know MORE?:

 

1.) The basic, default layer of X-Plane´s scenery (the mesh, the landclass, the roads, water, etc.) lies in the X-Plane 11 Global Scenery folder. Do NOT mess with this folder or it´s contents.

 

2.) The resources to populate this basic layer resides in the Resources/default scenery folder. It contains all the artwork and objects for this scenery, also the artwork for the autogen AND the airports included in X-Plane. It also holds the /default apt dat folder with the oldest, most basic layer of airports existing in X-Plane - just 2D (no buildings). This apt.dat file contains all these legacy airports that former versions of X-Plane had. Do NOT mess with this folder or it´s contents.

 

3.) The Resources/default data folder contains the .dat files which govern the position of celestial objects,airways, navigational fixes and other navigational data. They are updated by Laminar every few months. Do NOT mess with this folder or it´s contents.

 

4.) The Custom Data folder can be used to store a new .dat file that the user (you) obtain from a 3rd party vendor, for example Navigraph. They will give you new earth_nav.dat, earth_airway.dat, etc. files and you simply put it into this folder. X-Plane will look at this folder first when booting up, and if it finds good data in there, it will load this instead of the one in the "default data" folder. This is convenient, because in a subsequent X-Plane update, it will not prompt you to replace the (appearantly modified) file.

 

5.) The Custom Scenery folder is really where its at. It will hold several "types" of files:

 

Custom airports

 

These are packs containing (usually) one airport each. Some are already supplied by Laminar Research, like the "Aerosoft...." airports and the KSEA and LOWI Demo areas. This is also where your own airports need to appear if you download them from some other website. Observe the strict convention of folders in each custom airport - main folder holding (sometimes) an "earth.wed.xml" file (only used by WED) and an "earth nav data" folder containing the apt.dat file (holding all airport info like runways, taxiways, windsocks, taxiway lines etc.) and inside that folder the folder containing a  .dsf  file, named according to the lat/lon position it pertains to. The .dsf holds other information, like position of objects, polygons, etc.  

 

Global airports

 

This folder contains all the airports that users (like me) have created with WED (or Overlay Editor) and uploaded to the Scenery Gateway (https://gateway.x-plane.com/). Laminar reviews them, and will add them to the files inside this folder periodically (every few months). You can check out the status of these global airports here: http://x-plane.cleverest.eu/

 

Any extra scenery "mesh" you may download, like the HD Mesh by AlpilotX.

 

The scenery_packs.ini file. This file governs both the scenery ORDER in X-Plane (top is on top) and if an airport is displayed at all or not. Edit with a text editor. Here is a little video explaining it:

 

 

FAQ:

 

Q: Why are so many airports I fly to "barren" or do not even have the correct airport layout?

 

A: When X-Plane originally started, it was a one-man-effort. Austin had no time to add buildings to all airports, or to create correct taxiway layouts. The only thing avalaible in a database was the runway data. In later years X-Plane user created many correct (or better) taxiway layouts, but it was still impossible to place buildings and objects. Those airports are called "2D". Currently users are uploading airports they created using WED http://developer.x-plane.com/tools/worldeditor/ to the Scenery Gateway, to eventually make all airports "3D" (have buildings)

 

 

Q: My favourite airport is wrong! Where can I report a bug?

 

A: Do not place a regular bug report, but instead report it at the Scenery Gateway. You need to register first. https://gateway.x-plane.com/bugs/view

 

 

Q: My favourite airport has no buildings, it is only flat! (2D) What can I do?

 

A: You can download WED and learn how to improve airports - it is actually quite fun and addicting!

 

 

Q: What is the difference between the "global airports" and a "normal" custom airport?

 

A: A custom airport is one that you, the user, made or downloaded. It will be placed in the   Custom Scenery   folder. The global airports also reside in the  Custom Scenery  folder, but in a sub-folder named Global Airports and will be updated by Laminar Research every few month  s.

 

 

Q: Why do all global airports look similiar?

 

A: Laminar accepts only airports that are build exclusively with Laminar approved objects (called the "Lego Bricks"). This is to control quality of artwork and to keep download size small. No custom artwork (terminal facades, extra aircraft models, etc.) will be accepted for upload to the Scenery Gateway.

 

Q: Why should I not download global airports from the Scenery Gateway if they are appearantly new and not yet inclduded in my current version of X-Plane?

 

A: The problem is that a "custom airport" (and that includes one that you download from the Gateway) will always SUPPRESS a "global airport" with the same ICAO identifier. So if you have a KLAX airport downloaded, you will never see the "global airport" KLAX. This is desired for "real" custom airports, which usually supersede global airports in quality. But if you download a global airport manually, the risk is that you will forget about it and it will ALWAYS suppress the corresponding airport in the global airports folder. Now if a designer adds a brand-new and improved airport to the global airports, you will never see that.

 

...more to be added....

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Great stuff indeed, thanks for sharing Jan.

 

This one needs to be pinned.

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right on time. Looking forward to more of these stuff. Absolutely helpful to newcomers like me!

 

Just added a some custom scenery to XP11 tonight and my jaw almost dropped. I kept saying to myself while flying: "wow, this is really dream comes true, unbelievable.. ". The feeling of flying over high quality scenery is incredible. Nearly everything looks and feels just right - sth I've longing for in P3D for a long time. 

 

Well, then XP11 busted my 12GB system memory.. pity that I have to wait couple month to build a new PC. 32GB ram for sure.

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Nice guide!

 

A quick question about WED airports and default scenery / mesh; has the option to separate the WED airports download from the default scenery ever been discussed?

 

The data resides in different folders on the install, and as a user of the HD meshes it would save me some disk space if I could just download the airports (which I'd really like) without having the default scenery (which I don't need for the areas I usually fly in) as well.

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Nice guide!

 

A quick question about WED airports and default scenery / mesh; has the option to separate the WED airports download from the default scenery ever been discussed?

 

The data resides in different folders on the install, and as a user of the HD meshes it would save me some disk space if I could just download the airports (which I'd really like) without having the default scenery (which I don't need for the areas I usually fly in) as well.

 

I have no idea what happens if you kill the default global scenery - it might be that X-Plane won´t mind. You could move that folder just to try - then move it back if it doesn´t work out. AT YOUR OWN RISK, though!

 

I have been running the XP11 beta with HD mesh when there was no global scenery yet - and it worked fine. So I would put my money on "it will work". But maybe the folder with the (empty) .dsf files was there all along, so who knows...

 

Let us know how it goes, Jan

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It's no problem to delete (better:uninstall using the installer/updater) the default scenery, you will still have all airports, even the 2D ones.

I have all tiles deselected in my X-Plane installation and just use the HD scenery, yet all default/gateway airports are there.

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Yes, that's what I'm doing at the moment, but as far as I can work out, currently if you want the gateway airports you have to download the default scenery as well. So my question is more, do we know if LR have considered offering the gateway airports as a separate download?

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I have all the gateway airports as far as I can tell, despite having uninstalled the base scenery.

For example, I'm using only custom scenery for southern California, but I have 3D gateway airports like John Wayne, Oceano or Santa Barbara in place without needing to download them seperately.

 

What IS dependend on having the default scenery installed are the handful of enhanced Aerosoft airports. They get added or removed if you add or remove the area in the global scenery. But you can still download those if you want to use them: http://dev.x-plane.com/update/versions/X-Plane%2010.51/Custom%20Scenery/

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