TravelRunner404

Questions on Scenery Add-On Folder Method

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I am trying to install all my scenery the "proper" way using the add-on method so I can avoid reinstalling 25 airports everytime I update P3D or more likely reinstall 25 airports after I mess up my P3D install tinkering with things.

Right now I have a client PC where I have a "fake" P3Dv4 install.  Meaning I have a folder and a text file I named Prepar3d.exe.  This allows me to see where and what they install in the main P3D folder.  I have airports from the usual suspects.  I am hoping for a little guidance on the following situations

LatinVFR - Pretty simple install.  Addon Scenery\Airport Name then they have Scenery and Texture folders.  They also put Effects folder with one file and a 'texture' subfolder.  The effects folder is a global P3Dv4 folder.  I moved all 3 folders into a directory called SLVR (LatinVFR).  In that folder I have:

Effects

Scenery

Texture

I move that entire folder to my P3Dv4 computer into an add-on directory.  I use Lorby's addon organizer to create the xml file.  It creates one category "Scenery" and one Path.  Is that all that's needed? Or do I need a path to all 3 folders? Does it make a difference that the effects folder is a simple subfolder of the scenery even though it's a root folder in the P3Dv4 directory with other files mixed usually?

Lastly, is Washington X by DD.  They also put a bunch of files in the SODE directory.  How can I account for this when doing a reinstall/format of the computer? Do I have to watch that directory on any installs to make sure I back it up? Are there any other directories I could be missing?

Thanks,

Brian

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Posted (edited)
46 minutes ago, TravelRunner404 said:

I move that entire folder to my P3Dv4 computer into an add-on directory.  I use Lorby's addon organizer to create the xml file.  It creates one category "Scenery" and one Path.  Is that all that's needed? Or do I need a path to all 3 folders? Does it make a difference that the effects folder is a simple subfolder of the scenery even though it's a root folder in the P3Dv4 directory with other files mixed usually?

You need to create one scenery component that is targeting the top folder above \scenery and \texture, just like in the old days - this is called a "scenery area". You have to create one "other addon" in P4AO, which you add to the same add-on.xml that was created for the scenery, being of the type "effects", targeting the effects folder.

Example: if your scenery is installed like this:

F:\MyScenery\MyAirport\scenery
F:\MyScenery\MyAirport\texture
F:\MyScenery\Effects

then you add a scenery component on the first page of the P4AO - and the path that you enter is "F:\MyScenery\MyAirport". After that you go to "Other addons", "Add component" and add the Effects folder "F:\MyScenery\Effects" to the same add-on.xml.

Quote

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<SimBase.Document Type="AddOnXml" version="4,0" id="add-on">
  <AddOn.Name>My scenery</AddOn.Name>
  <AddOn.Description>Collection of my sceneries</AddOn.Description>
  <AddOn.Component>
    <Category>Scenery</Category>
    <Path>F:\MyScenery\MyAirport</Path>
    <Name>My Airport</Name>
    <Layer>133</Layer>
  </AddOn.Component>
  <AddOn.Component>
    <Category>Effects</Category>
    <Path>F:\MyScenery\Effects</Path>
  </AddOn.Component>
</SimBase.Document>

I have placed the Effects folder on a higher level, so I can re-use it for other sceneries - it is already referenced so all I have to do is to drop new effects into that folder, and that's it. Goes for Sounds, Shaders, Global files etc. too.

Be aware that some scenery addons are placing BGL files into the P3D folder \Scenery\World\Scenery. To avoid overlooking those, I suggest that you just point the installer at at the external folder directly, so you will see what it is installing and you can handle it accordingly.

Please note that you don't have to create one single add-on.xml for every addon. It is better to plan ahead, and group sceneries, aircraft etc. by whatever logic suits you. For example, you could create one add-on.xml containing all airports that are in a certain country or on a certain continent. So for the next airport addon, you just add it to the XML that pertains to the geographical location. Keep the number of XML files low, so you have a better chance of organizing your simulator addons - and for example turn off scenery that you don't need quickly by simply disabling the add-on.xml package for a whole continent. 

Please check out this thread too:

https://www.avsim.com/forums/topic/534107-p4ao-how-to-add-legacy-scenery/

Best regards

 

 

Edited by Lorby_SI
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1 hour ago, TravelRunner404 said:

They also put a bunch of files in the SODE directory.  How can I account for this when doing a reinstall/format of the computer?

I recommend that any addon that uses a dll file, such as SODE or any FSDT product, you do a clean install into your reformatted computer.  SODE in particular varies in that some developers will install their files into the SODE programdata and others instruct you to manually copy specific files to SODE folders.  The best approach is to understand how SODE works and where it keeps stuff.  12Pilot has that information available.

If you do not have the time or the inclination to read the SDK description of how add-ons files are added and how they connect to P3D then I recommend you use Lorby's Addon Organizer.  It will handle most anything you throw at it.

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Thanks Lorby.  That all makes sense.  I have had no issues seeing how most of the test scenery I am doing installs.  Thanks for both guides and the great utility of course.

What about SODE though?

I notice that there are quite a few files put in C:\ProgramData\12bPilot

If I copy that over is everything good for SODE?

Thanks,

Brian

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, TravelRunner404 said:

Thanks Lorby.  That all makes sense.  I have had no issues seeing how most of the test scenery I am doing installs.  Thanks for both guides and the great utility of course.

What about SODE though?

I notice that there are quite a few files put in C:\ProgramData\12bPilot

If I copy that over is everything good for SODE?

Thanks,

Brian

Hello Brian,

leave SODE alone, it is already installed with an add-on.xml. Or it will be if you install the P3D V4 version, which is necessary for it to even work.

There are two different ways to install addons, either with the autodiscovery function that P4AO is using, or with the P3D command line tools. SODE uses the latter method, its add-on.xml is in a different place, but it is there none the less. You should be able to see it on the "other addons" tab in P4AO. Which, btw. is just as important as the scenery tabs - it contains all your other addon components that are referenced with add-on.xml files (aircraft, texture replacements, shaders, weather, sound, whatever. EVERY type of simulator content can be referenced with the XML files and kept away from the simulator directories)

Best regards

Edited by Lorby_SI

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Sorry, when I said SODE I meant the files that the add-on installs and not the SODE program itself.

Right now I have flightbeam KSFO and Drez Designs Washington X installed. They both put files in the Programdata\12bpilot directory. Those seem to be the only SODE files for the scenery to work. Right?

Also, maybe I should explain what I am doing overall. I am trying to create My scenery or add-on hard drive. So right now I am on a client PC installing into a fake directory. I will build my Add-on folder then transfer it to the secondary drive on my flight sim PC and then build my xml files there.

So on the client PC i am doing this on I don’t actually have SODE or P3D. But seems like SODE files for the airport are installed in that programdata directory.

Thanks again. 

Brian

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6 minutes ago, TravelRunner404 said:

Sorry, when I said SODE I meant the files that the add-on installs and not the SODE program itself.

Right now I have flightbeam KSFO and Drez Designs Washington X installed. They both put files in the Programdata\12bpilot directory. Those seem to be the only SODE files for the scenery to work. Right?

Also, maybe I should explain what I am doing overall. I am trying to create My scenery or add-on hard drive. So right now I am on a client PC installing into a fake directory. I will build my Add-on folder then transfer it to the secondary drive on my flight sim PC and then build my xml files there.

So on the client PC i am doing this on I don’t actually have SODE or P3D. But seems like SODE files for the airport are installed in that programdata directory.

Thanks again. 

Brian

Hello Brian,

that would be a question for the SODE developer I think. First, if you are not even using SODE, I can't imagine that it matters if those files are anywhere. And if you do use it, then these files are automatically linked to the sim with SODEs own add-on.xml

But even easier - if the files are of type BGL then they are intended to be added to the simulator at some point. If they are not, the sim will not see them anyway. I suspect that these are config files for SODE to work with, and not something to be used by the sim.

Best regards

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1 hour ago, TravelRunner404 said:

Right now I have flightbeam KSFO and Drez Designs Washington X installed. They both put files in the Programdata\12bpilot directory. Those seem to be the only SODE files for the scenery to work. Right?

Correct.  Although DD does it differently from most others, the basics are the same.  The scenery installer puts specific xml, mdl and dds files in the SODE programdata folders, and the SODE engine takes it from there.  There are a few developers that ask the user to copy SODE folders with files to the programdata SODE folders but the result is the same, either the installer does it or the instructions have the user do it.

Also to correct a minor point, SODE does not use command line activation.  The P3D command line is not modified.  SODE uses the add-on.cfg method, which analogous to the scenery.cfg both of which are in the LM P3D program data folder, but instead of pointing to scenery the add-on.cfg entry points to where the add-on.xml file is located.  This allows SODE to put the add-on.xml file along side the SODE dll modules it installs in Program Files (x86) folders.  The add-on.cfg method is simply a different way than the auto-discovery method of pointing P3D to the add-on.xml which does not require the user to click OK to load the addon. The method SODE uses is exactly in compliance with the SDK.

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Thanks, guys, I really appreciate the detailed responses.  This helps a lot.  I will keep installing my 20 or so airports and come back with any issues I might have :)

I will install FSDT later today but I'll try and use what I have learned to figure it out first.  I know there is a .dll situation with those.

Thanks!

Brian

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Okay, FSDT actually seems really easy.  Point the first airport you install with them to the directory on your scenery drive and it will keep everything out of the default P3Dv4 directory from what I can tell.

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14 minutes ago, TravelRunner404 said:

Okay, FSDT actually seems really easy.  Point the first airport you install with them to the directory on your scenery drive and it will keep everything out of the default P3Dv4 directory from what I can tell.

Yes, we made all installers to conform entirely to the P3D4 SDK best practices, which are:

- Use of an add-on.xml file instead of the scenery.cfg

- Put the add-on.xml in the Documents\Prepar3d v4 add ons folder, which will allow auto-discovery of the scenery, even if you reinstall the simulator *entirely* including a clean of the preference files: you still won't have to reinstall the FSDT sceneries if you do that.

- Place all the scenery files outside the sim folder. There are just a *few* exceptions: some of our earlier sceneries have an altitude correction .BGL, and this must be placed in the Scenery\World\Scenery folder of the sim, otherwise AI will float. These are the unusual cases when we had to change the airport altitude, because the one in the default scenery was wrong.

As you correctly noted, you can choose the destination folder only on the first airport you install. Then, we set a registry key pointing to it, and automatically have all subsequent installations going there, so you won't risk spreading them everywhere in case you selected a different folder each time by mistake.

If you change your mind, and want to move them to a different place, if you uninstall them all, and reply YES to the question "Do you want to remove the Addon Manager ?" which is made at the end of the Uninstaller, that registry key will be cleared, and you'll be free to start again with the first airport letting freely choose the destination.

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21 minutes ago, virtuali said:

There are just a *few* exceptions: some of our earlier sceneries have an altitude correction .BGL, and this must be placed in the Scenery\World\Scenery folder of the sim, otherwise AI will float. These are the unusual cases when we had to change the airport altitude, because the one in the default scenery was wrong.

Okay, so if I were to wipe my P3D folder and reinstall how are these files replaced? Do I have to run the installers again to get this added?  Is this overwriting a .BGL file and that's why the XML method will not work for these?

Thanks,
Brian

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1 hour ago, TravelRunner404 said:

Okay, so if I were to wipe my P3D folder and reinstall how are these files replaced? Do I have to run the installers again to get this added?  Is this overwriting a .BGL file and that's why the XML method will not work for these?

Thanks,
Brian

That's the big advantage to the addon method:  None of your addons are removed when you remove P3D as in a major update.  When you reinstall any P3D version 4.xx it will automatically find all the addons via the documents addon directories or via the programdata addon cfg file.

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1 hour ago, downscc said:

That's the big advantage to the addon method: 

I agree 100%. Exactly why I am trying to learn how to manage the little bit that I have now. However, Virtuali mentioned an altitude adjustment .bgl that was put in the main directory for some older airports. If I have said airport, would I have an issue on reinstall since the new P3D install would overwrite that file. 

I think KSFO from flightbeam does the same thing (file in scenery\world\scenery) but I just used the method Oliver described for the effects folder in my initial post and the link he sent.

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Posted (edited)
23 minutes ago, TravelRunner404 said:

I agree 100%. Exactly why I am trying to learn how to manage the little bit that I have now. However, Virtuali mentioned an altitude adjustment .bgl that was put in the main directory for some older airports. If I have said airport, would I have an issue on reinstall since the new P3D install would overwrite that file. 

I think KSFO from flightbeam does the same thing (file in scenery\world\scenery) but I just used the method Oliver described for the effects folder in my initial post and the link he sent.

In the thread that I linked in the above post #2 , in the third step I am creating an XML entry for the scenery/world/scenery files too (= a scenery area at Layer 2 - that is all that this folder is, there is nothing special about it. You will find the default at the beginning of the scenery.cfg, has always been there). But usually I copy these files of multiple scenery addons into one single external folder, like I did with the effects. So I don't have to worry about adding references to effects or base layer every time I add a scenery.

One other benefit of these XML files is flexibility. Theoretically, you could create completely different simulator flavors with a single P3D install - one with ORBX, one with Ultimate Terrain, one with photoreal - switching between them by just enabling/disabling the addon packages = add-on.xmls. Add to that the fact that you can reference every type of content, you could even have different shaders associated with the diverse scenery packages. A simulator with 1960s scenery, aircraft and AI, and another one with 2018 assets in the same P3D. You could use the add-on.xmls to group your scenery by continents or countries, and only enable those that pertain to your current flight - to save on load times. Only your own imagination is the limit.

Best regards

Edited by Lorby_SI

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