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Guest christian

new BGL format in FS2004

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Hi All,Does anyone have any info on the new BGL format in FS2004? Or does anyone know of tools that will dump an FS2004 BGL into something that I can parse? Or, (the least likely), does MS have it posted somewhere?My freeware utility (Gndmaker) worked fine with parsing the AFD files in FS2002 (for exporting to Procontroller SCT files), but no more...Damn them...damn them all to hell. ;)Thanks in Advance!Corey.http://wirun.homelinux.net/gndmaker

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I am afraid we have to wait for the MS SDK on the new AFD format for that.

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There is an estimated date that will be published this new SDK from MS?Thanks!

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I guess that the best estimate available, going on prior history, is "probably (?!*) some time before Xmas 2004" !!!But, hey, who knows - that is in the lap of the gods in Redmond.CheersGerrish:) :+ :) :+ :) :+ :) :+ :) :+ :) :+ :) :+ :) :+

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It's just ridiculous. 3rd party product developers helped FS become the monster that it is. Yet, it just amazes me that MS continues to bite the hand that feeds. I can understand the SDK's coming out a few weeks after the initial product release. But, having to wait 3,4 or even 6 months for the SDK ? It's not like they are working on a patch, since MS has already said that one is not coming.I would bet that a single developer with technical writing experience could update and release the SDK's within a week.FS9 is a great product. But, Microsoft's handling of the SDK's just infuriates me.Sorry for the rant.Allen Kriesman

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Sorry Allen, but we all need to stop and think a minute before we rant (and I am, famously, often just as guilty of it as anyone else!). [ol][li]Although FS was originally bought in from BAO, essentially all the development in recent years, as I understand it, has been done in-house by a small, dedicated, team of developers most of whom work on FS full time. I'm not aware of any direct input by third party developers into the basic product, except in the way of testing and the occasional suggestion (but perhaps you know more?).[/li][li]What exactly is it that you think that the appropriate members of that team are doing at the moment other than working on the SDK's and related tasks. I happen to know that several of them are just as keen FS nuts as the rest of us and not only work 'full time' but also turn their work into their hobby and often work late into the night long after normal office hours have finished.[/li][li]No doubt, as a fellow IT professional with technical writing experience you can turn out a good manual in a couple of days, but I for one (although I will admit to being a bit slow and overly thorough about such tasks) always find it takes me several weeks, and often months ... in fact about the same as the guys at Redmond.[/li][/ol]As you say, FS9 is a great product, like all its predecessors, even if it does have a few warts (just like any piece of software development, in my limited experience), and the developemnt team do a great job for us. Now and then they get thoroughly p...d off at all the largely unwarranted criticism they get - it makes them rant sometimes too! And since when was writing the doc's anyone's favourite task? I know as well as anyone how frustrating it is to wait for the SDK's, but I'm sure the guys are doing their best for us.Excuse me my rant too ...Gerrish

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Still, you'd think they'd be able to get it out a bit quicker. After all, if Lee Swordy can make an decode BGLs and create tools that allow us to make AI traffic, then shouldn't MS be able to do this quicker? Well, I suppose MS does have a lot more SDKs to create than just the AI traffic. I do remember that the CFS3 SDKs came out a lot quicker than the FS2002, not that anyone ever used them.FS9 doesn't seem that different from FS2002, with a few notable exceptions, so I wonder if some of the SDKs will be "reprints". I'm sure there haven't been many changes with how we make mesh, for example. This might be good news that once the SDK's start coming out, we might get a few released rapidly one after another.Anyway, I might be missing something, but the two biggest changes that I have seen with scenery are:1. AFD - being worked on by Lee Swordy (AFCAD)2. VTP - already figured out, and implemented in Ground2KWhat other changes has anyone noticed that require SDK's?- Martin

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Hi All,Well! Given the way this thread has gone, I can't help but feel a LOT more jaded to the way MS has handled this. I completely agree with the sentiments expressed above.I've had to bite, rip, and scratch just the get where I am with reading BGL files (mainly courtesy of Ted Wright of Nav).If MS is not able to keep up with the publishing of the SDK's, then I think I'm going to just say the heck with it and switch over to supporting x-plane first, then MS FS second.At least Austin has his act together a lot more than MS is able to do - and he has a clearly superior (albeit underdog) product.MS? Are you listening? Any chance you can help us developers out here?Corey.

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Hi Martin.As far as VTP and LWM BGLs, there is still some things we'd like to see in an SDK... some VTP structures were never explained properly, and LWMs have a new structure. And we all hope there is a cure for excluding flattens back to the mesh state.Dick

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I had a long chat with Mike Gilbert, the program manager for FS, at the Avsim conference about just this subject. It was very enlightening, to say the least. Apparently the people who work on FS there are just as anxious to get the SDKs out the door, but it isn't quite as easy as write 'em and post 'em. Currently several of the SDKs are held up in legal, it seems, while the lawyers go over their EULA with a fine-toothed comb. And of course, no man is an island -- especially at Microsoft. He said there is always the hard sell of convincing those who hold the purse strings (and thus issue the paychecks) that creating SDKs is a profitable venture, because there's no direct revenue stream from them. Yes, they do contribute to the success of the sim overall, but it's not always in ways that can be outlined succinctly to the bean counters, hence it's a struggle to get them to agree to pay for the time needed to create them. Quite frankly, after speaking with an actual flesh-and-blood MS employee I'm much more inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt on the subject.

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Nice to hear this. From our scenery team we also have had contact with MS in the Netherlands (I know the Irish scenery team did the same there) and in both cases MS showed interest in the work we are doing and offered to help us if they could. So I think this indicates that they also understand the importance of the addons (and we were talking to marketing guys, no technicians).Let's hope the SDK will be here soon to help us solving our troubles (and make some new troubles of course :)).

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In my opinion, the delay is a result of complete and utter mismanagement. Firstly, why can't the scenery / aircraft tools that the FS team is using themselves designed in a way that they can be released to the public without modification? For example, the 3dsmax plugin to make clouds. The program they are using to create airports, etc, etc... With a bit of ahead planning, the SDKs could be designed in a way that they could be put onto the CDs without much extra work.Secondly, if the holdup is really legal reasons, this should be able to be solved as well. The tools between the releases don't change that much in the first place, so it should be possible to work out a legal guideline that the FS team can follow. And the legal stuff should be sorted out way in advance, not months after the release date.If the FS team wants to prove a point to the legal / commercial department, they should just print out the regular messages posted here in the forums. There are a number of other gaming companies who get their act together, which could also be cited as very successful companies.The SDK dilemma is the reason why my support is only half hearted at this stage, and may eventually be the reason for me to quit completely. And I won't be the first and last, there are a number of other people that I know of who are fed up with it and are contemplating to quit for good.I don't know who is to blame for this situation (and I don't want to point my finger at anyone), but it has to be fixed rather sooner than later. Just because MSFS has been a very sucessful title doesn't mean it's going to stay that way. The gaming industry is an incredibly dynamic one, and it only takes little changes to spell desaster on game titles, even whole game genres. In the light of rapidly increasing support from other developers for their titles, the future of the MSFS title could look very grim indeed if nothing is changing.Just my 2 cents...Christian

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Sometimes - just for fun - I wonder what would result if all the talent working on FS freeware moved to FlightGear (http://www.flightgear.org/). I really like the thought of open source and especially for developers the difference would be huge - the talent working on addons now could be part of improving the sim itself.Just for the record, I'm completely happy with designing for FS at the moment. Naturally I too would rather see SDK's sooner than later but all things considered, FS is still easily the best sim for me to work on.

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Christian, I agree with you 100%. The SDK's should have been released with the product.I have no doubt that the MS developers have their hands tied by the typical MS red tape. My anger is more towards MS than the developers.Perhaps a source of my frustration is that I spent a lot of time working as part of Richard Harvey's Fly! beta team. The Fly! team realized the importance of the 3rd party developers. Not only was their SDK intuitively designed, TRI also released the SDK immediately after the product. When there were technical changes between versions (such as a change in object file formats), the users/developers were notified far in advance of the product release date. The loss of the Fly! series is a blow to the entire Flight Sim community. I guess I have been spoiled by my 2 year association with Rich and the others.Now, I know that the user-friendly TRI support was something unique. It would be unrealistic to expect MS to give us the same. But, there is no interaction with the public at all from them. I attribute this to Microsoft's corporate policy, and not their frustrated developers. Then again, as Gerrish pointed out, they do get a tremendous amount of unjustified criticism regarding FS2004 product quality. Perhaps they have a chip on their shoulder from this.I still think that someone at Microsoft underestimates the importance of having a timely release of the SDK. And, I still think that packaging the SDK with the product would require a very small effort, in comparison to what it takes to develop and test the next product release.For the first 6 months of the year I spent over 1000 hours working on a massive project for FS2002 and FS2004. I finally got it working well for FS2002, and expected a quick conversion to FS2004. Without new documentation on the BGL files (AFCAD information specifically), I have been dead in the water for the last 3 months. Rather than flounder around wasting time, or spend the time trying to disassemble the BGL's), I have chosen to wait on the SDK's to clear things up.I love doing flight sim development more than actually flying. Now, for the first time in 7 years, I am actually considering selling all my hardware (Full PFC gear) and giving up a hobby that I truly love.The fellow developers on this board are unbelievably helpful. Some of you guys must contribute a good chunk of your week to helping others. But, 3 months after the release of FS2004, there are still technical issues that cannot yet be answered without the SDK's.If some of you guys have differing opinions, I am all ears and would love to hear them. I have been in the software development business for 18 years, but there is always something new to learn regarding distribution and support.

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Hi Gerrish,I don't doubt the good intentions of the MS developers. They are in a tough situation.On one hand they have an unrealistically demanding public. On the other hand they have to deal with the mass marketing arm of MS and the typical corporate red tape. Throwing after-the-sale support into the new project budget is always a tough sale.

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