A tool to edit X-Plane Meshes: What’s new and next?

Notice: This is one of the articles in the series of articles describing the chronology of my initiative to aim for a common and official workflow to edit existing X-Plane terrain meshes. A summary about the why and the how can be found in the most recent article.

In continuation to the two articles about the idea and goals, and the current state of the development of a new X-Plane tool to edit existing terrain meshes, here is another status report:

Some of the most renowned X-Plane add-on designers could already benefit from the services, which I can offer with my new mesh edit tool: Stairport Sceneries, Aviotek Software and ShortFinal Design (a.k.a. MisterX6), to just name a few. I would like to thank them: It was not only a pleasure to contribute to fantastic sceneries like Aspen XPDubai International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport, the partnerships were also very important opportunities for testing and further developing the tool to edit meshes.

What the mesh edit tool is able to do, is already remarkable: Exchange (entirely or partially) of the in a DSF encoded elevation model (encoded in a way, that supports a sub-meter vertical resolution); the new elevation model can be optionally pre-processed, e.g. smoothing or flattening specific areas (to realize accurately sloped runways and aprons or e.g. leveled parking spots); automatic or manual refinement of the triangulated irregular network, so that the resulting terrain mesh well represents the underlying elevation model; option to add additional constraints referencing terrain definitions (e.g. to add missing waterbodies, refine coastlines or to add ortho-photos); patching the triangulated irregular network with shapefiles or – alternatively – mesh objects, modeled in GIS or 3D applications.

Unfortunately, the development has now reached a point, where the assistance of Laminar Research is urgently needed. As stated with the beginning of the project, I don’t want to offer just another tool in the series of VertexTool, RasterTool and MeshRemexe. The primary goal is, that mesh patching doesn’t longer require the re-distribution of entire X-Plane tiles, because this proceed comes with a lot of implications. Further, the process of creating patches should be implemented in the usual workflows of scenery developers as best as possible.

We need: An official mesh patch specification (file format specification), a common repository to share mesh patches (something like the scenery gateway) and a procedure to patch meshes automatically (on the fly, during the startup of the simulator, or whilst running the updater). In addition, there are also some requirements which would demand an extension or at least adjustments of the existing DSF format.

I have already had some interesting discussions with other X-Plane mesh specialists, which, however, did not lead to any concrete results so far. Also, we couldn’t gain the attention of Laminar Research. If you like to contribute in any way or join the discussion with your experiences in scenery development and in conjunction with mesh editing, I would like to invite you to contact me.