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Archive for the ‘AircraftTweak’ Category

A lot of my projects have stalled, partly due to lots of other stuff going on, but partly due to the fact that they have turned into a huge mountain. To help along, I have created a FogBugz bug database so that I can make a list of discrete little things to work on. This way I can have smaller one or two evening projects rather than a massive mountain of stuff that seems overwhelming.

 

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It has been about two years since the last update, but AircraftTweak has been updated. New to AircraftTweak? Click here for more info.

Major fixes:

  • Huge improvement on memory consumption – I would leak a lot of memory on some tasks.
  • Prints its own version with the PRINT_VERSION command
  • INSTALL_VARIANT_BY_TITLE now prints how many variants it actually installed (recall you can have many variants defined in a single source file)
  • New command: DUMP_ALL_TEXTURE_TITLE which reports the texture directory and title of each variant for a given aircraft (using a / to separate the two)

The real reason I updated was because I am working on a new project which I think a lot of people are going to like (this is one for regular FSX users, not just developers). In order to make my life easier there, I needed some additions to AircraftTweak.

You can download the new version on AVSIM here.

Stay tuned for release news of the new secret project!

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I realized the other day that with AVSIM being down, there has been no place to download AircraftTweak. So here it is: get v1.1 from my SkyDrive

If you don’t know what this app is, it is a way to install repaints (either manually or automatically in an installer etc.), and apply patches in general to your FSX aircraft. More information on AircraftTweak here.

In other news, I tried the Dry Soda Company’s new Cucumber soda today. Tastes like fizzy cucumber – actually pretty good!

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Many people create repaints for FSX aircraft, but there is no easy way to have an installer add the [fltsim.x] information into the correct aircraft.cfg file. This is usually left to the person who downloads the repaint, which is not very professional. AircraftTweak can help you automate this process, and creating a single exe which installs your repaint is fairly straightforward. But before you start, you will need to download and install Clickteam’s Install Creator, a free tool which lets you compress a set of files in one handy package. (click here to download). You will also need to download aircrafttweak.exe – you can download that here.

As an example, I will imagine I am the talented Michael Verlin, creating a new repaint for the HJG Boeing 707-320. Once my textures are painted and tested, I am ready to package all this up to upload to my favorite FSX library (I am using Micheal’s Pan Am 1961 repaint in the example below).

Ok, before we create our package, we will need to set up the files correctly.  Create a new folder somewhere convenient and call it installer – we will be putting all the files which end up in your exe installer in this folder: the texture folder (in my example this is texture.pan_am_1961_321_n714pa), a copy of aircrafttweak.exe, and two new files we will make: source.txt and install_script.bat:

Now to create those new files: Source.txt is the install source file which will be used by aircrafttweak.exe – this is a plain text file which contains the [fltsim.x] section which needs to be inserted into the aircraft.cfg file, like so:

[fltsim.xx]
title=HJG B707-320 Pan American 1961
sim=B707-320
model=
panel=
sound=
texture=pan_am_1961_321_n714pa
kb_checklists=
kb_reference=
visual_damage=1
description=HJG Boeing 707-320 repaint by Michael VERLIN
ui_manufacturer=Boeing
ui_type=707-320
ui_variation=Pan American (1961)
atc_id=N714PA
atc_airline=CLIPPER
atc_flight_number=320
atc_heavy=0
atc_parking_codes=ALK
atc_parking_types=GATE,CARGO,RAMP

Note that this file should ONLY contain this info, and there should not be any empty lines between the lines of text.

Now the install_script.bat file. This contains the commands to both install the repaint, and clean up the temporary files afterward. The install_script.bat contains, in this example:

aircrafttweak.exe install_variant “HJG Boeing 707-320 v6” “.\source.txt” /COPY_TEXTURE_FOLDERS /DELETE_TEXTURE_FOLDERS_AFTER_INSTALL /DELETE_SOURCEFILE_AFTER_INSTALL

del aircrafttweak.exe
del install_script.bat

Ok, some important things to note about install_script.bat (especially the sections marked in red and blue above). The red text indicates which aircraft this repaint must be installed to. This should be exactly the same name as the folder name used by the aircraft. In my example, the 707 is installed on c:\program files\microsoft games\flight simulator x\simobjects\airplanes\hjg boeing 707-320 v6 which is why I use “hjg boeing 707-320 v6” (in quotes, very important) as that parameter. The blue text indicates which file aircrafttweak.exe will read the [fltsim.x] information from. You can name it to match your file, but you must put it in quotes, and preface it with a period and backslash like this: .\ You can keep all the other parameters the same in each installer. The aircrafttweak.pdf file describes what they all do if you are interested in the gory details.

Note for advanced users: Aircrafttweak.exe is smart enough to search all the SimObjectPaths.x sections of the FSX.cfg file for the aircraft to install to – so if you are installing a new variant to, for example, a MyTrafficX model, you can safely refer to it directly as, for instance, “A346MX” without having to specify any special path.

Ok, we have now gotten all the files required to install the repaint – we can now package this up into an installer. Start up the Install Creator. The Install Creator Wizard will come up. In the Directory page select your installer directory, and make sure that the Include sub-directories box is ticked ON:

In the Title page, add an informative title about your repaint (be sure to include what model it is for, so people know that they have the correct base model installed!):

The next two pages of the wizard you can leave on the default values (if you feel adventurous, you can experiment to get the look you like for your installer). In the Information page, add the following instruction to your users:

In order to enable the repaint, this installer needs to run install_script.bat. On the final page of this installer, you will be given the option to run this file. Please ensure that the checkbox next to install_script.bat on that page is left on.

It will look like this:

This is important, otherwise aircrafttweak.exe will not be able to enable the repaint for them. Ok, the next page of the wizard is the license page (add legal conditions there if you need them), and the page after that is the Installation Directory page. There are some important parameters to set here.  Delete all the text in the textbox, and then from the > button, select Current User Directory:

You will see #UserDir# appears in the textbox. Now add to that \Temp\A name that describes your repaint. Be sure you have the Temp first, or you will be dumping little folders all over your user’s home folder! The name that describes your repaint can be any legal directory name:

Ok, the next page called Shell you can leave as is, but the page after that, called End Page Options needs some settings to be changed. The most important thing here is to set the file to run after installation to install_script.bat, like this:

Now on the final page of the installer (Uninstallation), check OFF the Uninstall program checkbox (the Install Creator cannot uninstall repaints, so it will give your users a false impression if you leave this on):

Now finish the wizard – Install Creator will want to build the installer. Select a folder to put the installer that is NOT the installer folder we have been using to prepare our package. I normally put this in another folder called zipfile, which I will use to make the zip file ready for upload. Before you exit the Install Creator, it would be a good idea to save your installer in case you need to make changes to it later.

Ok, now you should test your repaint. Deactivate the repaint and go to FSX to ensure that it does not appear in the aircraft list. Now run the installer to completion, and again return to FSX to ensure that your repaint does in fact appear.

Fixing errors: If your repaint does not install, the two most common errors are: (1) Your system does not have the registry key for FSX set (download this tool to fix that), or (2) you have made a typo in the name of the aircraft folder, and the target aircraft cannot be found by aircrafttweak.exe.

When your installer is done and tested, all you need to do is prepare the zip file to upload as usual.- don’t forget to add some screenshots and a text file with install instructions and your contact details as usual. In your instructions for installations, be sure to remind your users to not turn off the ‘Launch repaint’ checkbox on the last page of the installer!

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Woohoo! Version 1.1 has now been downloaded one thousand times (collated from all the download sites I could think of). It’s so popular even I use it! 😉

I have not gotten any bug reports yet, so that is good (one dude had problems running it cause he forgot to install the visual studio runtime). Still waiting for confirmation that 3rd-party devs are making use of it though – has not been spotted ‘in the wild’ as it were.

Are you not one of this elite clique yet? Go on, download it – you know you want to.

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This version has the ability to make and apply binary patches – now you have a complete patching solution for your aircraft and other add-ons. The install code has been improved by changing the source file scanning algorithm; rather than requiring the [fltsim.n] section to be contiguous, it now scans until it hits a line without an ‘=’ character in it (lines which are only whitespace are excluded from this). The UI has also been updated to include some of the new features. Download at AVSIM.

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Put it on AVSIM just before lunch. I added a little UI for installing and removing repaints:

The UI works like the UI in Exchange – it is just a graphical wrapper around shell calls. The main app is statically linked so that it can be distributed without requiring users to install additional packages to use (after all, it is intended to be deployed to unknown remote machines as a patcher). The UI obviously requires the .NET libraries etc.

I must admit, after all the .NET code in fsdsxtweak, I enjoyed going back to good old fashioned C stdlib text manipulation 🙂

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