Microsoft Flight Simulator supports the development of add-ons that can distributed to other users in the form of packages. A package is essentially a collection of files that make up the add-on content being shared, and this can be anything from a custom aircraft to a new airport, or even a combination of multiple different game assets!
NOTE: After reading this overview, please read the page on Using The SDK, as it includes important information on how the contents of the SDK should be used.
To create add-on packages correctly you will need to use this SDK in conjunction with Developer Mode from within the Microsoft Flight Simulator game. You can activate developer mode from the General options in the game:
Once activated, you will have access to the Developer Tools from a toolbar across the top of the screen. Note that the majority of these tools cannot be used unless you are within a mission in the game.
You can access this document as well as extra samples and tutorials, and also download the latest version of the SDK from the Help menu:
The Microsoft Flight Simulator SDK comes in the form of an (Microsoft Installer file), as do some of the extra samples available for download.
For a full rundown of the different tools available, please see the section on Using Developer Mode.
The system requirements for using the Dev Tools and the SDK are the same as those for running the Microsoft Flight Simulator game. You can find a full and up-to-date list of these requirements from the following link:
When installing the SDK it will detect the presence of any external tools that are supported by the SDK or required for the SDK to be used. These are:
- 3D Studio Max: The glTF exporter plug-in that comes with the SDK depends on Autodesk 3D Studio Max. During installation, existing installations of 3D Studio Max will be detected and the appropriate plug-in for the installed version will be added. The SDK currently supports 3D Studio Max 2016 (SP2), 2017, 2018, 2019 (SP3) and 2020. You can find out more information on the 3DS Max Tools page.
- Microsoft Visual Studio 2019: Support for WASM requires Microsoft Visual Studio 2019 with the Clang tools installed. The Clang tools can be installed through the Microsoft Visual Studio Installer under the "Desktop development with C++" workload. The SDK will also install the Microsoft Flight Simulator Platform Toolset for Visual Studio which is used when creating certain types of aircraft gauges and other things.
Note that if you do not have Visual Studio installed (or 3D Studio Max) when you install the SDK, you will need to download and install it, then re-install the SDK to ensure that they are both correctly configured.
The launcher tool is a tool specifically created to provide the developer a faster launch of Microsoft Flight Simulator. This tool basically launches Microsoft Flight Simulator as normal, but forces the game to skip the intro logos and videos that would normally be displayed on load. Future versions of this tool will be targeted to provide more control/options to the user, to benefit from faster access to their Dev Mode environment.
To use this tool, simply call the executable instead of the normal game shortcut or EXE. You can find this tool from the following SDK path:
The SDK installation folder is split into the following sub-folders:
- Documentation: The SDK user manual (this document).
- Samples: Multiple example projects you can build from Developer Mode (airplane, scenery, airport...).
- Schemas: A standardized description of some file formats or extensions used in the SDK.
- SimConnect SDK: C++ interface to SimConnect, allowing for out-of-process executables to communicate directly with the sim.
- Tools: The different tools available that are not directly part of the Developer Mode (e.g: glTF exporter)
Compiling And Testing The Provided Samples
The best way to get a feeling for how development of add-ons works in Microsoft Flight Simulator is by opening one of the provided sample projects from the Developer Mode tools and build it.
To do this, follow the steps outlined below:
- Enable Developer Mode in the simulator.
- Select the [DevMode] > Open project... menu entry from the menu bar.
- Choose one of the XML projects from the SDK Samples folder (e.g. ).
- This will then open the Project Editor window (also accessible through Tools > Project Editor).
- If you click on the sample package (e.g. ) it will open the Project Inspector Window. and here you can click the Build package button to build the package and mount it.
NOTE: If the inspector window doesn't open automatically it can be opened from the View menu of the Project Editor.
Building the package will open the Console Window which will show the progress of the package installation, and if you get no error messages saying the package has failed to build and mount then everything has gone correctly and the new items will be available in the game. For example, if you've built the "simple Aircraft" package, you should be able to go to the Aircraft Selection screen in your game and choose it for use:
The Community folder is the folder where you would place your created packages to have them appear in the game without the need to load them up every time using the Developer Mode Project Editor. The location of this folder will depend on where your copy of Microsoft Flight Simulator came from, as different retailers (OneStore and Steam) will cause the Community folder to be created in different locations.
To find out where the Community folder is for your version of the game, you can open the Virtual File System window from the Tools menu in Developer Mode:
Once you have the Virtual File System window open, you can navigate to the Watched Bases section, and clicking on it will show a number of file locations that are used by the game, one of which should be the Community folder:
This path can be used to find the Community folder in the file explorer, and you can then copy any packages that you want to have permanently installed in Microsoft Flight Simulator to that location.
Additional Tools On GitHub
Asobo has made available extra tools that can be used when creating add-ons for Microsoft Flight Simulator. Some of these tools are installed automatically when you install the SDK (sometimes depending on whether you have other products installed or not, for example the 3DS Max plugin requires you have 3Ds Max installed). These extra tools, along with a few other extras, can be found here:
A variety of tools and processes let you create and modify Flight Simulator aircraft, Missions, panels and gauges, terrain, weather, special effects, air traffic control voicepacks, and scenery. To use these tools and processes (software development kits or SDKs) you must at least understand Flight Simulator file structures and may need some advanced programming skills.
The Flight Simulator X Deluxe version includes the SDKs. You'll learn more about the skills required by reading the documentation and working through the tutorials that form the bulk of the SDK.
|Note: SDKs are not supported by Microsoft Product Support.|
The Flight Simulator X SDK is divided into four main components:
The Core Utilities Kit
This includes the SimConnect SDK—the programmers interface to Flight Simulator. Using SimConnect, programmers can develop add-ons for the product, including:
- Complex instruments
- Weather systems
- AI-controlled aircraft traffic
- Processing power for a Flight Simulator mission
- Logging and monitoring applications
- Many other possible extensions
However, use of this SDK requires substantial programming skills in C, C++, or a .NET programming language such as C#. This kit also includes information on camera system extensions.
The SimObject Container Kit
The SimObject Container Kit describes the file structure and formats needed to add and modify aircraft and other simulated objects (such as boats and ground vehicles, animals, and hot-air balloons). A major component of this kit explains the tools and procedures required to modify aircraft panels and gauges.
The Environment Kit
The Environment Kit is a large component that includes many tools and descriptions of file formats for extending the terrain and scenery in Flight Simulator.
Fires and smoke are commonly-used special effects. The Environment Kit includes the Special Effects SDK, which makes it possible to add new particle-driven graphics to scenery and aircraft.
This kit also includes tools for creating 3-D models for aircraft and scenery objects. Finally, there are tools to help create AI traffic databases.
The Mission Creation Kit
The Mission Creation Kit explains how to create Flight Simulator Missions. Missions are structured flights, which can be challenges or adventures or simply a fun way to educate the user by providing tasks or training.
- top -Sours: http://krepelka.com/fsweb/learningcenter/flightsimextreme/usingthesdkandaircrafteditor.htm
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