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Use Flightplan Visualizer with MSFS


pellelil
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Per say Flightplan Visualizer (FV) have not been made for a particular Flight Simulator. However it relies on the output from Make Runways (by Pete Dowson) which is able to scan installed FSX/P3D scenery, and extract information about Airports (including runways, gates and frequencies). Likewise the bundled (pre-imported) flight-plans are intended for AI traffic in FSX and P3D, but who are to say a person flying in MSFS cannot use these as inspiration, as they are based on real-life flight-plans.

 

So in theory you can use FV with any sim, if you simply want to use it to find inspiration of flights to fly (more on this at a later time, when I feel ready to reveal what I am currently working on). Today Pete Dowson have release a beta version of Make Runways which is able to scan your installed MSFS scenery. This means that FV is now able to display airport info (runways, gates and frequencies). Here is a link to Pete's forum regarding this beta version of Make Runways: https://forum.simflight.com/topic/90865-makerunways-beta-version-500-for-msfs/

 

The documentation bundled with the beta-version of Make Runways tells you how to "install" and use -it. When you run it, it will scan your installed MSFS scenery and generate the files that Make Runways used to make. FV is able to read these files (or at least the 3 of them it actually uses) when it starts up. However you have to make these files available to FV. If you have never told FV to look for these files in another directory, it will look for these in the default UserData folder ("C:\Users\[UserName]\AppData\Roaming\FlightplanVisualizer\UserData"). So you could simply overwrite the 3 files in this folder, with the ones just generated (however you would then "loose" your current files). If you want to do this, its these 3 files you need to copy:

  • f5.csv
  • g5.csv
  • runways.xml

 

In stead I suggest you go into settings-form and simply inform FV where to look for these files. On my computer I have installed the new beta-version of Make Runways into the folder "G:\FS\MakeRunways", so it is here that Make Runways have saved the files it have just been generating. So in FV I open the settings-form (found in the File-menu). Here I have just entered the path where it can find these files:

 

Settings.thumb.jpg.7adfc3f42d0429b6e34cebef0eb9af4c.jpg


When you hit OK your changes will be saved, and when changing the path for these files, FV needs to be restarted. However it detects if this path was changed, and will automatically restart. Since there are much more airports in MSFS than there were in FSX/P3D, FV will take a little longer to start (on my PC about half a second), as it have to read/parse more data. Here below is screen-shot from FV showing some of the data extracted via this new beta version of Make Runways. In this case EKCH (Copenhagen, Denmark) which is from a FlyTampa scenery bought/installed via the MSFS Marketplace:

 

EKCH.thumb.jpg.a27b5dd083792aff759b949a4c14d81a.jpg


Remember that this is the first beta-version of Make Runways with support for MSFS, and its only been released today, so there might be things not working (e.g. it is currently not able to set the country-name, but this is due to some data missing in MSFS). Pete have been able to test this version with both the MS-store and steam-edition of MSFS, however have not been able to test it with the DVD version (as written in the post linked above).

 

As I recall P3D contained about 25K airports, whereas MSFS contains about 37K. This means that the airport-database currently bundled with FV don't contain information for all these new additional airports. Make Runways is able to extract the data stored in the scenery (like information regarding runways, gates and frequencies), however there are some additional data in the FV-database that (at least as of now) will be "missing". I haven't had time to look into this as of yet, but at least the time-zone will not be found, so these airports, missing in the database, will not have the correct local-time.

 

I will try to see if I will be able to update the database bundled with FV, so it will contain all (missing) information in the next release. I have not yet decided how I will handle this new database. The old (current) is partly based on "old" (and in many cases) obsolete information that match the default scenery in FSX/P3D. However in most cases these have not been updated for years, so in the mean time many airports have closed, changed their ICAO/name, new airports have been born. I am thinking about "locking" the current database in its current form, and then release the new (updated) ... time will tell 🙂

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In the next-version the entry-field in settings have been replaced with a combo-box, which "remembers" the last few paths you have been using, so its more convenient to switch between MkRwy -files for different sims (e.g. "P3D" and "MSFS"):

 

Settings2.thumb.jpg.593745d2279b668f5d9c605026bec135.jpg

 

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Flightplan Visualizer (FV) have not been made to be used with multiple different simulators at the same time. However now that MSFS is here and Pete have managed to update MakeRunways (MkRwy) so it can also scan the scenery files of MSFS, I have improved how its more easy to use FV with multiple simulators. I have added a couple of command-line arguments that can be set in your short-cut icon used when starting FV. As I showed in the previous screenshot, in settings you can now quickly switch between different sets of MkRwy-files. However using the new command-line argument /MkRwy you can now let the icon (desktop short-cut) set this parameter. Hence I have a short-cut for starting FV with access to my MkRwy files for MSFS like this:

 

/MkRwy="G:\FS\MakeRunways"

 

In this case the double-quotes are not required as there is no spaces in the path, however its good practice. The folder G:\FS\Runways is the folder where MkRwy puts the data it extracts from MSFS, and by adding this parameter to the short-cut it ensures that FV will display data of the MSFS airports when I use this particular short-cut to start the program.

 

I have another short-cut to use when I start FV to display airport-info from my P3Dv4.5 installation. This short-cut in stead have this parameter attached. In this case the double-quotes are required as there is a space between "3D" and "V4" in the end:

 

/MkRwy="C:\Program Files\Lockheed Martin\Prepar3D v4"

 

Beside specifying the path to where FV can find the files generated by MkRwy, I have added yet another parameter called /FilePrefix. If you specify this argument (by adding it as a parameter in the short-cut for starting FV) it will prefix this value in front of the file names of the files it tries to open from the UserData folder (e.g. "C:\Users\[UserName]\AppData\Roaming\FlightplanVisualizer\UserData"). In the UserData folder you for instance finds the file "UserAirportInfo.xml". This file contains info regarding the airports and gates you have marked as your favorites. It also contains your ranking of the airport, if you have entered a hint-text or comments an so on. When using FV with either P3D or MSFS I don't want to have the same Favorite airports and gates as this is based on the scenery that is available, and naturally that will be different between 2 sims (e.g. P3D and MSFS). There for I have coplied the file "UserAirportInfo.xml" into 2 other files called "P3D_UserAirportInfo.xml" and "MSFS-UserAirportInfo.xml". The last I have removed all the context except the "header" and the outer tags, so this is the content of that file:

 

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<UserAirportInfos Version="1">
</UserAirportInfos>

 

I have not changed the content of my "P3D_UserAirportInfo.xml" as I want it to contain its current content (that I used for P3Dv4.5. In order to use these files I have to add the "/FilePrefix" parameter to my two FV shortcuts (one for P3D and one for MSFS). So added to the prevous lines here is the full list of parameters for MFS

 

/MkRwy="G:\FS\MakeRunways" /FilePrefix=MSFS

 

And for my P3D short-cut:

/MkRwy="C:\Program Files\Lockheed Martin\Prepar3D v4" /FilePrefix=P3D

 

As of now I have only copied my "UserAirportInfo.xml" into 2 files using these prefixes (remark the program will automatically add the underscore so "P3D" becomes "P3D_" and "MSFS" becomes "MSFS_"). All of my other files in this folder don't contain this prefix. If you start FV with the "/FilePrefix" parameter it will first look for a file using that prefix. If not found, it will look for the file without the prefix. This means starting FV using the "/FilePrefix=MSFS" parameter it will try to locate the file "MSFS-UserAirportInfo.xml". If this file exists it will be used, otherwise it will simply use the file "UserAirportInfo.xml".

 

Therefor if you are going to use FV for multiple different sims, it is entirely up to you which files you want to share between all sims, and which files you want to be specific for a single simulator. I suggest that you share "UserAircraftInfo.xml" between your sims, as you then only have to create/maintain your user-aircraft/type and -owned aircraft between all your sims. Likewise I would also share my "UserAirlineInfo.xml" between all sims, so I only have to maintain my user-airlines one place. However as we saw before I would make specialized versions of UserAirportInfo, UserAirportRedirect and UserFavoriteAircraftTypes (by making these available in 2 versions, using the before mentioned prefixes).

 

Just to clarify this is not available in the current version of FV, but will be available in version 1.18.

 

 

 

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