WorldMaker is X-Plane's free application for editing scenery. This page is specific to X-Plane 8; for information on WorldMaker 7 please see the separate document.
Limitations of WorldMaker 8
Previous versions of WorldMaker were capable of editing both version 6/7 scenery files (ENV) files and version 6/7 airport information (apt.dat and nav.dat files). However, WorldMaker 8 is only capable of editing airport (apt.dat and nav.dat) files; it cannot edit version 7 (ENV) or version 8 (DSF) scenery files.
WorldMaker's previous scenery editing capabilities depended on the X-Plane 6/7 scenery rendering engine. This code was totally rewritten for X-Plane 8. As a result, the developers had to remove WorldMaker's scenery editing capabilities. More substantial scenery editing capabilities should be returning in X-Plane 8.50.
WorldMaker 8 is provided primarily as a way to edit airport layouts and nav data. It is also useful as a preview tool for people customizing terrain textures as it loads faster than X-Plane and it displays the terrain without fogging.
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X-Plane 8 introduces some new text file formats that help X-Plane to render X-Plane 8 DSF scenery files. WorldMaker 8 has some tools to help edit or preview these new files.
A facade file (.fac) is a text file that describes how to apply a texture to a polygonal extruded building. WorldMaker's Facades tab lets you open and edit a .fac and view a real-time preview of the facade with textures.
A road network file (.net) is a text file that describes how to apply a texture to extruded road networks. WorldMaker's roads tab lets you open and edit a .net file and view a real-time preview of the road network's various segments.
A terrain info file (.ter) is a text file that describes how a texture should be applied to the terrain mesh to create the appearance of various types of terrain. WorldMaker does not feature a terrain info file yet. However, the terrain tab does allow you to preview compositing of various bitmaps.
Warning: X-Plane 8 introduced the concept of composite terrains, or terrain based on a modulation of two bitmaps. However it turns out that compositing produces graphic artifacts on a number of graphic cards. For this reason, the global scenery will probably not use composite terrains, and the ability to preview them in WorldMaker 8 is probably not useful. Composite terrains will be reintroduced in the future as a supported technique once the graphic issues are resolved. Scenery that relies on composite terrain will work in future copies of X-Plane, but the rendering may have artifacts.
At this time there are no publicly available, easy to use tools to create Generation-8 scenery. The development team is working pretty much full time on Gen-8 scenery and tools.
DSF2Text is a command line or drag & drop application that can convert DSF files to a text format and back. This can be used to manually add objects to an existing DSF file, but the process is tedious.
Andrew McGregor is working on a tool to transfer objects from an ENV file to an existing DSF file using DSF2Text and his own code. This can be found in the utilities category on x-plane.org.
Future scenery tool plans
Laminar Research will be releasing their internal scenery development tools (currently titled "WorldEditor", but likely to change to avoid total confusion) both in source and binary form. WorldEditor will allow authors to use all techniques used to create the V8 global scenery and also to create custom scenery. WorldMaker 8 will not be the main scenery editing tool.
The scenery creation code uses CGAL and other GPLed or copyleft libraries; as a result it will be released in source under an appropriate Open-Source license.
This creates some tricky issues for scenery tool creation. Because Laminar is not prepared to release X-Plane's rendering engine in source, and because the GPL and other such licenses are 'contagious' (requiring all code integrated with a GPLed application to be Open-Sourced), it may not be possible to use X-Plane's rendering code to provide WYSIWYG preview of scenery in the creation tools unless the X-Plane engine can be converted to a dynamically-loadable plugin.
Because WorldMaker 8 is not Open-Source, it can use X-Plane's code to show previews of facades, roads, etc.