Tips on Testing

If you want to help me testing the plugin, here are some tips

Testing Goals for v2.0

The Challenge

Testing LiveTraffic v2.0 is a challenge because

  • it targets X-Plane 11.50 and its Vulkan/Metal support, but X-Plane 11.50 is itself in Beta state with lots of bugs by itself.

  • it follows quite quickly to LiveTraffic 1.5, which already was a major change with regards to ground handling. I have not much feedback on v1.5...people keep asking about v2.0, so I don't know how well v1.5 actually works. Don't confuse v2.0 bugs with stuff introduced in v1.5 already. Thoroughly understand what is part of v1.5, read the change log and especially the chapter on Snapping to Taxiways.

  • There is very limited real life airtraffic at the moment due to the Corona pandemic. That means very few aircraft to observe. The US still flies (unbelievable but true) and air traffic in Asia slowly starts picking up again. But in Europe the skies are void. Make sure there are planes where you test and that your channels actually show them. I can't stress enough: Check your coverage first!

v2.0 Changes

LiveTraffic v2.0 will especially change

  • Completely re-written:

    • Rendering: All aircraft rendering is left to X-Plane's instancing.

    • CSL model loading: only OBJ8 models will be accepted, check your Log.txt, it will list not accepted models.

      • One change: LiveTraffic now searches up to 5 levels deep into the given directory structure for xsb_aircraft.txt files. So if you have several CSL model installations (which required you to configure them separately in the CSL settings) you could now put all of them together under one root directory and tell LiveTraffic that root.

    • Model matching algorithm. All the previous rules are still supposed to work the same way (although the internal implementation is completely different), there is only one thing I now solved differently:

      • If there is no clear information which livery to choose, then LiveTraffic takes a random pick. This shall bring some more colors into your sky, but certainly makes it a bit harder to figure out if LiveTraffic just picked wrong or just had no info. Log.txt and an A/c info Window will tell you.

    • TCAS is now solved completely differently

    • AI multiplayer information: This is what feeds other plugins like maps

  • Map Layer: LiveTraffic aircraft are now shown in a separate layer in XP's internal map. Known issue: AI multiplayer aircraft under control of LiveTraffic (those which will appear on TCAS/external maps) are shown with two icons stacked one above the other: one by X-Plane, plus one by LiveTraffic.

Changes to the Installation

Starting with v2.0, LiveTraffic will use the most modern directory structure for plugins. Instead of a 64 subdirectory containing all three binaries, LiveTraffic now comes with win_x64 / mac_x64 / lin_x64 subdirectories, each holding one LiveTraffic.xpl binary.

Also, there is one more file, Resources/MapIcons.png, which contains (you guessed it...) the icons shown in the internal map.

Resources/lights.png is no longer needed and removed.

The workaround to make CSL models unique is a) no longer required and b) does no longer work. You must not use it with LiveTraffic v2.0! (If you do, aircraft animation will not work at all.) If you previously used the "make unique" workaround, then run CSL2XSB again on your CSL models, now without the "make unique" option. With instancing, the "missing gear" problem will be history.

Areas of Test

I'd appreciate help especially in the following areas:

  • X-Plane 11.50 Beta usage in OpenGL/Vulkan/Metal Try to figure if a visual problems is part of XP's problems or LiveTraffic's fault. Compare Vulkan/Metal with OpenGL. LiveTraffic must work in both modes!

  • Monitor LiveTraffic performance impact. X-Plane 11.50 comes with a new plugin monitor. Go to Plugins > Show Plugin Admin, select the tab "Performance". LiveTraffic shall not have a major impact on performance. I can't give good figures upfront as this monitoring is completely new. Impact will certainly depend on number of aircraft to handle. Just monitor it and I'd say...give me a note if it reaches above 5.00%. I will require a screenshot together with the standard info / Log.txt because then the detailed figures are extremely important for optimizations.

  • Test the rewritten parts (see above for more details):

    • CSL Model loading, especially try Bluebell and X-CSL, apply CSL2XSB on both as it enables rotor/propellor (Bluebell) or makes it work in the first place (X-CSL).

    • Model Matching. If you think something's odd, then make a screenshot including A/c info Window. I need that A/c Info Window! Without it any report would be no use. Remember that you can just type any id of the aircraft into the first field, do read the documentation.

    • TCAS:

    • AI multiplayer info / tool integration: Have tools running like

      • Little Navmap (feeds purely on AI multiplay limited to number of configured a/c),

      • FSTramp (reads all 19 multiplayer slots independent of number of configured a/c, and reads textual info in special dataRefs), or

      • A-Better-Circle (first plugin to use the LTAPI with full access to all aircraft no matter how many).

  • Internal map with new LiveTraffic layer In early Betas I used to have crashes with the map open, which I never could track down. With Beta 5 (yea...the recalled one) I could not produce any crashes any longer, though I tried hard with opening/closing, displaying nearly 100 planes... but go there yourself and check it out.

  • Use while flying different aircraft yourself. This project left me with very limited time for actual flying...so surprisingly I have limited experience how LiveTraffic does while sitting in a cockpit.

  • Endurance, Resilience: LiveTraffic shall not crash the simulator during short final after an 8 hours trip across the Atlantic. Quite some effort has been made to catch errors and exceptions. Aircraft might disappear if data becomes bogus, channels might disconnect if received data contains too many errors, the entire plugin might re-initialize. But it tries hard not to crash. Sometimes I do long-time tests with the sim sitting at a busy airport drawing live planes all night long. Maybe you could afford such a test, too? Even better: Take LiveTraffic across the Atlantic (not the limited coverage there, though) or along an all-capitals tour in Europe.

  • World coverage I have tested with German airports (cause I live there) and US airports (because when I find time for programming/debugging they are the busy ones ;)). Maybe traffic in other parts of the world behaves differently? I'd ask you to watch traffic at airports like EDDL, EDDM or KLAX, KLGA, KEWR for a while, just to get a feel what LiveTraffic can do. Because, see limitations, simulation of reality has its limits. For example, it is quite 'normal' that planes stop on the runway and disappear. Maybe we find better ways of interpreting available live data (then follow the detail positional debug information, see below), maybe we just have to live with the data as it is.

General Setup

  • Configuration in Settings

    • Set logging level to be Debug all the time (Advanced Settings). This will fill up your Log.txt but is valuable in case of analysis.

    • Activate Log a/c positions (Debug Settings) to produce additional very detailed position debug information in the log file for the 'selected' aircraft, which is

      • the last aircraft selected in any A/C Info Window, or

      • the aircraft selected in Filter for transponder hex code.

    • In some situations, especially when dealing with unexpected aircraft behaviour, even temporarily activate Log raw network flight data to have actual network requests and received responses written into LTRawFD.log.

  • Open X-Plane's log file Log.txt in a terminal window and keep an eye on it while running X-Plane:

    • Open a terminal (Mac) or a PowerShell window (Windows)

    • cd to your X-Plane main directory

    • tail -f Log.txt (Mac) or Get-Content .\Log.txt -Wait -Tail 30 (Windows)

Proper Bug Reporting

With LiveTraffic, a scenario cannot be "just" reproduced as it depends on live data. What you see nobody else will ever be able to see again! So to be helpful you need to describe as good as possible what actually happened and what you saw.

Ingredients

A good bug report includes:

  • Log.txt file of that session. No Log.txt...and you can consider your bug report void. If you are on Windows be aware that the full file is only available after exiting from X-Plane due to file caching. Don't just grab it while running! Make sure the time of your problem is actually logged. Do look into the file yourself before posting...maybe the log tells you already what's wrong.

  • Intention in case you actively did something: What did you want to do / to achieve?

  • Observation: What did LiveTraffic do / not do / do improperly / do unexpectedly? Why does it not fullfil your expectations?

  • Screenshot, maybe even short video including Aircraft Info Window (I did make clear that I can't do much without an A/c info window, did I? I mean it...it is important.)

  • Location and Time: Where were you? At least airport, depending on issue even more detailed (runway, taxiway, ramp, gate, coordinates). When was that? Remember to add your timezone!

  • For crashes see here and add the dump file.

Bug reporting is just as usual in the support forum.

First look if something like you want to report has already been reported. But even if it has been reported please leave a comment and your Log.txt!

Follow-up

I will likely have questions and ask you to try one or the other thing.

  • Please answer all my questions. Each of them. I might ask more than one in one go. They will be numbered. Answer each of the questions, with numbers assigned, so I know what you answer. Your guess and opinion what the reason for a problem is, is welcome! Please add it. After you answered my questions. I will try to give a bit of a background why I ask the questions I ask. But in case I missed it, or it is not quite clear why, please assume that I know my software best and have reason to ask. (Sorry that I am so stubborn on this, but my experience from the support forum is that people don't read and answer all my questions, and then we need another and yet another request/reply cycle, although all of that could have been solved in one go.)

  • Please try what I ask you to try. This is effort, I know. If you can't do it immediately don't worry. Do it when you have a chance. But it will help bringing LiveTraffic forward.

  • Please confirm if a problem got solved. Don't stay silent, give feedback.

Thank you!