Google maps in Courseplanner

Google maps in Courseplanner
Google maps in Courseplanner

After many, many, complains about the maps that Courseplanner offers as a default, I finally decided to add support for Google maps.

Actually adding Google maps itself is fairly straight forward, I spent a bit of time adding all the overlapping drawings that are required for the moving map.

There is also the small issue of not been connected to the internet, (’cause you can’t use Google maps properly without the internet).

I am also working on a small application that offers only Google Maps and Courseplanner moving map.
Currently the Google Maps version is only available in Beta, (but you can get it here), but I am planning on releasing it soonish.

Google Maps in Courseplanner
Google Maps in Courseplanner

Google Maps has a very, very easy API to work with, they have almost no restrictions to using it in an application.

I did send them an email to make sure that I am on the right side of their terms and conditions.

While I wait, I still need to add a couple of things, (to the Google Maps tab).

  • Moving map.
  • Current flight plan and,
  • De-clutter.

Please visit the forum and let me know if you can think of any new features that would be nice to add.

Added a contact form

I often get comments posted here regarding registration issues or general questions about Courseplanner itself. This is not really the proper place for them, so I have to delete them.

To that end I have created a new contact page where users can email me directly. I haven’t added any security checks yet, (because, truth be told, CAPTCHA can be a bit of a pain to use sometimes).

Note that the forum is still by far the preferred place to get help, because that way the reply can be used by everybody.

Finally ordered X-Plane

My long term plan has always been to include X-Plane with Courseplanner, (mainly because Flight simulator is not actively been developed any more*). To that end I finally ordered X-Plane 9 and it should be arriving in the next few weeks.

I’ll then be able to create an X-Plane module for Courseplanner.

* Yes I know about Microsoft Flight, but this seems a long way away from been complete and no one really seems to know if it will be a game of a simulator.

Adding crash report information to Courseplanner

I finally got around adding a proper crash report to Courseplanner, I do get a couple of reports every months and every time I am faced with the same problem of not having enough information. Thankfully it does not happen very often, but when it does I need to gather as much information as possible.

I am looking at CrashRpt, I used that piece of software a while ago, (when they were on Codeproject) and I was quite happy with it.
Because it is open source and written it C++, it makes it very easy to incorporate in Courseplanner.

I am also looking at other kinds of Crash handling software, especially Google and Firefox, not because I think they are better, but simply because I would be foolish to ignore such big names.

One of the most attractive option they have is the possibility to send the report directly to the website, in the past users were reluctant to send an email, or, in worse cases the emails would be trapped in some spam filter.

I also created a privacy policy page, it basically says that I have no plans to pass any information to any third party. Currently the policy is limited to the crash report, but at some stage I will have to update it to include registration and the forum.

I am planning on releasing it to the beta team later today, (my ftp server is down for some reason).

Installing Wine on ubuntu

I was playing around with using Courseplanner on an old unix machine of mine.  Of course you cannot just run a windows application on a ubuntu machine, but thankfully Wine allows you to run such applications.

But be warned a lot of issues have been reported, Wine does not work 100% all the time.
So, before I venture down the road of installing Courseplanner on my ubuntu machine I need to venture down the road of installing Wine.

Start the terminal server (Applications > Accessories > Terminal).
At the command prompt, type

sudo apt-get install wine
[sudo] password for username:

Enter your password, and then wait for the relevant packages to be downloaded, (only 19Mb but for me it took a bit of time for some reason).

When this is done… there is nothing else to do, you can type…

wine –version

To get the version number, but to be fair, this won’t help you much 🙂

Next I need to install Coursplanner…

Back in the flying seat

Courseplanner tracking a waypoint
Courseplanner tracking a waypoint

I finally managed to get back to flying a little over the week-end, I am working on some new features for Courseplanner, namely the ability to turn into a waypoint, (or past a waypoint depending on the one you want to visit).

All the coding is done, I am just testing with various aircraft if everything works as expected. With all the small aircraft, (Cessna, Mooney and so on), it works well, but it is another story for the heavies. It is just very hard to remain on course without having some wild turns in order to remain on course.

I also added some small features to see where the automatic flight management of Courseplanner is aiming.

But all in all it is fun to get back to flying again.

New bugtracker

I finally got around to implement a new bug tracking system. The main reason for that is because I was starting to loose track between requests and bugs, my roadmap was also starting to look a bit like a bug tracking tool as well.  I was also starting to loose track of what I had done when it came time to do releases.

Everybody is more than welcome to create an account and log new bugs, I chose Mantis as it seems to be a fairly ‘up-to-date’  online application.
I am new it, so I might make some mistakes as I go along, so please, bear with me.

I am very keen to do another stable release, but I first have to finish the database import application as it is still a bit ‘clunky’, I want the users to be able to click on one button only to load the database, (a bit like the aircrafts are been imported curently).

Finally completed the courseplanner import function

I finally found some time to complete the database import function in Courseplanner.
The database can be created with data from FSX and FS9. I must admit that I am a bit disappointed with the result, it seems that Microsoft flight simulator relies on graphics a lot more than I thought, the data on the .bgl files is not enough to display nice clean airports.
But I am working on ways of building proper curves in taxipath, (and I am also working on improving the general look of surfaces).

I am very busy at work and sadly I cannot work on Courseplanner as much as I would like. But once most of the bugs have been ironed out of the import function I will be able to continue working on various other bugs/features that have been reported on the forum.

Tackling the map issue

I have finally started working on the map issue we have been having. The problem is that the map is perfect when it comes to looking far away but it is blurry, (at best when looking at it up close)

In courseplanner version 3 the map was actually a set of points of the world that was drawn. The result was a far from picture perfect image but it worked rather well when zooming in really close, (about as close as an airport for example).
So I am going to re-add the outlining and try to ‘marry’ the NASA photo realistic image with the outline drawing.

Another option is to offer the 600Mb map of the world to the users. Maybe ship it to them via CD or something, (maybe allow a download?) This will partly solve the problem and make the image even more realistic, (the definition is 50M or something like that. So the map should be close to ‘perfect’ I hope.

But, before I do that, let me finish the outline. I see that a few flight planners offer the outline to simplify the view, so let me also try it.

As I am on leave for the next few days I will try and get it all done in 3 or 4 days.

New release of Courseplanner, still lots of work to do.

Yesterday I released a new version of Courseplanner, so far the response seems to be positive, but it is still early days.

I still need to make a few changes, especially the map, it is obviously a bigger eyesore than I expected,  so I will need to look into it as soon as possible.
As I want to keep Courseplanner as ‘stand-alone’ as possible, (because of future support for X-Plane), I need to think of a simple way to display the map as ‘clearly’ as possible without depending on X-Plane or Flight Simulator.

I think that importing sectional maps might be a good idea, so if people want a ‘high definition’ map of a certain area then they will need to download it from various sites. I might make it flexible enough to upload to this site as well, (so others can download it).

I also want to add support for X-Plane, I am sure it won’t hurt to have more input from such a large comunity.

As alway I am looking for any suggestions/bug reports, anything to improve Courseplanner. So feel free to visit the forum and throw in your suggestions.