• Interview With Shankar Giri


    When did you start developing for flight simulators and what got you interested in it?

    Developing for flight simulators is a recent activity for me and started around the summer of 2013. Although my exposure to flight simulators goes back a long time, it was only recently that I took the plunge into developing for X-Plane.

    FSX and the Flight Simulator franchise has absolutely tons of add-on material, so I found no necessity to contribute in that area. However, with X-Plane, there was a paucity of good add-ons and open source tools (of course, things have improved recently) and I thought it was time to take the plunge.

    Tell us about the nature of your designs and what you do?

    I have lots of experience of coding in the real world, so I look for things that really need attention, or would be very useful, but at present, has not been done. In X-Plane, there are lots of areas in which I can contribute. Airport environments, compared to its competitors, were sorely lacking in X-Plane, so to start building airport scenery from scratch is still a daunting task to many. Things are starting to change now with X-Plane, mainly because of the crowd-sourcing taking place which has been helped greatly by the wonderful tools created by Laminar Research.

    Open Street Maps (OSM) however, had the airport environments described in exceedingly high detail. Areas not already defined can easily be modified by anyone as it is a crowd sourced database, so I figured it should be possible to pull the OSM data for the airports and build the X-Plane airport data completely automated. This was the motivation behind OSMAirportsX.

    What do you consider your best or most popular work?

    OSMAirportsX is my second effort in the flight sim area and without a doubt, my best and most popular work. OSMAirportsX saves an awful lot of time for scenery designers because almost everything in the airport scenery is built automatically. The designer just needs to tweak and add changes to what has already been generated. Of course, it is no substitute for human ingenuity and artistic perfection, but it is a great helper and does the donkey work for free. There are bugs, as with any software, but I'll do my best to fix them, subject to time constraints.

    What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of a project?

    Support without a doubt. Building and implementing tools, plugins and applications are a piece of cake. Since this is just a hobby for me, I cannot spend more than one hour on it, on any given day. Sometimes a release opens the floodgates for support requests and bug reporting, but I must say, the community has been magnificent. A few power users have been helping out and supporting the others and their help and support has been invaluable to me.

    What have been your favorite projects?

    I love realism in flight sim software, and beyond that I like projects that implement smart ideas and bring together perfection out of thin air. Modern airliners like the 777, QPAC A320, the x737 project, PA A380 are all great examples of projects that come close to perfection as do some great scenery. I typically favor the freeware projects because they still manage to create great results, without the benefit of monetary support. They would be my inspiration.

    What software packages and tools do you use to develop?

    I typically work on C/C++ or Python. I follow the Linux philosophy of development: vim, gcc/clang, gdb. No big IDE (Eclipse, XCode or Visual Studio). Simple, powerful, effective. I develop on OSX and usually cross compile to other platforms. I never develop or use tools that are not platform independent.

    Who would you consider to be your mentors or inspiration in the development world if you have any?

    As I mentioned at the beginning of the interview, I only started developing for X-Plane a few months back, so I have not had the privilege of a mentor yet. I'm sure over the passage of time, I will need someone's help, support and mentorship and I'm also sure that the community will provide that individual, as and when that happens.

    Do you develop payware/freeware or both and why?

    I develop only freeware (and that too, is only open source). As a hobby, I do not see myself focusing on payware at all, and as I'm both a proponent and beneficiary of the open source community (Linux, Blender, and countless others) it is only natural that I contribute in the same vein. Any tool I develop in the flight simulator community, has, is and always will be free and open source.

    Tags: shankar giri

    1. wycliffe's Avatar
      wycliffe -

      Excellent interview, I have had conversations with Shankar in the past few months as a result of using his brilliant software package. I knew Shankar was a clever chap but this interview shows that he is simply a genius. I have nothing but admiration for coders and programmers. Ask said in my interview in this source a few months back I have ever gotten into coding so community members like Shankar are invaluable. Coding is the future.

      All the best flightsim.com and a happy new year to all your readers.

      Shankar as an airport dev thank you for your stunning and continued presence in the community.

    1. DominicS's Avatar
      DominicS -
      Fantastic review; thank you so much!!

      Totally agree with Wycliffe; people like Shankar are gold dust!!

    1. Kyle Sanders's Avatar
      Kyle Sanders -
      Very nice! I love the dedication but I wonder how far they will be able to go. There are many variables in ATC that computers just can't account for without EXTREME programming. For example, MVAs, uncontrolled airport IFR departures, different countries have different classes of airspace for VFR procedures along with different responsibilities of the different positions like GND, TWR, APP, ect.... Wake turbulence procedures, "IDIOT PILOTS" lol.

      Not saying it can't happen but I am very excited to see how far this can go!

      You have my support!
    1. girivs's Avatar
      girivs -
      Thanks a lot Wycliffe, Dominic, Kyle!

      Kyle, not to worry. We'll make it as realistic as possible. Its not as difficult as you think. I'd be more worried about the voice and networking part than the core programming, which is easy to do with a object oriented design and state machines. We can inherit rules and modify them for different regions, and even different procedures for each airport like noise abatement. And I will accept advice liberally from anyone with experience and knowledge of the ATC infrastructure.

      With help and support from people like you, I think we can transform the X-Plane ATC immersion to a whole new level.
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