fs9 Toolbox Documentation


Aircraft Selector

This is certainly the most important feature of the fs9 Toolbox.
Before using it, it is important to understand the way it is meant to be used. The basic concept is that you must first create a database of the aircrafts you want to select through the selector, using the Aircraft Database Builder. Then you can use the fs9 Toolbox aircraft selector within FS2004 to select any aircraft of the database. This much faster than the standard aircraft selection process.

Topics covered on this page: Aircraft Database Creation / Managing Aircraft Thumbnails / Aircraft Selection within FS2004Quick Switch

Aircraft Database Creation

The idea behind the aircraft database is the following:
In order to be as efficient as possible, the aircraft selector will only let you select your aircraft within a subset of your global FS aircraft collection that will be organized through categories. Unlike in the FS aircraft selection system, only 1 category level is available (no manufacturer, no variation, ...). You may think this is not enough, but it IS enough because the same aircraft can belong to several categories !!
For example, the Boeing 737-400 can be placed in a "Boeing" category, next to the 747-400 and other Boeing aircrafts. It can also be placed in the "LIners" category with all the other liners of your collection, and it can be placed in the "FS Stock" category if you want to group all the aircrafts that come with the standard edition of FS2004. Easy, isn't it?

Starting Aircraft Database Builder

Run the Aircraft Database Builder application using the shortcut created by the installer in the Windows Start menu. Do not worry if the application takes some time to appear, it is just because it parses your aircraft collection before showing any window.

Selecting an Aircraft of the FS2004 Collection

The upper part of the window shows the FS aircraft collection exactly like in the FS aircraft selection system: organized by manufacturer, model and variation. It works like in FS2004: when you select a manufacturer, the available models appear below and when you select a model, the available variations appear in the variation list.
Select an aircraft in your collection. If a thumbnail is available in this aircraft texture directory, it appears in the space dedicated to the thumbnail display, as shown on the image below. More information about the thumbnails are available here.
The "Refresh" button is to be used if the FS aircraft selection has changed and you want to update it.

Adding the Selected Aircraft in the Database

Now that an aircraft is selected, you want to add it in the aircraft database, within a category.
In order to do this, you must define a display name. This is the name that will appear later in the aircraft selector within FS2004. If you press the "Auto-Fill" button, a display name will be automatically generated by concatenation of the manufacturer, the model and the variation name.
Then you need to select the category in which you want to add this aircraft. If the category exists, you can select it with the "Category" pull-down list, and then click the "Add" button to add the selected aircraft. If the category does not exist, click the "Add in new" button. This will ask you the name of the new category you want to create, and add the selected aircraft in it.
You can repeat the same operation with the same aircraft if you want to add it in several categories.

That's it !!
Repeat this operation for all the aircraft you want to add in the database. The idea here is not to add ALL the aircrafts you have in your FS collection, but only the ones you fly most. Unless you have the time to do it...

Displaying all the Aircrafts of a Category

You just have to select a category using the "Category" pull-down list. All the aircrafts of this category are then displayed in the list below.
If you select an aircraft in the category list, its display name is shown and its thumnail is displayed in the image window, as shown on this image.

Removing an Aircraft from a Category

Just select the aircraft you want to remove and press the "Remove" button. This will just remove the aircraft from the category list, it will not destroy any file.
Important Notes
  1. If you know the FS aircraft system, you certainly know that some aircrafts that are installed in FS2004 do not appear in the FS aircraft selection system. This is because an aircraft internal variable (aircraft type) defines if an aircraft is a flyable or an AI aircraft (AI aircrafts are ignored). In order to be faster, the Aircraft Database Builder does not filter out the AI aircrafts. This means you can make an AI aircraft flyable by adding it in a category.
  2. For experts only:
    If you intentionally want to have some aircrafts ignored by the Aircraft Database Creator, you can do it in a simple and efficient way. The Database Creator ignores all the aircrafts if their folder is defined as Archive. If you want to define a folder as Archive, right-click the folder in the Explorer and display its properties, then click the "Advanced" button and check the box labeled "Folder is ready for archiving" (see the image here if necessary).
    This is useful to ignore the aircrafts you know you will never wnat to include in the fs9 Toolbox database, but it is not mandatory.

Managing Thumbnails

The Aircraft Database Builder offers you the opportunity to define a thumnail for each aircraft variant.
The thumbnail must be a bitmap image in BMP format with a maximum size of 320 by 225, and the file name must be thumbnail.bmp.
If the image is placed in the texture folder of the aircraft, it will be automatically detected by the AIrcraft Database Builder and it will be displayed in the fs9 Toolbox aircraft selector window within FS2004.

Thumbnail sample
Example of a thumbnail BMP image

Remember that an aircraft can have several textures, in which case it has several texture folders. In this case, you may want to have a thumnail image in each texture folder.

Aircraft Selection within FS2004

As soon as an aircraft database is ready, you can run FS2004. Select the "Aircraft Selector" in the Toolbox pull-down menu and the Aircraft Selector window appears.

Click to enlarge
(click to enlarge)

Now you just have to select a category and an aircraft in this category. If a thumbnail is available for this aircraft, it will be displayed as on the image above. You just have to click "OK" to have your aircraft loaded in FS2004.

But what happens if you select an aircraft that does not exist any more in the FS collection?
Don't worry, you aircraft selection will just be ignored and FS2004 will keep running.
This can happen if you remove an aircraft from your collection (by deleting the aircraft folder) and you forget to update the aircraft database accordingly, but it is not a problem, FS2004 and fs9 Toolbox handle it perfectly.

Quick Switch

Based on the Aircraft Selector, this feature has been developed for gauge/panel developers.
Developers know that when you develop XML or C/C++ gauges, a modified gauge can not be saved/compiled if it is currently in use within FS2004. So when you develop a gauge, you load the aircraft that uses it in FS to test it, but when you want to modify it, you have to load another aircraft in FS, generate the new gauge, and reload the original aircraft to test again. What a pain...

The Quick Switch feature does not solve the problem, but it helps. It lets the developer switch to another aircraft through a single key press (F11 by default) and come back to the original aircraft with the same key press. You can alos use the "Quick Switch" option in the Toolbox pull-down menu.

In order to use this feature, you must create a specific category named QuickSwitch. This category must contain 2 aircrafts (if it contains more, they will be ignored). Each time you press the Quick Switch key (F11 by default), the other aircraft of the QuickSwitch category will be loaded in FS. Easy, and very efficient !!

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