GDD-MAD-001:Prepare to Develop Addons in Microsoft Flight Simulator
This Module is the first in the MSFS Addons Development self-study course.
It is designed to introduce newbie developers to the Developer Mode built in to MSFS and get them connected to the wider Development Community online with an array of resources that will get you off to a flying start in your journey to becoming an Addon Developer in Microsoft Flight Simulator (MSFS).
In order to succeed in this course you need to:
- be somewhat familiar with Microsoft Flight Simulator (MSFS) as a virtual pilot
- be a self-motivated learner
- be prepared to reach out online for help if you need it (we'll give you some resource and contacts in the sections below)
- work at your own pace
- most importantly, have completed the 3 easy steps at the Join the Team page ;-)
Get Setup First
Okay let's get going then. Following is a list of tasks to set up the necessary software and connect to the default external resources that we will use during the Course.
- Turn on Developer Mode under General Options/Developers
- Install the SDK (the MSFS Software Development Kit)
- Install the Core and the Samples (as shown in the first section of this video by Patriot Six or described in this section of the MSFS SDK Online Documentation).
- Setup a folder in your web-browser favourites/bookmarks system called "MSFS SDK"
- In your MSFS SDK browser folder, create bookmarks (or favourite) the following website URLs
- MSFS SDK Documentation
- FSDeveloper Forum (create an account there)
- FSDeveloper Wiki
- flightsimulator.com forums
Make sure you register to join these online community resources!
- If you haven't already, install the Discord app on your PC and join the MOMA Server
Let's look around the Devmode
For starters, let's just check out the menu system to begin becoming familiar with the interface that we will be using in our development projects ahead. Then we'll have a deeper look at some very important tools - the cameras & the gizmos.
- Try opening and exploring the various components in the Editors, Tools and Options menus
- Just have a look at some of the language and how it is all organised and then close the dialogues without making any changes
Cameras & Gizmos
In the next Module you will get to practice using the DevMode cameras a lot. We'll go on now to have a look at both of these fundamental tools and set up some resources to help us learn how to manage them as we use them in our projects.
We'll start with the Cameras.
- Click on the Camera menu
Note that the DevMode has 3 types of Camera:
- Developer Camera
- Top Down Camera
- Slew Mode
We're going to start with the Developer Camera:
- Click & tick Developer Camera
There are two ways of controlling the cameras
- inputs from the keyboard on your laptop/PC
- using a gamepad controller connected to the same
Here is a link to the MSFS SDK Documentation on Cameras]. Please check this out now and bookmark it in your browser if you like.
Control Cameras with GamePad
If you are going to use the GamePad to contol the movement of your cameras, make sure that your control settings are set to default, as shown in the image above. This is useful if you are used to with operating the GamePad in game, as the Developer Camera piggy-backs on the Drone Camera settings you will already be familiar with.
Control Cameras with Keyboard
There's a really good demonstration on how to control the Cameras with the computer keyboard in the following video by Patriot Six. It is in the 4th time-stamped chapter beginning at 4:16
Here's a link to a keyboard chart that you might find useful from the flightsimulator.com forums.
Practice using the Developer Camera
Before we take a look at the Top Down Camera, have a practice moving the Developer Camera around the Sim world (if you are not already there, just spawn in somewhere are activate the camera in the DevMode menus as shown above).
Top Down Camera
The top down camera is similar to the Developer Camera, only it is fixed in an orthographic top down view. This camera view is ideal for creating taxiways, aprons, vegetation, etc..., and makes planning out airports in particular a lot easier. 
There are 3 different Gizmos in the MSFS DevMode:
- Translate Gizmo
- Rotate Gizmo
- Scale Gizmo
Understanding the Axis
A bit of Theory
"In geometry, a three-dimensional space (3D space, 3-space or, rarely, tri-dimensional space) is a mathematical space in which three values (coordinates) are required to determine the position of a point."
In MSFS DevMode we use the three-dimensional Cartesian coordinate system with the z-axis pointing towards the observer. "Space is a three-dimensional continuum containing positions and directions."
Devmode names for the Axis
In MSFS DevMode the naming convention for the Gizmo axis is thus:
- Y axis - shown in green, is the vertical axis - grabbing the green arrow (handle) moves the Translate Gizmo up & down
- Z axis - shown in blue, is a horizontal axis - grabbing the blue arrow (handle) moves the Translate Gizmo forwards & backwards
- Z axis - shown in red, is the other horizontal axis - grabbing the red arrow (handle) moves the Translate Gizmo side to side
- The white ball (or centre handle) of the Translate Gizmo moves it freely on all 3 axis
Gizmos appear for objects in the Sim world when you do one of these:
- Select the object in the Scenery Editor
- Click on the object in the Sim world
Selecting Gizmo type
You select which kind of Gizmo you want to use depending on how you want to apply changes to the object.
This can be done by:
- placing the mouse cursor over the white center of the Gizmo and using the Scroll Wheel to click
- continued clicking will toggle through the Gizmo types
You have visited this page early in its construction.
It is still worth a look, but please wear a hardhat & tread carefully.
As this is a wiki feel free to contribute.
Proceed to the next Module
The next Module in this course is GDD-MAD-002:Begin a simple scenery project in MSFS using SDK