In FS Design Studio, there are a series of standard part names that are used for animation, reference parts and so on. These part names are used when you want to animate a part. You select one of these special part names from the Part Properties dialog by clicking the Browse button by the Part Name and then select the specific part name you want.
Did you know that you could customize this list? That’s right, you can add your own list of part names and even your own categories!
If you have read through the Blog post on Creating a Hard Surface and Using Attach Points then you know there are a few names of parts that you would normally have to remember in order to use, or open the PartDataDefs.txt file every time to be sure you get the correct part name. If you take the time to customize the part names available in FSDS, then you don’t have to remember them or look them up - you can just select them from the list!
For FSX, all of the standard part names are stored in the ModelDef.xml file and FSDS simply pulls out the part names from that list. For FS2004 however, FSDS has a sort of database of part names stored in a simple text file. You can open this text file and add your own part names.
The file in question is called PartNames.txt. Complicated - I know… This file is located in the FSDS_v3.5’s main folder. You can browse into the FSDS’s main folder and simply double-click the file, or you can search for the file using the Start | Search or Start | Find option in Windows. Once you find the file, simply double-click it to open it. It will open in Notepad or WordPad.
Once open, I highly recommend you make a back-up of your file. I recommend this with any file you attempt to change - just in case something goes wrong, you’ll still have a backup to get back to where you were. So with the file open in Notepad or WordPad (either will work), choose File | Save As from the menu and enter a new name like ORIGINAL_PartNames.txt and save it. Then use File | Save As again and save it as PartNames.txt - choose Yes to overwrite.
NOTE: If you are more comfortable with copying the file and renaming the file in Windows Explorer or My Computer, feel free to do so. This is just another option for users not so savvy.
Now we have the file backed up and have it re-saved as PartNames.txt and are ready to understand and edit the file. At the top of the file you’ll see the following:
[FSX Aircraft Visibility]
Let’s open FSDS and create a simple tube or box and open the Part Properties menu. From here, click the Browse button to open the Standard Part Names dialog. On the Standard Part Names dialog, click the drop-down menu next to Category. Notice the first one on the list is FSX Keyframe Animation. The part names from this category are pulled from the ModelDef.xml file and these cannot be edited (unless you want to mess with the ModelDef.xml file - which I DO NOT recommend doing).
Let’s look at the second line in the Category drop-down menu which reads FSX Aircraft Visibility. Look at the text from the PartNames.txt file above… Notice in brackets it reads the same thing! FSX Aircraft Visibility.
If we click on it, the list of part names that appears are identical to the sample I posted above.
All we have to do to get our own custom category and part names is:
- Add a new category name in brackets [ ] into the PartName.txt file
- Under that category, list the part names we want to use
- Save the file
Remember those light attach points, hard surface and steam effects from the PartDataDefs.txt file from that previous post? We can add them to this file to use later on instead of remembering and typing in the name.
Here is a sample of a new category and the part names from the updated PartDataDefs.txt:
[FSX Attach Points - Lights]
[FSX Attach points - Misc]
We can take this a step further too. Organization on a model is crucial. When it comes to copying and pasting parts from the main model to the virtual cockpit, it helps to know which part is selected. Having 20 parts named Tube.# or Box.# does not help at all. Setting a part name when you create a part is an easy way to keep thing straight later on. You can even create standard part names that don’t have any special handling. You can add a section like this:
[Exterior Aircraft Model Names]
These are just some examples of common parts of aircraft that are used on nearly every model. You can just as easily type in the part name for every part, or you can add them to this list and assign them from the drop-down menu in FSDS. Choosing a name from the Standard Part Names dialog box does not mean that special conditions have to be applied to that part.
With all of our modifications, let’s take a look at them in FSDS:
We can see the new categories:
- Exterior Aircraft Model Names
- FSX Attach Points - Lights
- FSX attach Points - Misc
I hope this information proves useful and helps to speed up your designing!
Special Thanks to Felix for the suggestion on this topic!
Posted with permission of Adam Howe and Abacus Publishing.
For more information visit Adam Howe's Flight Simulator Design Studio Blog!