With the retirement of ADE, I strongly feel like there’s a need for an optimized, low-utilization airport editor that deals strictly with the airport coding itself (ie taxiways, runways, parking spots). While ADE still works and I use it regularly, I fear that soon the tool will stop working as FS2020 and the SDK move on.
Point 1, its difficult to use and not user friendly
The current way of creating and modifying airports through the SDK is downright frustrating, performance-heavy, unoptimized, and not conducive to making a high-quality airport. It also really shows when you inspect other airports from various devs, even those made by/partnered with Asobo. You have dozens of missing links, way too many taxiway points, incorrect use of APRON/TAXIWAY links, wrong parking radius, and many many more issues. It’s easy to blame the developers themselves but, the reality is the SDK makes it such a pain to do it properly, especially for large airports. Good luck keeping track of a single taxiway sign when you have 50+ buildings, projected mesh, and more loaded into the SDK, which leads us to the next point.
Point 2 its slow and unoptimized
In essence, the current SDK is good at placing buildings, mesh, etc. and putting everything all together in one package. But, when you try making fine edits or tweaks to the airport itself the process becomes highly cumbersome, slow, and unoptimized. I get there’s a way to hide and lock objects from the package but at the end of the day it’s still in the background and you are still loaded into the flight sim world with your user aircraft. It’s also a huge time waster hiding and un-hiding things, which sometimes even causes the sim to crash. So many things related to the airport coding itself can be done in a much more optimized 2D interface. I don’t need the Golden Gate Bridge and thousands of houses loaded when I’m designating taxiways.
Point 3, no need to see irrelevant items
Lastly, when designing airports, you don’t see taxiway names on the land use plans. Nor do you see taxiway lines and detailed dirt on the document. Having a dedicated airport development tool removes all the unnecessary things you don’t need to see when designing the airport itself. Imagine trying to create a 3D object like a terminal using solely the in-sim SDK while everything is loaded in the background; we have blender for that so why don’t we have anything to develop the airport base data/AFCAD as we used to call it in FSX? The scenery SDK should be reserved solely for putting together all the finishing touches of the scenery. As I said, it’s a great tool to use for observing and modifying how all the pieces of the scenery interface with each other but as an airport editor it sucks.
Just a simple, 2D CADD-style application that interfaces with scenery packages would make a significant difference to the ease and efficiency of designing or modifying an airport in FS2020. Something similar to WED of X-Plane and what we used to have with ADE.