Developers' Corner 

A New Home for Flight Simulator Developer Resources

For those of you who have visited FS Insider Developers' Corner before, we would like to introduce you the new destination for Flight Simulator developer news, articles and resources: Flight Simulator @ ESP Developer Center.

All three of the Microsoft Aces products are transitioning to a "one stop shop" approach for meeting developer needs.  Along with Microsoft Train Simulator, Flight Simulator third-party developer resources are going to the next level by moving to the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN).

For our new visitors, welcome!  It is an exciting time to get started with developing add-ons for Flight Simulator.  Read the introduction to extensibility on this page and then visit Flight Simulator @ ESP Developer Center to get started.

Microsoft Flight Simulator and Microsoft ESP

Built on the core technology behind Flight Simulator X, Microsoft ESP is a visual simulation platform that brings immersive games-based technology to training and learning, decision support, and research and development modeling for government and commercial organizations. 

Of specific interest to the Flight Simulator developer community is the opportunity to expand on the powerful Microsoft ESP serious games simulation platform which is licensed to be sold by third parties and used in commercial, non-entertainment settings.

The best news of all for Flight Simulator add-on developers is that many of the same APIs are common between Flight Simulator and Microsoft ESP.  Add-ons developed for Flight Simulator can be transitioned for use with Microsoft ESP with few issues.

Resources at the MSDN ESP Developer Center can help you get started with developing add-ons for ESP and porting your Flight Simulator add-ons to ESP.

Flight Simulator enthusiasts can rest easy, for Flight Simulator add-on development will certainly continue.  It will be each developer's option to develop for Flight Simulator only, for Microsoft ESP only, or for both platforms.

Microsoft Flight Simulator X and the Power of Extensibility

Microsoft Flight Simulator has always been designed as a platform for which you can customize your experiences. Accordingly, the success of the Flight Simulator franchise is due in large part to the efforts of our third-party developer community. Third-party development is made possible by the "extensibility" of Flight Simulator. There are two main ways we achieve this end:

  • Data Extensibility 
  • Code Extensibility

Data Extensibility is employed much more frequently than Code Extensibility for these reasons:

  • Ease of development
  • Protection of code execution
  • Easier to document and learn

The areas of modeling, scenery, flight models, and even XML gauges are a few examples of things that can be customized through data manipulation.

Flight Simulator X has taken bold steps to enhance the capabilities of Code Extensibility as well. The benefits of this include:

  • Flexibility
  • Power
  • Allowance for innovation

A prerequisite to utilizing Code Extensibility is a working understanding of C, C++ or C#. Then, begin by familiarizing yourself with the four main kits of the Software Development Kit (SDK):

Amateur and professional software developers all over the world have created add-on products to enhance the Flight Simulator experience. Consider developing add-ons as a whole new aspect of being a Flight Simulator enthusiast. We are excited about Flight Simulator X, and we're even more excited about how developers in the community expand on what we have created.

"As Extensible As It Gets"

The success of the Flight Simulator franchise is due in large part to the efforts of our third-party development community. Those efforts are made possible by our commitment to "extensibility."

The main idea behind this concept is to provide customers with the power to customize their experiences. Over our 25-year history the names and faces on our team have changed, but our dedication to this concept has remained.

Developer Downloads

All Flight Simulator-related downloads for developers are now available at:

Microsoft Flight Simulator @ ESP Developer Center