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tl8 tl8 is offline
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Lightbulb File types and their purposes
by tl8 11-07-2007, 08:16 AM

This is a list of the most common file types in Orbiter and their uses.

In the Config folder:
.cfg: A config file, these can contain information relating directly to a vessel, base or planet.
  • A base cfg has ALL the required information to construct the base in the simulation. They are contained in the NameofPlanet/Base folder.
  • A planet or Moon cfg has information that relates to the make up of that planet. It has size, mass, atmospheric and texture information
  • A Vessel can be added to a scenario via the inbuilt editor if it is in the Vessels/ folder. Depending on the type of vessel, it might contain all of the required information if it is a simple vessel or rather redirect the sim to an .ini file or module (.dll)
.ini: A file that is found in the Spacecraft/ folder. It is used to describe vessels that use spacecraft 1,2 or 3 dll's. Other add-ons might use them for other purposes (eg multi-stage dll).

All cfg are edited via notepad

In the Doc folder you will find manuals and readme's for Orbiter and most add-ons. Other add-ons use the addon docs folder.

In the Modules folder you will find dll's for vessels and MFD's. Other threads will cover making these. They are the ultimate way to create addons.

In the Meshes folder you will find Meshes (or Models in a traditional sense) for any vessel or other structure that isn't a default shape (used in custom bases and surfaces). They can be edited by notepad.

In the Scenario folder you will find the information to construct the scenario. It includes vessel states.

In the Textures folder you will find dds files that are overlaid on meshes. Think of them as decals or stickers that can be put on models.

In the Texture2 folder you will find Hi-Res textures for various purposes.

If there are any mistakes, errors or recommended changes please let me know.

Thanks and Good Luck


Last edited by tl8; 11-07-2007 at 09:51 PM.
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Old 11-07-2007, 12:58 PM   #2
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Nice! When I was a newbie, I was dazzled by all the filetypes as well.
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Old 11-08-2007, 09:52 PM   #3
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A mesh file is the very basic visual connection to a vessel. A mesh file is a mesh or model.

If you look at the mesh with Meshwizard (
Mesh Wizard 1.9d
) you will see the composition of the mesh. In Orbiter the mesh is a 3d grid in which every point on the mesh exists. These points are measured as x,y,z coordinates and are measured in metres.

The location of docking ports, attachment points and thrusters groups all refer to this x,y,z grid to place the code.

There are many ways to create meshes. The most popular in Orbiter is Amin8tor. For a tutorial in Mesh Making see:
Mesh Wizard 1.9d

Good Luck

Last edited by tl8; 11-09-2007 at 04:29 AM.
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Old 06-27-2008, 12:58 PM   #4

.msh files are meshes.
Meshes are basically 3D objects.

Meshes have dots (vertices) that form triangles.
Vertices are enumerated in a certain order that determines visible side of a triangle.
Vertices themselves have 3 types of data associated to them:

1.Vertex coordinates (in 3D space)
2.Normal vector: Determines the lighting, used to smooth corners
3.UV coordinates: Coordinates inside of a texture. Basically a texture is an elastic paper that wraps the mesh. UV coordinate will tell what point is the one that should be attached to a certain corner.

Vertices are grouped in groups, that are like parts of a machine. Each mobile part must be a separate group that is animated.

Aside of vertex data you have a list of textures and a list of materials and its properties.

Orbiter meshes are not able to reproduce certain effects of real objects, like reflection and refraction. Also, they only accept textures that act like decal or skin, but not bump maps or reflective maps that would add interesting effects of realism to a mesh.


This linkk has a tutorial for newbies on how to make a simple surface base.
It also contains a comprehensive list of resources for deelopers you do not want to miss.
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Old 06-27-2008, 01:25 PM   #5
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This thread is a very good idea. Getting a good grasp of the file types and their functions is one of the first steps in moving beyond the complete newbie stage in Orbiter.

Let me suggest that a basic explanation of manual scenario editing would also be helpful; I recently responded to a PM from a newbie who needed a basic explanation of this fundamental skill.
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Old 06-27-2008, 01:56 PM   #6

Basic tutorial to understand scenarios
Tutorial: How to make scenarios for Orbiter v1.5
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Old 06-30-2008, 10:31 AM   #7

About .chm file in....Orbiter/html/scenarios

...the one you open with F4 >help in the Orbiter's window .

1)Create an hml page as the following one and name it, by example, mychm.html.

<script Language="JScript">
function parser(fn) {
var X, Y, sl, a, ra, link;
ra = /:/;
a = location.href.search(ra);
if (a == 2)
X = 14;
X = 7;
sl = "\\";
Y = location.href.lastIndexOf(sl) + 1;
link = 'file:///' + location.href.substring(X, Y) + fn;
location.href = link;
<body onLoad="parser('mypage.html')">
<a onmouseup="parser('mypage.html')" style="text-decoration:none;color:white;cursor:hand">...</a>

2)Put that mychm.html in a folder of your choice (to create preferabily) .

3)Download microsoft html workshop,htmlhelp.exe,from that page:


4)Install htmlhelp and run it.

5)Step by step :

File/New/Project/OK > "Browse...": (to find the folder containing mychm.html);
"Name of the file": mychm... with .hhp as extension (to to create the mychm .hhp file) "open"
> Check(the checkbox): "HTML files (.htm)" > "Add..." :select your file (here: mychm.html) "open" > "to finish" ;now clik on the last button from the top ( "save all files and compile" in the popup).Don't mind about the message error
in the right window.

The .chm (mychm.chm) is now in the folder where mychm.htm is ( that you can eventually delete).

6)Move mychm.chm to: Orbiter/Html/Scenarios.

7)Create an html page with the content of your choice named mypage.html and put it in the same folder (Orbiter/Html/Scenarios)

8)Open a scenario of your choice with the notepad and write in it between begin_environment and end_environment:

Help mychm,mychm

Pay attention: only one "Help" tag is allowed in a scenario file.

9)Load your scenario in Orbiter and press F4...Help...

Nota :

- All of that suppose that you have Internet Explorer and javascript 'enabled' in it. With IE7, the javascript alerts (yellow bars) are disabled when one load an .html file in a .chm file. But i know that there is a security patch, released in 2006 i think, for .chm files for Windows, but i've not made test with it ( i use IE6 and Windows XP SP1).

- Your eventual links in your mypage.html (to images, javascript...) ,if those "documents" are in a other folder than the one where your .html is, will be written as relative links (../ for html code ; ./ with javascript code or "document write").

Some informations about that on that page ( but it's in french ) :
The paragraph :"Le lien relatif"

- For the references about the parser :
"Example: Link to a File Outside of Your Help System"

- A simple sample .html with a .pdf (here - the .pdf itself - is supposed to be in:Orbiter/Html/Scenarios) :


<iframe src="test.pdf" width="750" height="600" align="center"></iframe>

Before to load Orbiter for the pdf :

a- Supposing that you use acrobat reader (and, by the fact, there is no real alternative, and Foxit, here, is not appropriate, excepted, as far i know, an old version without loading screen or - i do not remember - with an option to to disable it.. so I use the 5.0 vers for acrobat ), be sure that acrobat is your default program for .pdf files.

b- Go to the acrobat's options tabs and find the one with a checkbox where one talk about the loading screen for acrobat. Be sure that "loading screen" is disabled (uncheck the appropriate checkbox).

c- Click directly on your chm outside of Orbiter .You should have a window popup asking about security. Uncheck the checkbox of the window talking about verification for each time that you open such file, and finally to answer by: 'open'.

d- Normally , now , you can load orbiter (preferabilly for that first try in window mode).

e- If - calling the help file in Orbiter (f4/help) - you have the same poput that in b-: give the same answer. Unfortunately Orbiter will be, at that moment, in the taskbar, but close it directly (or: ctrl/alt/supp) and reload your scenario.

f-You should now try if it work in full mode.

(Tell me if something don't work with the codes here.Sometimes...).


Last edited by fort; 07-20-2010 at 04:20 PM.
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Old 07-14-2008, 08:24 PM   #8

This pic shows the hierarchy of files in Orbiter for different types of addons.

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Old 06-04-2010, 05:19 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by tl8 View Post
 In the Doc folder you will find manuals and readme's for Orbiter and most add-ons. Other add-ons use the addon docs folder.
It's unsettled whether the addon docs should go into "Addon docs", "Addon-docs" or just "Doc". The developers sometimes mixed the first two, so there was a suggestion to put everything into just "Doc". My suggestion is - if you use the "Doc" dir and your addon has more documentation files than one, please put them into "Doc\YourAddonsName" dir, so they are easier to find and remove.
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