When we last spoke to Laminar Research about the anticipated Vulkan/Metal update, Ben told us that some weather add-ons such as SkyMaxx and xEnviro would not work with Vulkan due to limitations. This has since been found possible thanks to a happy accident.
In a full blog post written by Ben at Laminar Research, he goes into explaining how since beta testing the bridge to connect OpenGL-based plugins to X-Plane 11, they found some work had to be redone to that specific part of the process. After rewriting the bridge, the team ended up with code that could now support OpenGL-based weather/cloud plugins from within a Vulkan render. Both Skymaxx and xEnviro developers are in the private testing process and have be pleased with the results and are now saying it works.
The pictures in the blog are of a special build of SkyMaxx running in X-Plane 11.50 using the Vulkan engine. It’s important to note however, that this is currently only Vulkan, not Metal that can support this. So running a cloud/weather plugin will still require the OpenGL driver on Mac. This is still a limitation of OS X’s API.
Ben did also want to be clear on this point: “On Windows what we are supporting is 3-d OpenGL drawing by plugins inside the Vulkan renderer, not native Vulkan rendering by plugins inside the Vulkan renderer. Native Vulkan rendering by plugins is an incredibly complex SDK problem, and not something we are looking at for 11.50.”
He continued, “2-d Drawing Just Works; 3-d Drawing Requires a New Plugin: For plugins that draw in 2-d we’ve gone for a “just works” level of compatibility; while we have seen some plugins that need to update due to illegal techniques and bugs, our goal is that a well-authored add-on just works even when Vulkan and Metal are in use.”
You can read the full blog post here.