Introducing Fox Two Professional



Why a professional version?

The professional version came about for a whole host of reasons. Basically, I just didn't think that Fox Two would become so popular, and when it did, I found it somewhat overwhelming. I decided that I really ought to develop it further, incorporating the ideas that I'd received from Fox Two users, to create an "all singing, all dancing" version, that just did it all. Furthermore, I wanted to be able to distribute it on a CD, packed with a comprehensive collection of information, apps, files etc, so that on one CD, Thrustmaster users could have everything they ever needed. I got in touch with people at Thrustmaster, who very kindly offered to help out and allowed me to distribute their files, as well as involving the gurus of Thrustmaster, David "Mystic" Sandberg, Bill "Cowboy" Wilson, Buzz Hoffman and Bob Church. And what we produced is not just Fox Two Professional, but more than that, the Fox Two Pro CD, your ultimate Thrustmaster resource. Anyway, let's take a look at the elements that comprise this, and what the Professional version entails ....

Editor

The Editor: now so much improved with faster, tighter coding The main interface in Fox Two Pro is based around a dedicated Thrustmaster text editor, consisting of 2 tabs for your joystick file and macro file respectively. To the left of these is the macros frame, that contains your macros sorted under their respective headings you've assigned to them in the macro file. This means that you can choose to view all the macros at once, or just those that pertain to a particular macro heading, say Wingmen Comms for example. Above the files is a tool bar which accesses some of the more commonly used menu items. Down the bottom is the status bar, that's used to tell you what Foxy is up to at any particular time, what the macro definitions are for the macros selected in the macro list, the saved/modified state of the currently selected file etc. Files are colour highlighted with colours that you can customise, making the files much easier to read and can be printed out in full colour too. Independent multi-level Undo/Redo (30,000 edits for each file) ensures that you'll never be left regretting editing you didn't want, with further protection offered from automatic backup file creation and background interval file saving. The editor is a highly feature rich environment providing you with fast creation of simple right through to the most complex of files. Furthermore, because files are treated as text files, there's no danger of your files not being able to be loaded, no matter how complex they are, nor is there any danger that Foxy will corrupt them in any way. And talking about features, a scan through the menus gives you an idea as to just how dedicated Foxy is to your thrustmaster needs ... (click on each for an image) ... File, Favourites, Edit, Format, Insert, Macros, View, Window, Apps, Download, Flight sims, Wizards Help

 
   
         
   

Composer

The Composer - making programming without your manuals so much easier To facilitate your programming and to help you remember all the hats and buttons for your controllers, the Composer presents a graphical interface from which you can develop your files with. Note that Foxy still retains at its core its text based interface, but with the Composer, if you don't want to type into the main Editor, you don't have to. And for complete beginners, the Composer will take care of all the Thrustmaster syntax for you, inserting the correct statement lines into the editor in full colour as you just point and click. Simple. The Composer's main tab is backed up by other tabs that allow you to create with ease those statements for other aspects of your controllers, like the TQS range and antenna knobs, throttle, rudder and those miscellaneous statements you need. The templates tab allows you to insert preformatted text in your files increasing your development speed dramatically, and I can tell you that with templates and the macro list, you'll be banging out files at an incredible speed. Finally, logical programming is made a damn sight easier from the logic tab.

 
   
         
   

Korgy

Korgy - the keyboard and raw code generator Korgy, is a graphical representation of your keyboard, which you use to generate the correct Thrustmaster syntax for any key. Just clicking on a key on Korgy not only provides you with the appropriate syntax for your controllers (the additional AUX key syntax used by F22 Pro owners is fully supported) but as well, the RAW Make, Break and Combined codes are correctly generated for any combination of keys selected. Korgy goes one step further in that correctly parsed multi-level RAW code/slash modified statements can be created and inserted with full colour into your files. Advanced menu items now allow complete statements to be generated for RAW combined and RAW /P, /R statements from a single mouse click. Korgy also integrates fully with the wizards for generating simple to complex macros effortlessly, and again, insertable in full colour. Compared to Fox Two, Korgy is now smaller, more accurate and more powerful and users will appreciate the major overhaul he's been given. All of Korgy's options have now been improved and tidied away onto Korgy's options menu.

 
   
         
   

Graphical layout editors

EF2000 layout in the Custom Layout Editor Without a doubt, the main feature that sets Fox Two Pro apart from Fox Two is the feature you have all begged me for: and that is graphical representations of your controllers and their macros. And that's now here. Fox Two Pro consists of 3 different types of graphical layout editor: a Joystick, a Throttle and a Custom Layout Editor.

Now, let me explain my philosophy on this one. The way I used to do my graphical layouts, or really the way that suited me and was logical to me, was to use Microsoft Word. I created a template with my joystick and throttle images, surrounded by loads of textboxes, which I'd cut and paste to from each hat/button in my joystick file. And then I'd edit the text, to remove all the unwanted RAW codes, slash modifiers etc., format the text to make certain areas stand out better, resulting in a neat looking and practical layout I could print out that would help me either design my files or help me remember what all the hats/buttons did for each sim. Sometimes though, I'd find that there was too much information on one layout, so I'd split the layout into 2 layouts, creating one for the joystick, and one for the throttle. It all depended on what the sim/game the template was created for.

So when it came to adding this feature to Fox Two Pro, my rationale behind its development was this: I wanted Foxy to be able to create similar templates - one for each controller - ie. one for the joystick and one for the throttle. I wanted Foxy to give me an image of that controller, and then textboxes surrounding that image filled out with single hat/button definitions. Then I wanted to be able to edit/change the text, and format any of the text with whatever font/font style/colour to give me a visually stunning and practical layout. Finally I wanted to be able to print this layout out in full colour and be able to convert it into a bitmap, for distribution with files I create. Also, like in Word, I wanted to be able to save it, so that I could come back to it and work on it on a later date. And that's exactly what I have created with the joystick and throttle layouts.

I also wanted to be able to create on a single layout, a really stunning layout which had images of both controllers on it, all the macros for each controller, and a background picture of a jet fighter/chopper to add the final icing on the cake, with all the functionality of the joystick/throttle layouts. And this is what the custom layout editor does. But it also goes one step further. I've also always wanted a layout that had both controller images, surrounded by textboxes that had the barebones statements for each hat/button, that I could use in conjunction with the Composer, to create a joystick file by looking directly at each hat and button and adding macros for each hat and button directly and graphically. After all, this is how I create my files with pen and paper away from the computer. Why not be able to do this directly into a layout editor, and then tell it to create a file in Foxy's main editor from this layout? The Custom Layout Editor has this ability should you want it.

Finally, I wanted to stay with the whole Fox Two philosophy: give the user a range of options as to how they want to do things, and just let them get on with developing in a style that suits them, rather than a style I force upon others to use. I think you're going to like it.

 
   
         
   

Image viewer

Getting ready to edit an image from the Image viewer The image viewer does exactly that - it displays graphical files. It's primary purpose is to capture the layouts from any of the graphical layout editors as bitmaps, and save them so that they can be edited with your favourite image editing software. It's also there so that you can reload up these layout images, or others that may have been distributed with any files you've downloaded off the net (ie. like Mystic's), to help you understand and learn about these files and what they do. The image viewer has been totally overhauled for Fox Two Pro for its seamless integration with the layout editors.

 
   
         
   

Template Editor

Creating templates with the Template Editor Get to know how to use the Template Editor, because with templates, you'll generate files more quickly and more consistently. What's a template? A template is just a text file, incorporating text of different colours if you so wish. They're used to help create joystick and macro files more quickly, and for use with the Custom layout editor for creating files from there. Your Thrustmaster joystick's software comes with templates appropriate to your hardware. By having a template with all the buttons and hats on already, it saves you hassle if you can base a file on a template, as you won't need to type in all those buttons and hats yourself. You just add the macros and slash modifiers for your game. The template editor goes one step further in that you can also create templates for anything, be it an individual hat, or a heading that you like to have at the beginning of each file, etc. You can insert templates within an existing file you're editing - ie. the template doesn't overwrite the file, but becomes part of it. You insert templates using the Composer. The Template Editor can also be used to view text files. So if I want to learn about logical programming of the F22 Pro, I can load up a text file into the template editor that tells me all about logical flags, tile the Editor and Template Editor windows vertically so that I can see both of them, and work away on my joystick file. You can also obviously use the Template Editor to view Kneepads - that is text files that other people distribute with their files to show you their button layout for a game. Cowboy tends to prefer these to graphical layouts, and so he distributes with his files kneepads to help you learn the layouts for your controllers. And similarly, you can create such Kneepads yourself, with colour to help you enhance them.

 
   
         
   

Key Tester

Checking your controller output with the Key Tester When youíve downloaded a file to your controllers, one of things youíll want to do is to check that the output from the hats and buttons is as youíd expect it to be. As most of the output is in the form of keyboard characters, then you could just open up Notepad and test your controllers there, looking at the text output when you press your hats and buttons. Obviously, this isnít practical for function keys (F1, F2 etc) and many other keys, so the Key Tester is designed to be a more useful utility for this purpose. It contains 3 text areas on it: the left hand text shows you the keyboard characters your controllers are sending. The 2 right hand text areas, the key down and key up areas, ie. showing you when the "keyboard key" is pressed and when it is released. This is particularly useful for identifying stuck keys, and in particular, held down statements created with the /H modifier. Remember that with the /H modifier, you wonít see a series of characters being generated. What you will see is that the Key Up event isnít seen until you release that particular hat/button. Also on the Key Tester, you can see the motion of your controllers and the state of the analogue buttons. A simplified version of the Key Tester is available in Fox One should you prefer its output.

 
   
         
   

Joystick analyser

Analysing the joystick motion The joystick analyser displays in a large window the behaviour of your joystick in a Windows environment, to test for spiking, calibration and other problems. It accesses the same Windows routines for monitoring the joystick motion as many games use, so it should replicate this more accurately and at higher resolution than other calibration routines.

 
   
         
   

Fox One

Using Fox One Fox One is a new addition to Fox Two Pro, and came about for a whole host of reasons. It doesnít offer anywhere near the functionality of Fox Two, but this will suit a lot of hardcore programmers as well as a lot of beginners who either donít want all the features in Fox Two, or find all the options overwhelming at first. As such it offers several advantages over Fox Two Pro. These are:
  • It loads up faster, as itís a smaller app.
  • It allows you to open up multiple files onto different tabs. (Fox Two Pro doesnít do this for a whole host of programming reasons, and also because my philosophy is that when one is spending time developing a file, all you need to have open are the joystick and macro file that youíre working on.)
  • It uses fixed pitch fonts which means that alignment of slash modifiers is guaranteed.
  • It provides hardened Notepad users a more applied text editor that has all the advantages of Notepad for their file development, with more specific TM functionality.

 
   
         
   

Launcher

Getting ready to edit an image from the Image viewer The launcher has been completely rewritten since Fox Two, and is more functional. Now, as well as being able to download your joystick files and run your favourite sims, it can also change your various Windows volume levels - something I always forget to do (annoyingly!) before I enter a sim. Now that's nicely taken care of. (I tend to have my WAV and MASTER VOLUME levels reduced in Windows, but in a sim, I want them right up!) It can also be used to quickly launch Fox Two Pro, Fox One, or an explorer window in the directory that has all your files in it.

 
   
         
   

Getting help

Getting ready to edit an image from the Image viewer There is extensive help within Fox Two Pro, which means that you'll rarely need to go back to your manuals when you're stuck on a problem. This help not only covers the different features in Fox Two, all the various Thrustmaster syntax and statements, but also relevant help on hardware problems, such as how to disable a soundcard's gameport. Help is also easily at hand by highlighting whatever it is you want help on, eg. a menu item or selected text in your file, and then pressing F1 displays the relevant help topic. Further quick help is also available if you just want a quick reminder of how to use various Thrustmaster commands. With the Tip of the day window, the help file and the wizards, you'll be learning how to use Foxy and develop excellent files very very quickly and easily. And if you don't believe me, just scan through the comments page to see evidence that people are doing this already.

 
   
         
   

And on the CD

With all the bug fixes and enhancements, I'm sure that you'll want to upgrade to Fox Two Pro. On the CD I've also tried to give you everything to get you up and flying with the minimum of hassle. So I'm very pleased to be able to distribute on the CD the whole of Mystic's Six Degrees of Freedom Site, Bob Church's excellent Thrustmaster utilities, Thrustmaster's latest files including Pentium II patches, ProPanel etc. and a bank of over 480 high resolution images for use with the Custom Layout Editor.

 
   
         
   

Purchasing Fox Two Professional

You can order and pay for Foxy in all manner of ways - secure online credit card ordering, fax, snailmail, etc. etc. Head over to the ordering page for more information.

Order Fox Two Pro

 
   
 
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