One of these is reading text files using XML format.
Up until now, Solar Explorer had all the planet information hard coded into function calls that generated the planets, which of course made it a pain to update.
By using XML data files, I’ve now been able to upgrade Solar Explorer’s engine to support more than just the 31 planets and moons it has.
The first new arrival is a detailed model of the Voyager space probe.
It took a while to build, but thankfully NASA saved me some time by providing 3D models of various spacecraft.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t just slap a model into my app and have it render on a phone at a reasonable speed because the models are too detailed. I ended up building a look-alike from scratch, using the NASA model as a template, which is a lot easier than trying to create a model from 2D drawings. By doing this, I was able to cut the NASA model down from 60,000 polygons to about 1,800, which should run fine on even low end mobile devices, while at the same time retaining most of the detail.
Looking ahead, I’m going to continue expanding the XML file support to bring in lots of new features, including other space probes, more heavenly bodies like the moons of Mars, other Asteroids and comets.
Next on the agenda is reworking the menu bar, as I’ve now run out of space for buttons!