Reference Information: X-Plane Commands and DataRefs

The information on this page is for reference only, you do not need to worry about how X-Plane data is organized, all the necessary standard X-Plane commands and datarefs are included in SimVim input/output parameters.

If you have been working with X-Plane data manipulation, Plane Maker or external interfacing, then, for sure, you know about X-Plane data structure. If you were only flying various virtual planes, at least you've heard about "DataRefs" and "Commands" in relation to simulator control (e.g., when assigning the Joystick buttons).

All standard X-Plane commands and datarefs are named strings started with sim/.. prefix. What is the difference between them?

In short, the Commands are used to initiate action (input control functions), DataRefs are mostly used for output information (to read simulator variables and display them).


To put it simply, from a user's point of view, a DataRef can be considered an internal named variable that stores information. This variable can be writable or not. Writable DataRef can be changed either by an internal flightmodel function or by a plugin. But even if the DataRef is writable it doesn't mean that it is suited for input controls, and simply changing its value in the plugin may be not enough to change an aircraft system state.

Generally, "cockpit-related" datarefs are used in X-Plane to display information onto the screen instrument panel and "animate" on-screen switches. Or, the plugin (such as SimVimCockpit) can use them to provide data for a hardware panel. Some of them can be used as input:

  • sim/cockpit2/gauges/indicators/airspeed_kts_pilot - this dataref (read-only) keeps the aircraft current Airspeed and it's value can be used to display speed on the virtual panel, a 7-segment indicator or gauge.
  • sim/cockpit2/ice/ice_surfce_heat_on - this dataref (writable, accepts values 0 and 1) keeps the aircraft current Wings anti-ice system status (bleed Air valve open/closed). It is writable and can be used for a toggle switch - but it should be considered for use only as annunciator. For the switch a couple of commands are used.
  • sim/cockpit2/controls/flap_ratio - this dataref (writable, variable from 0.00 to 1.00) keeps the aircraft current Flap Handle position. It is writable, and it can be used to directly change the handle position (also, the up/dn commands can be used for this input control, but only to increment it by specific steps instead of continuous movement).

X-Plane Dataref categories

You can see the large list of X-Plane datarefs sorted by category on the X-Plane Developer website. Also, you can use such plugins as DataRefTool or DataRefEditor to see the dataref list in X-Plane window.

NOTE: A "hardware" cockpit requires only a small number of datarefs from the huge X-Plane data list, namely only those used for control panels and instruments. Thus, SimVimCockpit functions use only the appropriate standard datarefs from the table below:

Dataref prefix /../The DataRef's purpose in X-Plane, relation to aircraft control Used for cockpit Input/Output?
sim/... This is the base X-Plane prefix for all standard datarefs and commands
sim/cockpit2/.../..This is the only category where ALL datarefs can be used for cockpit input controls and outputs.USED
laminar/.../...New X-Plane-11 prefix, all datarefs under this category are used in specific Laminar plane models.USED for specific laminar planes cockpit controls
These categories are not needed for cockpit controls, and used by developers to define an aircraft systems properties in Plane Maker. Some datarefs are used in SimVimCockpit custom functionsSome datarefs are used as predefined variables
(../weight/, ../position/, ../engine/, .) is NOT USED for any cockpit input controls and outputs, these datarefs are used to define aircraft flight model properties by plane developers for external model, animations, etc.A few datarefs are used in SimVimCockpit
sim/weapons/..For weapons properties and control - used by SimVimUsed
sim/operation/..Some datarefs from this section can be used by SimVIm for the sim controlFew
sim/weather/..For Weather properties and control - can used with SimVim for weather control Console.OPT
sim/cockpit/.../..Most datarefs in this category are deprecated and not needed to use! - "cockpit2/.." is used now instead!NONE or few
sim/graphics/.. Everything related to sim graphics and animation, NOT USED for any cockpit input controls and outputsNONE
sim/joystick/... This category is used only for joystick settings, NOT related to other external cockpit control.NONE
sim/multiplayer/..For multiplayer mode, current properties of 20 planes, NOT used for interfacingNONE
sim/network/..For Network UDP properties, NOT used for controlNONE
sim/physics/..World physics, NOT used for interfacingNONE


A command can be thought of as a reference to a single program function. When a command is called via X-Plane, it runs a particular function in the program that created this command (that could be X-Plane itself, a plugin, or a custom aircraft's script). This function can do whatever the programmer wants. It also accepts a single argument - the command's state (begins, continues, ends). Some commands can use all of these states, particularly the commands for "Press-and-hold" buttons - that means the function can do different things when the button is pressed, held, or released and change different dtarefs and system parameters.

  • sim/ice/wing_heat_on   -   sim/ice/wing_heat_off - these two commands are used to switch Wings anti-ice system ( bleed Air valve open/close) and besides all, sets the related dataref mentioned above (and can affect some other data depending on plane model).
Commands are useful for virtual cockpit controls, hotkey assignments, and for external controls such as SimVimCockpit interface, and they are easy to understand - you call the command's name, something gets done. That's why many developers use them to do something when you interact with cockpit controls - in X-Plane, commands are synonymous with actions.

X-Plane Command Categories

You can see the list of X-Plane commands in the X-Plane's Plugins folder (the commands.txt file) . Also, you can use DataRefTool to see the command list in X-Plane window. The SimVimCockpit input functions use all standard commands from these categories:

sim/autopilot/.....sim/instruments/.....sim/annunciator/.....sim/FMS/.. ...

- Custom data assignment --------- for SimVim replacemet tables editors!

SimVimCockpit 2012 - 202X