New Firestorm Beta

firestorm-logoFirestorm today released a second public beta version of the viewer. The 2.5.2.16922 release came somewhat unexpectedly and added a slew of new features and bug fixes which do much to move the viewer very much closer to a prime-time release status.

Note: the following comments apply to the Windows version of Firestorm. Other OS versions may differ.

Build Tools

Chief among the new features is a full port of the Phoenix build tools, so that Firestorm now includes:

  • Clickable group name on build floater
  • Object highlight toggle on build floater
  • Pivot point controls
  • Default size and material controls
  • Link number of build floater (with same bugs as Phoenix)
  • Build options pref panel Prefs> Firestorm> Build
  • Copy/paste object position, size, rotation, parameters and textures
  • Alt, control and shift keys modify increment on spinners (Alt: x10. Control: x1/10. Shift: x1/100)
  • Higher precision on position, size and rotation (4 decimal places)
  • Phoenix’s additional path profiles and transforms types
  • Added button for copy keys (UUID) to clipboard
  • Added requirement to confirm before setting object for sale (prevents sale sniping)
  • Expand/Collapse button
  • Added always show last owner.

Other notable changes include:

Quick Preferences Button

Quick Preferences options

The inclusion of “Quick Preferences button” in the bottom tool bar that provides quick and convenient access to a host of options that can often require frequent adjustment (see right), including the ability to rapidly step through windlight sky and water defaults or select them from a drop-down menu in much the same way as can be found within Phoenix via the arrow option at the extreme right-hand end of the tool bar.

Group Pop-up Window

New Group pop-up window

It’s pretty well known that I’m not a fan of the Sidebar, which tends to be little more than a disruptive waste of space where I’m concerned – so anything that Firestorm adds that prevents me having to be tossed around the Viewer and into the Sidebar is going to get a big thumbs up from me.

So it’ll come as no surprise that the new Group pop-up window is a big hit with me. As with Viewer 1.x, it allows you to pull-up information on a Group and peruse it quickly and conveniently in a simply pop-up.

It even includes a couple of new buttons – although one of them could perhaps do with a clearer title. CHAT opens up a Group Chat window – very handy when you want to make an announcement; GROUP CALL also opens up a Group Chat window, although the function of the button is actually to initiate a VOICE call between group members. As such, the latter button might be better off labelled “Voice Call”.

Movement Controls

I’ve rarely used them, but many do like Viewer 1’s movement controls. Until now, these haven’t been offered within Firestorm as a discrete option.

This latest Beta changes that by presenting them with a toolbar button of their own, and the palette fully repositionable. This will doubtless be seen as a very welcome addition by those who prefer to use the palette.

Land Details

Another small, but to me significant, improvement is that with this release, the land name displayed at the very top of the Viewer window is once again clickable and will bring up the ABOUT LAND window. This has been one of my hang-ups with Viewer 2.x; despite having the LAND button sitting in the navigation bar (which I rarely turn off), I must admit that I’ve been unable to break the habit of pointing to the land name and clicking on it, a-la Viewer 1.x, in order to bring up ABOUT LAND. Kudos to the Firestorm team for rescuing me from the need to consciously break myself out of this habit!

Bits of the rest

Other changes I particularly like with this release are:

  • “Restore to last position” added to inventory right click menu
  • Contacts tab in Conversations is now closable
  • World map search results are now alphabetical
  • Copy outfit your wearing to text option in the worn tab on appearance panel. From gear menu, copy to clipboard.

Performance-wise, this represents, on my hardware at least, the best results to date with Firestorm. When on a sim with one or two others and draw set to 360m, I can achieve 60-65fps, easily putting Firestorm on a par with Viewer 2.6. On more crowded sims, this falls to between 45-50fps, which is still superior to the last release. What really stuns me however, is that on a sim with 5 other people and with shadows enabled, Firestom can manage 20-25fps on my machine, making it easily the best when it comes to rendering shadows for me.

Opinion

Firestom simply goes from strength to strength and this release potentially marks it as ready to move to a “final” release status.

If you’ve held-off downloading Firestorm or making the move to a Viewer 2.x-based TPV, now is really the time to start re-thinking your position, especially with Viewer 1.x search about to lose effectiveness in some areas and mesh due to be rolled out over the next 6-7 weeks. And if you’re not impressed with Viewer 2 either from direct experience or through the reports of others, Firestorm is liable to suit you right down to the ground.

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