Astra – a Viewer 1-based TPV with mesh rendering

Updated August 31st: Those working on Astra 1.5.10.(2) have asked me to point out that this release is still experimental, and can be unstable at times – see comments at the end of this piece.

Viewer 1.x and mesh are not things we’re used to seeing together where Second Life is concerned. However, with mesh also making its presence felt in OpenSim, it was likely that code to render mesh in a Viewer 1.x TPV would come about at some point.

Astra Viewer is an open source Viewer linked to Astra Grid / Aurora-Sim out of Pleiades Consulting of Canada. The current release, 1.0.0 is available from the Astra Viewer website. However, there is a 1.5.10 release for Windows that can be obtained from the Aurora-Sim repository that is of interest because it can render mesh objects.

It’s unclear as to how widely available this release of Astra is supposed to be; I e-mailed the individual listed as a the main coder for the version several days ago as to use, etc, but have so far failed to receive any reply. However, news of its availability is spreading through Twitter.

Astra 1.5.10 does have almost everything you’d expect from a V1.x-TPV: client-side AO, RLV/a support (accessed from the Advanced menu, a-la Imprudence), radar, V1 avatar physics, V1 shadow rendering, etc. But it’s the mesh rendering that is of interest, and it’s good.

As mesh support is (for me at least), hard to find out in OpenSim land*, I admit that I *did* sneak into Second Life using Astra in order to test it. I’m not sure if this was entirely against the rules – SL is included in Astra’s Grid Manager, but I have no idea if Astra has been self-certified under the requirements of Linden Lab’s Thirf-Party Viewer Policy. It doesn’t appear on the TPV Directory – but this actually isn’t necessarily indicative of non-certification, as certified Viewer do not have to be listed in the Directory.

Leaving that aside, I have to say, the code works fine, as the image below shows.

Two of Claudia222 Jewell’s magnificent mesh sculptures rendered in Astra.

There’s no upload option in the Viewer at present, tho. Whether this will be added in time, I have no idea.

Another view of one of Claudia222’s creations, captured in the Asta Viewer.

Overall, Astra is pretty much what you’d expect from a 1.x Viewer. The Grid Manager selection is short (defaults to AnSky Grid on initial start-up), but adding new grids follows the usual format, and as such, isn’t a hurdle to overcome.

As I said above, it’s not clear if the Viewer has been self-certified for SL use (I’ve e-mailed the perople developing it, but haven’t heard back as yet), but given the amount of resistance to the likes of Viewer “3” within Second Life, the existence of the code to render mesh objects in the 1.x Viewer is liableto be of keen interest of 1.x TPV developers.

In the meantime, those on Windows wishing to try out Astra 1.5.10.(2) on suitable OpenSim grids can find it here.

* Francogrid and OSGrid have mesh-enabled regions.

(With thanks to Latif Khalifa).

15 thoughts on “Astra – a Viewer 1-based TPV with mesh rendering

  1. Latif Khalifa

    Inara, the best way to think of Astra is the future branch on Singularity viewer. Most of the work is done by the good people of Singularity too. I just got exited to see mesh working so I made a quick Windows installer for people to check it out. This will be folded back and released in Singularity soon.

    Maria, no support for media-on-a-prim yet, but is something that is being worked on. But most likely after mesh upload which seems to be in bigger demand.

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  3. WhiteStar Magic

    Astra is being worked on very intensely and is incorporating many features & functions that most people have been wanting. The viewer is being developed to be fully compatible with SL, OpenSim & Aurora-Sim with enhancements for Aurora-Sim added in. This is still EXTREMELY Experimental and is settling in fast and should not be used till we have it further stabilized for testing.

    It current has V2 Viewer rendering & V3 Rendering is being patched in. It has the ability to use Variable Regions (similar to OpenSim Mega Regions) and handles Mesh. MOAP will also be cooked in shortly. As Latif already pointed out, Sianna will likely merge back in many bits & pieces as she to Singularity.

    See http://aurora-sim.org/index.php?page=news&id=8 for further info.

    WhiteStar Magic, Team Aurora

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  4. gaga gracious

    Great pictures, Inara!

    However, to second what Whitestar has said, The current version of Astra is highly experimental and not regarded as stable. It is available to developers and testers who will report bugs back to Aurora Sim Mantis. Whitestar has given a link where we will keep supporters informed on progress and let everyone know when a stable public release becomes available.

    We are all very excited about this development of Astra of course because it holds the promise of a viewer focused on supporting the open Metaverse in general and Aurora Sim in particular while still remaining compatible with Second Life. Aurora Sim has many unique features that allow grid owners to explore their creativity in imaginative ways beyond the limitations set by Second Life. To take advantage of what Aurora Sim has to offer we felt it was time to develop a viewer that has universal functionality and appeal. But it is still in its pre-alpha experimental phase and not suitable for general use.

    For a little more information and my own speculations I have published a brief article to my own blog here…
    http://metaverse-traveller.blogspot.com/

    I hope this helps

    Gaga

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  9. Jackie Oh

    V.1 code is almost a decade old. Since it’s like to stuff the components of a Ferrari in a 60’s car, why not suggest to people to update to the new V.3 and -maybe- to trash their crappy old machines, ‘some times’? Do you want really enjoy SL? You need a powerful pc and not a cheap notebook with a bad connection. Plus Oldbies can’t realize that any New Resident trying to figure how that confusing vintage interface works, will probably quit before to realize what SL is. I am a web designer and a 2D graphician and I know what I’m talking about, and I talk by personal experience too. When I joined, V2 was out but everybody kept suggesting me to use the dead (thanks God) Emerald Viewer. I tried. In the first week of V1’s interface usage I had not even figured the basics, in a week with V2 I started to build, create and master the basics. Update!

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    1. Inara Pey Post author

      I’m a confirmed V3 user. However, many people still use V1, and at the time this piece was written the Astra experimental was one of the few V1-based Viewers to render mesh.

      It’s also unfair to dismiss the V1 code entirely. Several TPV devs – most notably Henri Beauchamp – work hard to maintain as close to parity with the V3 codebase as possible. This means with one or two exceptions (such as media on a prim – not something everyone wants / uses), V1-style Viewers are potentially as capable as V3 – and they do allow those who may not have cause to upgrade to a more powerful system to continue to enjoy SL.

      Your comments on finding one’s way around the UI are interesting, and do provide needed balance when it comes to the perspective of a “recent” SL user who is without the weight of bias in favour of V1.

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