Catznip R5 helps claw back your lost work

catznip logoCatznip R5 (3.2.1), available for Windows and Linux is released today with some rather smart features.This was apparently intended to be a maintenance release, but things grew as work progressed to the point where it became a release in it own right. It’s based on the V3.2.7 code base (“ish”, as the Catznip blog puts it), and so should include some of the latest Shining fixes from LL to reach the Viewer code repositories.


The Windows installer weighs-in at just a touch over 26Mb – par for the course for most V3.2-based Viewers nowadays, and installation is pretty much as expected as well. no unpleasant surprises, just accept the licence and away you go. As usual, I opted for a completely clean install, including the manual deletion of all user-related folders, although this isn’t listed as an explicit requirement for the release.

Mini (Location Bar) Moves

On start-up, everything appears pretty much as usual: the familiar V3.2 FUI, buttons ranged to the left and along the bottom of the screen, the mini-Destination Guide open by default. Nothing special here, it would seem. However, as we all know, looks can be deceptive.

That the Navigation Bar can be switched with the Mini-location Bar is common knowledge among V3 users. Usually when this is done, the Mini-Location bar replaces the Navigation Bar, occupying the same space beneath the Menu Bar, but shunted to the left of the screen, hence earning the name “mini”. However, Catznip offers-up more screen real-estate to users by placing the Mini-location Bar within the Menu bar and the top of the screen. Additionally, users have the options to hide either or both of the BUY L$ and the Marketplace SHOP buttons.

Navigation & Mini-location Bars in V3.2 and most V3 TPVs (top) and the Catznip approach (bottom), using the Menu Bar and with the Marketplace button hidden

Both the move of the Mini-location Bar (which will dynamically resize as the Viewer Window is resized) and the ability to hide the buttons are well-considered. The former gives a modest increase in screen real estate while the latter are likely to be appreciated by those who either don’t buy their Linden Dollars through the Viewer, or who prefer to access the Marketplace directly through a Browser bookmark. Moving the maturity rating to a clearly visible icon within the Mini-location Bar is also a smart move.

Chat and Spell

This release brings some nice additional options to Nearby Chat. Right-clicking on the Chat Bar itself reveals new menu items: the ability to switch between a single-line and multi-line chat bar and to change the displayed font size in Nearby Chat on-the-fly, together with the ability to reveal blocked chat (from muted avatars). Both the single/multi-line Chat Bar and the font size options will update the options in the relevant Preferences tabs (Catznip->Chat and Chat respectively).

New Nearby Chat options.

Alongside of these, although it is not at all obvious from using the Viewer, is a completely re-written in-line Spell Check. For those that aren’t aware, Kitty volunteered her services in order to bring the Spell Check to the official Viewer, and the re-write present in this release of Catznip represents part of this ongoing work. The core changes to the in-line checker comprise:

  • added : ‘Second Life glossary’ dictionary (enabled by default)
  • fixed : overwriting existing text won’t trigger a new spell check
  • fixed : opening an existing modifiable notecard doesn’t always show existing misspellings
  • fixed : scrolling through a notecard can hide all misspellings
  • fixed : squiggly lines aren’t centered on the misspelled word (fixed for LLTextEditor)

(from the Catznip blog)

Preferences Updates

This release brings with it a tidy-up of the General settings tab in Preferences, and sees the Notifications options moved to their own sub-tab under Catznip, together with additional items, but little in the way of other major changes in layout.

New Notifications sub-tab

A lack of widespread updates to Preferences shouldn’t be seen as a sign that Viewer isn’t still growing a developing – as the next section shows, Catznip is being constantly enhanced. A stable Preferences floater is more a sign that the Viewer is maturing in a stable, smooth manner.

Script Recovery

The major new addition to Catznip is the Script Recovery feature. To quote from the Catznip blog:

“Ever crash or get logged out while editing a script and then lose all your work?

“Following a crash or forced disconnect you’re now presented with a dialog offering to recover the scripts you had open.

“This works for all scripts, everywhere, and as we found out while trying to take the screenshot for this release, is very robust and persistent. It won’t go away till you either recover or dismiss it .. even if you crash.”

Catznip Script Recovery floater (with thanks to the Catznip team)

Script Recovery works by locally auto-saving open scripts every 60 seconds. Should the Viewer crash, scripts are presented to the user via the floater shown above, and optionally recovered to lost & found folder. Further:

  • The backup copy is only saved when the editor isn’t pristine
  • The backup copy is removed when the script has been successfully uploaded, or when the floater is closed.

Once would anticipate this finding favour among scripters, and is liable to be picked up by other TPVs down the line. However, full kudos and credit to Kitty and the Catznip team from bringing it into being.

Other Nips and Tucks

RLVa is overhauled with this release, with a number of FUI-induced bugs being eliminated. Specific updates include:

  • changed : flipped “RLVaEnableSharedWear” on by default
  • fixed : disabling a toolbar button doesn’t block the button’s commit signal
  • fixed : LLFloaterReg::toggleInstanceOrBringToFront() bypasses the blocked folder list and the validation signal
  • fixed : region “alerts” aren’t show location or show names filtered
  • fixed : various issues and enhancements relating to @showloc
  • fixed : the RLV API renames “Avatar Center” to “Root”
(from the Catznip blog)
Group Moderation gets a Catznip boost – with this release it is possible to directly remove someone from a Group by opening the Group Participants list and right-clicking  against an individual name – the eject option will appear in the context menu.
There are a number of other nips and tucks to the Viewer which can be seen listed in the official blog post on the release.

Performance and Opinion

Based on 3.2.7 (or thereabouts), this release of Catznip runs extremely well on my standard PC; in fact, Catznip, as with Exodus, has tended to run somewhat better than other TPVs as a rule anyway; I’ve no idea why – it simply seems to like my PC. This release tends to continue the trend, and puts Catznip, tested against the current V3.2 release on the same sim with the same avatar load (albeit with different screen layouts, yadda, yadda), gave a pretty good run for itself in default mode – averaging some 32-33fps on the ground with 5 other avatars on the same sim while about 8-10fps faster at 390m. Enabling deferred and shadows easily halved these figures – with ground rates only just managing to stay in double figures.

Overall, another release that solidly builds on Catznip’s reputation, and which includes another series of smartly convenient extras that make the UI even more convenient to use in terms of direct access to functions and options. Not being a hard-core scripter, I have no idea how often crashes feature in terms of lost work, but as stated above, those that script from directly within the Viewer are liable to appreciate the Script Recovery function should they find their Viewer vanishing on them unexpectedly.


Claudia’s Spirit at Art Screamer

It’s no secret that when it comes to the work of Claudia222 Jewell, I’m a confirmed supporter / fan. Her work, which spans the most creative use of sculpts and – more particularly – mesh, is some of the most breathtakingly captivating in Second Life, bringing to life the great and varied breadth and depth of her own imagination in wondrous pieces that are hauntingly beautiful and, sometimes, tingled with a little Bosch-like darkness.

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to attend a special preview of her latest sim-wide installation, Spirit, which is being hosted at Art Screamer starting today, Saturday 11th February, 2012. And I can say, all my bias aside, it is simply magnificent.

Claudia222 Jewell at Art Screamer

Words and images alone are not going to bring justice to the piece – it is one that has to be seen, pondered, savoured.

Claudia222 herself describes the installation as, “This exposition for me is the letting go of a long period of grief, to let the spirits pass, and to start anew in peace.“ The element of letting go, and the symbolism of farewell is strongly – if sometimes in the most subtle of ways – evident throughout the work, frequently in the most beautiful of images.

Memories, reflections, passings…

Exploring the sim, one does come across familiar motifs that instantly mark this as one of Claudia222’s work. There are also a couple of familiar works seen elsewhere in exhibits last year; however, this is no r-tread of previous work by any stretch. The vast majority of the work here is fresh and new and ranges in size from the very big to the exquisitely small – itself another hallmark of Claudia’s extraordinary talent and vision. And where one or two familiar pieces do appear, they are fully in keeping with the overall theme of the exhibit; indeed, seeing one, I couldn’t help but feel Spirit is very much an expansion of the vision first encompassed by that particular piece, bringing it to full and glorious maturity. As such, it’s inclusion is not intrusive in any way; rather the reverse – it is entirely fitting.

Familiar motifs, Claudia222’s imaginative signature

This is truly a stunning tour de force of mesh art, one that I urge you to visit. It combines technology and art in a brilliant mix that artists across the grid are finding gives a new lease of artistic expression, as Claudia222 notes herself, “Creating things with mesh brings a great new freedom that will enable many of us artists to learn more about 3D techniques inside Second Life”.

So, makes sure you find the time to visit Spirit; you will not be disappointed. Take your time as you explore the vignettes; there is so much more to see, above and below, than might initially appear to be the case. Music has been provided to accompany the piece, and it is very much worth having audio enabled for it, and I do recommend you use the region’s Windlight settings to gain the fullest impact from the piece – particularly if you can run with deferred rendering enabled.

Spirit opens at Art Screamer opens at noon SLT on Saturday 11th February, with entertainment by Jordan Reyne.

Many thanks to the Art Screamer team for hosting this exhibit and, to Claudia222 for sharing her art and vision with us.