Exodus updates: version 12.08.09.1

exodus-4It’s been a while, but the Exodus team released a new version of the viewer on Thursday August 9th. Version 12.08.09.1 is liable to be the first of two updates to Exodus this month (the second being aimed at incorporating the pathfinding tools for those keen to get to grips with pathfinding in Second Life). This release is the first to be made since Katharine Berry recently joined the Exodus team, and she’s been engaged in a number of the features presented with this release.

The 12.08.09.1 release (also referred to as Beta 8), brings with it a range of updates, including:

  • Ability to upload images from the snapshot floater to Flickr
  • New linear, Renhard and filmic tone mapping
  • New avatar troubleshooting menu
  • Ability to mute group chat
  • Inclusion of floating point “Normalized Blinn-Phong” shading LUT for deferred rendering
  • Latest RLVa support
  • Various UI updates including:
    • Vertical chat tabs (from Catznip)
    • Web browser toolbar button
    • Additional slider in the Quick Preferences floater for adjusting your own sound locally
    •  Request teleport button added to IM windows
  • Merge with the SL Viewer 3.3.3 codebase, bringing with it:
    • Merchant Outbox support
    • Local Textures (by Vaalith Jinn)
    • Graded shadow support
    • Various fixes to the mesh queue

This article has been written using the Windows release of 12.08.09.1, and is intended to be an overview of the core updates rather than an in-depth review of the Exodus viewer (see articles list at the end of this items for further information on Exodus).

Download and Install

The Windows downloader weighs-in at a modest 28.4Mb. Installation on my system was fast and smooth (as per usual, this was a clean install for me). Start-up revealed the familiar Exodus blue sky screen with core information (particularly updates from the Grid Status Page) along the bottom. No implementation of the official splash screen here. However, if you do have issues trying to run Exodus following installation – and in particular get error messages relating to .dll problems, you might try visiting the Exodus FAQ page and following the link therein.

Logging-in revealed the familiar Exodus default screen layout, with buttons to the left and button of the screen, which can still be repositioned to the left or right, top or bottom of the screen.

Avatar Troubleshooting

Avatar Troubleshooting takes a leaf from the Firestorm book and offers three options for dealing with avatar issues. These can be found in a menu under Me->Troubleshooting and comprise:

  • Reload My Avatar Data: sends a request to the SL servers to download your avatar data once more. Useful where you’re seeing outfit changes but other’s aren’t (often indicative that something is going wrong within your computer, rather than anything at the server end)
  • Rebake my avatar textures: performs a normal local rebake, with the data sent to the server for distribution
  • Reset my avatar: Ruths your avatar to default shape and clothing, allowing you to rebuild it in the event of a drastic error.

Toolbar Buttons

This release of Exodus includes two additional buttons, Web, which opens the viewer’s built-in web browser, and Panic. The latter is a hang-over from testing nightly builds and debugging. As such, it is not intended for general use and may be removed or re-purposed in the next release. It is  not recommended you employ the button, as it is intended to crash the viewer and generate a crash log.

Snapshots to Flickr

Flickr is a popular medium for SL photographers, so having an option to save pictures directly to it is likely to be a benefit to many. With this release, Firestorm obtains Katharine Berry’s code (Katharine also recently joined the Exodus team) to enable snapshots to be uploaded directly from the viewer to a Flickr account.

The option is presented as an additional button on the snapshot floater. The first time you click on this, it will cause a pop-up to be displayed:

Setting-up Flickr to accept snapshots from Exodus

Clicking on YES will take you to the Flickr authorisation page, which will outline the possible risks of connecting Exodus to Flickr (a standard alert page, common when using inter-application authorisation). Read the warning carefully, and if happy, confirm yo wish to proceed (refusing cancels the link and denies Exodus the ability to upload to Flickr).

Confirming that you’re happy to proceed will display a code number on the Flickr web-page. Type this into the authorisation pop-up displayed in Exodus. This will activate the link and allow you to take your snapshot and send it to Flickr. Again, note the authorisation process only has to be completed the first time you attempt to upload a snapshot directly to Flickr, thereafter snaps will be sent to your Flickr account without hindrance.

 

Tone Mapping Options

The new tone mapping options are presented through an updated Visualisations floater in Exodus. This sees the tone mapping and vignette options split into individual drop-downs in the HDR section of the floater.

The new tone mapping options should allow photographers and machinimatographers to achieve far greater control when dealing with lighting in-world. For those interested, an overview of both Linear and Reinhard tone mapping is available in the Luxrender wiki.

Merchant Outbox and Local Textures

Both of these have been merged from the SL Viewer code base, and both work as expected. I encountered no problems uploading folders to my SL Marketplace inventory via the Outbox (Me->Merchant Outbox). The Local Textures functions exactly as I’ve previously documented for both objects and clothing / skins.

Group Chat Mute and Vertical Tabbing

Group Chat Mute is a handy feature if you want to receive notices from a group but not have to deal with swathes of chat associated with the group. With this option, located on the Group Profile floater, you can disable incoming group chats (the same way as group notices can be disabled).

Vertical tabbing of IM windows is common among many TPVs, and Exodus joins them with this release. The option (again, as with most TPVs supporting it) is enabled via  Preferences option (in the Chat tab) and will require a viewer restart.

Feedback and Performance

This initially feels like quite a small update given the length of time since the last Exodus formally release (March). However, looks are deceptive. This release represents a huge amount of work around things like rendering and visualisation, and will most likely put  Exodus back at the top of the heap for photographers and machinimatographers.

Performance-wise, this release of Exodus sits right alongside Niran’s 1.46 on my machine (hardly surprising, as both are the same code base). Running undeferred mode, Exodus ran at 35-38fps at 370m rising to 46-49fps at 2875m and down to 19-21fps at ground level. With deferred render and lighting and shadows enabled, these figures became 8-10fps at ground level, 13-14fps at 370m and 2875m. These arbitrary tests were taken with three other avatars on the sim at the same time.

For me, there are a couple of minor disappointments inherent in the release. I very much like Firestorm’s approach to making toolbar buttons so they can be ranged to the left / right or top / bottom (if you have buttons to the sides of your screen), and I’ve been waiting on other TPVs to emulate this capability, as I feel they are missing a trick. The lack of the official spell checker is also a little disappointing, but not a major deal in terms of usability.

Stability-wise Exodus appears to be very stable – although admittedly, I’ve only been using it a few hours. The only crashes I experienced were those I induced playing with the Panic button.

All-in-all a tidy update and release which should be enough to slake the thirst of those desperate to see their Exodus experience refreshed.

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17 thoughts on “Exodus updates: version 12.08.09.1

  1. Inara, I noticed with the previous release that Exodus loaded way more files on my computer than any other viewer ever has. It seemed to get worse over time and was perhaps the cause of its eventual instability on my machine. It took forever to do a scan, and digging out files left behind during uninstall was a real problem for some users. It was bad enough to make me hesitant about any future builds.

    I’m wondering what your experience is with this, although you probably haven’t noticed it yet. Did you ever use the last release for extensive periods of time or hear of other users having similar problems? It seemed to be mostly texture files, the viewer initially ran very fast and smooth but quickly deteriorated. I’m using Niran’s now and it’s very good, but I loved Exodus and would like to switch back if it seems stable.

    Sorry for the lack of technical knowledge, I just launch ’em and run ’em hard 😉

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    1. I ran Exodus extensively at the start of 2012 (previous 2 releases) in preference to Firestorm. I didn’t notice any major degradation over time. Nor did I notice any unusual bloat in my viewer cache compared to other viewers (not that I actually keep an especially close eye on things).

      As to others experiencing problems, can only suggest you take a poke around at the forums on the Exodus website, as I didn’t hear anything myself (which is not to say the problems weren’t out there). I also know members of the Exodus team read this blog (at least on occasion!) – so maybe one of them might drop a comment here.

      Sorry I can’t help further, I’m not exactly a tech wizard on the viewer myself :).

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      1. Ash, I have no idea, as I said, I’m not a techie at all. First noticed it when wondering why a full scan was taking forever, watched as it was scanning and it seemed like an endless amount of Exodus texture files. This was at the same time that Exodus was becoming less and less stable for me (and yes, I clear cache fairly regularly). Then heard from others that were having similar instability issues, finding boatloads of Exodus files on their machines and having trouble with uninstall not digging out remnants.

        Wish I could be more helpful. I tried loading the new release last night and had the issue mentioned below .. so .. maybe try the fix one of these days. I don’t want to sound unappreciative of the efforts put into TPV’s, but if they don’t work the first time I tend to move on and wait until I hearing glowing reviews about another new release before trying again.

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  2. As a note regarding Flickr support – I originally wrote that for my own viewer back in 2010. The Dolphin Viewer (and all other viewers with the feature) pulled that feature from it.

    The new Flickr implementation in Exodus is updated and rewritten to fit into the new snapshot UI and be compliant with Flickr’s new authentication scheme; the Dolphin implementation will eventually break unless they follow suite.

    With regards to timing, expect more rapid iteration in the near future!

    Gypsy – if you want to give us a hint as to any issues you might be having, install and run the latest viewer. If/when you start having issues, click the “Panic” toolbar button (it’s not there by default). The viewer will (intentionally) crash, thereby sending us reams of debug information. Send me a note if you actually do this.

    If you want some samples of the imaging stuff in use, Torley has loads (for instance, this one; compare with adjacent images).

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    1. Thanks for that, Katharine! Keeping up with the order bits and pieces popped up in viewer and where they originated can get a tad confusing.

      I’ve revised the piece with a pointer to your comment.

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        1. This isn’t an attempt to pass the buck, but the best place to seek assistance in technical matters is the Exodus support forums.

          I’m rarely in a position to provide in-depth help, and the developers are unable to keep an eye on every blog, so the forums are the best place to ensure your issues get speedily address, Ash’s response here notwithstanding :).

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      1. Katharine convinced me to integrate the runtime installer with Exodus’ installer, so the current nightly currently contains this built in now.

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