Niran’s Viewer turns 2

When looking at the initial release of the overlay, I had some concerns: I felt the text in places was hard to read, and that things were a trifle cramped, layout-wise, given the amount of space available. Since then, NiranV has worked to address these issues; text is clearer and readable, and while things are still pushed to the left of each panel, they are more uniformly laid out.

Using a floater with the overlay panel

There are a couple of exceptions to this, however. Adjust Proxy Settings (VIEWER->VIEWER), Block List (USER->PRIVACY) both display the additional floaters (the People floater in the case of the latter) in the top left of the screen, requiring them to be moved. Closing these floaters also fails to increase the opacity of the Preference’s overlay panel, which then has to be done manual in order to be able to read further options against any reasonably light background. Clicking the Also, clicking the Other Devices button in the Controls panel displays the Joystick Configuration floater along with the open Controls panel in the Preferences overlay, initially making things hard to read, as they both clash.

While these issues are easy enough to overcome by manually moving floaters and / or manually increasing the opacity of the Preferences overlay using the top left slider, there is a chance some might find them annoying, depending on how often they access the options in question.

When the Preferences overlay is active, the in-world view is deliberately blurred. If you prefer, you can disable the blurring via a check box in INTERFCE->GENERAL.

The overlay can be closed in a number of ways (button, menu option, CTRL+P), with the recommended perhaps being to use the Accept option in the lower left corner.

UI Colour Picking

The UI colour options floater has been revised, partially as a result of the introduction of the Preferences overlay. The new floater brings together all colour options into a single floater, and includes a fold-out colour picker. This brings together the bet of both worlds, allowing those who only wish to make rapid-fire (and familiar, if coming from other viewers) changes to the UI to do so, while also retaining the more in-depth colour options as well.

Two images of the new UI colour customisation floater. On the left, the “quick pick” options familiar to many viewer users, on the right, the floater is scrolled to some of Niran’s more involved options. Clicking any of the colour swatch panels in the floater will open the colour picker, shown on the extreme right (click to enlarge)
Graphics Presets

Recently introduced to Niran’s Viewer is a natty like option which allows you to save you own graphics presets with the viewer. So, if you’re into machinima and prefer one set of broad graphics settings for outdoor shooting and another for indoors shooting, or if you like to switch between very high-definition settings for photography to something less taxing when playing a combat rp or similar, you can set-up each of your presets in the Graphics panel of Preferences, then save them individually to your hard drive, where they can be accessed and loaded as required. The option can be located in DISPLAY->GENERAL, at the top of the panel.

Save, modify and load your own graphics presets

Buttons

A number of buttons have been added or changed to Niran’s Viewer since I last examined them in-depth:

  • Avatar becomes Select Avatar with version 2.0
  • Machinima Sidebar – which opens the sidebar introduced in version 1.39, and which can still be accessed via the F1 key
  • Marketplace – Replaces the button found in the menu bar at the top of some viewers, and opens the SL Marketplace in either your web browser or the viewer’s built-in browser, depending on your preferences
  • Merchant Outbox – does what it says on the label
  • Pathfinding Characters – opens the Pathfinding Characters floater
  • Pathfinding Linksets – opens the Pathfinding Linskets floater

The latter two use the same icon, which can be a tad confusing when using the buttons in icon only mode, but they otherwise do exactly what’s expected of them.

Inventory Sorting

Version 2.0 of niran’s Viewer sees a slight change to the Inventory floater: The sort options have been removed from the File menu and now appear as a set of check boxes at the top of the inventory floater.

The new sort icons and check boxes in the Inventory floater

This isn’t a bad idea, and does make for one-click selection of inventory sort orders. However, the icons for the check boxes are themselves not overly obvious (particularly on smaller screens), and don’t have any tool tips associated with them – thus it’s necessary to memorize the order of the buttons. While this is the same order as found in most viewers (sort by name, sort by date (most recent), sort folders by name, system folders to top), it would nevertheless still be helpful to have a tool tip pop-up on hovering over the icons / check boxes for those who are unsure / unfamiliar with sorting.

Pathfinding

The pathfinding options arrived in Niran’s Viewer with version 1.48. As mentioned above, the Linkset and Characters floaters can be accessed via toolbar buttons, or via NV->TOOLS-> PATHFINDING. They can also be accessed by right-clicking an object / character and selecting the Linkset or Character option from both the context menu and the pie menu (depending upon which you are using). The Object Profile panel (again accessible by both the context and pie menus)  includes the pathfinding attribute display, but the Build floater currently does not include the attribute display. The options for visualising the navmesh are not available due to the Havok sublience requirement (which still has yet to be launched).

Rendering

A new default water map is included with this release, and the recommendation is to set the water Windlight preset to High Definition to get the most from it. As for the rest, rendering has been minimally changed and Colour Correction is now disabled by default to prevent the in-world view being too darkly rendered in non-deferred mode. Tone mapping has also been tweaked based on user feedback. To get the best out of the system, NiranV comments, “If you want to see Tone Mapping as I intended it to be seen, enable Deferred, Ambient Occlusion, High Precision Rendering, Tone Mapping and leave Gamma Correction OFF! Then go to the High Precision panel and set Color Correction (it’s a dropdown) to Linear and you´re done.”

He also warns that those wishing to use Gamma Correction as well can do so, but will need to re-initialise all shaders afterwards (uncheck and check them again) in order to ensure all alphas are correctly shaded, which requires they be re-rendered.

Other Elements

  • The Windlight / Environment Settings floater (accessed via the Windlight button in the Menu bar) has been tidied-up  and see
  • Console chat and IMs have a new translucent background and are better aligned
  • The Menu bar / Navigation bar area at the top of the windows has had some subtle updates for a better appearance

Performance

I tested Niran’s viewer at my “home” region, with settings as per the panel on the right of this page, and with three other avatars present. Average frame rates were:

  • All deferred and high precision options off:
    • Ground: 16-17 fps
    • 370 metres: 20-21 fps
    • 2875 metres: 29-32 fps
  • Deferred on + Shadows set to All Shadows; ambient occlusion OFF, High Precision & Tone Mapping off, full reflections:
    • Ground: 13 fps
    • 370 metres:17 fps
    • 2875 metres: 23 fps

The non-deferred rates surprised me, as I’ve had significantly better from viewers off late, and this led me to believe I’d messed-up and left an option on – but double and triple checking gave the same results. As I was getting much better performance from Niran’s 1.46 and there’s apparently been little done directly with rendering in this release, I’m at a loss to explain why the number are low – other than the fact my Ge9800 GT has in the past threw s bit of sulk or two running Niran’s.

Also of late, I’ve been able to run viewers with lighting & shadows and ambient occlusion active (something which would knock performance for six on my system at the start of the year). I’m assuming this is due to on-going tweaks at LL’s end of things. However, I did again find that my GPU didn’t like having both shadows and ambient occlusion active on Niran’s. When they were, frame rates dropped by around 3-4 fps on those given for deferred above.

Feedback

NiranV Dean describes this release as a “reboot”, and given the sheer number of tweaks, nips, tucks, fixes and the like listed in the change log (which includes credit to those TPV developers whose code has been included in Niran’s Viewer). one can understand why. This release represents a huge amount of work for him, most of which is very much “under the hood”, rather than in-your-face UI changes.

For anyone who has been following Niran’s Viewer development through the various releases and recent betas, however, this release is liable to be less revolutionary and more evolutionary. And there is nothing wrong with this either; the viewer has been around long enough such that progression within it should become more a matter of evolution than revolution, allowing new features and ideas to be implemented and tested without unduly upsetting the apple cart for those who use the viewer as their primary means of entering SL.

For my part, I like the new Preferences overlay – it’s a novel approach which works and while I raise a couple of niggles with it, they are certainly not showstoppers. Overall a welcome update which reflects a lot of hard work on Niran’s part and which is liable to be greatly enjoyed by his users.

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10 thoughts on “Niran’s Viewer turns 2

  1. People & Joystick Floaters not changing opacity , check
    Tooltips for Filters , check
    Different Icons for Pathfinding Characters and Linksets , check
    Pathfinding infos in Tools , uhm checked long ago but will be fixed someday with my secret project…
    will all be fixed today when i´m done playing Mass Effect =D
    anything else that needs to be fixed?

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  2. Well as using the latest betas, all i can add is that this version has all the lil bugs we where used to, fixed!.
    I don’t agree nor use Niran’s advise of disabling gama and its easy to see why if you use the day cycle and are indoors at night,
    So for Me and My love, that use the same settings, on a build computer with same specs as mine, we run all at Ultra and also check gama, plus tone maping on liniar and Water to tone mapping as well (High defenition 1 is lovely but we stil prefer the tone mapping 1)!
    The new preferences floater makes a lot more sense but i think that you really will not need to use it a lot after inicial tweeks, as F1 gives almost all the options that you can change often!
    Still its much easy to understand then the messy v3 reg one for sure!
    As we have steady 100 and more fps, at ground level on a public sim you can test, RIR racing sim, just without dr checked and reg 34 up to 45 ffps on Bad’s nightclub (not a empty space to test!) with all at ultra butr shadows set to high, plus Dr hp gama and tm and plus, Nvidia control panel overriding AA and AF to 16ho and 16 instead of 4 / 1q6 (yes Niran cant understand why we use this, well she needs to get a nvidia graphics instead of a Ati!) and We, both, use these setttings and both got the same performance on Intel 7 quad core, 12 giga ram ddr3 mine rig/6giga ddr3 hers, Nvidia gtx580 me, Nvidia gtx460 her, Windows 7 64b both!
    I have several screnshots to proove this fps taken on crowded places like bad’s ambrosia and many more, that show how i was running the viewer (shot the interface open showing graphics general, machimina bar, fps screen ) we can’t understand why many are complaining about its perfomance!
    Exodus latest night build gives Me a bit more fps but at a hard cost, (The graphics tweeks of Niran’s are unique and amazing)!
    Firestorm never gives us more then half the fps on any of this places and does not have tone mapping.
    So i honestly can’t understand the bad fps some report, unless advising to use a bandwich connection not higher then 1500kb sec and draw distance fixed on 260 like we use and reduce it to 160 on closed crowded places!
    For us, em and my love and also for a few nascar racers at RIR, niran’s without dr checked is the fastest viewer of all!
    Thats the reason why many nascar racers on sl are using it now!
    Its also the one that less crashes on cross sims, allowing us to do long trips on mainland!
    And i test ALL the viewers Sl and open sims have, known, so i can and i dont accept a denial on that, tell comparing with all the other viewers (But amstrag and Ludmyla lol), that for a fair (for God’s sake, our computers are already at least 1 year old! so not the top notch, any Slikryn player will laugh if i say otherwise) rig, Niran is the best in what matters:
    Stability, perfomance, quality!

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    1. Glad you get a high personal fps rate. But then, given your rigs, I’m not surprised! They may be a only a year old, but for those of us with systems around 5 years old (or more) that’s pretty state-of-the-art!

      Hardware has a big impact on how well viewers run; for the most part, I’ve found that own my set-up (details in a panel to the right, including my “standard” viewer defaults) I find most viewers today remarkably consistent (which, given they are all using LL’s base code is unsurprising). I’ve no idea why my system struggles a little more with Niran’s than with others – but it has since one of the very early releases, and other than with the 1.46 release, which banged itself into the same overall personal performance level is experience with other viewers. This release sees Niran’s return to levels of earlier versions for me; is this down to any code tweaks, or simply my system showing its age again, I’ve no idea.

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      1. its more like a code change , since 1.44 i was basing on Viewer Development which slowly destroyed the Viewer in alot ways , at 1.49 i couldnt do anything anymore , TPs failed all the time , Friendlist never loaded , IMs didnt work , Groups didnt plop up anymore and alot more…it was annoying , really annoying , so i had to rebase on Linden Beta which is somewhat stable but my Viewer still does suffer from some rendering issues in Deferred , breaking my FPS down to 5 out of sudden and for no reason…

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  3. i LOVED the viewer when i tried it a few months ago, glad to hear there is an update. Also, i LOVED the preferences, BUT i think i might need help (or a spare week) with the graphics settings, and i don’t have time to actually take a photography course. is there full documentation on how to or what’s what for the aesthetically inclined, but nontechnical user?

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      1. thank you foneco! i find firestorm often does not play well with other viewers, so i am already down with the frequent wiping up lol. and 1000 outfit… HOLY CATS

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  4. fast easy 1, set on high resolution tab, tone mapping to liniar, move also the bar on middle to 1.5!
    Choose LL day cycle, and water mapping, hid defenition or tone mapping 1!
    Check all display tabs to ultra, make sure draw distance is 254, make sure shadows tab is set to high!
    hit f1 and make sure all the top boxes are checked but depth of field!
    Then you can wonder around and see if you need to lower some of the settings on the diplay or move the light slide strength to a blt less and so on!

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  5. I believe that until v1,47, the defered rendering that niran used was diff from the 1 it uses now!
    A reason for me to use that version for long, till the beta 2 was relased, cause i was not happy, not with the performance but with the overall quality of the v1,48 and 1.49 versions.
    You can try the v1.47 and see if with some settings you feel it faster, on my case it didnt and this latest is faster for sure, but one never knows (and v1.47 is still graphics speaking, a amazing one!)
    But one thing i can tell you, Niran does not mix with firestorm, so if you use stil, firestorm and connect with the same account on both viewers, id advise you to do another clean install of niran, log with that 1, and while you use it, dont log with firestorm!

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  6. And remenber to hit invetory tab, hit recent, let it fetch (opening about land tab while doing that speeds up the process)!
    Also if tou use my outifts folder, know that if you have 2 many like me (more then 1000 there) it wil take some time to wear for the 1st time each 1 of them!

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