Firestorm 4.3.0 has arrived slightly earlier than expected, in the form of an initial beta release made as a result of the implementation of new Group Services code across the main grid.
While this is only a beta, and the associated Firestorm blog post gives fair notice that it may yet be somewhat wobbly while final work on getting it QA’d and ready for a formal release is ongoing, there is more than enough in the release to make it something people are liable to be hungry for. So here’s a preliminary review of the release as it stands today, with the caveat that things may change between now and the full release, which is currently scheduled for December.
Download and Installation
The download .EXE is big – 40MB, which is unsurprising given that Firestorm packs so much into it. I’ve been running pre-releases of this version for a while now, and the size has been consistent between them and while much bigger than other TPVs and the official viewer, it hasn’t grown overly much since the last release.
The installer is actually the place where the updates to the viewer begin for Windows users, as it now incorporates:
- A pop-up requesting whether or not the user wishes to have a Windows Start menu entry created for Firestorm during installation
- Addition of the version string and estimated installed size to the installer
- Addition of new OS detection code to warn if Windows Service Packs are not up-to-date and to prevent Firestorm being installed on Windows XP with
- Publisher data, Phoenix URLs and Firestorm icon for the Firestorm entry in the Windows uninstall list
- Automatic deletion of all previously installed skins to reduce issues arising from an unclean install
- Addition of a DETAILS button in the installer pop-up window to allow the installation to be reviewed.
Version 4.3.0 of Firestorm sees the viewer merged-up the official Linden 3.4.1 code base and the inclusion of later updates which are just filtering through to the official viewer 3.4.2 code pipe. Together these mean that this release incorporates and number of LL updates, including:
- Recent updates and improvements to the viewer-side pathfinding code
- Memory leak and memory crash fixes
- Translation updates (together with further updates from members of the Firestorm team)
- Incorporation of the official LL spelling checker (contributed to LL by Kitty Barnett to LL) and the official Auto-replace function (contributed to LL by Kitty Barnett, Jonathan Yapp, Tankmaster Finesmith and LordGregGreg Back)
- Rendering fixes and optimisations
- Group Services (group management) update (from the LL 3.4.2 code branch) allowing groups with more than 10K members to be edited and updated
- Objects by multiple creators show creator details when viewed in inventory (Properties), rather than “unknown”
This release also incorporates the new LL maturity rating function which:
- Notifies a user when trying to enter a region without having set the required maturity level in the viewer and presents the option to change their maturity setting (subject to age verification)
- If applicable, sends a message to the person offering a teleport that the recipient is unable to access the region due to their maturity level.
Firestorm 4.3.0 sees the implementation of the Havok sub-licence agreement between the Firestorm team and Linden Lab. This means that this is the first version of Firestorm to be released without any support for OpenSim access. Both –loginURI capabilities and the Grid Manager functionality have been removed.
However, as Jessica Lyon has previously noted, development of the viewer will be forking, and OpenSim support will continue in the future via a version of Firestorm which excludes the code required to access the LL Havok libraries. How tailored the OpenSim version will be for use on those grids is not clear, and those who use Firestorm to access both SL and OpenSim grids should read Jessica’s comments on support in the future.
The Havok sub-licence agreement does mean that this release of Firestorm can access the new LL-supplied Havok libraries which in the first instance, enable TPV viewers to visualise and model the pathfinding navmesh.
The Group Services update was the main reason for pushing out a beta release of Firestorm 4.3.0.
This code allows for improved loading of membership lists of very large groups, together with improved reliability in editing such groups (i.e. assigning roles, removing people, etc.), by the group moderators. The server-side element of this code has been available on the RC channels for the last couple of weeks, and was deployed to the main release channel on Tuesday November 13th, making it available right across the main grid.
However, in order to be used, it requires additional viewer-side code. Without this additional code, the viewer will be unable to display membership lists for groups with more than 10K members (although any groups with fewer than 10K of members can still be edited using any viewer). Thus, the decision was taken by the Firestorm team to release 4.3.0 in a beta version so that users responsible for managing groups with very large members lists can continue to edit them.
In making this release, Firestorm joins Cool VL and Niran’s Viewer in being able to handle large groups alongside the official SL beta viewer. However, the remaining TPVs are likely to have updates to support the capability out in the near future (and the code will soon be available in the SL release viewer as well).
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