On November 17th, the Firestorm team made a beta release of their latest update to Firestorm in order to offer users access to the new Group Services updates for managing large groups. At the time, it was indicated that the “full” release would occur in early December.
Keeping to their word, the team released 126.96.36.199155 on December 3rd, which includes everything featured in the beta release, and a few more goodies besides.
Given I’ve already given a comprehensive review of the beta release, this article will be focused primarily on the updates made between it and 188.8.131.52155 – although there will be some overlap.
As always, please refer to the Firestorm release notes for full details on credits, etc., for code contributions to the viewer, and for details of known issues and problems (known issues carried over from the LL code can be found here).
Download and Installation
As noted in the last review, the download .EXE is big – 40MB, which is unsurprising given that Firestorm packs so much into it. Installation – at a least for Windows users – is where the first set of changes occur, and it is worth recapping on these for people who have not installed the beta release:
- 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.
As noted last time, Firestorm has now signed a Havok sub-licence agreement with Linden Lab. This means that Firestorm is now available in two flavours – one for SL and one for OpenSim grids, with the SL version having both the –loginURI capabilities and the Grid Manager functionality removed.
This change means that Firestorm is now able to access the new LL-supplied Havok libraries, allowing the viewer to immediately include the pathfinding navmesh visualisation tools (as covered in my review of the beta release), and which could allow Firestorm to switch over to using the official LL mesh uploader code in the future, should they so wish, rather than using the current HACD code for mesh uploads.
One point to note is that it is possible to use the OpenSim version of Firestorm on SL – the only difference is the OpenSim flavour of the viewer will not be able to access the SL Havok libaries or use any functionality associated with them.
Updates from Phoenix
Further updates from Phoenix have been added to Firestorm 4.3.1 in addition to those found in the 4.3.0 beta:Texture Comment Metadata
When opening any texture, this will display the uploader name with a link to their profile together with the date / time the texture was uploaded. If permissions are sufficient, it will also display the asset ID on the texture preview floater.Progressive Draw Distance (PDD)
A popular Phoenix feature, when enabled, this causes Firestorm to use a progressive Draw Distance stepping after a teleport, to help improve rezzing times. The Firestorm version includes an option to cancel stepping in progress if Draw Distance is manually changed (Preferences > Firestorm > General).More Phoenix-like default settings for Phoenix Mode
The following Phoenix-like behaviours have been added to Firestorm when running in the Phoenix mode (selected via the Firestorm log-in splash screen):
- “Resident” is not trimmed off legacy names
- L$ balance changes will be shown in nearby chat instead of toasts
- Received Items folder is shown as a normal Inventory folder
- Firestorm will now send accept/decline responses for inventory offers after the according button has been pressed and not if the item has been received at the receiver’s inventory already
- Group and IM notifications are now sent to the nearby chat console (v1-style) instead of toasts (v3-style)
Firestorm 184.108.40.206155 re-introduces the V1-style “legacy” search capability for those who prefer it to the V2/V3 web-style search functionality.
Provided by Cinder Roxley, the legacy search option is currently available via a menu option (Content > Legacy Search) or via a dedicated toolbar button, and works for all search categories except Events, which will be added in a future update.
Documentation on the search function is available via the Firestorm website.
Phototools, Windlight and Snapshots Updates
Phototools is a suite of floaters which bring together a range of controls, debug settings and options available within the viewer into a single, cohesive set of options aimed at the SL photographer and machinima artist. I’ve covered them in detail previously, and provided a further update in my last Firestorm review. With this release of Firestorm the Phototools floaters (Phototools and revised Camera floater) can be accessed via a menu option: World > Photo and Video.
Alongside of these comes a windlight update of some 100+ presets for water and sky developed by Phototools developer William “Paperwork Resident” Weaver.
These additional presets can be accessed either via the Fixed Sky / Water presets menu option (World > Environment Editor > Environment Settings) or via the Phototool floater (shown right). All of the Phototools presets have “Phototools” at the start of their name.
Also, the Flickr tab on the Firestorm snapshot floater includes Katharine Berry’s update which add the parcel name to the location option.
Updates for Builders, Creators and Scripters
In addition to the updates reviewed with the beta release, Firestorm 4.3.1 also includes:Catznip Script Recovery – Kitty Barnett
First seen in Catznip R5, this feature locally auto-saves 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.
Firestorm 4.2.2 added the ability to drag or scale textures on a selected face just using the mouse. This has received a mixed reception from builders. With Firestorm 4.3.1, the capability is made optional, and can be enabled / disabled via Preferences > Firestorm > Build > Allow click-drag or click-scale. When enabled, select a face of an object in build tools and then click the face and drag to move the texture or hold CAPS LOCK key and drag to scale the texture on the selected face.Firestorm Build Tab in Preferences Updated
Preferences > Firestorm > Build has a new layout to improve readability.Updated LSL Syntax Highlighting
Now includes the LSL constants:
- OBJECT_PHYSICS Used with llGetObjectDetails to get an object’s physics flag
- OBJECT_PHANTOM Used with llGetObjectDetails to get an object’s phantom flag
- OBJECT_TEMP_ON_REZ Used with llGetObjectDetails to get an object’s temporary flag
This is a bug fix for the long-standing issue of having rotation snapping occur with prims viewed edge-on, even when snap to grid is disabled via the build floater.
And the Rest…
This is a round-up of the remaining updates incorporated into 4.3.1 which were not part of the 4.3.0 beta.
- GPU table update – from Runitai Linden, part of the ongoing work on how GPUs are grouped into classes
- RLVa improvements and fixes – merge up to RLVa-1.4.7a
- Added an option to show only active gestures in the gestures floater – Comm > Gestures > Active only checkbox
- Added Preview and Reset To Default buttons to radar alerts sounds – Preferences > Chat > Radar
- Objects muted by name now stay muted when worn as an attachment
- Notecards embedded in a notecard now open and do not get copied silently to inventory
- Typing animation will now not play when starting an emote via ”:” MU* pose style
- Umlaute and other special characters now work with the ”:” emote shortcut, also in IM panels
- Clicking on the mini lag meter in the top-right now opens the main lag meter window
- Experimental fix for VWR-28388 (100% CPU) – an attempt to stop Firestorm eating a second CPU core from CURL sitting idle
The following updates are specific to the OpenSim version of Firestorm, and do not apply to the SL version. Those wishing to run both the OpenSim and SL versions on the same computer can do so, but such ensure that each ins installed into s separated folder / directory (and shortcuts are independently named), and set-up an separate cache folder for one of them.General Updates
The Grid selector is now enabled by default on OpenSim builds
Kitely added to the grid list in Preferences > Opensim
Preferences includes an option to have separate chat logs per grid (Preferences > Privacy > Append the grid name to chat log folders)
Patch added to maintain compatibility with Avination once they have removed non-ssl logins
Added support for Aurora Sim Var regions
Off-sim water now renders properly on Aurora Varregions > 2048×2048 Core
Support added for AllowRenderWater on Aurora
Support added for Aurora var sized regions on the world map
Webprofiles now work for Aurora, Opensim and OSgrid
Aurora web profile URLs are now read from login data
Added support for Aurora-sim WindlightRefresh message
Added Open Region Settings panel to the Region Info floater for Aurora-Sim
Performance and Feedback
Performance-wise, Firestorm 4.3.1 gives very similar results as for 4.3.0, with my usual subjective checks carried out on my new (sandbox) testing zone with four other avatars present:
- Deferred off:
- Ground: 27-28 fps
- 370 metres: 30-31 fps
- 2875 metres: 42-44 fps
- Deferred on + lighting set to Sun/Moon + Projectors; ambient occlusion off:
- Ground: 8-10 fps
- 370 metres:11-13 fps
- 2875 metres: 16-17 fps
While I have not had the chance to put the release through its paces to an extensive degree, it has nevertheless appeared to be stable and has handled everything with the usual aplomb. All-in-all, another major update to Firestorm, and the additions since the beta release make this an absolute “must have” for Firestorm users. If you’ve held-off upgrading to the beta release from November – now would seem to be the time to forget your reservations and go grab 4.3.1!