It’s been a while since the last Singularity update, and the team have been hard at work updating the viewer and making in-depth changes to a range of functionality as well as providing new features and options.
Version 18.104.22.16824 was released on Sunday January 20th, 2013, which saw the viewer gain, among other things:
- Merchant Outbox support
- Large group management support
- HTTP communications updates in line with recent v3 viewers.
Download and Install
The Windows download remains roughly the same size at previous releases, a touch under 23.9Mb. The release notes don’t explicitly mention the need for a clean install, but given I’m looking at the viewer for review purposes, I did my usual and removed the previous version (1.7.2) and all support files prior to installing. The installation process was, as ever, smooth and error-free.
Much work has been carried out on HTTP communications within Singularity in order to bring it into line with ongoing HTTP-based projects underway within the Lab.
Perhaps the most obvious evidence of this work is that this update incorporates Baker Linden’s Group Service code changes to support the management of large groups – which will now load successfully in Singularity and avoid the 10K members cap imposed on the UDP code for handling groups.
Additional work has been carried out on support of HTTP communications which is designed to both improve stability when using HTTP within the viewer and to pave the way for full support of further enhancement of LL’s HTTP services, including the upcoming new server-side avatar baking service.
Version 1.7.3 of Singularity brings with it Merchant Outbox support (World -> Merchant Outbox). As with V3-style viewers, the outbox forms a separate floater, allowing folders to be dragged and dropped from Inventory with the same ease as v3-style viewers.
Right-clicking on objects in the Merchant Outbox provides the usual options of renaming / deleting them, together with an additional option to send them to your Marketplace store
(allowing individual items / folders to be sent, rather than the entire contents of the Outbox see comments at the end of this article).
The snapshot floater has been completely overhauled with this release, which now includes an option to upload images to your profile feed at my.secondlife.com.
The new floater is larger when opened-out, but offers a better snapshot preview, and is also somewhat context-sensitive with options; the temporary upload option is disabled, for example, when sending a snapshot anywhere other than to inventory. Aspect ratios have also been improved upon within the new floater as well, providing further flexibility when creating images.
Unfortunately, this release of Singularity does not appear to include the snapshot tiling fix (MAINT-628). I’m not sure if that is because of issues with the code fix or an oversight. However, increasing the images size to anything over my screen resolution when running in deferred mode immediately produced tiling lines – and actually did so on-screen.
Vignette Effects and Motion Blur
Singularity has provided a dedicated floater for post-processing effects for some time now. However, with this release, the floater gets an overhaul and two new options – Vignette and Motion Blur.
The panel is still accessed via World -> Environment Settings -> Post-Processing Effects, but has been re-written to provide vertical, rather than horizontal, tabbing in order to include the new options and avoid the need for any scrolling which horizontal tabs might otherwise require.
The vignette option will likely be of interest to SL photographers, allowing (as the name suggests), fast and easy vignette effects to be set-up prior to capturing snapshots. The tab includes options for setting the strength, radius and relative darkness of a vignette ring on an image, and also allows both colour desaturation and chromatic aberration to be set.
The former allows the level of colour saturation in an image to be adjusted, while the latter offsets the focal points for the colours in an image relative to one another. Both of these options can be used to produce some interesting visual effects in snapshots and can be used both in conjunction with each other and the other vignette settings, and independently of the other settings in the tab. All options are set via sliders for ease of control.
Motion blurring can be used to create some interesting effects for photographers and machinima makers. As the name suggests, it adds blurring to physical motion during rapid movement, similar to the effects seen in recent releases of Niran’s Viewer. The degree of blurring is set via a slider in the Motion Blur tab.
.Singularity 1.7.3 also sees the addition of:
- Inventory cut and paste support for folders
- Introduction of a new Chat UI tab under Preferences -> Adv Chat which brings together a number of general chat settings under one tab, rather than mixing them under IM settings, etc., as with earlier releases
- Under-the-hood updates and changes.
Performance and Feedback
Running my “standard” tests with the viewer yielded the following results on my usual test machine:
- Deferred off:
- Ground: 28-29 fps
- 370 metres: 36-37 fps
- 2875 metres: 45-48 fps
- Deferred on + lighting set to Sun/Moon + Projectors; ambient occlusion off:
- Ground: 9-10 fps
- 370 metres:15-15.5 fps
- 2875 metres: 16 fps
There were three other avatars on the region at the time of test.
I’m not a great fan of the v1 UI as I find it limiting and clunky in comparison to the v3 FUI. However, were I ever to revert to a v1 UI, then Singularity would be my preferred choice, because it has a skinning I personally find easy on the eyes and this update certainly delivers the functionality I find most useful, and so I’m additionally biased towards it, even without the tiling fix (which I’m still waiting to see in Firestorm as well). As such, and for those who very much prefer using the v1 UI and who have recently been upset with Phoenix reaching an end-of-line for SL, I have no hesitation in pointing to Singularity as offering a very worthwhile alternative, both for SL and OpenSim.