Exodus Viewer now SSB/A-ready

exodus-4With Server-side Baking / Appearance due to be enabled on the LeTigre Release Candidate Channel on Wednesday July 10th (from which it will gradually roll across the grid), the Exodus team have issued a new version of the popular Exodus viewer. Classified a beta release, the new viewer update has the version number 13.7.9.1, and includes the latest code updates from the Lab.

This means that with this release, Exodus is:

  • Server-side Baking / Appearance ready
  • Includes the Lab’s Communications Hub User Interface (CHUI)

However, the release:

  • Does not include materials processing support
  • Removes RLVa support.

CHUI and SSB/A

VHUI now a part of the Exodus viewer
VHUI now a part of the Exodus viewer

There is not actually much to report here per se, other than both work entirely as expected. CHUI sees the LL integrated chat / IM conversations floater working in Exodus.

Simlarly, SSB/A works exactly as expected on SSB/A-enabled regions, with other avatars rendering correctly in Exodus, and your own avatar rendering correctly to others.

Exodus SSB/A: (l) my avatar on Exodus and my CTA on the SL viewer - both render correctly in Exodus on the Aditi SSB/A test regions. (r) The same agin, but this time my avatar (foreground) on Exodus, as rendering in the SSB/A-capable SL viewer.
Exodus SSB/A: (l) my avatar on Exodus and my CTA on the SL viewer – both render correctly in Exodus on the Aditi SSB/A test regions. (r) The same agin, but this time my avatar (foreground) on Exodus, as rendering in the SSB/A-capable SL viewer.

That both SSB/A and CHUI do work flawlessly tends to hide the amount of work the Exodus team have put-in getting both ready to go prior to SSB/A being enabled server-side.

Why No Materials and RLVa?

Materials

Both the integration of CHUI and SSB/A capabilities into a v3-based viewer are very large amounts of work (CHUI has something like over 1200 change sets of its own). They therefore require time and effort to implement – and have likely been keeping the Exodus team more than a little busy (on top of some of them being actively engaged in developing the materials capabilities in SL as well as working on other items such as the Mac Cocoa project).

There’s also the fact that while materials doesn’t use CHUI itself, both the materials code and the CHUI code touch on other areas of the viewer code. Therefore, it makes sense for the Exodus team to focus on implementing CHUI first and then merging and cleaning the materials changes sets (which is exactly the order in which the Lab did things), rather than racing to implement materials, only to find those updates impacted at a later date by required CHUI updates.

So for all those hoping to see materials in Exodus – it will doubtless be coming, you’ll just need to wait a little longer.

RLVa Removal

The blog post for the release explains the reasoning behind the removal of RLVa support from Exodus thus:

By its nature and by necessity, RLVa is an extremely invasive patch. We do not have the resources to maintain this code, and it is the primary reason for our lack of updates recently. We hope that this removal enables us to produce more frequent updates going forward and apologise for the inconvenience.

While the loss of RLVa is perhaps to be regretted, how much it is likely to be missed obviously comes down to the number of Exodus users who make use of it, obviously – and it is worth pointing out that RLVa was something of a late arrival to Exodus in the first place, so it may not be that greatly missed.

Other Updates

This release also sees Exodus:

  • Using Cocoa instead of Carbon on Mac computers
  • Gain full screen support on Lion
  • Fain Retina support for the Retina MacBook Pros.

Feedback

This is not an in-depth test of the latest Exodus beta, but a quick spin around the Aditi block. Everything works, as notes, as expected, and the rendering enhancement which have been part and parcel of Exodus for a long time certainly make their presence felt even in a default rough & ready snapshot such as the one grabbed above for the SSB/A comparison.

I didn’t do any performance tests this time around, as I was on Aditi – I’ll save that for another time :). That said, I’ve always found Exodus to be a solid performer on my current hardware, where it has tended to be my “reserve” viewer (along with Dolphin).

This is a very tidy and timely update to Exodus which brings it back to a par with other popular v3 viewers, and perhaps even a little ahead with the Cocoa support. Kudos to the team!

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BURN2 Town Hall – July 13th

logoThe BURN2 team have issued a press release announcing a Town Hall meeting to discuss this year’s event, which will take place in October, and anyone who is interested in participating is invited to attend.

In order to ensure people from around the globe can attend the meeting, two individual meeting sessions will be held on Saturday July 13th. The first meeting will take place a 09:00 SLT and the second at 18:00 SLT on the Virtua Player. You don’t need to attend both.

The press release, issued by Mia Quinote via e-mail, reads in part:

Come hear how you can participate in this year’s amazing BURN2 event  in October! BURN2 is the virtual echo of the real lIfe Burning Man event held every August, and is the only virtual Burning Man Regional event. This year’s theme is: CARGO CULT!

Find out how to:

  • Volunteer! Soooo much fun stuff to do! Greeters, Builders, Infrastructure, Stage Managers! Join a build team, or make an art car or a porta potty!
  • Perform! Sign-up to perform on one of the BURN2 stages!
  • Teach, Play, Inspire! Poetry to DJing, burlesque to circus art! Bring your amazing talents and creative ideas for events to BURN2!
  • Build a Camp! Purchase a virtual plot and build a camp or give as [a] gift to an artist or friend
  • Take  a Chance! Join the plot lottery, or “plottery,” for a free 512 sm camp 
  • Get a Camp Grant! Propose a project, camp, or group for  a chance to win a free plot
  • Feed the Burn! Donate to support this amazing event!

Those wishing to attend either meeting time are further invited to arrive 30 minutes ahead of the actual meeting start to enjoy Lamplighters drumming and dancing.

BURN 2 Cargo Cult will take place from Saturday 19th October through to Saturday 27th October, with camp builds commencing on Tuesday 17th September.

About BURN2

BURN2 is an extension of the Burning Man festival and community into the world of Second Life. It is an officially sanctioned Burning Man regional event, and the only virtual world event out of more than 100 real world Regional groups and the only regional event allowed to burn the man.

The BURN2 Team operates events year around, culminating in an annual major festival of community, art and fire in the fall – a virtual echo of Burning Man itself.

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SSB/A: rolling to LeTigre, Wednesday July 10th plus Catznip updates

Update Wednesday July 10th: In checking the forum deployment thread for this week’s roll-outs, I see that KarenMichelle Lane has provided a list of regions on LeTigre where SSB/A will be enabled once they have restarted. Again, you’ll need to have an SSB/A-enabled viewer to avoid issues with avatar rendering on these regions. If you find that once the restarts have completed you are encountering issues with avatar rendering (for example, you are using an SSB/A viewer and find you avatar fails to render for yourself or others), or other issues which appear to be linked to SSB/A, please consider raising a bug report detailing the problem, how to reproduce it, and including your environment information (Help > About (Viewer Name) > Copy to Clipboard), which references Project Sunshine.

Update, 22:00 BST: Exodus have released Exodus 13.7.9.1, which includes SSB/A support, CHUI (the Communications Hub User Interface) and the removal of RLVa.

This week marks the start of the enabling of Server-side Baking / Appearance in Second Life.

On Wednesday July 10th, LeTigre will become the first Release Candidate channel on which SSB/A will be enabled. While it is subject to confirmation, it would appear as though all regions on LeTigre will have SSB/A enable once the Wednesday restarts have been completed – I’ll be updating on this following the Simulator User Group meeting on Tuesday 9th July.

In short this means:

  • Regions on the LeTigre RC channel will see UpdateAgentAppearance, enabled. This is used to request a server-side appearance bake
  • The ability of connected viewers to upload baked textures via the UploadBakedTexture capability and via AssetUploadRequest will be depreciated and removed from simulators on the LeTigre channel
  • As a result, viewers that do not support server-side baking will fail to display avatars correctly.
If you want to avoid seeing increasing numbers of grey avatars (l) and / or avoid people telling you, "you're a cloud" when you appear perfectly fine to yourself (c), update to a version of a viewer supporting SSB/A and see and be seen (r)
If you want to avoid seeing increasing numbers of grey avatars (l) and / or avoid people telling you, “you’re a cloud” when you appear perfectly fine to yourself (c), update to a version of a viewer supporting SSB/A to see others, and have them see you, properly rendered  (r)

Note also that as a result of the SSB/A changes, “temporary texture” uploads will no longer function on regions on the LeTigre RC channel. The Local Textures function found within the majority of viewer will continue to work, however, and provide an alternative means to preview textures at zero cost for most situation where this is required (other than collaborative building projects on Agni).

So, if you have resisted updating your viewer to an SSB/A capable version. or moving from a viewer which is no longer maintained & won’t be supporting SSB/A (e.g SL viewer 1.23.5 or Phoenix) now really is the time to do so. At the time of writing, of the maintained “full” viewers listed in the TPV directory, all but Dolphin, and Imprudence currently support SSB/A, while the current releases of Lumiya, Metabolt and Radegast clients also have confirmed support for SSB/A.

To make sure you get the best from SSB/A, make sure you are running the latest version of your preferred SSB/A-enabled viewer.

Catznip 8.1 Update

While Catznip R8 is SSB/A-enabled, the Catznip team have released R8.1 on Tuesday July 9th. This contains important code updates from Linden Lab. As such, it is considered a mandatory update.

If you are a Catznip user, and even if you have R8 installed, please make sure you do download and update to R8.1 when prompted.

Although Catznip 8 supports SSB/A, R8.1 includes important LL-driven updates to the viewer-side code, please make sure you update when prompted / download R8.1 from the Catnip site
Although Catznip 8 supports SSB/A, R8.1 includes important LL-driven updates to the viewer-side code. If you’re a Catznip user, please make sure you update when prompted

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