On Wednesday March 12th, the Firestorm team released Firestorm 126.96.36.199478, bringing with it a lot of features, fixes, updates and enhancements.
The complete list of changes, together with attributions, can be found in the release notes, and I refer readers to that document for specifics on contributors, FIRE JIRA, etc. The following is intended as an overview of some of the more major / interesting changes to be found in the release.
The first thing to note with this release is that it is, with the exception of the Linux 64-bit version (which is beta), a full release, not a beta or alpha or anything else.
So, if you’ve been avoiding trying 4.5.1 because it was a beta release, now is the time to consider updating. Do make sure when doing so that you take a look at the Firestorm 4.5.1 release notes, which provide a lot of information on that release as well which will of benefit to you as you gain familiarity with 4.6.1. You can also read my review of the 4.5.1 release here.
Downloading – a Reminder
This will be the first release of Firestorm following changes at Google forcing Firestorm to discontinue using Google’s download service (see the Download Server section of my Feb 15th FS meeting transcript for an explanation). This means that all Firestorm downloads starting with this release are via the team’s own download server.
As this is the only server the team has at their disposal for downloading the viewer, you may experience some delay / issues when attempting to download the viewer due to the volume of downloads the server is handling, particularly during the period following the release announcement. Should this occur, the Firestorm team request a little patience, and if you can, to consider re-trying a little later.
As always, a completely clean install of the viewer is recommended.
Windows 64-bit Installer
Those who have previously installed the windows 64-bit version will be aware that the installer could be painfully slow. With this release, the Windows 64-bit installer has been overhauled, and should be appreciably faster, and also includes some additional tweaks:
Added estimated installation size (200 MB)
Add/Remove panel icon (shared with 32bit installer for simplicity)
Added website URLs (shown in the bottom section of the Add/Remove panel)
Viewer and Installer Blocks
The release of 4.6.1 means that all versions of Firestorm prior to 4.4.2 will be blocked from accessing Second Life in around a week’s time. Additionally, and in reference to the Windows version of Firestorm, note that:
- The 32-bit installer blocks the installation on any Windows operating system below Vista, except for 32-bit Windows XP with Service Pack 3
- the 64-bit installer blocks the installation on Windows 64 bit on versions older than Windows XP with Service Pack 2.
Updates from the Lab
This release brings Firestorm to parity with many of the Lab’s more recent updates, highlights of which include:
- Code parity with Linden Lab’s 3.7.2 code base
- Fitted mesh support – for those unfamiliar with Fitted Mesh, I have an overview here
- HTTP updates for improved rendering
- Request Teleport feature
- Region Restart updates
Vivox 4.6.x updates
- SL Share (link to Facebook)
- Temporary attachments no longer get removed improperly
- … and more
A feature contributed to the SL viewer by Jonathan Yap, Request Teleport allows users to pass a request to others asking that they be teleported to their location.
I covered the capability when it first appeared in an SL project viewer in September 2013, so in brief:
- Select the person to whom you wish to teleport (from your Friends list or Nearby list, etc.), and select Request Teleport
- Enter a message in the pop-up, if required, and click OK.
- At the “other end”, the recipient of the request will receive the request and can either accept the request, sending a teleport offer, or reject it, in which case no message is sent
- If the request is accepted, the sender see the usual teleport offer pop-up.
Note that Request Teleport is not a replacement for Firestorm’s “teleport to” capability, which remains unchanged.
SL Share and Facebook
SL Share is a means by which those who have no issue with linking their SL account with their Facebook account can do so and send messages, photos, etc. to their Facebook account.
This was a feature released by Linden Lab again in September 2013, and I provided an overview at that time. however, it is probably worth repeating a couple of core points:
- The feature is opt-in, and available to those who have no problem linking their SL identity with that of their Facebook identity
- It has proven very popular among many users who have no problems doing so
- It’s not about the “Facebookisation” of Second Life or trying to “make” SL users also use Facebook.
Region Restart Updates
The region restart updates comprise two main elements:
A new region restart warning notification, which is displayed in the centre of the viewer window every minute, on the minute, for the last five minutes prior to the region restarting, and which includes a countdown (in seconds) until the regions restarts
- A camera-shaking warning which occurs every minute, on the minute for the last five minutes prior to the region restarting, causing the world view to shake., and which is accompanied by a region restart sound.
Note that both the new format notification and the camera shaking can be disabled / enabled as follows:
- New region restart notification: Preferences > User Interface > Toasts > Use new region restart notification
- Camera shaking: Preferences > User Interface > Toasts > Don’t shake my screen when region restart alert message is shown.
In addition, teleports to regions which are in the final 60 seconds before a restart will be prevented and the viewer will display a message in the format: “The region you’re trying to enter is about to shut down”.
Phototools is updated to version 1.2, bringing with it a lot of enhancements, including:
- An option to enable / disable screen space reflections (when shadows options are enabled)
- The removal of legacy specular highlight and camera aspect ratio controls
- Additional sliders/spinners and controls for RenderShadowBias, RedershadowBiasError, CameraMaxCoF, FSRenderShadowSplitExponentY, FSRenderShadowGaussianX, FSRenderSSAOEffect and FSRenderShadowGaussianY
- Increased editable value ranges for many spinners allowing greater control
- Numerous other updates and amendments.
Details on the Phototools floater can be found here.
In addition, William Weaver, who first developed Phototools, has produced a series of video tutorials on using the floaters, the latest of which is provided below, which also looks at some of the most recent updates:
Contact Sets, which allows Firestorm users to group their friends / contacts into groups or categories (friends, business contacts, members of s specific RP group, etc.), has been completely revised with this latest release of Firestorm.
Contact Sets now form an additional tab in the Conversations / Contacts floater, and as well as the familiar means of accessing it (via the Contact Sets toolbar button, or by Comm > Contact Sets or by pressing CTRL-ALT-SHIFT-C), it can now be displayed by any of the following methods, and then clicking on the Contact Sets tab:
- Via Comm > Conversations / CTRL-T or via the Conversations toolbar button
- Via Comm > Contacts / CTRL-ALT-SHIFT-F
- Via Comm > Friends / CTRL-SHFT-F or via the People / Friends toolbar button
The new layout is tidier and more integrated into the Firestorm UI, although a couple of options – such as the Rolodex functionality – are no longer present. New buttons provide a more intuitive approach to managing Contact Sets, and include the able to display friends and contacts using their Display Names or even set your own aliases for them (only visible in your Contacts Sets tab).
An overview and instructions on using the new Contact Sets can be found here.