On Wednesday March 12th, the Firestorm team released Firestorm 18.104.22.168478, 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.
Firestorm 4.6.1 now includes the Animation Explorer from Phoenix. This can be accessed from the menu bar via World > Animation Explorer, and lists the animations which are (or were) active on you avatar.
When open, the left-side pane of the floater lists the current / previously active animations. Clicking on a listed animation will display it in the right-side pane on a “Ruth” avatar model, which can be zooming in / out on and rotated using the mouse. At the bottom of this pane are a number of buttons and a check box:
- Stop: stop the selected animation.
- Stop and Revoke: Stops the animations and revokes animation permissions from the object that was granted them.
- Revoke: Revokes animation permissions from the object that is controlling the selected animation.
- No Owned Animations: This filters out animations that are owned by your avatar, like AO and system animations.
Avatar Shape Export / Import
Firestorm allows you to export the avatar shapes you create as .XML files and re-import them.
A shape is exported to XML via the Develop menu (Ctrl-Alt-Q) > Avatar > Character Tests > Appearance to XML.
Shapes can be re-imported via the Import button on the Edit Shape floater.This opens a file picker window, allowing you to navigate to the folder in which the required shape has been saved and then import it into Firestorm.
When importing a shape, please note that it will replace the existing parameters for the shape you are currently wearing, and will be saved on exiting Edit Shape.
If you wish to retain the original shape, make sure you use the Save As button at the bottom of the floater, opposite the Import button, before you import a shape.
If you do forget to save your original shape to a new file name before importing a shape and replacing it, you can use Undo Changes to revert to your original shape. You can then use Save As to create a copy of it in your inventory, prior to re-importing your new shape.
The mini-map gets a series of updates, comprising:
Customisable mini-map background transparency, set via the Background Opacity slider in Preferences > Colors > Minimap and addition of configurable pick radius color and transparency on mini-map Preferences > Colors > Minimap > Pick Radius
The addition of all avatar options from radar to the mini-map menu (right-click on an avatar dot to view) and the ability to mark multiple avatars on the mini-map at once (see FIRE-9938)
Ability to remove single avatar mark from the mini-map (as well as all marks), and to set an avatar mark to blue (right-click on an avatar dot then Mark > Choose Color / Clear Mark/s)
Addition of draw pick radius on mini-map (as seen in Exodus) via Preferences > Move & View > Firestorm > Pick Scale
Added configurable pick radius color and transparency on the mini-map
Protect avatar name cache lookup callbacks in the mini-map
Mini-map no longer displays 2 dots for agents when flying or moving quickly.
Documentation on the Mini-map can be found here.
Mouselook gets a number of tweaks with the 4.6.1 release, which are mainly aimed at combat enthusiasts and which have been developed from Exodus. These include:
When in mouselook, the crosshairs will display the name and distance of the avatar at whom you are aiming towards as well as change colors depending on how you have them marked on your mini map.
The color will be chosen based on this order (in terms of priority):
Mark color on the mini-map
Special color based on contact set
Default mini-map colors as defined in preferences
Additionally, tracker markers can be enabled. However, they will show for all avatars within the range defined in preferences.
Don’t show avatar name under mouselook target if show names are forbidden by RLV
Preferences > Move & View > View > Enable Combat Features / Draw target markers / Range (m).
Group Members List Export
This feature allows the export of the list of group members to a .CSV file, which includes: user name, UUID and status. This is available only to users who are publicly visible in the member list (i.e. those whose role has “Reveal members” enabled).
OpenSim New Features and Improvements
- Client tags now display correctly on OpenSim (see: FIRE-10144)
- Added osGetGridGatekeeperURI() and lsClearWindlightScene to OSSL script library
- Hop protocol is now registered on the Windows 64-bit viewer
- Added variable region size for OpenSim, not Aurora Sim only
- Aurora Sim: Prevent drawing of the mini-map in the radar if mini-map is not allowed
Other Updates of Note
- FModEx updated to version 4.44.26
- KDU updated to version 7.3.2
- RLVa updated to 1.4.10, API version number 2.8.0
- Materials support has been added for the object exporter
- Materials offsets now work correctly when “synchronize materials” is checked for negative diffuse texture offsets
- Synchronize materials feature now works correctly for negative values of materials rotations
- Support for uniform scaling LSL functions (llScaleByFactor(float scale_factor), llGetMinScaleFactor() and llGetMaxScaleFactor())
- Copy and Paste object position values between 2 different viewers is now accurate
- Floaters can no longer be moved totally underneath the bottom toolbar buttons and “lost”
- Multiple updates / improvement to chat capabilities
- Added a confirmation dialog when deleting notecards to prevent accidental deletion
- Movelock improvements:
- If a user logged out of Firestorm with Movelock still enabled and relogged with a different viewer, Movelock would still be enabled and could cause confusion for the user. With this release, Movelock will disable itself if the user is not on Firestorm
- Movelock now tells the user in nearby chat when it is enabled at login
- SLURL / map links now open in-world from maps.secondlife.com
- Inventory improvement include:
- Number of attachment slots remaining added to the edit appearance floater
- Inventory filters now persist after relogging
- Firestorm now allows dragging and dropping any asset type into the Landmarks folder
- Moving a folder to a protected folder like the #LSL Bridge folder is now prevented
- Added an option to add clothing on double-click in inventory
- Avatar no longer falls into the ground when editing shape/wearables
- Delete key now works when deleting object inventory
- …and more
- UI Improvements include:
- Block/Mute list now has a toolbar button
- Resync Animations now has a toolbar button.
Again, the above barely scratches the surface of the updates, and is intended to act as a series of pointers – please refer to the release notes for the full list of updates and changes.
I’ve been running the Firestorm 4.6.1 (and before it the 4.5.2 pre-release) versions throughout the beta and smoke test phases in preparation for this release, and have found the viewer to be exceptionally stable, and with a performance easily equitable to the performance I experienced with Firestorm 4.5.1.
Installation-wise, the work carried out by Nicky Dasmijn on the 64-bit Windows installer pays off in spades – the updated installer is fast and tidy, and is generally done before I can even get to the study door on my way to make a cup of coffee, whereas previously I could not only go make the coffee but be back at my desk and half-way through sipping it by the time the old Win 64-bit installer was done…
Features-wise, this release packs a heck of a lot into it, and there should be more than enough to keep everyone happy – although it does mean that reviews such as this tend to be rather ad-hoc, simply because there is too much to cover in a single article! As such, the easiest way to get to grips with everything is to read through the release notes, and give the viewer a go.