On Sunday August 17th, the Firestorm team announced the release Firestorm 18.104.22.168398. As with the 4.6.5 release in May, this is far more of a stability and bug addressing update more than it is a release of major new features, although it does contain a lot of updates which most Firestorm users will find to their liking.
As always, the complete list of changes, together with attributions, can be found in the release notes / change log, and I refer readers to that document for specifics on all contributors, FIRE JIRA links, etc. The following is intended as an overview of some of the more major / interesting changes, updates and fixes to be found in the release.
The Before We Begin Notes
For best results when installing this release:
Note that as a result of the Firestorm team’s policy to keep only 3 versions running, version 4.5.1 beta will be blocked in the coming weeks. The advice from the team is that If you are on 4.5.1, to please update now. Version 4.4.2 will continue to remain for Mac users until all the major Cocoa Mac bugs have been resolved. However, if you are not a Mac user, then there really isn’t any reason for you not to have updated, and the team again ask that you update as well.
Mac 64-bit Version And Mac Fixes
This release of Firestorm sees the arrival of a Mac 64-bit version. As with the original windows and Linux 64-bit versions, this first release of the Mac 64-bit variant of the viewer is regarded as a beta release. However, the Firestorm team fully expect it to have far greater stability than the 32-bit version, and better performance, so Mac users in a position to do so are encouraged to download it and try it.
As a heads-up to Mac users, please note that this release of Firestorm also includes a couple of partial fixes for known issues:
- Alt-clicking while moving the mouse moves the camera significantly (see STORM-2041 and FIRE-12241) has been partially fixed by Linden Lab
- The Firestorm team have implemented a partial fix for the keystroke entry lag issue (see FIRE-12172).
These may not entirely solve the issues to which they relate, but hopefully they’ll give at least some Mac users a degree of improvement.
One thing those experiencing the typing lag, and who are in a position to do so, might like to try is to create a clean virtual desktop in Spaces, switch to it and then start Firestorm, pinned it to that desktop, and make it full screen (see the suggestion from Spikeheel Starr here).
This release sees Firestorm reach parity with LL’s 3.7.8 code-base, together with cherry-picked updates from later releases. Updates and fixes directly from the Lab include, but are not limited to) the following.
Project Interesting Scene loading Updates
Project Interesting has been a part of the Lab’s long-term Project Shining updates which were recently officially drawn to a close. The interest list work, primarily led by Andrew Linden prior to his departure from the Lab to join High Fidelity, is a set of improvements to how the viewer and simulator work together to know what information the viewer has or needs in order to render the world around your avatar.
The work has seen several server-side and viewer updates, and the updates included with this release of Firestorm enable the viewer to more intelligently store and reuse scene data, helping to make regions you’ve previously visited load faster (as long as you don’t clear cache!), and help improve viewer performance.
Further information on the project interesting work can be found in the following blog posts:
- Speedy Delivery: Introducing the Project Interesting Viewer – Linden Lab
- Enjoy Faster Scene-Loading with Project Interesting – Linden Lab
- “Project Interesting” arrives as a release candidate viewer – this blog
- “Project interesting” viewer reaches release status – this blog
Google Breakpad Updates
Google Breakpad is the tool used in gathering information used in reporting underpinning reasons for viewer crashes to help with tracing causes, etc. Linden Lab have been engaged in a programme of improving when and where Google Breakpad becomes active as the viewer starts, and ceases reporting as the viewer shuts down. This release of Firestorm sees the most recent updates and improvements made to Google Breakpad integrated into the viewer, allowing the support team to improve the triaging and debugging of issues.
Other Updates of Note
- Added a viewer check box to extend parcel entry limits to a higher ceiling (World > Region Details > Region > Block parcel fly over): when checked, extends access checks vertically to prevent parcel flyover
- Opening large chat histories from conversation log no longer eats huge amounts of memory resulting in a viewer crash (see: BUG-4517 and FIRE-12242)
- Searching inventory for “online” now correctly returns online friends calling cards in search results (see BUG-4409 and FIRE-12178)
- Merchant Outbox fixes: includes fixes for accurately detecting Merchant status and improves recovery for Merchant Outbox errors
- Improved discoverability of the Region Debug console has been moved to Develop > Consoles > Region Debug Console. Also added to World > Region Details > Debug > Region Debug console
- Having a space after your cursor and pressing return to add a new line no longer forces an extra space to be made in the next line in notecards and script editor
- Opening square textures now sets the 1:1 size constraint.
Building and Scripting Updates
LSL Functions for Materials
Firestorm 4.6.7 sees the addition of LSL support for materials capabilities. Materials can be added to object faces with llSetPrimitiveParams() and llSetLinkPrimitiveParams functions using the following parameters:
- [PRIM_SPECULAR, integer face, string texture, vector repeats, vector offsets, float rotation_in_radians, vector color, integer glossy, integer environment]
- [PRIM_NORMAL, integer face, string texture, vector repeats, vector offsets, float rotation_in_radians]
- [PRIM_ALPHA_MODE, integer face, integer alpha_mode, integer alpha_cutoff]
- Valid alpha_mode options are PRIM_ALPHA_MODE_NONE, PRIM_ALPHA_MODE_BLEND, PRIM_ALPHA_MODE_MASK, PRIM_ALPHA_MODE_EMISSIVE
- [PRIM_SPECULAR, integer face] returns [string texture, vector repeats, vector offsets, float rotation_in_radians, vector color, integer glossy, integer environment]
- [PRIM_NORMAL, integer face] returns [string texture, vector repeats, vector offsets, float rotation_in_radians]
- [PRIM_ALPHA_MODE, integer face] returns [integer alpha_mode, integer alpha_cutoff].
For further information, please refer to the relevant LSL documentation as linked-to above.
- CTRL + mouse grab of objects is now disabled by default in all of Firestorm’s log-in modes other than V3. This is because the option offers no “undo” option should it be used accidentally. A toggle option has been added to Preferences > Firestorm > Build 2 (Use CTRL+mouse to grab and manipulate objects) to enable / disable the ability.
- Clicking the area in between the Full Bright check box and the Materials drop down box no longer incorrectly opens the colour picker.
There are a number of new options for communications with this release, together with a number of fixes. These include:
- It is now possible to display the latest news from the Second Life Grid Status Report in chat at log-in. The option is OFF by default. To enable it, go to Preferences > Notifications > Notifications and check Query status.secondlifegrid.net for latest news at login
- A new option has been added to Preferences > Chat > Keyword Alerts to make all Keyword Alert searches case-sensitive
- A “map” button has been added to legacy friend list to show position of friend on the map if they’ve granted map rights (Comm > Friends > Map)
- Opening nearby chat by clicking a nearby chat toast no longer displays multiple tabs chat simultaneously
- Right clicking name on the Friends list that is part of the “People” floater no longer causes a long freeze (fixes FIRE-13725 and partially fixes CHUIBUG-222 and FIRE-11322)
- If an avatar you have blocked starts a group chat session in a group for which you are a member, the chat will now open correctly, rather than the viewer ignoring it (see FIRE-13613)
- The friends list in the avatar picker (Comm > Friends > Add > Friends tab) now obeys the name display settings under Preferences > General
- Settings backup has been extended to back up muted group chat configuration.
Firestorm Client AO Updates
The Firestorm client-side AO gets several updates:
- The currently playing AO animation now displays in bold in the animation list
- AO animations will no longer sometimes stop playing after a region crossing
- The AO should no longer misbehave on seats that use the sit_ground system animation
- An avatar should now be able to stand after switching off AO during ground sit override.
Firestorm Bridge Updates
The Firestorm Bridge has been extensively updated. Key enhancements and changes include:
- Bridge enhancements for radar can now be enabled / disabled (Radar > Options > Enhance radar with LSL-Client Bridge). When checked, radar functions responsible for determining avatar locations at high altitudes are assisted by the LSL-Client Bridge, particularly when they’re beyond draw distance.
- Bridge flight Assistant code has been re-written, and the boost speed is mow modifiable (Disabled, Mild, Moderate or Strong boost) – Preferences > Firestorm > General > Flight Assist
- Movelock improvements:
- Added friction: – slows the degree to which your avatar is moved when bumped
- Added a separate sound for movelock toggling, with an option to turn it on or off (Preferences > Sound & Media > UI Sounds 3 > Toggling Movelock)
Additional Bridge updates can be found in the change log for this release. Those wishing to know more about the Firestorm Bridge are referred to the Firestorm Bridge documentation.
Firestorm Radar Updates
The radar floater has been updated to include a typing (T) and a sitting (S) indicator alongside avatar details. In addition, an option to hide muted and blacklisted avatars in the radar has been added, which, when checked, will leave notifications in radar suppressed for muted and blacklisted avatars hidden.
Inventory and Appearance
A number of inventory / appearance fixes are included with this release, including:
- Avatar incorrectly sitting or standing from sitting when minimising the viewer (see: FIRE-1568)
- Double-clicking on anything in the Current Outfit folder removes it from your avatar – including skin, shape, hair base and eyes should not longer result in a bake failed avatar
- Distant avatars should now animate at the correct speed when avatar imposters are disabled see VWR-16694 and FIRE-3657). Note that this is an experimental fix, and while no issues / side-effects of the fix have been found, it can be disabled, should problems occur, via Preferences > Advanced > Enable the use of animation timesteps. Note that this will result to distant avatars reverting to their old behaviour.
There is no overall update to RLV/a with this release, and it remains at i RLVa-1.4.10a, API version number 2.8.0. However, the following are given as FIXED:
- RLVa show names restriction being over-applied to IMs shown in the chat console
- Friends names are no longer shown in bold font in radar if RLV show name restriction is active
- RLVa restrictions for the mini-map context menu
- Disable “Map” button in contacts floater if RLV prevents user from opening the world map
- Hide avatar age in the radar if RLV show names restrictions is set; people might know who is who because of their age
- Force refresh buttons in the contacts floater if relevant RLV restrictions change
Roleplay Dice Chat Commands
A new feature for the 4.6.7 release is a “roll dice” chat command for roll-players (notably dungeon / games masters). By default this is rolld, which represents a normal 6-sided die, and changes can be reassigned via Preferences > Firestorm > CmdLine 1 > Roll Dice. The command simulates the rolling of any die or dice, from standard 6-sided dice through the various types of multi-face dice used in role-play and other games. Some example of use are:
rolld indicates the rolling of a single 6-sided die, and so might result in output such as: Total result for 1d6: 4
- rolld 2 6 indicates the rolling of a pair of 6-sided dice, and so might result in output such as:
#1 1d6: 3
#2 1d6: 4
Total result for 2d6: 7
rolld 1 20 is a single dice with 20 faces, so typing it in might result in output such as: Total result for 1d20: 7
rolld 3 10 is 3 dice, each with 10 faces, so typing it in chat might result in output such as:
#1 1d10: 8
#2 1d10: 7
#3 1d10: 9
Total result for 3d10: 24.
Other Updates of Note
Some of the remaining updates and fixes include:
- KDU updated to version 7.4.0
- Openssl updated to 1.0.1.h
- Snapshot upload to Flickr has been updated to use the revised Flickr API, and now works again (shown right)
- More than one version of Firestorm 64 bit Windows can now be installed
- The Help menu includes a direct link to the Firestorm Classes Schedule (Help > Firestorm Classes Schedule)
- The Content menu includes an option to display the Firestorm “message of the day” in chat
- Legacy cursor option has been added back and pointer accuracy fixed (Preferences > Skins > User Viewer 1 style cursors)
- Texture refresh now reloads normal and specular material textures as well
- When seated in mouselook, pressing the down arrow no longer exits mouselook
- The double option for Automatic Fly in Preferences has been fixed (Preferences > Move & View > Movement > Fly / land on holding up (jump) / down (crouch))
- “Restore to last position” for no copy objects has been removed. Due to the risk of content loss when using the Restore to last position feature on certain no copy objects, this has been blocked.
For those wishing, at your own risk, to re-enable restore to last position for use on no copy objects, you can do so by setting AllowNoCopyRezRestoreToWorld to TRUE in debug settings
- OpenSim update: Receive group chat option in group profiles now works correctly in OpenSim.
As noted at the top of this article, this is something of a skim through the 4.6.7 updates to gather some of those which are liable to have widespread interest among readers. The change log is available for those who want a more in-depth read. As well as the above, there are translation and skinning improvements, stability fixes, GPU table updates, and even more fixes.
I’ve been using various iterations of this release both in preview and beta, and have found it to be largely stable and reliable. I had hoped that the SL Share 2 capabilities for Flickr and Twitter would make it to this release, as I’d certainly like to make more use of the upload to Twitter. I’ll just have to wait until next time! Performance for me has been on a part with previous releases, and fairly equal to the official viewer as and when I’ve compared the two, and I’ve had not serious crash issues.
As with the 4.6.5 there is a lot going on under the hood with this release, with a lot of updates and fixes which should be pleasing to many people and which represents a significant merge with the interest list work now included.