April 2nd, 2020 saw the first full release of the viewer 1.x style Singularity viewer in almost four years with the arrival of version 184.108.40.20638. The last formal release of the viewer had been in June 2016, with the release of version 1.8.7 – although there have been many, many, “nightly” builds of the viewer made available in the interim to help keep Singularity users up-to-date with viewer changes.
As I don’t tend to report on “beta” or “nightly” builds of viewers unless they contain something absolutely vital to users – were I to try, it’s not unreasonable to say there would be times when I’d be writing nothing other than articles on viewers and clients – this release means there is potentially a lot for me to cover – the to possibly drown you in an ocean of text! To avoid this, please excuse me if I just touch on the core aspects of the update and point you towards the official release notes for a full list of updates.
Linden Lab Derived Updates
Given the length of time that has elapsed between the last formal release and 1.8.9, the latter rolls-up a lot of significant releases from the Labs. As a summary, these comprise:
- Bakes on Mesh (system wearable on mesh bodies / heads – see my Bakes on Mesh Basic Primer).
- Experiences (World → Experiences from the menu bar).
- Viewer Managed Marketplace. Actually released prior to the previous full release of Singularity, the Viewer Managed Marketplace (VMM) functionality didn’t make it into the 1.8.6 or 1.8.7 releases, and so arrives for the first time now.
- The Marketplace Listings Panel can be accessed via either World → Marketplace Listings in the menu bar, or by activating the Marketplace Listings toolbar button (View → Change Toolbar Buttons → check Marketplace Listings).
- Singularity also allows the listing ID for any Marketplace listing (active or inactive) to be obtained by right clicking on the associated folder in the the Marketplace Listings panel and selecting Copy Listing ID.
- In support of VMM, Singularity also provides a Marketplace button (View → Change Toolbar Buttons → check Marketplace). Note that this will open the Marketplace in the viewer’s internal browser, regardless of whether links are set to open in an external browser.
This is actually a huge list of new additions, improvements, updates and fixes. So big, in fact that trying to run through them here would give rise to a novel, rather than a review, as noted. So again, please refer to the official release notes for a complete breakdown.
At the time of writing, Singularity 1.8.9 had been released in 32-bit and 64-bit flavours for Windows; 64-bit Linux and promised an “emergency” version for OS X that is described as possibly “buggy” and “available soon”. As the download page on the Singu website still listed 1.8.6 as the last formal release for OS X, Mac users interested in Singularity are advised to watch the Singularity website for updates.
I’ve not had much time using Singularity 1.8.9, my total hours possibly amount to little more than an afternoon of fiddling. As such this feedback is perhaps a little more subjective in approach than might otherwise be the case.
All of the Linden-derived updates appear to work as expected, and the Singu-developed updates are certainly extensive and I have no significant issues with those I got to play with.
When it comes to rendering, where you’re looking, how far you can see, what is occluding your view, what to have cached, etc., all has a part to play in what the viewer renders, how fast it can do so and what your overall fps is. In an attempt at rudimentary “like-for-like” testing (e.g. same region, same location, same directions of view, roughly the same number of avatars, same graphics settings, etc), I found Singularly perhaps a little faster in rendering content than either the SL viewer or Firestorm, with average fps reporting pretty much on a par with, or very slightly higher than, those two viewers once rnedering had settled down for any given direction.
What I did notice with respect to 1.8.9, both in comparison to Firestorm and singularity 1.8.7, and when again, using the dame Windlight presets is that 1.8.9 produces a much more natural rendering result on my system – gamma, haze, tone, etc., – than I’ve noted with either Firestorm or the SL viewer when using the “default” settings.
For those who like a v1-style UI coupled with something of a more “power user” range of options, Singularity 1.8.9 is liable to be just the ticket. Hopefully the huge amount of effort put into this release will mean that in future, the viewer will be better able to keep pace with changes coming out of the Lab. Kudos to all involved in getting it back up to speed.