Category Archives: Catznip

Catznip R11: jelly dolls, Bento, oh my!

catznip logoOn Sunday, December 1tth, Catznip R11 arrived, bringing with it a lot of Lab love and Kitty goodness. With the last update having been back towards the start of 2016, there are quite a few updates and features from Linden Lab, and well as some niceness from the Catznip team themselves.

In particular, this release picks up on the Lab’s Avatar Complexity capability and graphics presets, and also include Bento avatar skeleton support, as well as a raft of Lab changes such as HTTP co-routines, CEF, LibVLC, voice improvements, bug fixes, and more.

This is not intended to be a comprehensive review of Catznip R11; rather, the hope is to provide an overview of the more major updates and changes. Information on all changes can be found in the release notes (when available – link to be added).

Updates Via the Lab

Avatar Complexity, aka Jelly Dolls

There are probably very few in SL who have not heard of Avatar Complexity, be it by that name or its more popular nickname, Jelly Dolls. However, for those who need a quick re-cap and run through, here’s the deal.

As avatars can often be the biggest single rendering load on our computers (and why you can experience a lot of lag in a crowded place) Avatar Complexity is a means by which you can set a “complexity limit” within your viewer. Any avatar (including their attachments) exceeding this limit will be rendered as a solid colour – a “Jelly Doll” – thus putting a lot less load on your computer. It comes with a handful of notable points:

  • Avatar complexity only applies to other avatars in your view; your own avatar will always be rendered fully to you
  • You can also override the setting for individual avatars around you and select how they render in your view
  • You can adjust the limit at any time according to your needs at that time
  • You can use graphic presets (see below) to save different avatar complexity settings for different circumstances (e.g. a very low limit for crowded places, a much higher limit for home use, etc.).

When first installed, a viewer with Avatar Complexity will set a default limit for you based on your current viewer graphics settings. Hence why you might see a lot of solid colour avatars around you when logging-on for the first time with Catznip R11. These default limits are:

  • Low: 35,000
  • Low-Mid: 100,000
  • Mid: 200,000
  • Mid-High: 250,000
  • High: 300,000
  • High-Ultra / Ultra: 350,000

Avatar complexity is controlled via the Avatar Maximum Complexity  slider, which can be found in three locations:

  • In the Preferences > Graphics tab: Avatar Maximum Complexity
  • In the Advanced Graphics Preferences floater (see Revised Graphics Preferences, below, for more on this): Avatar Maximum Complexity
  • The Quick Appearance panel of the new Catznip Quick Preferences floater (see below for more on this): Complexity Limit
The Avatar Complexity slider in Preferences > Graphics

The Avatar Complexity slider in Preferences > Graphics

In all three cases, moving the Maximum Complexity slider to the right increases your threshold, allowing more avatars around you to be fully rendered, while moving it to the left decreases your threshold, increasing the number of avatars liable to be rendered as solid colours. Changes made in one slider will be reflected in the others.

Note that you can set the Maximum Complexity slider to No Limit (all the way to the right). However, this isn’t recommended because it leaves your viewer vulnerable to any graphics crashers some inconsiderates still occasionally try to use. It is far better to set your viewer to a high limit (e.g. 350,000) if you don’t want to be bothered by seeing Jelly Dolls.

To help you understand how complex your own avatar is, every time you change your appearance, a small notice with your new complexity value will appear in the upper right of your viewer window for a few seconds. Your own complexity value is also displayed at the top of the My Appearance floater (Me > Appearance or right-click your avatar and select My Appearance from the menu), and on the Quick Appearance panel of Quick Preferences (“Complexity”), while the Quick Wearing panel will provide a breakdown of the complexity of all your worn attachments (see Catznip Quick Preferences, below for more on Quick Preferences).e

You can find your own maximum complexity via the avatar context menu > Edit Appearance, and a breakdown of your avatar cost via Quick Preferences >Quick Appearance

You can find your own maximum complexity via the avatar context menu > Edit Appearance, and a breakdown of your avatar cost via Quick Preferences > Quick Appearance

You can also display avatar complexity information on yourself and all avatars around you by going to the Advanced menu (CTRL-ALT-D if not visible) > Performance Tools > Avatar Complexity Information (previously Show Render Weight for Avatars). This displays three items of information over the heads of all avatars Including yours):

  • The render complexity for each avatar
  • A ranking of the avatar’s distance from your camera (1=closest)
  • The attachment surface area for an avatar, expressed in square metres.

Other points of note:

  • Setting an individual avatar's rendering in your view

    Setting an individual avatar’s rendering in your view

    The complexity value of your avatar is transmitted to each simulator as you travel around Second Life. In return, you’ll get a brief notice in the upper right of your screen telling you the approximate percentage of avatars around you who are not fully rendering you because of your avatar complexity.

  • If you always wish to fully render certain other avatars, no matter what your Maximum Complexity setting, you can right-click on those individuals and select “Render Fully” from the context menu.
  • Conversely, if there are avatars around you whom you’d rather render as grey imposters, right-click on them and select “Do Not Render” from the context menu.
  • Note that in both cases above, these per-avatar settings do not persist between log-ins. If you re-log, any avatars you have set via these options will revert to being displayed in accordance with your Avatar Complexity setting
  • You can also revert any avatar exceeding your Maximum Complexity setting by right-clicking on them and selecting Render Normally from the context menu. They will become a Jelly Doll once more.

Finally, Avatar Complexity does not replace Avatar Imposters, but rather is intended to work alongside of it, offering another means to reduce avatar rendering load on your computer.

HUD Complexity Warning

If you attach a HUD which makes heavy / excessive use of large textures and which, as a result, can impact your system’s performance, the viewer will display a warning to indicate the problem and which names the HUD. It will naturally fade after a set time has passed.

The new HUD complexity warning

The new HUD complexity warning

Graphics Presets

Graphics Presets allows you to easily save and restore different sets of graphics settings within the viewer, which can then be used according to need. So you might have one with all the performance-hitting options enabled for when you’re taking photos, and another with many of them turned off, as they’re not really needed (e.g. for shopping or clubbing, etc.), for example. You can then swap back and forth between them as needed via a drop-down options list and without any need to relog.

There is no limit to the number of presets you can create, and any you no longer require can be easily deleted.

The Graphic Presets buttons on Preferences > Graphics

The Graphic Presets buttons on Preferences > Graphics

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Catznip R10: the cat comes roaring back

catznip logoUpdate: February 8th, 2016:  Catznip 10.1 beta is now available.  Functionally, it is exactly the same as the R10 release except is has a much updated openJPEG, If you are a Catznip user and are experiencing crash issues, this beta may help.

To find out if your issues are openJPEG related, go to  Preferences > Crash Reports. and if you see openJPEG anywhere on that page, you should updated to the R10.1 beta as soon as you can.

Saturday, January 30th saw the long-awaited release of Catznip R10, the first update to the viewer in some 18 months, largely as a result of fate playing a very unfair hand to members of the Catznip team (and it’s good to see you back in-world Kitty, and hoping your recovery swiftly moves beyond the uncomfortable stage) .

Currently, the release is for Windows only, but it see Catznip come right up to date with the current release version of the official viewer, including support for  Chromium Embedded Framework (CEF), for modern media support.

Lab Updates

Obviously, so long a period between releases means that there have been a string of major and minor updates from the Lab, all of which have had to be incorporated into Catznip R10, and which have all be covered to one degree or another in the pages of this blog. With this in mind, and to avoid boring people with a lot of repetition of information already available, I’ve summarised the cor Lab changes found in R10 below, together with links to additional information for those who need it.

Revised Log-in / Splash Screen

The first noticeable change is that Catznip R10 now uses the revised log-in splash screen as deployed by Linden Lab, which places the log-in options at the top of the screen. However, because Catznip is unlikely to be the first viewer new user to SL are likely to encounter, the “first time log-in” option has been disabled.

SL Share 2 and Unified Snapshot Floater

SL Share 2 capabilities, introduced in 2014, allow users to upload snapshots directly to Twitter and Flickr, while the unified snapshot floater provides an initial means of accessing the options to upload snaps to Facebook, Flickr and Twitter from within the snapshot floater, as well as adding a much larger snapshot preview panel.

Group Ban Functionality

Group Bans allow group owners and those roles provided with the ability within a group, to remove troublemakers from that group / prevent them from joining / re-joining the group.

HTTP Pipelining

HTTP pipelining enables the viewer to issue multiple asset fetches on a connection without waiting for responses to earlier requests. This helps to improve things like initial scene loading. In addition, the pipelining code includes improvements to inventory fetching.

Avatar Hover Height

Avatar Hover Height, developed as a direct request of a proposal put to the Lab by members of the Firestorm team, allows “on-the-fly” adjustments to be made to your avatar’s height with the minimum of fuss and without having to use the Edit Appearance Hover slider or use a modifiable shape.

Experience Keys

Also referred to as Experiences, this allows creators to build more seamless and immersive experiences in Second Life without the need to constantly ask users to grant permission to act on their avatar. Instead, permission is requested once when they join (or re-visit) the experience, and then revoked when they leave.

Viewer-Managed Marketplace

The Viewer-Managed Marketplace, or VMM, enables merchants to manage the creation and management of Marketplace product listing through the viewer, bypassing the need to use the Merchant Outbox (and have copies of items stored on the Marketplace inventory servers) or using Magic Boxes.

Group Bans, Viewer-Managed Marketplace and Experiences are all now part of Catznip

Group Bans, Viewer-Managed Marketplace and Experiences are all now part of Catznip

In addition, there has been all the maintenance, snowstorm and other releases which have all board improvements and changes to the viewer, and all of which have been incorporated into Catznip R10. These include, but are not limited to: viewer build library updates, interest list improvements, inventory handling updates, GPU benchmarking, attachment fixes, the ability for an avatar to wear up to 60 wearable layers – jackets, shirts, tattoo, alpha, etc. – in any combination, rather than being restricted to a maximum of 5 per specific layer type, and so on.

Notifications Floater Improvements

Caznip offer a means to filter received notifications as well as a drop-down list for displaying notifications by category

Caznip offer a means to filter received notifications as well as a drop-down list for displaying notifications by category

A further update made to the official viewer during 2015 was that of the Notifications floater, which appeared in the latter part of 2015.

For those unfamiliar with it, the Notifications floater allows incoming notifications (group, system, invitations and transactions, to be sorted and displayed for easier viewing. The default floater splits all such notifications using a tab system, with a tab for each category.

In implementing the feature, however, Catznip have made a couple of improvements.

The first of these is that rather than presenting received notifications under a series of sub-tabs, Catznip R10 allows the user to select which category of notifications they wish to view (or all of their received notifications) via a drop-down list, removing the need for any scrolling between tabs.

This has allowed the Catznip team to include their second improvement, in the form of a search filter. This allows users to filter notifications based on criteria such as originating group, sender’s name, etc. If, like me, you are someone who receives a lot of group notices, this significantly eases sorting through and finding those to which you might want to pay particular attention.

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Catznip R9: the cat gets the cream

catznip logoCatznip released version R9 of their popular v3 viewer on Friday May 9th, and marks their biggest single update so far. As the team move towards a shorter, faster release cycle, it is likely to be the last of the really big updates we see coming out of the door from the team. In the future, things are liable to appear in smaller and more focused releases.

The complete list of changes can be found in the release notes, and I refer readers to that document for a full list of updates and changes, and any necessary specifics on code contributed to the viewer (if applicable).

The following is intended as an overview of some of what I feel are the more major / interesting / visible changes to be found in the release.

Chat  and CHUI

R9 sees Catznip get the best of CHUI and extras from the Catznip team that should help to present users with a chat  / IM conversations.

Catznip R9 chat takes the best of CHUI and adds Catznip's own tweaks, and the return of popular elements

Catznip R9 chat takes the best of CHUI and adds Catznip’s own tweaks, and the return of popular elements

One of the more noticeable elements is the ability to range tabs either vertically or horizontally. Given that many people do appreciate chiclets, considerable effort has been put into restoring the chiclets following the inclusion of the CHUI code.

Given the extent of the updates resulting from the CHUI merge and the team’s efforts to present a flexible, friend chat UI, Preferences > Chat has been extensively updated.

Preferences > Chat has been revised with expanded options for managing all aspects of chat and IMs

Preferences > Chat has been revised with expanded options for managing all aspects of chat and IMs

These changes are apparent from the moment Preferences > Chat is opened, with six new sub-tabs appearing in the panel. Three of these – Translation, Auto-Replace and Spell Checking – replace the button which access these options in earlier releases. The remaining three tabs – Chat, IM & Groups and Logging – are entirely new to this release, and all include options for configuring chat and IM notifications, behaviour, appearance, and more (some of which have been inherited from the old Preferences > Catznip > Chat sub-tab, which has been removed from R9, being surplus to requirements).

The IM & Groups sub-tab helps with configuring chat / IM behaviour, appearance, etc.

The IM & Groups sub-tab helps with configuring chat / IM behaviour, appearance, etc.

Additionally, the spelling checker has been updated to support German, French, Italian and Polish.

Building Updates

Perhaps the most obvious change to Catznip R9 is the arrival of Materials Processing. However, there are other updates as well, including:

  • Windows only:
    • Drag-and-drop textures directly onto a prim face using local textures as the backing store
    • Drag-and-drop uploading of textures
  • Added a “Selection Options” pop-out to thebuildfloater,  grouping all selection related viewer options and including:
    • Select Only Copyable Objects (also added to Build menu > Options)
    • Option to prevent turning towards a newly selected object
  • Option to prevent the avatar’s arm from pointing at a newly selected object
  • Added copy/paste of the different types of texture parameters with three possible scenarios (always on a single object):
    1. Copy all texture faces (which may or may not be identical) => pastes the texture data on matching selected faces
    2. Copy one texture face => pastes the texture data on all selected faces
    3. Copy several texture faces => pastes the texture data on matching selected faces
  • Added pipette for the different types of texture parameters.
  • The Build floater with Selections Options pop-out (l) and Materials (r)

    The Build floater with Selections Options pop-out (l) and Materials (r)

    Camera and Movement Floaters

    The updated Camera and Movement floaters

    The updated Camera and Movement floaters

    Both the Camera and Movement floaters have been refined so they are transparent, rather than opaque, and are more compact. The Camera floater also has a revised layout.

    A slider in Preferences > Colors allows you to adjust the level of transparency / opacity of both floaters.

    Inventory Updates

    This release sees a number of inventory related updates and changes, including:

    • A significant speed improvements when filtering inventory
    • Open in Inventory check box added to the Buy Contents floater + UI layout cleanup
    • Texture tooltip added for inventory items
    • Copy Outfit List to Clipboard is now available when right-clicking any outfit folders in your inventory
    • Option to clear the current inventory filter rather than create a new inventory floater when the shown item is currently filtered
    • Inventory will always show the “Received Items” folder if the inventory’s panel contents are filtered (with a non-default filter)
    • Empty system folders no longer hidden by default (Advanced > Debug setting DebugHideEmptySystemFolders set to FALSE)
    • New option to control how offered inventory is handled while marked as Do not Disturb
      • Pop up a chiclet as normal (default)
      • Auto-accept the offer
      • Auto-decline the offer.

    Notecards / Scripts / Text editors

    These see the following features added to the R9 release:

    • Recovery support for unsaved notecards (embedded items are not preserved)
    • Texture tool tips for embedded notecard items
    • Use the current selection (text, etc.) as the default search string
    • Highlighting of occurrences in the target editor when using the Search/Replace floater
    • New keyboard shortcuts to the script editor menu
      • F1 opens the LSL reference
      • Shift+F1 opens keyboard help
      • Ctrl+G opens the “Go to line” floater.

    In addition, the following behaviours have been revised:

    • When you Go To a line in a script editor, at least three lines above/below the target line will now be visible
    • Case-insensitive search is now enabled by default for notecards, scripts and text editors.

    Preferences

    As well as the updates to the Chat tab, this release sees a number of other updates in Catznip’s Preferences which form a part of ongoing work to overhaul Preferences.

    The Sound and Media tab has been completely overhauled, with new sub-tabs for volume controls and streaming, Sound Alerts, and Voice Chat.

    The Sound Alerts sub-tab panel on the revised Sound and Media tab in Preferences

    The Sound Alerts sub-tab panel on the revised Sound and Media tab in Preferences

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    Catznip R9 beta testing to commence; faster release cycles coming

    catznip logoTrinity Dejavu of the Catznip viewer team provided me with a brief update on things relating to the viewer. The team have been working on the next release of Catznip (R9), and are already starting to look beyond it to future versions.

    “We’re starting our beta test programme for R9 and beyond,” she told me on Thursday April 3rd, “And we’re going to move to a release often and early policy rather than a HUGE update once a blue moon.”

    Catznip R9 has been in development for some time and is approaching a point where it will be released in the near future. With R8 having been released in July 2013, the news of a more rapid release cycle is going to be good news for Catznip users.

    Catznip runs both alpha and beta testing programmes, and details of both can be found on the  Catznip wiki. However, in short:

    • The alpha group is to test very early versions of the viewer, and membership is by invitation only
    • The beta programme is not designed as an early means of gaining access to the viewer. Like alpha versions of the viewer, betas of Catznip are also liable to be incomplete, may have stability issues and will not be suitable for use as a primary viewer.

    Those wishing to join the beta programme must be willing to comply with the following:

    • Use Catznip as their primary viewer
    • Be willing to undertake extensive (and repeated testing) of the viewer and viewer features
    • Have an account on the Catznip JIRA and be able submit reports
    • Be willing to allow the viewer to submit detailed crash reports to Catznip (see the team’s privacy policy)
    • Be willing to accept forced updates and have personal settings wiped
    • Preferably have a dual-boot Windows / Linux system and know what GDB is.

    Instructions on how to sign-up as a Catznip beta tester can also be found on the Catznip wiki.

    In reference to the next release (R9), the Catnip wiki states:

    Catznip R9 is mostly feature complete, there are a couple of little bits we really want to get in if we can … The OSX version may be slightly delayed … cross your fingers.

    Catznip R9 will have materials, new particles and fitted mesh from Linden Lab.

    The major delay in getting the release prepped and out has been down to CHUI (LL’s Communications Hub User Interface), which had a number of unexpected impacts on viewer performance. As a result, Catznip have implemented a new chat interface, which they describe as:

    Using a mixture of R8 and the best CHUI elements. The new chat interface is fast and tight with all the bells and whistles you expect (and maybe .. a few brand new ones).

    There is currently no release date for the R9 version, but I’ll hopefully carry a review when it is launched.