Alchemy Release 5.0.7.41341

On Tuesday, November 14th, 2017, the Alchemy viewer updated to version 5.0.7.41341. The majority of the update appears to address issues and bug fixes, with the high-level summary in the release notes given as:

  • Re-Enabled HTTP Pipelining.
  • Fixes to IME for Japanese language input.
  • Numerous fixes to crashes and various other bugs.

Please refer to the release notes for a table of fixes.

The two significant updates to the viewer take the form of a revised Graphics tab in Preferences, and the adoption of the hypergrid currency extensions.

Graphics Preferences Update

This updates reverts Alchemy to displaying the Advanced graphics options within the Graphics tab of Preferences, rather than breaking them out to a separate floater, as per the official viewer. It also re-introduces the sub-tabs for General, Hardware, Lighting and Depth of Field, all of which makes the graphics option less screen real estate consuming.

Alchemy 5.0.7 does away with splitting the Advanced graphics options into a separate floater, as per the 5.0.6 release (l) & the official viewer, and instead re-integrates them into the main Preferences > Graphics tab (r), with sub tabs to logically split options.

Hypergrid Currency Extensions

Currently, if an OpenSim user log-in to one grid and then hypergrids to another, the currency symbol (displayed in the top-right of the viewer window) do not update to the new grid. With this extension, the currency symbol will be automatically updated, and the currency helper-uri should also update. Thus, the buy currency /  insufficient-funds / buy land processes should all continue to work correctly, and without the need for the user to manually update the grid info in their viewer and without any need to have specific  currency.php, landtool.php files or an xml-rpc server.

The extension has been developed by Chris Colosi, founder and CEO of Gloebit, a multi-platform digital currency web service which has been adopted by a number of OpenSim grids (see here for a list of Gloebit partners). It was contributed as a patch for the Firestorm viewer in October (with the assistance of Ansariel Hiller from Firestorm), and is being adopted by both Alchemy and (hopefully) Singularity. Colosi was, from November 2010 through September 2011, the Monetisation Manager at Linden Lab, responsible for the Linden Dollar virtual currency product. In 2011 he left Linden Lab to set-up Gloebit, and you can read more about the extension via his article on Medium, posted on September 26th, 2017.

Feedback

I’ve not had the time to drive this release hard, but it appears stable and didn’t give me any significant issues when playing with it over the last several days. The graphics panel update is appreciated – I’ve always tended to find the Advanced Graphics break-out panel in the official viewer a waste of screen real estate which offers few, if any, advantages for users. I don’t really drop into OpenSim any more, so cannot comment on the currency extensions capability, other than it appears to be a good and useful feature to have.

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Alchemy Release 5.0.6.41161

On Monday, July 24th, Alchemy issued an update to the release version of their viewer. Version 5.0.6.41161 incorporates all of the updates found in the last Beta update (version 5.0.0.40120, reviewed here), which included Project Bento and Avatar Complexity support (although no Graphics Presets), updates to the right-click context menu for better avatar and estate management, and numerous other improvements.

The new release, available in both 32- and 64-bit for Windows, and 64-bit only for OS X and Linux, brings with it assorted improvements and updates, some of which are very much “under the hood” in the form of a revamp of the rendering system, together with nips and tucks to the UI.

This release also sees Alchemy achieve parity with the Lab’s 5.0.6 code-base, and so includes all the recent updates from the Lab, including, but not limited to:

The most visible change to the viewer is that while maintaining the LL “v5” look about profiles (avatar, group, object), Alchemy now displays profiles in separate floaters, rather than “tabbing over” in the current People / Friends / Nearby People / Group / Inventory floater or mucking about with a sidebar, making it a lot easier to browse multiple profiles in each class / across profile classes.

Profiles now open in their own floaters in Alchemy 5.0.6.41161

For OpenSim users, this release of alchemy also provides a warning when log-in credentials are being sent over an insecure connection, while the grid manager has received some reliability improvements. Alchemy also now has the ability to store avatar log-in credentials.

Much of the work on this release is said to be geared towards performance improvements. Alchemy has always – for me – produced pretty solid results FPS when on a near-like-by-like comparison with other viewers as it is possible to get (same graphics set-up, same region, same windlight defaults, similar / the same avatar numbers, etc.). Such tests are by no means perfect (you cannot account for the graphics load of individual avatars on a region, for example, even if the numbers are the same, for example). On my i4 / 16 GB DDR3 / GTX970 system, I found  this version of Alchemy continues the tradition of providing me with on average higher FPS than the LL viewer (roughly 10-20fps on average) and Firestorm (between 15-30fps), although the differences could be negligible in popular spots.

There’s no RLV / RLVa in this release, nor has the Lab’s Graphics Presets been implemented – which in my personal view is an oversight, as they do allow for much smarter use of graphics settings by those prepared to put the (not exactly extensive) effort into setting things up. That said, Alchemy continues to do what it says on the tin, and this update should keep regular users of the viewer happy.

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Alchemy 5.0.0: Bento beta

Alchemy-logoOn Sunday, January 8th, the Alchemy team released a beta version of Alchemy 5.0.0, the first update to the viewer to include support for Project Bento and Avatar Complexity (although no Graphics Presets).

As well as Bento support, version 5.0.0.40120 includes several updates specifically aimed at those with estate management responsibilities, plus a range of bug fixes and improvements from both Linden Lab and the Alchemy Team. In addition, this release includes work that is ongoing to reorganise the UI.

The following is intended to be a general overview of the more visible updates to Alchemy 5.0.0, and a summary of some of the bug fixes.

Project Bento

As almost everyone in SL must be by now aware, Project Bento introduces an enhanced avatar skeleton offering greatly improved support for mesh avatars and rigged mesh attachments. It also includes a set of new attachment points to work with the new joints, although the overall limit of the number of attachments you can wear at any one time remains 38 (including HUDs).

Most of all of this work is entirely under-the-hood. However, there are two additions to the avatar right-click context menu for both your own and other avatars: Reset Skeleton and Reset Skeleton And Animations which should be noted. In Alchemy 5.0.0, they can be found in the Appearance sub-menu of the right-click avatar context menu.

They have been added because sometimes, when changing between one mesh avatar and another, the basic SL avatar can become deformed, resulting in it looking squished, stretched, caught between two looks, or something else.

The reset skeleton options should “fix” your own or other avatars which appear distorted in your view after changing looks / shape – note both options only affect your view of the avatar in question, it does not affect how others may see the same avatar
The reset skeleton options should “fix” your own or other avatars which appear distorted in your view after changing looks / shape – note both options only affect your view of the avatar in question, it does not affect how others may see the same avatar

The problem is generally the result of race conditions when the avatar’s appearance is being updated, and both of these buttons are intended to correct the problem  – the option to reset animations as well is intended to fix deformations which may be due to animations also kicking-in incorrectly / at the wrong time.

Further information on Bento (if needed) can be found via the following links:

Avatar Complexity

To be honest, I thought this had been part of Alchemy already, but looking through my past reviews and Alchemy’s release notes, I can’t find evidence of it being mentioned, and the 4.0.0.37571 release doesn’t include the Avatar Complexity options. Anyway, assuming I’m not going bonkers and thus repeating myself, here’s a rapid breakdown – please refer to my Avatar Complexity release article for in-depth info, if required.

, Avatar Complexity (aka Jelly Dolls), is in short a means to reduce the rendering load placed on your computer in having to render all the avatars around you in detail. Instead, you can set a rendering limit (aka Maximum Complexity) in the viewer. Any avatar exceeding this limit won’t be rendered in full – unless you opt otherwise – but will instead be rendered as a solid colour (aka Jelly Doll).

The revised Preferences > Graphics tab, including the Maximum Complexity slider. Setting this to high values will render avatars which may place additional rendering load on your computer, slowing your SL experience, to be fully rendered. Lowering it will cause such avatars to be rendered as solid colours, reducing their render load
The revised Preferences > Graphics tab, including the Maximum Complexity slider. Setting this to high values will render avatars which may place additional rendering load on your computer, slowing your SL experience, to be fully rendered. Lowering it will cause such avatars to be rendered as solid colours, reducing their render load on your system

With Alchemy, this means that The Preferences > Graphics tab adopts the official viewer’s approach, displaying frequently used options within it, and moving the more advanced options to a separate Advanced Graphics Preferences floater.

The newer Advanced Graphics Settings floater (accessed via the Advanced Settings.... button in the Preferences > Graphics tab
The newer Advanced Graphics Settings floater (accessed via the Advanced Settings…. button in the Preferences > Graphics tab

Avatar Complexity includes some additional capabilities / options

  • Every time you change your appearance, and thus your avatar complexity, your current complexity value will be briefly displayed in the top right corner of the viewer window
  • You can display information on your own and other avatar’s complexity by going to the Advanced menu (CTRL-ALT-D to display it, if required) and selecting Performance Tools > Show Avatar Complexity Information
  • Your own avatar will always be fully rendered in your own view
  • Maximum Complexity has a No Limit setting. It is not recommended you use this. If you wish to avoid seeing the vast majority of avatars around you as Jelly Dolls, set the slider to a high value. Setting it to No Limit can leave you vulnerable to graphics crashers.
Use the avatar right-click context menu and the Visibility options to select how another avatar is rendered during your current log-in session
Use the avatar right-click context menu and the Visibility options to select how another avatar is rendered during your current log-in session

You can also alter how you see other avatars around you without altering your Maximum complexity setting. To this, right-click on an avatar to display the context menu. Go to Visibility to display the sub-menu. This has three options:

  • Render Normally – will render the avatar in accordance with your Maximum Complexity setting
  • Render Fully – will render them fully, no matter what your complexity setting
  • Do Not Render – will render them as a grey 3D imposter, no matter what your complexity setting.

Not that Render Fully and Do not Render only apply to your current session. If you re-log the avatar in question will once again be rendered in accordance with your Maximum Complexity settings.

Continue reading “Alchemy 5.0.0: Bento beta”

Alchemy 4.0.0: released

Alchemy-logoOn Saturday, June 26th, the Alchemy team announced the official release of Alchemy 4.0.0.37571, which essentially moves the recent Beta releases to release status, together with some tweaks and tucks.

As Alchemy beta users will know, 4.0.0 brings Alchemy up to parity with the Lab’s 4.0.0 code base, and also adds some upstream fixes from 4.0.1. This means the viewer includes the Chromium Embedded Framework (CEF) for media handling.

Given I have provided a couple of overviews for the February and April beta releases of the viewer, the following is a quick bullet-point list of major updates in the viewer:

  • Client-side AO (see my April Beta release overview)
  • Automatic update capability (matching the official viewer update capability) – Preferences > Setup
Alchemy 4.0.0 includes auto-update options to help with maintaining parity with latest releases / receiving beta version updates
Alchemy 4.0.0 includes auto-update options to help with maintaining parity with latest releases / receiving beta version updates
  • Enhanced environmental tools
  • In a change introduced on the April Beta, the local chat bar (see my February Beta release overview) no longer has a chat check-box to activate the option (Preferences > Chat). Instead, the chat bar will open automatically if your mouse focus is in-world (e.g. not already focused on the conversation floater or another floater) and Preferences > General > Pressing Letter Keys is set to Starts Local Chat.
The Alchemy local chat bar and options, as it appears in the 4.0.0. release version of the viewer
The Alchemy local chat bar and options, as it appears in the 4.0.0. release version of the viewer

At the time of writing, the full release notes were reported as “will be generated soon”, so users are referred to the Alchemy web site for these and a detailed breakdown of updates.

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