Lab issues Project UI viewer aimed at new users

via Linden Lab

As has been indicated in various discussions and statements from the Lab – such as the Above the Book sessions with Grumpity, Brett and Patch linden at this year’s VWBPE event, one element of Second Life that the Lab is focused on is the new user experience.

This work involves various projects, including the on-boarding process and changes to the viewer to help new users get to grip with things, and on Monday, May 3rd, Alexa Linden announced the release of the Project UI viewer which includes a range up updates specifically aimed at new users.

According the Alexa’s forum post, the new viewer includes three core areas of update:

  • A new menu option called Avatar, and streamlined / revised right-click avatar context menus.
  • Improvements to the Inventory panel.
  • An updated Places floater.

However, there’s actually more to this viewer than the forum post reveals, so here’s a run-down of some of the documented changes and some of those that are missed out from the forum post – but which could actually be of greater interest to established users.

The Avatar Menu and Right-Click Avatar Context Menus

This is perhaps the most significant update to in the viewer. To quote from Alexa’s post:

Making SL easier for newcomers to learn can improve the chances that they will become long-term Residents. Growing the Resident community benefits everyone — more people to meet, more participation in events, and more commerce. The changes described below are the first batch of what we hope will be an ongoing series of usability improvements.
Avatar menus
With this release we introduce the Avatar top-level menu which brings together all avatar tools in one place. One of SL’s most important features is now more visible to newcomers. You’ll notice the avatar right-click menu has been streamlined as well.
Have you ever struggled to select an avatar attachment?  It’s inside your avatar, it’s transparent, or it’s a mesh attachment that you just can’t grab. You can now touch, edit or remove an attachment using right-click from all Avatar windows and Inventory.

The Avatar menu and the revised right-click context menus are show below:

The new Avatar menu sits between the Me and Communicate menus brings together all of the frequently used avatar tools (l). Centre: the revised avatar right-click context menus seen when touching your avatar (top) or an attachment (bottom), and how they compare to the current versions of the menus (r)

Inventory and Places Updates

I’ve not a lot to say on the Inventory floater updates, so will leave that to Alexa’s forum post. The changes to Places and how landmarks are handled, again as specified in the blog post, are also straightforward, although there are a few additional points to note:

  • The new panel also sees the gear button moved to the top of the panel, and provides a new set of fairly self-explanatory options:
    • Teleport.
    • View.
    • Show on Map.
    • Copy SLurl.
  • The original Expand and Collapse options from the gear button have been moved to a separate drop-down menu button, with the delete option moved to a its own Trash button.
The Project UI viewer’s updated Places panel (l) and the release version

Other Menu Updates

The new Avatar Menus means there have been revisions to the Me and communicate menus as well, with avatar-related options (such as the Choose and Avatar option moving from Me to Avatar (and renamed Complete Avatars).

The revised Me and Communicate menus (with the blue bands) compared to the current release viewer – click for full size, if required

As well as these, there are other small tweaks  – World Menu now has a My Linden Home … option. Clicking this will open up the in-viewer browser and take the user to the Linden Homes page:

  • Premium members with a Linden Home will see the page relating to their home.
  • Premium members who do not have a Linden Home and Basic Members will see the Linden Home selection page (and Basic members will go forward to the Premium sign-up page).

Note also, that using this menu option (as with others in the viewer that use the built-in browser to access Second Life web pages) may trigger single sign-on, and require you log-in to the SL web properties.

EEP Updates

One of the biggest complaints with the Environment Enhancement Project (EEP) has been use use of trackball options to position the Sun and Moon, with many voicing their preference for “a slider like Windlight”. To address this, the UI Project viewer implements two sliders for positioning the Sun and two for the Moon across all of the EEP settings floaters. These are:

  • Azimuth  – which might be thought of as the east / west position of the Sun or Moon (technically, azimuth is more than this, but it’ll do for these notes).
  • Elevation – the position of the Sun or Moon over or under) the horizon, relative to azimuth.

These sliders are tied to the Sun / Moon movement using the trackball systems, allowing both to be used as preferred.

The Sun & Moon tabs on Fixed Sky and the Day Cycle floaters now include Azimuth and and Elevation sliders for positioning the Sun / Moon, and similar sliders can be found on Personal Lighting

Rapid-Fire Feedback

Overall, this is a reasonable set of changes; they do enough to streamline things in places without being a potential source of confusion for established users; the changes are for the most part logical – although I do have a couple of reservations.

On the plus side, bringing together the majority of avatar tools into a single menu makes a lot of sense. But I do wonder if having menus called “Me” and “Avatar” side-by-side might not be a little confusing for new users (e.g. “Huh? Wassa difference? Why two menus for my avatar?”). The use of the “avatar” menu name is liable to cause a small amount of consternation with Firestorm, as that viewer already use it in place of “me”, but c’est la vie.

I was also surprised to see that the Linden homes page has yet to be updated for Basic members – it still features photos and a video of the old 512 sq m Linden Homes. Given the newer Homes are more attractive (and have now been with us for a while), and the aim of this viewer is to help make engagement with SL more attractive to new users, linking to information that is pretty much out-of-date and doesn’t actually reflect the more common Premium offering seems a little disjointed.

Elsewhere, I like the ability to touch / select attachments – particularly worn mesh – made more accessible. Catznip introduced such a capability a few years ago, and I can’t help but wonder if seeing it now in the official viewer might be the result of a code contribution from that viewer.

It’s also good to see the Lab respond to requests with EEP, and hopefully the new sliders will help those who find the trackballs a little confusing – although I don’t doubt the labelling might cause a little confusion (“why not east and north?”).

I understand the updates to the learning / social islands will be coming along in summer – although I’ve no idea if these will see further tweaks to the viewer as well. as well. In the meantime, it’ll be interesting to see how this Project UI viewer develops over the coming months.

Related Links

* Note this link will become inlaid as the viewer is updated.

Kokua: release 6.4.16

Kokua release version 6.4.16 of their viewer on Tuesday, March 16th. The release takes advantage of a pause in releases of the official viewer to allow the Kokua team to incorporate a number of TPV derived updates and capabilities.

Kokua 6.4.16 also sees a jump in version number as a result of the pause in official viewer promotions, which came as a result of the knotty problem of the Simple Cache viewer being promoted and then rolled back. The release notes for Kokua 6.4.16 provide a slightly complicated explanation about the version number jump, but this can really be summarised as to allow Kokua remain in lock-step with official viewer numbering when the next official viewer promotion (6.4.17) is made, and Kokua merge the changes.

The following is a summary of the core changes seen within Kokua 6.4.16. Again, please refer to the formal release notes as well.

From Firestorm

People Floater – Contact Sets

Possibly the largest update seen with this release ins the inclusion of Contact Sets, ported from Firestorm.

For those unfamiliar with the capability, Contact Set provides the means to organise the people on their Friends list into virtual groups for ease of reference.

You can, for example, assign all those you have friended because you’re all involved in the same role-play group into one Contact Set, your closest friends friends to another, customers you have friended into a third, and so on.

Once created, Contact Sets can be individually displayed and actions taken against selected names (IM, offer teleport, pay, etc), just as you can when viewing them in  your full Friends list, and a single name can appear in more than one Contact Set, depending on your needs.

With Kokua, Contact Sets ha been integrated into the People floater rather than (as with Firestorm) utilising a separate UI element, and thus can be accessed in four main ways:

  • Via Communicate Contact Sets.
  • By pressing ALT-CTRL-SHIFT-X.
  • By opening the People floater via its toolbar button and selecting the Contact Sets tab.
  • By enabling the new Contact Sets toolbar button and using that.

For a complete guide to Kokua’s Contact Sets, including differences between it and Firestorm’s implementation (for those familiar with the latter), please refer to the Kokua Contact Sets guide.

People Floater: Contact Sets tab and context menu updates

People Floater Nearby – Context Menu Updates

The right-click context menu on  the Nearby people list has been updated to include adding a person to a Contact Set; giving an avatar a coloured marker on the map; and options to Freeze / Eject avatars on your own land.

In addition, and while related to the Mini Map, the ability to see a place or avatar profile from the Mini Map has also been from Firestorm.

Crouch Mode

This allows your avatar to move in a “crouched” pose, which can be useful in things like combat games.

  • Enable the mode via Preferences → Move & View → Keyboard → check Enable Crouch Toggle Mode.
  • To use, with your avatar on the ground, press PAGE DOWN and your avatar will adopt a “crouching” pose and will remain in it and move around in it until PAGE DOWN is pressed again.

Note that as a part of this, Kokua has split Preferences Move & View into three sub-tabs:

  • Camera: the camera control options (View Angle, Distance, etc.).
  • Keyboard: the keyboard check options (using the arrow keys to move; using the AZERY keyboard layout, crouch mode, etc.).
  • Mouse: the mouse options (Show me in Mouselook, Enable Context Menus in Mouselook,  etc).

From Catznip

Kokua now includes the ability to mark any folder as a System Folder (so promoting it to the first group of folders and protecting it from deletion), as provided in Catznip.

Kokua Team Updates

Status Bar Graphs

The new script bar graphs

Kokua 6.4.16 introduces three new bar graphs, located in the top right corner of the viewer, alongside the familiar bandwidth graphs. These are:

  • Script run percentage: how much of what scripts want to do per frame is actually achieved. A score of 100% means everything that should have happened did happen, and the bar graph will actually be clear. The more coloured bar is, the lower the script run percentage.
  • Script time per frame: how much of each frame (around 22ms) is used for scripts.
  • Frame spare time: is how much of the frame time was not used. Again, the less you can see of this bar the better things are. A full bar means there is no spare time.

Hovering the mouse over any of the bars will display a pop-up with the current value. Please refer to the Kokua web page on these bar graphs for a complete explanation of each of them.

Personal Lighting Floater Tool Bar Button

Following a Feature Request from Yours Truly, Kokua now includes a tool bar button to directly access the Personal Lighting floater. When enabled, this will hopefully make it easier for photographers to access the floater and make lighting adjustments.

The Personal Lighting tool bar button

Find the button on Toolbar Buttons floater, along with the new Contacts Sets button.

RLV Updates

The RLV and FTRLV versions of Kokua 6.4.16 incorporate RLV 2.9.30.0 and the RLVa @setsphere functionality. Note that white the following are a part of the RLV 2.9.30.0 release, they are not described in the release notes:

  • In the status floater it would try to resolve the UUID for camtextures to a name and fail, showing ‘waiting’. Instead it will simply show the UUID.
  • A new debug option RestrainedLoveSelectionOutlines allows switching between the earlier behaviour of no selection outlines/no change to vision spheres when an object is selected and the later behaviour of showing a selection outline whilst forcing the nearest vision sphere to opaque. The earlier behaviour is the default.
  • The RLV Status floater’s last tab has been updated to show @setsphere information whilst it is in effect

Feedback

An interesting selection of updates for Kokua – and I’m obviously pleased to see the Personal Lighting floater tool bar button.

I’ve admittedly never really used Contact Sets – the capability has always struck me as a exercise in playing people administrator rather than being of practical use, but then I don’t have any particular need for it: the Search option in the People list gives me all that I need. Others might find the addition a lot more useful – and if looking for a move from Firestorm, it could well be an added attraction to give Kokua a try.

Certainly, this release sees Kokua make good use of the pause in official viewer updates whilst allowing them to remain set to quickly adopt LL’s next promotion.

Links

Firestorm 6.4.13 release

On Monday March 15th, 2021, the Firestorm team released version 6.4.13 of their viewer.

Regarded somewhat as a maintenance update more than a major release, the primary am of 6.4.13 is to hopefully move Firestorm into its quarterly cadence of releases.

That said, as well as fixes and updates, this release includes a number of additional and new capabilities added by the Firestorm team, and these form the focus of this overview.

Installation

  • There is no need to perform a clean install with this release if you do not wish to.
Table of Contents

 

  • Do, however, make sure you back-up all your settings safely so you can restore them after installing 6.4.13.
  • Again, please refer to the Firestorm 6.4.13 release notes for additional details of all changes and updates in this release.

Linden Lab Derived Updates

This release brings Firestorm up to parity with the Lab’s 6.4.12.555248 Dawa Maintenance RC, which focused on bug fixes. This viewer became the Lab’s default viewer on February 1st, 2021.

Menu Updates

Avatar Menu: Recreate  LSL Bridge

If you encounter issues with the Firestorm Bridge, you can now recreate it via Avatar → Avatar Health → Recreate LSL Bridge.

Note: you must be on a script-enabled region / parcel for this to work.

World Menu: Bulk Windlight Import to EEP

With Firestorm 6.4.13, it is now possible to bulk import Windlight .XML files directly to inventory as EEP settings / assets.

  • Go to World → Environment → Bulk Import
  • Select the EEP type you’d like to use for the import process (days, skies, water).
  • A file selection window will open. Use this to navigate to the folder on your computer containing the corresponding Windlight .XML files.
  • Use SHIFT-left-click / CTRL-left-click to  highlight the .XML files you wish to import and click Open at the bottom of the window.
  • The window will close and the import process will import the .XML files and convert them to corresponding EEP settings and assets using the original Windlight file name, placing them in the Settings folder in your inventory.
Bulk import of Windlight .XML file to EEP settings / assets

Side notes:

  • You must ensure you select the correct import type / .XML fly type for this to work. For example: if you click on Skies, you must import .XML static sky files. Selecting the wrong import option or the wrong file type will result in a file validation error.
  • Remember that the viewer already includes around 200 of the more popular Windlight .XML files already converted to EEP settings .
    • These can be found in the Library Environments folder, and can be copied to your Settings folder (or a folder of your choice) in inventory and used from there.
    • It  may be easier to check this folder for the more popular Windlights, as you may find those you have on your computer.

World Menu: Asset Blacklist Sound Button

The Asset Blacklist floater now includes a Play Sound button. When a sound item you’re added to the list is highlighted, the button will be enabled and can be used to hear the sound in question.

Build Menu: Mesh Uploader

The Mesh Uploader now includes a new tab: Preview Settings.

Mesh Uploader Preview Settings

Preferences Updates

Move & View: Avatar Rotation Speed

  • Movement → Avatar Rotation Turn Speed slider: alters the rate at which your avatar responds to turning. 0-100 as estimated percentage of the maximum turn rate. Note that high values will be snappy/jerky.

User Interface: Use Small Camera Window

With the introduction of Camera Presets, the standard camera floater was revised to include buttons for setting and using the Presets capability. However, some have found this revised floater intrusive.

When checked, Preferences → User Interface → Interface Windows → Use Small Camera Window will replace the revised camera floater with the “old” pre-Camera Preset camera floater. Unchecking the option will display the revised window floater once more.

Using the “old” camera floater

Notes:

  • The revised camera floater can be resized to something approaching that of the “old” floater, for those who would like to retain the new floater but wish to reduce the amount of screen space it takes up.
  • If, for any reason, you revert to an earlier version of Firestorm (while available) with this option enabled, the next time you use Firestorm 6.4.13, you will have both versions of the camera floater displayed. Toggle the setting to correct.

User Interface: Time Format

  • Preferences → User Interface → Top Bars → Time Format: a drop-down allowing you to set the preferred time format (12 hour or 24 hour notation, etc.), as displayed in the top right corner for the viewer.
Time format options

Continue reading “Firestorm 6.4.13 release”

Rapid update: Kirsten’s Viewer & Speedlight

Isla Caitinara via Kirsten’s Viewer

While viewer updates are always in process across the available TPVs and clients, I thought I’d take a brief delve into recent updates for a couple of those I tend to routinely follow – Kirsten’s Viewer and the Speedlight Browser / Android / iOS client.

Kirsten’s Viewer

Late February and early March have seen a burst of activity from KirstenLee Cinquetti, with three versions of the Kirsten’s Viewer being released in a rapid-fire succession, started with S23.6.1500 on February 23rd and running through S23.6.1525 (codenamed Valkyrie, dated February 27th) and then S23.6.1533 (also, I gather, Valkyrie, released on March 2nd).

Give it’s been getting close to a year since the last update (see Kirsten’s viewer: a return to active duty and Kirsten’s Viewer gains the client-side AO), these releases do not focus on new features so much on both catching-up with the Lab’s core code base (which appears to be currently still in progress) and a lot of under-the-hood house cleaning.

In particular, the code clean-up means that as from the S23 release, Kirsten’s Viewer discontinues support for Linux /Solaris/ OSX, and the viewer will be Windows-only. The reason for this is simple: time.

Why would I do such a thing? Its simply the realisation that keeping this thing maintained takes time, which is a rare commodity and focusing on a pure windows based solution without sifting through endless defines and endif’s not to mention the triple whammy cmake files or anything else for that matter makes life a heck of a lot simpler.

– KirstenLee on why Kirsten’s Viewer is now Windows-centric

A further benefit of this move, as Kirsten goes on to note, is that it also streamlines the Windows built process itself, through the integration of some of the build libraries into Visual Studio 2017 (now the core build tool for the Windows flavour of viewers), rather than relying on third-party libraries.

Given this focus, it appears the viewer has yet to get some of the more recent updates from the Lab, including:

  • Camera Presets (contributed to the Lab by open-source developer Jonathan Yap).
  • Mesh Uploader updates (contributed by open-source / Firestorm developer Beq Janus, with further modifications by the Lab).
  • Avatar “jelly doll” rendering improvements (via Vir Linden).

That said there are a couple of new additions to be found in preferences:

  • The return of the Midnight UI skin (Preferences → S23 Features → S23 UI Selection).
Kirsten’s S23 see the return of the purple “Midnight” UI skinning (viewer restart required)
  • The inclusion of the Controls Tab from the Lab’s Custom Key Mappings RC viewer, which allows users to assign specific key mappings to a range of viewer functions (Preferences Controls).
S23 incorporates the Lab’s custom key mapping options, which at the time of this review, were still at viewer release candidate status in the official viewer.

As  noted, these recent releases are more along the lines of maintenance work and under-the-hood changes that are vital to the viewer’s longevity and future ease-of-update, rather than intending to present significant user-facing updates.

But that said, and with this work now completed, it hopefully won’t be too long before options such as the jelly doll updates and Camera Presets appear within Kirsten’s Viewer  and it continued to recover greater parity with the Lab’s code base and releases.

Details on KirstenLee’s recent work on the viewer can be found on her blog, and the viewer can be downloaded here.

Speedlight

Speedlight, the browser / android / iOS client updated in mid-February, with updates for both Basic and Gold users.

Core updates (Basic and Gold):

  • Places search has been added.
Speedlight now includes the ability to search via region / parcel name (subject to location’s search listing)
  • SLURLs are now clickable with an ability to teleport.
  • Avatar maturity can be changed via the Settings → Maturity tab.
  • The Avatars page (dashboard) now displays the current location of your avatars.
The location of your avatar(s) is now listed on the Avatar dashboard page

3D World View Updates:

  • Walk auto-pilot: right-click or long touch on device screen at location to the walked to, then select Walk Here from the pop-up menu.
  • In-world object interaction (Touch): right-click or long touch object, and select Touch from the pop-up menu.
  • Revised interface for the world view, with improved rendering.
  • Gold 3D Word View Updates:
    • While in low-poly mode, touch any object to load a high LOD model.
    • Holding ALT+mouse will rotate camera around avatar (as with a viewer).
    • On-screen joystick can be turned on in 3D settings.
    • Stick avatars size adjusted to fit with real avatars in preparation for avatar rendering).

The core updates noted above further tune Speedlight’s ability to meet with many use-cases for those needing to access SL while away from a full viewer. As noted last time around, however, my personal view is that the 3D world view remains hit-and-miss – even on my PC using a browser, objects frequently fail to fully render and avatar movement can be unpredictable.

Whether this is just done to my being Basic / have a bad connection to the rendering pre-processing server, I’ve no idea; but if these issues are more endemic, then perhaps they might suggest that more more needs to be tweaked before full-scale avatar rendering is attempted.

In the meantime, Speedlight can be run via any browser via the Speedlight Website, or downloaded from either Google Play or the Apple Store (fee payble for the latter, with automatic Gold lifetime subscription).

Kokua: catching up to release 6.4.13

I hadn’t actually realised until this past weekend, but I’ve let my coverage of the Kokua slip by a fair few releases – my apologies to Chorazin and the Kokua team for allowing this to happen.

However, given this is the case, and given Kokua 6.4.13 has recently been released, I thought I’d run through a quick round-up of the changes since 6.4.2 and 6.4.14, with a focus on the most recent release.

Menus

Since Kokua 6.4.9, any clean install of Kokua will result in the viewer displaying an updated menu structure that comes closer in layout to the official viewer. It see the removal of the Edit and View menus. This sees the more popular options from these menus moved to the Me and Command menus.

The old (top) and new (bottom) Kokua menus. Note the new menu will be used following a clean install of Kokua.

Note that the menu can be reverted via the last option on the Advanced menu  – a restart will be required, however for the change to take effect.

Rapid Update Round-Up

  • 6.4.4:
    • New licensing of KDU for better rendering and LL Havok third party extensions.
    • Parity with the official viewer release 6.4.3 (FMOD studio update).
    • Implemented the Firestorm feature show the parcel boundary highlighting up to 4,000m (Build floater → Advanced Build Options → check Show parcel Selection Outlines and “…up to maximum build height”.
Enabling parcel boundary highlights to maximum build altitude

In addition, these updates incorporated all RLV updates from release 2.9.28.1 to 2.9.20.0, together with multiple improvements from the Kokua team for RLV functionality, and also assorted general bug fixes and improvements.

Kokua 6.4.13

Jelly Doll Improvements

Jelly Dolls old (l) and new (r). Note the colour and rendering of attachments on the left – the latter of which adds to the cost of rendering the Jelly Doll. This is no longer the case with the new Jelly Dolls

The 6.4.13 brings Kokua to parity with the official 6.4.13 Jelly Dolls viewer, revising how “Jelly Dolled” avatars are rendered.

  • Originally introduced in 2015 (and with various updates since) Jelly Dolls is a means for users to reduce the avatar rendering load on their systems, by having any avatars around them that exceed a certain complexity value (set via a slider) render as a solid colour and minimal detail.
  • There have always been a number of visual and technical issues with the manner in which these avatars have been rendered.
  • The new Jelly Doll updates now included in this release of Kokua improves how avatars are “jelly dolled”, by a) rendering them as a simple grey shape (rather than a solid colour) and avoids attempting to render attachments.
  • In addition it also improves to how avatar imposters are rendered and updated.

These changes should result in demonstrable improvements in view performance in environments where there are a large number of avatars, and the capability is sensibly used.

Group Updates

Kokua 6.4.13 adopts Kitty Barnett’s (Catznip) improves to accessing  / display Group related information.

Previously Group information was presented as one tab within the People floater. Accessing any elements of Group information – such as notices – was presented in the same floater. This meant information on only one Group could be opened at a time,and made actions such as viewing or creating a group notice somewhat complex.

With these changes, Kokua now:

  • Presents the Profile of a selected Group in a separate panel – this allowing multiple Groups to be viewed.
  • Similarly breaks out the Group notices creation option as a separate panel – which can also be accessed from the Conversations floater.
The new break-out Group floater and options available in the People floater (and via the Conversation floater)  for creating / viewing Group notices (which may be subject to permissions)

The new behaviour is enabled by default but can be switched back to the former behaviour by unchecking Preferences → Kokua → General → Group settings open in a new floater rather than within the People floater.

Block List, Object Derendering and Avatar Rendering Exceptions

Also ported from Catznip is a new floater that combines Block / Mute operations and Derender / Avatar Rendering options into a single place, allowing them to be viewed / reviewed / unblocked. The floater include options to add avatars / objects to the block list and also unblock avatars / items on the list.

Note that:

  • When a derendered object is removed from the list, it may not immediately be re-drawn, but may require a TP  away / back or a re-log to make it visible in your view.
  • A facility to block/mute objects has been added to Sound Explorer however there are some caveats to be aware of due to differences between sound and object handling:
    • Blocking/muting will generally not work if an object is in a different region or is beyond draw distance.
    • A sound may continue to play even after blocking/muting the object responsible. This typically happens when several objects are all playing the same sound – each object playing the sound must be blocked/muted before the sound will stop. The Sound Explorer has a facility to pause the listing which can be handy when trying to select several items.

Additional Updates

Two further ports from Firestorm;

  • Configuration options for chat message toasts: a new options panel has been added in Kokua / Preferences / Chat to allow many parameters relating to chat toasts to be tweaked, including their width.
  • Active Gestures: a new option on the Gestures floater to only show those currently active, originally.

The release also includes a number of fixes from the Kokua team – please refer to the release notes.

Feedback

There are three third-party viewers I’ve tended to use in Second Life: Firestorm, Catznip and Kokua. All three offer a different emphasis for users,and Firestorm has tended to be my first choice.

However, both Catznip and Kokua have their own attractions, and with the recent progress with Kokua in particular, coupled with its higher cadence of updates, it is fast becoming a viable alternative to Firestorm, particularly as tends to offer a slightly higher frame rate. Certainly, for those who are looking for an alternative that offers a similar menu layout and largely comparable capabilities in terms of commonly-used options, Kokua is very much the viewer to consider.

Links

Firestorm 6.4.12 the EEP and more release

On Wednesday, December 9th, 2020, Firestorm issued a release version of their viewer – 6.4.12.62831. This is the formal release of Firestorm supporting the Lab’s Environment Enhancement Project (EEP); it also includes a number of other Lab-specific updates to the viewer, such as the Camera Presets capability.

Note: while there has been an EEP beta release – 6.4.5.60799 (July 2020) – this summary has been written for those who may still be running the 6.3.9.58205 release from May 2020.

Also, given limitations of my own time (coupled with an inability to run 6.3.9.58205 in direct comparison with 6.4.12.62831), this is a much briefer overview of changes for a Firestorm release in comparison to past overviews in these pages.

Table of Contents

Installation

  • There is no need to perform a clean install with this release if you do not wish to.
  • Do, however, make sure you back-up all your settings safely so you can restore them after installing 6.4.12.
  • Again, please refer to the Firestorm 6.4.12 generic release notes for additional details of all changes and updates in this release.

Register Firestorm as Default Hander

Starting with this release, towards the end of the installation process, Firestorm will display a prompt:

Do you want to register Firestorm as default handler for virtual world protocols?

A response of Yes to this prompt will set the viewer to open map SLurls for example.

Linden Lab Derived Updates Overview

Firestorm 6.4.12 brings the viewer to parity with the Lab’s 6.4.11 viewer code base. As such, it incorporates updates from Linden Lab previously included in the 6.4.5 Beta release and from the following Lab viewer releases:

  • The Chrome Embedded Framework (CEF) Update 2020, viewer 6.4.4.543157, providing better support for media playback options win the viewer, including the ability to live stream into Second Life.
  • The FMOD Studio update, viewer 6.4.3.542964, updating the viewer’s audio playback support to use FMOD Studio.
  • The Camera Presets viewer, 6.4.2.541639, – see Camera Presets, below, for more.
  • The Zirbenz Maintenance viewer, 6.4.1.540593.
  • The Environment Enhancement Project (EEP) viewer 6.4.0.540188 – see below for more.

New to the 6.4.12 Firestorm release are updates and improvements from the following Linden Lab viewers:

  • ToolsUpdate2 viewer, 6.4.6.545962, viewer build tools update to Visual Studio 2017, a more recent version of XCode and Boost.Fiber, dated August 10th, 2020.
  • Love Me Render #4 viewer, 6.4.9.549455 – rendering updates with a focus on EEP bug fixes, dated September 24th, 2020.
  • Mesh uploader viewer, 6.4.10.549686 – Linden Lab’s implementation of the uploader improvements previously found in Firestorm, with additional changes from the Lab. Dated October 14th, 2020.
  • The following Maintenance releases with assorted fixes and updates:
    • Maintenance Arrack, version 6.4.7.546539, dated August 19th, 2020.
    • Maintenance Bormotukha, 6.4.8.548890, dated September 18th, 2020.
    • Maintenance Cachaça, version 6.4.11.551711, November 6th, 2020.

Camera Presets

Camera Presets provides the ability for users to create one or more custom camera positions to define where and how the viewer camera is placed relative to your avatar, More than one set of presets can be created and saved, so that you can, for example have a camera position for general exploring, another suitable for combat games, another for building, etc., all of which can easily be accessed and used at any time via the Camera Presets drop-down.

For a general introduction to Camera Presets, please refer to: Tutorial: Viewer Camera Presets. However, when doing so, please note that the Firestorm Camera Floater is laid out differently to the official viewer, being more compact, as shown in the image below.

Camera Presets: options and floaters, as seen in Firestorm 6.4.12.
  1. Presets can quickly be selected from the Camera Presets button in the top right of the viewer, which will open a drop-down menu. By default, this drop-down will display the standard viewer camera positions of Front, Rear, and Side. Additional presets will be displayed as you create them.
  2. A button on the drop-down will open the Camera floater, if not already open. As well as controlling the camera position, this floater now contains the options for creating and saving camera presets.
  3. The most accurate way to establish new camera defaults is to use the Camera Position spinners and slider that can be accessed by clicking on the Position button in the Camera floater – again, see my Camera Presets tutorial for more on this approach.
  4. When you have created your desired preset, use the Save as Preset button to save it as a viewer setting. This opens the Save Camera Preset floater, which allows you to save the preset settings under a unique name or to overwrite an existing setting.
  5. Alternatively you can manually adjust the camera position relative to your avatar using the camera controls then click on the current settings button to open the Save Camera Preset floater and save the settings as described in (4.).
  6. You can also select any defined Camera Preset by clicking on the gear icon in the Camera floater to display a list of available presets – default and your own – and then clicking on the desired one.
  7. If you only wish to select a preset you have created, click the Use Preset button on the Camera floater to display a drop-down of available presets that excludes the viewer defaults of Front, Rear and Side. If you have not created any defaults yourself, the drop-down will be empty.

Environment Enhancement Project (EEP)

It  is unlikely that many people have not heard of the environment Enhancement Project (EEP). But in short:

  • EEP Replaces the use of Windlight .XML files to control the water and sky environments seen in Second Life.
  • Environment settings are saved within environment assets that you can keep in your inventory and / or share with and sell to others.
  • These environment settings can be applied to a region or to a parcel (subject to region permissions) and / or to your avatar (thus allowing those travelling in vehicles to maintain a consistent environment across multiple region crossings).
  • EEP allows:
    • For up to four different, independently controlled sky layers.
    • The Sun, Moon and Cloud textures to be replaced with custom textures uploaded to the viewer.
  • EEP also provides:
    • An extended day cycle of up to 168 hours, thus allowing a 7-day, 24-hour day / night cycle to be defined, for example.
    • A Personal Lighting floater that allows you to make viewer-side adjustments to the local environment for the purposes of photography.
    • New LSL functions to allow scripts to interact with parcel environments and that can be used with experiences.

EEP Resources

EEP is a large and complex overhaul of environment settings for Second Life, and there are numerous resources available for it. If you have not used EEP before, and as the Firestorm implementation is more-or-less as per the official viewer, I recommend reading some of the following:

EEP and Phototools

One of the popular elements within Firestorm is the Phototools floater. This has been updated to work with EEP, with the most noticeable changes being to the WL tab, now renamed Env, with the changes within it outlined in the image and notes below.

EEP and Phototools
  1. Environment drop-downs for Fixed Sky, Linden Water and Day Cycles. These display the currently-used environment settings for their respective environment types as seen in your viewer.
    • Click the down arrow for a list of all available environment asset types available to you in your inventory and via the Library → Environments folder.
    • Click on the required asset name to apply to your viewer only.
  2. Accesses the EEP Personal Lighting floater, which you can use to modify the current environment settings as seen in your viewer only.
    • The X button to the right of Personal Lighting will cancel any changes you have made to the current environment, and revert your viewer to displaying the settings for the selected asset.
  3. Quick Quick Environment buttons for setting the time of day to the SL default Sunrise, Noon, Sunset and Midnight settings.
  4. Shared Environment: presumably intended to re-apply the shared environment as set by the region / parcel holder. However, in testing, this did not appear to work.

Notes:

  • The drop-downs in (1) can also be found in the Quick Prefs panel, as can a button to open the EEP Personal Lighting panel.
  • As these options are applied to your viewer, note that the selected Day Cycle will not necessarily reflect the expected time of day – as Day Length / Offset can only be set at the parcel / region level.

Firestorm EEP Preferences

Firestorm provides two EEP-specific Preferences options. Both can be found in Preferences → Firestorm, and comprise:

  • A slider that allows you to set the interval in seconds over which manual environment changes will blend, with 0.0 being instantaneous. In previous versions of Firestorm, this was known as crossfade.
  • A checkbox to allow any personally applied EEP setting to persist between log-in sessions.
Firestorm 6.4.12 EEP Preferences

Additional EEP Notes

  • There are around 200+ EEP environment settings to be found in the Library → Environments folder. These have been provided to Linden Lab by Whirly Fizzle of the Firestorm team, and are available to all EEP-capable viewers.
  • As noted in the image above, these can be accessed via the WL tab in Phototools and via the drop-downs in Quick Prefs.
  • If you want to edit these any of the environment settings in the Environments folder, you must first copy them to a folder in your inventory (e.g. your Settings folder, or a sub-folder within it).
  • As per my tutorial, you can import the Windlight settings you have on your local drive and convert them to EEP settings – see Importing Windlight Settings as EEP Assets.

Continue reading “Firestorm 6.4.12 the EEP and more release”