The Exodus team released Exodus 13.09.21.1 (Beta) on September 21st, which sees support for materials processing arrive in the viewer.
The release is only available for Windows and Linux, but it sees Exodus come pretty much up to par with the official SL viewer, including the most recent materials fixes and updates which saw light of day as an RC viewer prior to becoming the de facto SL viewer release in week 38. Also included in the release are updates from the recent SL CHUIStorm release, the FMODex updates and the Cocoa updates.
Visual changes to the viewer include the additional texture map options for materials, and an option in the Exodus Preferences floater to enable / disable the replacing of your avatar name with “you” in your chat.
The installer weighs-in at 35 MB, and installation was for me, as usual, smooth and without incident, including the required Windows extras. One point to note that this release see the Windows installation move from “ExodusViewerBeta” to “ExodusViewer” – so if you have a previous version installed, it will not be overwritten, but can be removed independently of this viewer (just use the uninstaller within the older version’s installation folder). This change is a part of Exodus adopting the Lab’s version update mechanism, becoming the second v3 viewer to do so alongside Kokua.
The release notes give a rather false impression of the amount of work which has gone into the update, but for those who wish to check on what has been included, the viewer’s commit history provides a complete breakdown.
Overall a nice update which brings two versions of the viewer back up to speed. The release notes indicate that this version “will not contain an OS X release”, so I assume Mac users will have to wait for a future release to get back on a par with their fellow Windows and Linux users.
With Server-side Baking / Appearance due to be enabled on the LeTigre Release Candidate Channel on Wednesday July 10th (from which it will gradually roll across the grid), the Exodus team have issued a new version of the popular Exodus viewer. Classified a beta release, the new viewer update has the version number 184.108.40.206, and includes the latest code updates from the Lab.
This means that with this release, Exodus is:
Server-side Baking / Appearance ready
Includes the Lab’s Communications Hub User Interface (CHUI)
However, the release:
Does not include materials processing support
CHUI and SSB/A
There is not actually much to report here per se, other than both work entirely as expected. CHUI sees the LL integrated chat / IM conversations floater working in Exodus.
Simlarly, SSB/A works exactly as expected on SSB/A-enabled regions, with other avatars rendering correctly in Exodus, and your own avatar rendering correctly to others.
That both SSB/A and CHUI do work flawlessly tends to hide the amount of work the Exodus team have put-in getting both ready to go prior to SSB/A being enabled server-side.
Why No Materials and RLVa?
Both the integration of CHUI and SSB/A capabilities into a v3-based viewer are very large amounts of work (CHUI has something like over 1200 change sets of its own). They therefore require time and effort to implement – and have likely been keeping the Exodus team more than a little busy (on top of some of them being actively engaged in developing the materials capabilities in SL as well as working on other items such as the Mac Cocoa project).
There’s also the fact that while materials doesn’t use CHUI itself, both the materials code and the CHUI code touch on other areas of the viewer code. Therefore, it makes sense for the Exodus team to focus on implementing CHUI first and then merging and cleaning the materials changes sets (which is exactly the order in which the Lab did things), rather than racing to implement materials, only to find those updates impacted at a later date by required CHUI updates.
So for all those hoping to see materials in Exodus – it will doubtless be coming, you’ll just need to wait a little longer.
The blog post for the release explains the reasoning behind the removal of RLVa support from Exodus thus:
By its nature and by necessity, RLVa is an extremely invasive patch. We do not have the resources to maintain this code, and it is the primary reason for our lack of updates recently. We hope that this removal enables us to produce more frequent updates going forward and apologise for the inconvenience.
While the loss of RLVa is perhaps to be regretted, how much it is likely to be missed obviously comes down to the number of Exodus users who make use of it, obviously – and it is worth pointing out that RLVa was something of a late arrival to Exodus in the first place, so it may not be that greatly missed.
This release also sees Exodus:
Using Cocoa instead of Carbon on Mac computers
Gain full screen support on Lion
Fain Retina support for the Retina MacBook Pros.
This is not an in-depth test of the latest Exodus beta, but a quick spin around the Aditi block. Everything works, as notes, as expected, and the rendering enhancement which have been part and parcel of Exodus for a long time certainly make their presence felt even in a default rough & ready snapshot such as the one grabbed above for the SSB/A comparison.
I didn’t do any performance tests this time around, as I was on Aditi – I’ll save that for another time :). That said, I’ve always found Exodus to be a solid performer on my current hardware, where it has tended to be my “reserve” viewer (along with Dolphin).
This is a very tidy and timely update to Exodus which brings it back to a par with other popular v3 viewers, and perhaps even a little ahead with the Cocoa support. Kudos to the team!
Saturday November 24th saw the next release of Exodus hit the download page, and Ash Qin from the team was kind enough to give me the nod – I confess, I’d lost track of the nightly builds and so have fallen well behind with the viewer’s on-going development – and access to the beta release of the build.
Exodus 220.127.116.11 is based on the Linden 3.4.2 code base, so it includes the majority of the most recent updates from the Lab, including the new Group Services code for managing and editing groups with more than 10K members, and a host of other Linden goodness.
The Windows installer weighs-in at a touch over 34MB in size and contains absolutely no surprises during the install process – as one would expect. As per usual, I did a completely clean install, which brought me to my first surprise: on start-up Exodus displayed the Steam-related “Create Account” prompt.
This doesn’t mean Exodus is heading for Steam a-la the official viewer, just that the Steam code is now part and parcel of the SL beta viewer code, and the Exodus team didn’t see any reason not to merge it into their code, given it is only ever something established users are ever going to see once after a fresh install (and possibly not at all if they don’t perform a clean install or the team moves to an updater system – which is something they are considering).
This release brings with it pathfinding, which the team had originally hoped to release a lot sooner. This includes not only the build tools associated with pathfinding (Linksets and Characters floaters, attributes in the Build and Object Profile floaters, etc.), but also includes the Navmesh visualisation code, as Exodus becomes the latest viewer to sign-up to the Havok sub-licence agreement with Linden Lab.
This means that anyone who has been using Exodus to access OpenSim grids via –loginuri will no longer be able to do so when using this release. Similarly, the optional grid selector which can be displayed on the login splash screen only lists Agni (the main grid) and Aditi (the beta grid).
The move to the Havok sub-licence also means that with this release, Exodus moves to the official mesh upload code from LL, rather than using the HACD code which has been in common use within TPVs.
As mentioned above, Exodus gains the large group management and editing code from Linden Lab with this release, allowing groups with 10K or more members to load in the Group floater and which allow group owners and officers to edit and manage very large groups.
Again, just as a point of reference for those unfamiliar with the new code changes: these do not relate to group chat or anything related to improving group chat. That is an entirely separate project within Linden Lab (and one which may not be being actively progressed while other work is being undertaken). This is purely about using HTTP protocols (rather than the old UDP) to bring more stability to the downloading, viewing and editing of very large groups.
Alongside the updates and fixes from LL, Exodus 18.104.22.168 gets a number of updates all of its own:
The Flickr option on the Snapshot floater now includes an option to include the parcel name / SLurl in the description
You can now Paste as Link’ and Copy as Link using the right-click or CTRL-SHIFT-V and CTRL-SHIFT-C using Exodus’ built in “pastebin” functionality
A Copy as Link button added to the About Second Life Viewer floater, allowing the information in the floater to be viewed via the web
A Copy Key option added to the avatar right-click context menu, allowing for easy copying of the Avatar Key.
Fixes and Changes
Exodus 22.214.171.124 also includes a number of fixes and changes from the team:
MOTD should work now on OS X
Added copy key to gear menu for avatar inspection panels
Colouring of certain elements
BMP cursors on Linux
Higher compression of LZMA packages on Linux
Curl on OS X no longer defaults to trying to use IPv6 in Curl (related to MOTD issue).
Performance and Feedback
Performance-wise Exodus 126.96.36.199 again gives very similar results on my usual review system (see the panel on the right sidebar of this page) as recent viewer releases I’ve taken a look at in the last month:
Ground: 28-29 fps
370 metres: 36-38 fps
2875 metres: 43-45 fps
Deferred on + lighting set to Sun/Moon + Projectors; ambient occlusion off:
Ground: 9 fps
370 metres:15 fps
2875 metres: 18 fps
Like like Catznip R7 and the recent Firestorm beta, these figures dropped only very slightly (just 1 fps on average) if I also activated ambient occlusion in deferred; again marking the fact that for me, things seem to have improved recently over the start of the year.
Compared to other recently releases, this one from Exodus is relatively small and compact – which doesn’t lessen its overall impact; once again it places Exodus back among the leaders of the V3-based TPV pack. There are still a couple of things I’d like to see, one of them being my usual request of TPVs in general: the ability to left / right range the toolbar buttons at the bottom (or top for those that use that space) of the screen. Only one does it so far, and it is really handly having the option.
Nevertheless, nothing should be taken away from the Exodus team, offering as they do a pleasing and worthwhile update.
It’s been a while, but the Exodus team released a new version of the viewer on Thursday August 9th. Version 12.08.09.1 is liable to be the first of two updates to Exodus this month (the second being aimed at incorporating the pathfinding tools for those keen to get to grips with pathfinding in Second Life). This release is the first to be made since Katharine Berry recently joined the Exodus team, and she’s been engaged in a number of the features presented with this release.
The 12.08.09.1 release (also referred to as Beta 8), brings with it a range of updates, including:
Ability to upload images from the snapshot floater to Flickr
New linear, Renhard and filmic tone mapping
New avatar troubleshooting menu
Ability to mute group chat
Inclusion of floating point “Normalized Blinn-Phong” shading LUT for deferred rendering
Latest RLVa support
Various UI updates including:
Vertical chat tabs (from Catznip)
Web browser toolbar button
Additional slider in the Quick Preferences floater for adjusting your own sound locally
Request teleport button added to IM windows
Merge with the SL Viewer 3.3.3 codebase, bringing with it:
Merchant Outbox support
Local Textures (by Vaalith Jinn)
Graded shadow support
Various fixes to the mesh queue
This article has been written using the Windows release of 12.08.09.1, and is intended to be an overview of the core updates rather than an in-depth review of the Exodus viewer (see articles list at the end of this items for further information on Exodus).
Download and Install
The Windows downloader weighs-in at a modest 28.4Mb. Installation on my system was fast and smooth (as per usual, this was a clean install for me). Start-up revealed the familiar Exodus blue sky screen with core information (particularly updates from the Grid Status Page) along the bottom. No implementation of the official splash screen here. However, if you do have issues trying to run Exodus following installation – and in particular get error messages relating to .dll problems, you might try visiting the Exodus FAQ page and following the link therein.
Logging-in revealed the familiar Exodus default screen layout, with buttons to the left and button of the screen, which can still be repositioned to the left or right, top or bottom of the screen.
Avatar Troubleshooting takes a leaf from the Firestorm book and offers three options for dealing with avatar issues. These can be found in a menu under Me->Troubleshooting and comprise:
Reload My Avatar Data: sends a request to the SL servers to download your avatar data once more. Useful where you’re seeing outfit changes but other’s aren’t (often indicative that something is going wrong within your computer, rather than anything at the server end)
Rebake my avatar textures: performs a normal local rebake, with the data sent to the server for distribution
Reset my avatar: Ruths your avatar to default shape and clothing, allowing you to rebuild it in the event of a drastic error.
This release of Exodus includes two additional buttons, Web, which opens the viewer’s built-in web browser, and Panic. The latter is a hang-over from testing nightly builds and debugging. As such, it is not intended for general use and may be removed or re-purposed in the next release. It is not recommended you employ the button, as it is intended to crash the viewer and generate a crash log.
Snapshots to Flickr
Flickr is a popular medium for SL photographers, so having an option to save pictures directly to it is likely to be a benefit to many. With this release, Firestorm obtains Katharine Berry’s code (Katharine also recently joined the Exodus team) to enable snapshots to be uploaded directly from the viewer to a Flickr account.
The option is presented as an additional button on the snapshot floater. The first time you click on this, it will cause a pop-up to be displayed:
Clicking on YES will take you to the Flickr authorisation page, which will outline the possible risks of connecting Exodus to Flickr (a standard alert page, common when using inter-application authorisation). Read the warning carefully, and if happy, confirm yo wish to proceed (refusing cancels the link and denies Exodus the ability to upload to Flickr).
Confirming that you’re happy to proceed will display a code number on the Flickr web-page. Type this into the authorisation pop-up displayed in Exodus. This will activate the link and allow you to take your snapshot and send it to Flickr. Again, note the authorisation process only has to be completed the first time you attempt to upload a snapshot directly to Flickr, thereafter snaps will be sent to your Flickr account without hindrance.
Exodus runs extremely well on my PC, and as there is a new release that fixes a few things, I gave it a quick spin photo-wise at Black Spot. I think you’ll agree, the results are impressive.
Beta 7 ran at 38fps on High at Black Spot, dropping to 11 with deferred active; turning on the high precision options did not further impact performance. I’ll attempt to run my “comparison test” on the release tomorrow.
Update 4th January 2012: Due to some issues with gamma correction, etc., the Exodus team have issues Beta 7. Core changes are listed here.
The New Year brings with it a new release of the Exodus Viewer. Version 12.01.02.1 (Exodus run a release number system based on the day/month/year of the release, so in this case the release is the first release made on the 2nd January 2012), also known as Beta 6, brings with it a host of new features. Among them:
New graphics functionality
The parametric deformer Alpha
New FUI options and improved chat bar
V1-style chat console
Ability to save or load position and rotation information of a object into it’s description (something I’ve been wanting for years – so YAY, EXODUS!)
AZERTY keyboard support
The new V3.2 snapshot floater
A range of options imported from other TPVs
Exodus is available in Windows, Mac and Linux flavours – this review is based on the Windows release.
The installer weighs-in at 28Mb – the same size as the official V3.2.6 Viewer. Installation offered no surprises, with the installed Viewer taking-up around 108Mb of disk space – again, the same as the official 3.2.6 Viewer.
On start-up, the Viewer bucks the recent trend in using all, or part of the V3 log-in/splash screen, and instead opts for a clean design with links to the Grid at War Blog, the Exodus Twitter feed and the SL Grid Status page. I’d personally prefer more from the V3 log-in screen, but that’s purely a personal view.
Once logged-in the Viewer displays the familiar V3.2 Flexible User Interface (FUI), and as Cilla Black might say, there are a lorra, lorra buttons, particularly on the left side of the screen – which we’ll get to in a moment.
Other than the buttons, the UI offers little in the way of major surprises on first looks, presenting pretty much the standard Menu bar, Navigation / Favourites bars layout. Your region co-ordinates are included in the Navigation Bars – which is not to say things haven’t changed. Unlike recent Viewers using the 3.2 code, the Destination Guide isn’t opened by default in Exodus.
The menus offer some nice nips-and-tucks: those options that are Exodus-specific / rated to combat use / are popular options are coloured yellow, immediately drawing the eye to them. Where these options are toggle on/off, toggling them on will cause both the familiar tick to appear alongside them and the item colour to revert to white, a nice touch to prevent visual distractions with items you don’t want to reset.
There are a couple of nice additional touches in the Advanced menu – double-click teleport is included as an option, and camera constraints are disabled by default.
The Me menu includes an additional option to access Exodus’ dedicated Preferences. In earlier releases, these could be found in a Sidebar panel (Exodus having been released just before Rodvik gave word of the coming new FUI), and are now displayed in a dedicated floater panel, accessed wither through Me or via CTRL-SHIFT-P.
The Build menu has a nice addition: you can select an object or linkset and use the BUILD->SCRIPTS->REMOVE SCRIPTS option to remove all scripts from the object / root prim of the object.
Exodus, being feature-rich even before the FUI appeared, has a lot of buttons in order to cater for the wide range of options / dedicated functions it contains. With this release, it becomes the Viewer with the most buttons displayed by default on starting-up. These are:
The Customise Toolbar floater reveals further options, including Exodus’ Mini-radar, Mini-statistics, Statistics, and Visuals buttons.
This is a very comprehensive set of buttons; however, some might find the similarity between some of the icons – the Map and Raid Advisor or the AO and Move, for example (when only using icons) to be initially a tad confusing, leaving them reliant on tool tips until familiarity kicks-in.
Button Placement and Labels
Exodus draws on Niran’s Viewer, in that buttons can be located to the left, right, bottom and top of the screen, and introduces additional display options (left). The FUI has been critique by people who don’t like icons, it’s been critique be people who like icons; it’s been critiqued by those that don’t like icons and text….
So Exodus now gives you the best of all worlds – display your buttons as icons only; reduce the size of the buttons if you find them too big; display your buttons with text and icons or with text labels only. However, note that with standard V3.2 FUI functionality, buttons placed on the left and right sides of the screen automatically default to icons only (regardless of setting), and so text options are limited to the buttons placed at the top / bottom of the screen.
Among the buttons there are a couple worthy of additional mention. The first of these is the AO button. Initial solutions for including the AO in the FUI have been to provide two buttons – one for AO settings, one for turning them on / off. Exodus has a single button, with a smaller integral button in the top right corner. Click the main part of the button to access AO settings, click on the inset button to turn your AO on (inset button turns blue, as per the screen capture here), click it again to turn the AO off. Quite simply the most elegant solution to client-side AO integration into the FUI I’ve yet seen.
Exodus does not have a texture refresh option, as is starting to appear in other TPVs, but it does have a Redraw button, which will temporarily drop your draw distance to zero, before resetting it to your default, forcing the Viewer to re-draw everything and re-render all that is in line-of-slight. This can actually be alarming when it first happens, as your in-world view can clear of all detail (see below) for a few seconds before everything re-renders.
If this happens to you, don’t panic, everything will reappear. I can’t say how effective this is for sorting out unloaded / rendered textures, as Exodus has rendered everything so fast for me fast and perfectly.