Firestorm 6.6.3: performance improvements

On Friday, September 9th, 2022 (PDT), the Firestorm team released version 6.6.3 of their viewer – the first such release since indicating they would be stepping up the cadence of releases with more in the way of “maintenance” cycles in order to better keep place with updates and improvements coming out of Linden Lab with the core viewer code.

Whilst technically a maintenance release, version 6.6.3 is significant for Firestorm users as it includes the Lab’s Performance Improvements code, which for this user yielded noticeable performance improvements in terms of general FPS. In addition, there are a number of additional updates from both the Lab and the Firestorm team.

Table of Contents

As per usual, this article is a not a full blow-by-blow breakdown of absolutely everything in this release, but it does include notes on some of the more significant updates and fixes people are liable to find useful, and some general notes.

For a complete breakdown of changes, please see the official release notes for Firestorm 6.6.3.

Sidebar: some may have received a premature notification of this article, together with an invalid URL. My apologies for any confusion: I boobed – sorry!

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 6.6.3.

Linden Lab Updates

Firestorm 6.6.3.67470 is fully merged up to the 6.6.2 Linden code-base, plus some cherry-picked fixes from upstream, per the notes below.

Maintenance2 Viewer Updates

Viewer version 6.6.2.573358, August 2022

  • Copy and Paste capabilities in the build tools.
  • World  Map Legend: can now be hidden / revealed by clicking on the arrows on  the right side Map border.
The World Map Legend can now be hidden / revealed by clicking on the arrows on the right-side border of the World Map
  • Create and ungroup folders:
    • Create:
      1. Select multiple items within an inventory folder using SHIFT and or CTRL-left click.
      2. Right click on any part of the selection and select Create Folder From Selected the menu.
      3. A pop-up is displayed, prompting you for a folder name. Enter a suitable name and click OK.
      4. The folder is created and the selected items moved into it.
    •  Ungroup:
      1. Right click an inventory sub-folder.
      2. Select → Ungroup folder items.
      3. The items in the selected sub-folder are moved to its parent folder, and the subfolder is deleted.
  • Show avatar attachment in Inventory: right-click a worn attachment or HUD and select on of the following:
    • Context menu: Show In Inventory
    • Pie menu: More → Show In Inventory.

Maintenance (M)akgeolli Viewer Updates

Viewer version 6.6.1.572458, June 2022.

  • Edit Shape menu previously included every attachment, slowing down preview thumbnails significantly. With this update, only rigged attachments are displayed, in addition to prior avatar preview thumbnails .
  • Assorted fixes and UI tweaks.
  • Improved mouse responsiveness in situations where previously it would over-react to inputs.

Performance Improvements

Viewer version 6.6.0.571939, May 2022.

  • This update should see reduced image decoding time, decreased frame stalls and decreased initial font rendering time, and the viewer should feel generally more responsive.
  • These changes include updates to Vsync (vertical synchronisation):
    • Vsync can now be toggled on / off via Preferences → Graphics → Hardware Settings.
    • When enabled, Vsync will synchronise (/cap) frame rates to your monitor screen refresh rate (e.g. if you have a 60 Hz screen, FPS will be capped at 60 fps) and should deliver smoother game-play.
  • The Performance Improvements viewer also includes the MeshOptimizer Project .
    • By default, this replaces obsolete GLOD’s mesh simplification in the mesh uploader with the newer and more powerful MeshOptimizer package to provide better level of detail (LOD) modelling during the upload process.
    • Note that as an option, Firestorm also retains the GLOD capability – see below for more.

Tracy integration Viewer Updates

Viewer version 6.4.23.563771, November 2021.

  • This update adds the Tracy Profiler to the viewer to help developers interested in or working on performance improvements. For developers/self-compilers:
    • Running autobuild configured with –tracy will enable the telemetry.
    • At any time while running the telemetry recording can be disabled/minimised by deactivating it using the Developer menu entry profiling/telemetry → Profiling .
  • It contains no other user-visible changes.

Firestorm Updates and Improvements

UI Updates and Improvements

Notecards – Font Style, Size and Colour

Firestorm 6.6.3 brings the following capabilities to Notecards:

  • Set the font style and size:
    • Style: one of San Serif, Monospace, Scripting or Cascadia Code.
    • Size: one of Monospace, Scripting, Cascadia Code, Small, Medium or Large.
    • These can be set via Preferences → User Interface → Font → Notecard Editor Font drop-downs.
The new Notecard font options in Firestorm’s Preferences
  • Set the colour of: a notecard background, text, cursor and highlighted text.
    • Set via Preferences → Colors → Miscellaneous → Notecard Colors .

Note: these setting will only apply to notecards you view in Firestorm. Other users will see the notecards you send in whatever font / colours (if the latter can be set should the FS code be adopted by other TPVs) set within their viewer.

Other UI Updates
  • Inventory:
    • It is now possible to open Inventory folders in their own floaters. Right click an inventory folder → Show in new window.
    • The selection count is  now given when deleting multiple items from inventory (FIRE-31816).
With Firestorm 6.6.3 you can open an inventory folder in its own floater
  • The Create Landmark floater (menu bar → World → Landmark this Place) will now open centred on the viewer window by default.
  • 360-degree snapshot floater should now open at last-used quality setting  in a session.
  • Region Details → Region should now:
    • Show the correct length of the region name text (no truncations).
    • Report the correct grid position for the region.

Avatar and Appearance

  • Avatar:
    • The avatar should now turn the full 180-degrees when editing appearance (FIRE-31959 / BUG-232502).
    • All mesh bodies/objects should now show in the shape editor previews (FIRE-31966 / BUG-232503).
    • Animesh attachments should no longer show in shape editor previews.
  • Appearance:
    • Attempted fix for mesh attachments sometimes vanishing after teleports which should either fix / reduce the number of cases where this may occur (FIRE-31906).
    • Update to the warning given when attaching rigged meshes to HUD.
      • The new message reads: “An attachment named ”[NAME]“ contains rigged mesh but is attached to the HUD point ”[HUD POINT]“,/a>
      • Attaching rigged meshes to HUD was never supposed to be supported, per BUG-232489.
      • Also see: FIRE-31955.

Building and Scripting Updates

GLOD Option In Mesh Uploader

As noted above, Linden Lab introduced Mesh Optimizer as a new way to generate improved level of detail (LOD) models for mesh uploads. However, this can lead to higher upload costs and can cause issues in maintaining UV layout. To help prevent issues Firestorm 6.6.3 retains GLOD alongside of Mesh Optimizer.

To this end the Firestorm mesh uploader presents the following options when specifying a model’s LOD:

  • Load from file: Manually upload .DAE files for models at any level of detail. This enables you to control how your model looks at each level of detail, preserving key visual features that the automated algorithms may otherwise distort. If the viewer could “auto-detect” lower LOD models when it first loaded the model, these will be shown in the corresponding LOD “slots” here.
  • Generate Auto: Generate a new model at the currently previewed level of detail based on the model you uploaded. This method currently defaults to using the sloppy method and tries to set a target number of triangles based upon the high LOD. This is the method applied when first selecting your model if no auto-detected LODs are found.
  • Generate Precise: Uses the newer method (Mesh Optimizer) to construct a LOD model. This is more accurate than the “sloppy” method but will result in a more detailed model. Target triangle settings and thresholds are very loosely adhered to.
  • Generate Sloppy: Uses the newer method (Mesh Optimizer) to construct a LOD model. The “sloppiness” relates to the accuracy of the result compared with the original. Target triangle settings and thresholds are very loosely adhered to .
  • Generate Reliable: Uses the older method (GLOD) to construct a LOD model. This method is what we have been used to in the past; it gives reliable results based upon the target settings.

For more information, please refer to: Mesh Upload – Level of Detail.

Other Building / Scripting Related Updates
  • The “remaining capacity” LI count has been returned to the Edit / Build floater.
  • Flip texture scale buttons should no longer “magically jump” when switching texture modes.
  • The animation preview window should now have a link to the correct wiki page (FIRE-31836).
  • Full bright rigged meshes should now correctly display as full bright.
  • Full bright transparent objects should no longer render as solid when using highlight transparent – CTRL-ALT-T (FIRE-31986).
  • 100% transparent objects on HUDs should now show when highlighting transparent – CTRL-ALT-T (FIRE-31917).
  • The Firestorm Bridge can now display object rez time with the Script info in extended info mode (enabled via Preferences → Firestorm → Build 2 → Enable extended script info details).

Other Updates of Note + Key Fixes

Third-Party Library + RLV Updates

  • FMOD Studio updated to version to 2.02.07.
  • Updated Collada with a C++17 compatible version.
  • Firestorm 6.6.3 is running Restrained Love API RLV v3.4.3 / RLVa v2.4.2.67470, and includes a fix for focus going unexpectedly to menu bar after calling llMapDestination with “@showworldmap=n” (FIRE-31920).

Linux Updates

  • 3p Library Updates:
    • Boost updated to boost-1.72-linux64-222121224.
    • Collada updated to colladadom-2.3.222130404-linux64-222130404.
    • Curl updated to curl-7.81.0.222121724-linux64-222121724.
    • Libxml updated to libxml2-2.9.4.222130358-linux64-222130358.
    • Meshoptimizer updated to meshoptimizer-0.16.222121104-linux64-222121104.
    • Minizip updated to minizip_ng-3.0.2.222121607-linux64-222121607.
  • New Simple DirectMedia Layer-2 (SDL2) support for Linux to future-proof Firestorm, providing better low-level access to audio, keyboard, mouse, joystick, and graphics hardware via OpenGL and Direct3D. See the SDL2 Documentation.
  • The Linux viewer now uses xdg-open ahead of x-www-browser, as requested in FIRE-31929.

OpenSim Updates

There are no OpenSim updates with Firestorm 6.6.3.

Key Fixes

  • FIRE-31852 – Modified hotkey gestures should no longer play from any window.
  • FIRE-31823 / FIRE-31648 – torn-off menus should now correctly update enabled/visible state
  • FIRE-31882, FIRE-31896 / BUG-232463 – The main menu bar should no longer become the focus when minimising docked floater or after changing graphics preset
  • FIRE-31913 – CTRL+Tab should now correctly switch to the active floater.
  • Crash fixes:
    • FIRE-31818 – Firestorm should not longer crash when inspecting a Linden tree.
    • FIRE-31942 – Firestorm should no longer crash when taking a 360 snapshot when “Improve graphics speed” is enabled – note that this may mean that slower machines timeout during a 360 snapshot, so a new debug setting FSUseCoRoFor360Capture – Use co-routine to extract 360 photos – has been added. By default, this is set to False to prevent crashing. Setting it to True may result in crashes.
    • FIRE-31473 – “Internal Error”/“Uncaught Exception”.
  • Again, please refer to the 6.6.3 release notes for the full list of fixes with this release.

Feedback

As noted towards the top of this article, Firestorm 6.6.3 is the first release of the viewer since the Firestorm team moved towards a faster release cadence, allowing the viewer to pretty much reached parity with the official viewer, which should ease matters of parity going forward, assuming a 6-8 week release cadence can be maintained – and hopefully, it will be.

Probably the most significant inclusion in this release is that of the Lab’s updated viewer code and thread handling, intended to improve general performance. As I noted at the time this code reached release status in the official viewer, this code gave me an average boost of around 20 fps compared to a version without the improvements; in comparing Firestorm 6.5.6 and 6.6.3, I noted a similar fps boost. This is also the first viewer I’ve ready played around with the updated Vsync functionality, and have found that it does offer a far smoother experience for me when flycamming.

Elsewise, I’ve not had a a lot of time to test this release, but have found it to be stable during my personal use, so those updating may want to keep an eye on the Firestorm in-world support groups and the Jira for info on any possible issues.

Related Links

Firestorm 6.5.6: maintenance refresh!

 

On Monday, July 25th, 2022, the Firestorm team released version 6.5.6 of their viewer.

This is very much a maintenance update for Firestorm rather than a major release; the focus is very much on bug fixes rather than new features.

That said, it does bring Firestorm closer to the official release viewer, incorporating as t does the April and May official viewer releases code – so with this release, Firestorm embraces multi-factor authentication.

Table of Contents

As per usual, this article is a not a full blow-by-blow breakdown of absolutely everything in this release, but it does include notes on some of the more significant updates and fixes people are liable to find useful, and some general notes.

For a complete breakdown of changes, please see the official release notes for Firestorm 6.5.6.

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 6.5.6.

Linden Lab Updates

This release brings Firestorm up to parity with the following Linden Lab viewer releases:

  • Lao-Lao Maintenance Release viewer (version 6.5.4.570575, dated April 18th, 2022) containing numerous bug fixes).
    • One notable fix in this viewer is for photographers, correcting as  it does – BUG-231868 “[MAINT J+K] 360 Snapshot tool fails to save file to computer (Mac and Windows)”
  • The MFA Release viewer (version 6.5.5.571282, dated May 4th), which rolled multi-factor authentication to the viewer – see below for more.

In addition, Firestorm 6.5.6 includes support for the release of Premium Plus (increased Group allowance, etc).

Multi-Factor Authentication

Firestorm 6.5.6 incorporates Linden Lab’s viewer-side Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) code. This provides additional security to your Second Life account both through the web (e.g. trying to view your billing info or transaction history, trying to cash out (“process credit”) money out of your account, trying to change the e-mail address associated with your account, etc.), and in accessing your account using the viewer. It is entirely optional, and you do not need to use it if you don’t want to – although usage is recommended.

You can find out more on MFA in general by following the links below:

Inclusion of MFA in a viewer means that anyone who has opted to use MFA

  • Will, the first time they use Firestorm 6.5.6, have to use their preferred authentication method (e.g. Google Authenticator) to generate a new token (6-digit code) and enter it into the viewer when prompted (after entering their user name and password).
The MFA prompt for a token, which will be seen in Firestorm 6.5.6 (and other viewers supporting the Lab’s MFA code) once every 30 days.
    • Note that some authenticators generate their token as 2 groups of 3 digits (e.g. XXX  YYY). Where this is the case, you can enter the code with or without the space.
  • This token will remain valid for 30 days, as noted above, so you do not have to provide a token every time you log-in to the viewer.
    • However, after 30 days, the prompt will once again be displayed at log-in, and a new token code will have to be generated in the chosen authentication method, and entered into the viewer in response to the prompt.

If you have not opted to use MFA, or if you later opt to disable MFA on your account, you will not be prompted to provide any authentication code.

Firestorm Updates and Improvements

Phototools

The Shared Environment button on Phototools works with Firestorm 6.5.6

A minor, but nevertheless issue with Phototools since the introduction of the Environmental Enhancement Project (EEP) capabilities into Firestorm has been the fact that the Shared Environment button (Phototools → Env) has never been properly hooked-up to the EEP controls.

It’s a niggle I pointed to at the time that Firestorm released with EEP incorporated but – and shame on me for not doing so – I never got around to raising a bug report on it.

Fortunately, Spartaco Zemenis did Jira it (see FIRE-31688), with the result that the button has now been properly hooked-in to EEP and clicking it (as with clicking the X button alongside of Personal Lighting) will now revert your viewer’s environment settings to those set for the region / parcel you are current in.

And the difference between the two? X will perform a transition between whatever your current environment settings are and those used within the region / parcel; the Shared Environment button will simple switch the viewer to using the local environment settings without any transition effects.

Skin Updates

  • The Legacy Skin has been removed as a result of being unmaintained for so long.
  • The Starlight and Starlight CUI have been updated, and now includes a fix for FIRE-30839 “Camera window not fully opaque at 1.00 and doesn’t have StarLight & Silver Blue support”.

Other Updates and Fixes

Updates

  • The “Avatars Nearby” list in the performance floater now respects display name/username choice (set via Preferences → General).
  • New physics warning to the mesh uploader when model dimensions are too thin. Mesh-based physics reverts to convex hull when any single dimension goes below 0.5m, so new warning added should this occur:
    • One or more dimensions is less than 0.5m, only hull-based (analysed) physics shapes will work correctly.
  • Debug Setting update: BrowserWebSecurityDisabled – disables web security features in the built-in Web browser.
  • Firestorm Bridge now uses HTTPS by default.
  • BUG-231970 “LOD generation does not trigger a refresh” (also fixed in the lab’s Performance Improvement viewer).
  • FIRE-31074 “Double Click Teleport Stuck On, And Ignoring Modifiers”.
  • FIRE-31552 “Glowing, 100% transparent prims no longer glow”.
  • FIRE-31687 “Overlapped windows when you create a pick on the Places floater”.
  • FIRE-31689 “Wrong folder is shown when creating a LM”.
  • FIRE-31322 “[Linux] Growl notifications do not show in Gnome 41 or Gnome 42 (Desktop Environment)”.
  • FIRE-31758 “RLVa: Area Search shows nametags when restrictions in place”.
  • FIRE-21700 “Full bright not adhering when gamma changed”.
  • FIRE-31719 “Store camera view fails in Flycam mode”.
  • FIRE-31406 “FS 6.5.3.65541 Guidebook pane while loading clips content too much”.
  • FIRE-31472 “When using the Improve Graphic Performance floater some aspects will not work when Framerate Limiter is active”.
  • Nearby blocked avatars should no longer cause the viewer to randomly hang.
  • Adds a warning toast as a reminder when there is a scripted followcam active that might stop a camera reset when trying to use SHIFT+ESC to reset camera view.

Crash Fixes

  • FIRE-31474 “Importing linkset crashes while uploading textures” .
  • FIRE-31653 “Pressing CTRL + F with “banned” list open in any group profile crashes the viewer to desktop”.
  • FIRE-31482 “Crashing To Desktop While Using [Legacy events] Search”.
  • FIRE-31718 “Preprocessor crashes viewer on recursive #include”.

Third-Party Library Updates

  • FMOD Studio updated to 2.02.06 (Windows, Linux, Mac).
  • KDU: updated to v8.2 for Linux.
  • Glib for Linux updated to  2.56.0.220911433-linux64_bionic-220911433.

OpenSim Updates

  • Fixed: FIRE-31567 “[OpenSim] Wrong delayed rebakes on all teleports/login”.
  • Fixed: FIRE-31581 “[OPENSIM] TP between grids on different voice services causes infinite loop”
  • Inventory handling improvements, including:
    • Fix for FIRE-31634 “[Opensim] Inventory doesn’t load on some grids”.
    • Fix for FIRE-31674 “[OpenSim] Inventory validation warning for Suitcase folder”.
    • Allow inventory validation to work in OpenSim with old and grandfathered inventories, without being fatal.
    • Better inventory validation reporting.
    • Make the inventory reporting more user friendly.
    • Make the options for fixing clearer.
    • Make the nagging notification optional.
    • Make sure the correct UUID is used for the inventory library in OpenSim
  • Fixed:  FIRE-31628 “[Opensim] Collisions sounds cannot be disabled”.
  • OpenSim vari-regions:
    • Try to defend against grid owners who insist on misconfiguring to have more the one neighbour per region edge.
    • Fixed Firestorm crash due to abuse of vari-regions.
  • Added Grid Status support for OpenSim “GridStatus” and “GridStatusRSS”  – Top menu bar → Help → Check Grid Status.
  • Reverted some of the changes made to prevent calling card duplication, as the method has changed and the viewer is now responsible for creating calling cards after friendship has formed.

Future Releases

In the past, the Firestorm team has tried to maintain a two-month QA cycle: starting a month after a release, QA on the nest would start with beta testing. This would be followed in the 6th week of the beta cycle by the issuing of a “Release Candidate” for additional testing the the Firestorm Preview Group. Due to the numbers involved in the Preview Group, issues would be found very late in the QA cycle, leading to delays in the release being made.

To try to prevent this in the future, Firestorm is moving to a process of pre-release building being issued to the Preview Group on a weekly basis, monitored by the QA team, working with the Preview Group users in determining what is a bug that should be reported vs what may be an artefact of something unrelated, like a user setting, that can be corrected without the need for exhaustive bug reporting and testing. This will hopefully result in a more frequent release process.

Related Links

Firestorm 6.5.3: performance and photos (and more!)

On Monday, March 21st, 2022, the Firestorm team released version 6.5.3 of their viewer.

This is a significant update to Firestorm, containing major new elements aimed at helping to improve viewer performance / the user experience.  As such, these elements for the major focus for the notes below.

As per usual, it also brings Firestorm closer to the current official SL release viewer by including a number of updates and capabilities previously released by LL. Again, from an end-user perspective, one of the most noticeable of this is likely to the incorporation of the 360º snapshot capability,  which is also looked at in detail below.

Also as per usual, Firestorm 6.5.3 includes additional fixes and updates directly from the Firestorm team to also improve the user experience. Not all of these are covered in the notes below, and readers are referred to the official release notes alongside of this article.

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 6.5.3.

Splash Screen Update

Whilst not strictly part of the 6.5.3 release, having been prototyped with and added to the 6.4.21 release, Firestorm now has a new splash / log-in screen. It incorporates elements familiar to Firestorm users and also to users of viewers that use splash screens more closely modelled on Lab’s own.

In all, the “new” Splash screen can be split into five elements:

  • A set of six panels at the top, four of which are Firestorm-specific (version details, wiki and  Jira links, and on the far right, Firestorm social media links), and two related to official SL information (grid status data and links to information on current grid issues, LL support and grid status updates).
  • A three-panel selection of blog links from the Firestorm blog, the official SL Featured News blog and the SL Blogger’s Network.
  • An expandable scrollable list of currently-popular destinations in Second Life (complete with a count of recent visitors).
    • These are drawn from the What’s Hot Now (default), Recently Added, Featured Events and Editors Picks sections of the Destination Guide (the corresponding links on the right of the panel to select these).
    • Clicking on any of the displayed thumbnails will provide further information on the destination in a pop-up floater, complete with the option to Visit This Destination after logging-in.
  • The Firestorm & associated software logos.
  • The log-in panel at the bottom (unchanged, and not shown below).

The updated Firestorm splash screen (click for full size)

Linden Lab Viewer Parity

This release brings Firestorm up to parity with the official viewer release 6.5.2, and so includes updates seen in the following official viewer releases:

  • Mac Voice hotfix viewer, version 6.5.2.567427, dated January 13th, 2022.
  • Cache + 360º Capture viewer, version 6.5.1.566335, dated December 7th, promoted December 15th – see below for more on the 360º capture.
  • Maintenance RC viewer version 6.5.0.565607, dated November 10th, promoted November 15th, 2021.
  • The Apple Notarisation Fix viewer, version 6.4.23.564172, issued September 24th and promoted October 15th, 2021.
  • CEF update viewer, version 6.4.22.561752, dated July 24th, promoted August 10th, 2021.
  • Fernet Maintenance RC, version 6.4.21.561414, dated July 14th, promoted July 19th,  2021.

More Robust Encryption of Login Credentials

In line with changes from Linden Lab, the way Firestorm encrypts your log-in credentials has been changed  to make it more robust and to reduce the number of times stored passwords will have to be re-entered. The update to the new method is automatic on logging-in to SL for the first time using Firestorm 6.5.3; however, it means that should you switch back to using an older version of Firestorm, you will have to re-enter your credentials.

Note: this update is not in any way related to multi-factor authentication in the viewer, which is currently in RC testing in the official viewer.

360º Snapshots

Linden Lab’s 360º snapshot capability allows you to capture of 360º degree panoramic images of environment around your avatar / camera position (if freecamming). The images are automatically processed by the viewer so that they can be uploaded to most platforms supporting 360º panoramic images (e.g. Flickr, Meta), and for embedding into blogs that support 360º images (such as WordPress).

Within Firestorm, the capability can be accessed in one of three ways (Firestorm have disabled the shortcut option of CTRL-ALT-SHIFT-S, as this combination is bound to opening the viewer’s Debug settings):

  • Via Avatar → 360 Snapshot.
  • By clicking on the links seen in the expanded Preview image view of the Snapshot floater.
  • Via a toolbar button (when enabled in a toolbar area).
The 360º snapshot viewer and two of the means of accessing in – via the the Avatar menu and the toolbar button (must be added to your toolbar)

Taking an image comprises a few simple steps:

  1. Position your camera.
  2. Select the image quality – for finished images you’ll need to set High or Maximum quality using the radio buttons.
  3. Click the Create 360º Image button to generate a preview in the floater’s preview panel.
  4. Click on the preview image and drag it around to ensure what you’re seeing is what you want / that things like textures have actually rendered correctly.
  5. Check the Hide All Avatars option, if required – if not, the process to include all avatars present, which could be blurred if they are moving at the time the image elements are  captured.
  6. When you are satisfied with the preview, click Save As… to save it to your hard drive, renaming it if / as required.

Note: if you change the image quality, you must also click Create 360 button to update the preview AND image capture process to the new image quality, before clicking Save As… once more.

Further information on the capability can be found in the following blog posts :

Improve Graphics Speed (Experimental)

Overview (please read!)

This is a new UI floater Developed by Beq Janus. It brings together a range of viewer graphics options and is intended to help keep you better informed of the viewer’s performance in terms of frame rates, rendering, etc.), and make your own adjustments to suit the environment you’re in. It is also intended to help users be better informed about viewer performance.

The floater comprises three core elements:

  • The Frame / Performance Summary.
  • An Auto Tune Capability.
  • Four additional floater panels that can be used together / individually and independently of Auto Tune. These bring together some of the most commonly-user graphics / rendering options, allowing you to make changes quickly and easily to manually adjust performance, including defining how avatars around you are individually rendered, and lowering to load your own avatar places on both your system and those of the people around you.

This section is intended to provide an overview to the new floater, and offer general notes on the various options and their use. When reading it, please remember:

  • The entire panel – and particularly the Auto Tune capability – is experimental. Options presented may well change over time (such as in reference to LL’s own performance improvement work).
  • While intended to try to optimise the viewer’s performance, please note: these options  will not magically make elderly (e.g. 6+ year old) computers with outdated CPUs / GPUs suddenly zoom along at rates seen with the latest high-end gaming rigs; everything is very much dependent on the capabilities of your hardware.
  • Also, and in respect of Auto Tune:
    • While it will try to maintain your frame rate at the expense of other settings (such as overall graphics quality). So, depending on your system, the frame rate selected, the complexity of the scene, you may find other aspects of your experience suffering.
    • Does not run on Mac M1 systems at present.
  • If you experience particularly awkward results or are unhappy with how the in-world scene looks, you can disable all performance optimisation, and the floater includes the means to quickly load / revert to any Graphics Presets you have previously set-up.

Accessing the Floater

The Improve Graphics Speed floater can be accessed in two ways:

  • Via World → Improve Graphics Speed.
  • Via a toolbar button (when enabled in a toolbar area).
Accessing the Improve Graphics Speed floater

The various options and panel displays are examined in the sections below.

Continue reading “Firestorm 6.5.3: performance and photos (and more!)”

Firestorm 6.4.21: catching up with the Lab

On Wednesday, July 28th, 2021, the Firestorm team released version 6.4.21 of their viewer.

The majority of the updates contained within this release are from recent releases of the official viewer, with a minimal number of Firestorm-derived updates, as Firestorm continues to move closer to a 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.

As is usual for me, this is not a review of every individual change to be found within this latest release of Firestorm. Rather, it is an overview of those changes that will be most noticeable to the majority of users. Given this, please refer to the official release notes for a complete list of fixes and changes.

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 6.4.21.
  • Again, please refer to the Firestorm 6.4.21 release notes for additional details of all changes and updates in this release.

Linden Lab Viewer Parity

Firestorm 6.4.21 incorporates updates from a number of recent Linden Lab viewer releases, as follows:

Jelly Updates, February 2021

Viewer release: 6.4.13.555567.

Most notably, this alters the behaviour of “jellydolled” avatars for better performance. Those avatars explicitly set not to render or have an Avatar Rendering Complexity (ARC) that exceeds the threshold set within the viewer (e.g. via Quick Prefs → Max Complexity slider):

  • Are now rendered a single grey, rather than appearing in a range of solid colours and as a basic humanoid shape.
  • No longer have any attachments or other customisations rendered and do not play animations.

Simplified Cache Viewer, March 2021

Viewer release: 6.4.14.556088.

This viewer introduced a less complex file caching system to save local copies of frequently used assets such as meshes, sounds and animations, but without the issues that impacted the original deployment of that viewer.

Custom Key Mappings Viewer, April 2021

Viewer release:  6.4.17.557391.

This release allows users to define their own key mappings for a number of viewer functions, via Preferences → Control .

The Custom Key Mappings panel in Preferences

Maintenance Eau de Vie, April 2021

Viewer release: 6.4.18.558266.

A further round of viewer bug fixes from Linden Lab. Perhaps most notable among them changes to the detection of Intel HD 2500 and 4000 and 400 GPUs (if running the latest drivers), that result in users of those graphics cards now being offered the 64bit version of the viewer.

Love Me Render 5, June 2021

Viewer release: 6.4.19.560171.

A maintenance viewer focused on rendering and graphics fixes, including a number of EEP improvements.

UI and Voice Updates Viewer, June 2021

New Guidebook

Viewer release: 6.4.20.560520.

This viewer introduced the first in a series of viewer UI updates, these specifically aimed at new users, notably a new Guidebook to getting started in Second Life following sign-up, and which is intended to be used within the new Welcome Islands.

The new user Guidebook, as developed by Linden Lab as a part of a new user experience
The Guidebook is access via a dedicated Toolbar Button, which if not automatically displayed in your viewer (clean installation) can be accessed by opening the Toolbar Buttons panel (right-click any button area and select Toolbar Buttons …) and then dragging the Guidebook button to your preferred button area.

Not that both the Guidebook and the new Welcome islands are subject to on-going testing and so may see further revisions.

Menu Updates

In addition, this release of the view included a number of menu changes to the official viewer. These have been implemented somewhat differently in Firestorm, and so are dealt with below.

EEP: Azimuth and Elevation Sliders

A further UI change with this viewer is the addition of new EEP sliders for those who have issues using the Trackballs in the Sun / Moon tabs of the Fixed Sky and Day Cycle floaters, and in the Personal Lighting floater. These sliders 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.

They are tied to the Sun / Moon movement, so when used, the trackball locations for the Sun and Moon will also move.

The EEP Azimuth and Elevation sliders (Personal Lighting floater shown)
Voice Updates

Finally, this viewer brings a series of improvements to the viewer’s Voice settings a range of improvements to Voice handling, including changing to default Voice settings in the viewer intended to help prevent issues of drop-out when talking, and which have reportedly all but eliminated drop-outs for those using the new settings. Additionally, the VIVOX VAD options have been exposed via Debug Settings, and detailed notes on these can be found in the official viewer release notes, linked to above.

Continue reading “Firestorm 6.4.21: catching up with the Lab”

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”

Firestorm 6.3.9: housekeeping matters

On Wednesday, May 27th, 2020, Firestorm released version 6.3.9.58205 of their viewer.

This release brings Firestorm up-to-date with all official viewer releases prior to the EEP update, and includes assorted updates and fixes from upstream of that release from the Lab, plus fixes and improvements from the Firestorm team, including a lot of OpenSim updates.

However, it should be noted that this release does not include EEP (Environmental Enhancement Project). As such, this is perhaps best seen as a maintenance release to prepare the way for a later EEP release.

As always, the focus is on those updates that may be of particular general interest, rather than trying to cover absolutely everything. Readers are referred to the release notes for a full list of updates / fixes and all associated credits.

Table of Contents

The Usual Before We Begin

As per my usual preamble:

  • 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 6.3.9.
  • Again, please refer to the Firestorm 6.3.9 release notes for details of specific Lab-derived fixes for this release.

Viewer Blocks

Note that with this release:

  • Firestorm versions 6.0.2 for Second Life and 6.0.2 for OpenSim will both be blocked from logging into the Second Life grid in three weeks time.
  • 6.0.2 for OpenSim will not be blocked from accessing OpenSim Grids.

Lab Derived Updates

The version of Firestorm brings the viewer to parity with the Linden Lab 6.3.8 code base. This means  Firestorm now includes all viewer releases up to and including the Ordered Shutdown updates, which should reduce the frequency of the viewer crashing on shut-down,  and the Premium enhancements viewer (version 6.3.8.538264), which includes updates specifically for Premium Plus relating to fees, etc, and which may appear in places in the viewer. However, with regards to the latter, it is important to note that:

Firestorm Updates

Client AO Updates

Firestorm 6.3.9.580205 includes a number of updates / fixes for the client-side AO system, including:

  • AO floater should no longer appear empty if open on logging-in to the viewer (see FIRE-29192).
  • The AO should now be more robust when in or leaving Linden Water:
    • A swim animation should no longer play when leaving Linden Water; avatar should transition to flying animation (see: FIRE-6605 / FIRE-8099).
    • The flying hover animation (for included in an AO) should no longer play when pausing swimming when underwater (see FIRE-15350).
  • Transitions between animations should now be far smoother, as double start / stops should no longer occur.
  • Animations should not longer stick on cycling (particularly sits / ground sits) See: FIRE-14925.
  • Additional fixes for sitting, smart sit and region crossings:
    • After sitting, disabling the client AO should not longer place your avatar in a default standing pose whilst still seated (see FIRE-15059).
    • Turning on the AO sits should no longer fail to turn off the sit animation when standing once more (see FIRE-16230 / FIRE-22471).
  • Tabbing out of the AO name field should set the AO name if newly edited  – no need to press ENTER to apply the new name (see FIRE-29078).
  • The Default check box should no longer become active when the currently-open AO set is already the default for an avatar (see FIRE-29101).

Menu and Preferences Updates

Avatar menu → Avatar Health → Scripts:

  • Clicking on the help icon (“?”) in the top-right of the scripts floater now correctly opens the Firestorm wiki page about the floater, rather than the Script Information help page dealing with in-world object script information.

Build → Upload:

  • Misleading “lossless” check box removed from image upload floater (see: BUG-228331).

Preferences → Colours:

  • Pick Radius has been updated to read Pick Radius Colour, to make the option’s function clearer.
  • Both the Pick Radius Colour swatch and distance / opacity slider now have tool tips to explain their functions.
Mini-map updates: Renamed Pick Radius option (1) and new tool tips for colour picker and the distance / opacity slider (2 – with the colour swatch tool tip shown)

Preferences → User Interface → 2D Overlay:

  • The Group Notices and Chiclets in Top Right check box has been replaced by radio buttons offering a choice of top or bottom right to display group notices and chiclets (changing location still requires a viewer restart to take effect).
New radio buttons to define the location for displaying group notices and chiclets

Appearance Updates

  • Jellydolls: if an avatar is Jellydolled even though the avatar is below your Maximum Complexity setting, it is because the avatar’s texture area is above the maximum texture area limit (set via the RenderAutoMuteSurfaceAreaLimit Debug setting). Firestorm will therefore display their “Texture Area” number in red in their name tag (see FIRE-23495).
  • Inspect Own Attachments: a new option to inspect your own attachments has been added to the avatar right-click context menu / pie menu. Presents the same information as inspect attachments on other avatars. (see FIRE-23987).
You can now inspect attachments on your own avatar as well as on other avatars / inspect in-world objects
  • It should now be possible to detach temporary attachments from Appearance → Wearing tab.
  • It should now be no longer possible to wear more than one physics layer.

Inventory Updates

  • Protected Folders: a new option to prevent accidental drag / drop or deletion of inventory folders.
    • Right-click on an inventory folder and select Protect from the context menu.
    • Folder is now protected, and will display “(protected) alongside it.
    • Select the folder, right-click and select Unprotect to remove protection.
    • All protected folders in inventory can be summarised in the Protected Folders floater (Avatar Protected Folders).
    • Double clicking on a folder name in the Protected Folders floater will automatically highlight it in Inventory, allowing you to quickly locate any protected folder.
    • Note: sub-folders and objects in a Protected folder can still be deleted or drag / dropped.
The Protect (/Unprotect) folder option in the inventory context menu (l), and the Protect Folders floater (r)
  • Uploading an image or saving a snapshot should no longer cause Inventory to jump from the recent tab jumps to the main tab (see: FIRE-22943 and BUG-225229).
  • It should now be possible to copy / paste into outfits folders in inventory.
  • Possible fix for attachments randomly ending up in inventory Lost & Found folder. This hopefully fixes FIRE-23364 and BUG-228813.
  • The outmoded Merchant Outbox system folder should now be deletable with this release.

Continue reading “Firestorm 6.3.9: housekeeping matters”