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”

Firestorm celebrates 10 years with a splash

via the Phoenix-Firestorm Project
My name is Jessica Lyon. My goal during my time with the Emerald Project, was always to give the users what they want. That goal has never and will never change. I’m very happy to announce, it continues…
A few days ago, I assembled a team of developers to work on a new viewer. Some who were originally Emerald developers, some who were not. All are respected reputable residents in the Second Life Community. The goal was simple, to provide users with what they want and do it transparently.
I’m am very proud to announce the launch of the Phoenix Viewer.

Jessica Lyon, September 3rd, 2010

With those words, printed in her personal blog, Jessica Lyon announced the arrival of the Phoenix viewer, and the birth of what would become Second Life’s most popular third party viewer.

It marked a new beginning for a number of people – Jessica among them – who came together out of the ashes of the Emerald viewer to try to continue the work started by that viewer before one or two wombats (the term my father endearingly uses to denote “complete idiots”) who opted to trash the innovative work started in that viewer for the sake of petty stupidity. Emerald hadn’t been the first third-party viewer on the block, but it had become one of the most innovative, both exposing viewer capabilities hidden the the vagaries of the viewer’s debug settings, and in developing various viewer-side only capabilities, such as multi-attachments (more than one attachment on the same attach point).

With Phoenix, Jessica and the team around her sought to carry on the good work started with Emerald whilst leaving the stupidity well behind them, embracing the closer working ties between the Lab and TPVs that would come to grow out of the Emerald debacle with the rise of the Third-party viewer policy and an unfolding of greater co-operation between TPVs and the Lab.

Why history might suggest otherwise, Phoenix itself had a relatively short active lifespan – by the time it arrived, the Lab had launched the viewer 2.0 UI, and by the time Phoenix reached its first anniversary on September 3rd, 2011, the Phoenix team had already launched their own version of the viewer using the new UI code base – Firestorm – which was destined to become the focal point of the team’s work, although they tried to keep Phoenix, with its Viewer 1.2x UI, going for as long as they could.

Nevertheless, in just its first year, Phoenix attracted a large following, partially due to things like the multi-attachment option (even if it did make those using it appear as if the were walking around with a tail of attachments trailing out of their rear ends to those on other viewers), and this trend continued as Firestorm ramped-up and continued with the innovative approach taken to capabilities, both in exposing those in the viewer, and through the adoption of others (such as William Weaver’s Phototools).

As noted, as the time passed, Firestorm developed an ever-closer working relationship with the Lab, routinely making code contributions to help benefit the latter, and offering proposals for specific improvements, such as an official implementation of a hover height slider capability. Now, to be fair, Firestorm have never been alone in making code contributions to the Lab, but they have been one of the most consistent in doing so, as the visualisation below shows.

This video from Firestorm’s Pantera Północy shows the flow of code and contributions from LL to Firestorm and Firestorm to LL over a 10-year period

They’ve also dared to push the boundaries of viewer capabilities from time-to-time, trying to respond to user requests. One of the most notable examples of this came in 2014, when – under the guise of an April Fools joke – the Firestorm team presented their proof-of-concept Dynamic User Interface that allowed UI elements to be pulled out of the main viewer window and displayed on secondary monitors (see: Firestorm Dynamic User Interface (DUI): it’s a real prototype), the hope being it  might result in a collaborative effort among viewer coders to make the idea a reality. Sadly, that particular idea died a silent death, but setbacks like it have never stopped the Firestorm team from working with the Lab to offer viewer improvements – the most recent being the updates in the mesh uploader, which were promoted as this Lab’s de facto release viewer, and which incorporate contributions from Firestorm.

Firestorm has always sought to support the community as well – its in-world groups routinely share information with users, Firestorm is a part of the Lab’s Community Gateway Programme seeking to bring new users into Second Life, and so on.

Firestorm has two special gifts for those attending the 10th anniversary party on October 18th

All of which means that over the last decade, the Phoenix Firestorm Project has been a truly unique an beneficial collaboration within Second Life – and is likely set to remain so in the future.

The viewer’s tenth anniversary officially came on September 3rd, 2020. however, on October 18th, from 1:00 noon SLT through until 15:00 SLT, the Firestorm team are holding a birthday party,  with special gifts for those attending and some special live performers. So, grab a taxi below, and head on over.

Happy 10th anniversary, Firestorm!

Party SLurls

(Only valid on October 18th, 2020)

Firestorm 6.4.5 Beta: EEP and Camera Presets

On Tuesday, July 28th, 2020, Firestorm released a beta version of their viewer – 6.4.5.60799 – that provides support for the Lab’s Environment Enhancement Project (EEP), and which includes a number of other Lab-specific updates to the viewer, such as the Camera Presets capability.

There are a number of points of note to make about this viewer, which may influence people’s choice on whether or not to try / adopt it:

Table of Contents

  • While it contains the EEP updates, the following should be kept in mind:
    • There are a number of known issues with EEP, several of which currently have fixes contained within the Lab’s Love Me Render RC viewer (version 6.4.5.544028, dated June 30th, at the time of writing), and which is being prepared to be promoted to de facto release, possibly in the next 2-3 weeks.
    • There is a known performance hit related to EEP, for which an interim (and unsatisfactory) fix can be to disable Linden Water rendering (CTRL-ALT-SHIFT-7), even if Linden Water is occluding in your view. The underpinning causes of this issue are still being investigated.
  • Given its beta nature, this version of the viewer has not passed Firestorm’s QA cycle, nor are there formal release notes, although general notes on this version can be found here.

Because of the above, the following is not a full overview of the release; I will provide one once this version of the viewer reaches a formal release status. Instead, this article is designed to provide a general overview of the core visible changes in Firestorm 6.4.5: those of the EEP integration and particularly how it has been integrated with Firestorm’s Phototools floater, and those of the Camera Presets, which differ slightly to their implementation in the official viewer.

Installation

As this is a beta release:

  • There is no need to do a clean install.
  • By default, it will be installed into a different folder to the release version of Firestorm you have installed.
  • If you encounter issues with Firestorm 6.4.5, it is important you preserve your log files before starting any session using the release version of the viewer, and make sure you zip and attach them to any Jira you file.

Linden Lab Derived Updates Overview

Firestorm 6.4.5 incorporates updates from the following Linden Lab viewer releases:

  • Second Life Release Viewer version 6.4.4.543157, the Chrome Embedded Framework (CEF) Update 2020 – provides better support for media playback options win the viewer, including the ability to live stream into Second Life.
  • Second Life Release Viewer version 6.4.3.542964, the FMOD Studio viewer, dated May 29th, 2020 – updates the viewer audio playback support to use FMOD Studio.
  • Second Life Release Viewer version 6.4.2.541639, the Camera Presets viewer, dated May 11th, 2020 – see Camera Presets, below, for more.
  • Second Life Release Viewer version 6.4.1.540593, the Zirbenz Maintanence viewer, dated April 27th, 2020.
  • Second Life Release Viewer version 6.4.0.540188, the Environment Enhancement Project (EEP) viewer, dated April 17th, 2020 – see below for more.

Camera Presets

Camera Presets provides the ability for users to create one more more custom camera presets 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.

Firestorm’s Camera Presets Options – note that depending on the viewer skin you are using, the Camera floater (middle left, above) many have a slightly different layout to that shown

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 show in the image below.
  • If you wish to manually set a camera position using the camera controls (orbit / tilt and slide left/right / up/down), you must open the Camera Position floater via the Position… button,  and then save adjustments from that floater, as adjustments cannot be saved directly from the Camera floater, as is the case with the official viewer.

Environment Enhancement Project (EEP)

There’s unlikely to be many people who have not heard of the environment Enhancement Project (EEP). But in short:

  • 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 others.
  • Environments 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).
  • Allows up to four different, independently controlled sky layers.
  • Allows the Sun, Moon and Cloud textures to be replaced with custom textures uploaded to the viewer.
  • 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.
  • Provides a Personal Lighting floater that allows you to make viewer-side adjustments to the local environment for the purposes of photography.
  • Provides 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. As the Firestorm implementation is more-or-less as per the official viewer, I offer the following links to resources:

EEP and Phototools

One of the popular elements within Firestorm is the Phototools floater. The Windlight (WL) tab, opened by default when accessing Phototools, has been revised for EEP, as shown in the image below.

The pre-EEP Phototools WL tab (l) and the EEP version (r). (1) The Drop-downs now select Day, Sky and Water settings from the Library → Environments folder; (2) Personal Settings button – opens the Personal Settings floater, allowing you to adjust the environment as seen in your viewer. This button essential replaces the Edit Sky Preset and Edit Water Preset buttons in the “old” Phototools WL tab; (3) cancels any changes made through the Personal Settings floater; (4) Pause Clouds – does what it says on the label; (5) Shared Environment – causes the viewer to use the local parcel / region environment.

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.
  • 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.

For OpenSim

For OpenSim users, there are 3 key points:

  • The viewer incorporates Windlight ↔ EEP interoperability, allowing EEP viewer users to visit legacy Windlight regions.
  • The viewer supports the new OpenSim 0.9.2 with EEP, code-named “Ugly Sky.”
  • There is now a fast-entry grid feature on the login screen; simply enter a URI to add a new grid.

In addition, the last Firestorm OpenSim Release had a bug that caused crashes when rezzing items. This bug was responsible for 70% of all reported FS OpenSim crashes on the 6.3.9 version, and it has been fixed.

General Observations

Given Firestorm 6.4.5.60799 is a beta release and not a fully polished formal release, it may not be suitable for all users at this point in time – and this should be kept in mind when considering it. Should you decide to do so, again please remember:

  • Firestorm 6.4.5 can be installed alongside any current release of Firestorm, so you can swap between them.
  • Firestorm 6.4.5 has not been fully QA’d, so if you do encounter reproducible issues, please ensure you raise a bug report on the Firestorm JIRA.
  • With respect to EEP in particular:
    • Please take time to read the known issues in the beta release notes and, for EEP, those on the EEP viewer release notes from Linden Lab).
    • There are a number of EEP fixes forthcoming in the Love Me Render viewer (e.g:  fixes for EEP specularity issue – BUG-228781 and BUG-228581, and for BUG-225784 “BUG-225446 regression – HUDs are again affected by environment setting”). It may also include additional fixes.
    • Linden Lab is still working on issues such as BUG-229079 “[EEP] Density multiplier does not allow full range of settings to be saved/loaded” and BUG-229031 “[EEP] Water has a large performance hit on EEP”.
  • There are known performance (FPS) issues with EEP / this version of Firestorm.
  • This version of Firestorm will likely go through a number of iterations prior to reaching formal release status.

Related Links

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”

Firestorm 6.3.2: welcome to Bakes on Mesh

On Monday, September 30th, 2019, Firestorm released version 6.3.2.58052 of their viewer.

This release features the awaited support for Linden Lab’s Bakes on Mesh capability, together with a number of Lab-derived updates and updates from the Firestorm Team.

Please note that this update is for Second Life only – see below for more.

 

Table of Contents

As per usual, this article provides an overview of the more visible updates in the release. Please refer to the release notes for a full list of updates and all associated credits. Also, note that this update means that version 5.1.7.55786 will be blocked from logging in to the Second Life grid in the near future – check the Firestorm blog for updates.

Why No OpenSim Version?

Jessica Lyon, project lead for Firestorm, recently blogged on the situation regarding OpenSim, and some of the steps the team are having to reverse as well as to take in order to offer some level of support for OpenSim unless they can obtain an OpenSim developer to assist with the viewer. For details see OpenSim the Good, The Bad and the Ugly.

At that time, Jessica had been hoping to provide OpenSim support “as is” with future releases of Firestorm – and had planned this to be the case with this release. However, a major issue was found with this release that could result in OpenSim regions crashing.

This will take time to resolve – hence no OpenSim version with this release. Instead, Firestorm will continue to offer version 6.0.2.56680 for OpenSim users. As the 6.3.2.58052 release installs separately to 6.0.2.56680, both versions can be run side-by-side on the same computer for those wishing to access both Second Life and OpenSim.

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 6.3.2.
  • Please refer to the official release notes for a full breakdown and changes, updates and credits associated with this release.

Again, please refer to the Firestorm 6.3.2 release notes for details of specific Lab-derived fixes for this release.

Lab Derived Updates

The version of Firestorm brings the viewer to parity with the Linden Lab 6.3.1 code base, with some cherry-picked updates from upstream release candidate versions.

Bakes on Mesh

Simply put, Bakes on Mesh (BoM) allows system clothing layers as used with the “classic” Second Life system avatar – skins, tattoos, underwear, shirt and jacket layers – to be applied to mesh bodies and heads, and without (necessarily) the need for additional applier systems.

The system requires mesh bodies and heads to be “BoM enabled” – and many creators have already updated their products, or are in the process of updating their products to support Bakes on Mesh. In addition, some applier makers are producing applier systems that leverage Bakes on Mesh to apply wearables to mesh bodies and heads – although these may be limited in some respects due to differences between how skin textures and mesh bodies are made).

Through Bakes on Mesh, Linden Lab hopes:

  • Users can avoid the need to use appliers, but can add wearables to their mesh avatar directly from inventory.
  • Creators will be able to simplify avatar mesh bodies and heads by removing the need for some of the “onion” layers. This should – if done – reduce the rendering complexity for bodies and heads, thus hopefully improving people’s SL experience (as avatars won’t be quite so resource intensive or require quite so much “assembly time” when encountering them on logging-on or after teleporting somewhere).

Note that Bakes on Mesh support is required to both use the BoM capability and to correctly view mesh avatars using BoM.

Bakes on Mesh adds new options for applying suitable textures to the baking channels for application on a mesh body by the Bake Service

For more detailed information on Bakes on Mesh, please refer to the following links:

Linden Lab:

Creator-related BoM documentation:

Informative Bakes on Mesh blog post:

In addition, Firestorm has created their own Bakes on Mesh wiki.

External Note Card Editor

Note cards can now be edited using an external editor.  Firestorm has adopted this as follows:

  • Select your preferred editor:
    • Go to Preferences → Firestorm → Build 1 → External Editor
    • Click Browse alongside the External Editor text entry field.
    • Use the picker to navigate to your preferred text editor and select its .EXE / launcher.
    • Click OK
    • The path to the editor should now be displayed in the text field.
    • This generally only has to be done once, unless you opt to change your preferred editor.
You can now set an external editor when writing / editing note cards
  • To use the external editor:
    • Create / open a note card for editing.
    • Click on the Edit button in the bottom left of the floater.
    • Your external editor will open and load the text.
    • Edit the text as required, and save using the external editor.
    • The edited text will be uploaded to the note card and saved in it.

Notes:

  • There is no charge applied for the upload and saving to the note card.
  • Rich text editing (bold, italic, indentation, etc) used within the external editor will be ignored and the text converted to plain text for saving to the note card.

Other Lab Updates of Note

  • Ability to duplicate a group role – allows you to duplicate a group role so that the copied role has the same permissions and you can just give the copied role a different title (see: BUG-226986).
    • Open the group profile → Members & Roles → Roles → Left click on a role to select it → Click the Copy Role button
  • Animesh objects not being highlighted when viewing objects owned by users in About Land fixed (see: BUG-227240).
  • Animesh objects should now be easier to select (see: BUG-226860).
  • Depth mode snapshots no longer broken when snapshot size is set to anything above current window size (see: BUG-227191).
  • Scoreboards and visitor trackers broken by the last CEF update should not longer be broken (see: BUG-226704).
  • Viewer-side support for playback of sound files up to 30s in length
    • Note this feature is awaiting simulator support to work.
  • The ability to share photos & post to Facebook has been removed from the viewer (see: BUG-225205).
    • This has been broken at the Facebook end for some time, with no sign of being fixed.
  • Build → Texture → Align Planar Faces should now work on normal or specular maps (see: BUG-6489).
  • Under Help → Report Abuse, Gaming Policy Violation has been revised to Skill Gaming Policy Violation for clarity.

Firestorm Updates

Link to Discord

 6.3.2.58052 includes the ability to link your Second Life account with your Discord account. Once connected, Discord will show your Second Life on-line status & session length, and optionally, your user name and location in SL.

Discord floater

Notes:

  • This capability only works with the Discord client – it does not work with the Discord web pages.
  • To work, you must have the Discord client running when attempting to link to it from Firestorm.
  • Both Discord and Firestorm must be running with the same access level (note: it is not recommended you run discord in Admin mode).

To link you SL and Discord accounts:

  • Go to Comm → Discord …
  • The Discord floater opens.
  • In the floater you can opt to:
    • Automatically display you are using Second Life / Firestorm whenever you log-in to the viewer.
    • Display your Second Life user name.
    • Select whether or not you wish to display your location in Second Life, or, if opting to show your location, opt to only display it according to the maturity rating of the region you are in.
    • Create a list of region names you do not wish to have displayed by Discord when you are visiting them, regardless of any maturity rating set in the panel.
  • When you have set your preferences, click the Connect … button.
  • Once connected, you can disconnect from Discord at any time by displaying the panel and clicking Disconnect …

Avatar, Appearance and Inventory

Attachment auto-refresh: Firestorm 6.3.2.58052 adds a timer for automatically refreshing attachments when an attempt is made to kill them after a teleport / region change. It is designed to help resolve issues where your attachments are invisible to observers after a teleport or region change, and provides the same functionality as the manual Avatar → Avatar Health → Refresh Attachments (Alt-Shift-R).

Optionally, if the debug setting FSExperimentalLostAttachmentsFixReport is set to TRUE, Firestorm reports attachments that were attempted to get detached during a teleport or region crossing to nearby chat, followed by reporting “Refreshing attachments…” to nearby chat when the auto-refresh starts.

See FIRE-12004 and BUG-7761.

Profile Links to Force Appearance Change: it has been possible for users to put obfuscated links (e.g. “Photo of me in RL”) in their profile floater that, when clicked by another user, would replace outfit with one of the default outfits from the inventory library.

With this update, such links will no longer work, and the obfuscated link will display as “Wear Inventory Folder”. This matches a similar fix included in the Linden Lab Legacy Profiles folder. See also: FIRE-24262.

Fixes:

  • Removal of the restriction on adding system layers with identical asset UUIDs at the same time (see: FIRE-24334).
  • LookAt target clamping no longer causes your avatar eyes to cross (see: FIRE-24175).
  • The Firestorm Animation Overrider should now work correctly with child prim sits.

General Updates of Note

  • Movement at region crossing: this release fixes the issue of region crossing Predict option (Preferences → Move & View → Movement at Region Crossing) behaving like Stop (see: FIRE-24184).
  • The option Use HTTP For Receiving Textures has been removed from the SL-only version of the viewer’s Preferences.
    • This option forced the viewer to switch from UDP texture fetching to HTTP.
    • As Second Life no longer uses UDP for asset fetching (including textures), the option is no longer required for the SL version of the viewer, thus prompting its removal (see: FIRE-24256).
  • Payment confirmation is now skipped if paying yourself (e.g. paying your own tip jar) – see FIRE-24208.
    • Also fixed a case where the payment confirmation notification would not be shown if the amount would be exactly the remaining L$ balance.
  • FMOD Studio updated to version 2.00.03.
  • RLV updated to RestrainedLove API: RLV v3.2.1 / RLVa v2.2.0.58052.

Feedback

I actually don’t have a lot to report; I’ve been using the Bakes on Mesh betas for some time, and found the BoM functionality works fine after some early hiccups. One or two of the early beta gave some crashes for me, but the 6.3.2.58051/58052 versions (the latter including a minor update from 58051) have between them been stable – although I’ve only had the 58052 version installed for the time it has taken me to write this review.

Related Links

Firestorm: the future of OpenSim Support

On Wednesday, September 18th, and after some lengthy deliberation, Jessica Lyon issued a Firestorm blog post outlining the future of that viewer’s future support for OpenSim environments.

The post is going to make difficult reading for OpenSim users, but the reality is that for assorted reasons, the Firestorm team have to consider priorities and how to best support their two disparate user communities.

The most important point with the blog is that Firestorm is not about to abandon OpenSim: but there are certain hard realities that need to be faced.

The first of these is that Firestorm are struggling to meet the demands of OpenSim support. While it is easy to talk about OpenSim in the singular – as if it is a single network of grids running to the same overall framework of server code – this isn’t really the case, as Jessica notes:

So many grids and no standard specification. Grid features that vary from grid to grid. We fix an issue on one grid that breaks something on another. Compatibility with OpenSim is vastly more difficult than it is with Second Life. Add to that the fact that we have to continue to merge upstream code from LL on a regular basis. We just don’t have the human resources.

Resources in this case being a developer who not only has the time to devote to OpenSim development on behalf of the Firestorm Team, but also the depth of knowledge of the various OpenSim protocols required to implement viewer-side updates while avoiding many of the problems Jessica mentions.

To try to assist in matters going forward, Jessica outlines some of the steps that the Firestorm team will be taking:

  • Firestorm will no longer accept OpenSim viewer features without direct communication via viewer patch contributions, or better yet, some kind of reference viewer. Simply put, the team cannot expected to keep up with all developments in OpenSim, which features have been introduced in some grids and how they might impact others.
  • Firestorm can only include features compatible with the current recognised OpenSim version number – features based on in-development or upcoming server code cannot be accepted, particularly those that may work on one grid one way, but differently on another or not at all.
  • Firestorm can no longer guarantee keeping old / deprecated protocols active within the viewer indefinitely. Attempting to do so  simply increases many of the complexities involved in developing and maintaining a viewer – and Firestorm is already hard-pressed in keeping pace with updates rolling out of Linden Lab for Second Life and with the major updates and improvements being made to OpenSim.

This last point has particular relevance when it comes to upcoming major releases like Linden Lab’s Environment Enhancement Project (EEP), which will entirely replace Windlight.  This is actually what prompted Firestorm to try to split viewer development between different repositories  – one for OpenSim and one for Second Life – which in turn resulted in a lot of concerns being raised by OpenSim users that have, in part, informed the thinking leading up to this blog post.

Simply put, Firestorm cannot continue to support both Windlight and EEP, and will be focusing on EEP as that reaches release for Second Life, with the hope that OpenSim will find the means to adopt the EEP protocols in the future. Similarly, it is likely that projects such LL’s on-going Love Me Render work to improve viewer rendering, the Estate Access Management project and others may well impact Firestorm’s ability to support OpenSim.

So What Does This Mean?

Simply put, it means that if Firestorm is to continue supporting OpenSim to the fullest possible extent, it is going to need the help and support of the OpenSim community.

Part of this can be due through the likes of communication and viewer patch submissions and testing, as noted above. However, the most practical way to help Firestorm is for those within the OpenSim community who are competent viewer developers and who have – or can quickly understand – the Firestorm code, to volunteer their time and expertise.

To do so, drop the Firestorm team an e-mail providing your name, contact details and a brief outline of your experience in viewer code development, and how you believe you would be able to help.

So if you are that person – please do considered applying; or if you know someone who can help – point them towards the Firestorm blog post. In the meantime, OpenSim users who may read this blog are asked to follow the link to Jessica’s blog post to read her comments first-hand.