Radegast: “Road’s End”

On November 5th, Latif Khalifa posted a notice to the Radegast blog that he is ending development of the Radegast viewer, and ceasing work on other virtual worlds open-source projects in which he has been engaged. Citing health reasons, Latif stated:

It saddens me to have to inform you that I won’t be able to continue work on Radegast or my other opensource projects. My health has been deteriorating over the past few years to this point where my use of computers is down to just a few minutes daily. Not being able to work for several years bring its own set of problems.

This isn’t necessarily the complete end for Radegast – as Latif notes, the code is open-source, and as such will remain available should anyone wish to continue with its development.

Radegast is a lightweight virtual worlds client that offers considerable flexibility of use for users, including the ability to render in-world scenes in 3D, thus enabling avatar movement and interactions. Almost all of the core capabilities found in a the full viewer are available within  Radegast, including inventory management, the ability to change outfits, chat, IM, teleport, undertake group management activities, manipulate objects and their contents, script, use voice (local chat) listening to music streams, use avatar gestures, and more.

Radegest gives you almost all the capabilities of a full viewer in a lightweight package (image courtesy of Radegast)
Radegest gives you almost all the capabilities of a full viewer in a lightweight package (image courtesy of Radegast)

Radegast has particularly seen considerable use with visually impaired users, offering speech recognition for controlling UI and entering text in chat and text-to-speech for reading out loud incoming messages, and a special accessibility guide has been written in support of this.

As Latif has kept the client up-to-date with all major SL and OpenSim changes to date (including mesh rendering, server-side appearance for SL, etc.), there is no danger of it suddenly ceasing to work in the immediate future for those who do use it on a regular basis; so there is no need to immediately abandon it, even if the option to continue developing it isn’t taken up by another developer.

Radegast takes mesh and sculpt rendering in its stride in the 3D scene view
Radegast offers a full 3D rendering view. While it might now have ALM, windlights and all the intensive bells and whistles, it takes avatar movement and rendering mesh and sculpts in its stride (click for full size)

Latif himself has been a towering force within the open-source community, working on a number of viewer projects, including Singularity and, most recently, Replex, and he has been heavily committed to the support of the OpenSim community as well as working to improve the user experience in Second Life. He is the founder of the Advanced Worlds SL group in support of  the creation, design and development of technologies for virtual worlds, and the promotion of open standards and open-source software.

While there has been no similar notice on the Replex blog, that Latif has indicated a withdrawal from his open-source projects suggests that work on this viewer may also be suspended unless someone else is steeping into the breach. However, I am still awaiting confirmation on this.

There is little doubt that his presence, if he is forced completely away from virtual worlds, will be very much missed – as the comments following the announcement on the Radegast blog demonstrate. In the meantime, my personal message to Latif – someone I’ve been privileged to call a friend for a good while now, and who has always been a huge amount of fun, even when we’ve bumped heads on occasion(!) – is simply this: look after yourself, and am hoping things  improve in the future.

Related Links

Replex updates to version 1.0

Replex-logoFollowing the release of Singularity 1.8.6 on Thursday September 4th, Replex, the viewer led by Latif Khalifa and based on Singularity, updated on Saturday September 6th to version, the first full release of the viewer.

I reviewed an alpha version of Replex in June, when it slightly preempted the (then) upcoming Singularity release. This release keeps pace with the Singularity 1.8.6 release, offering the same capabilities. Replex-specific updates comprise:

  • Added new default Replex skin
  • Now provides Gemini and Silver skins
  • Windows 64 viewer now supports parcel media (QuickTime)
  • Media filter disabled by default

Replex is available in Windows and Linux 32-bit and 64-bit version, and a Mac version and is compatible with OS X 10.6 and newer, Intel CPUs. Note that the download page contain additional notes relating to the Linux version of the viewer.

I’ve not had the opportunity to take Replex for a thorough test drive, but the Alpha version was stable and nicely packaged, and I see no changes on that front with this release.

Related Links

Replex: A new viewer for SL and OpenSim

Replex-logoLatif Khalifa is well-known if the viewer community. Not only does he maintain the very excellent Radegast lightweight client for SL and OpenSim, he has also been a regular contributor to Singularity, the popular viewer using the v1-style UI. Now Latif is working on a v1-style viewer of his own.

Replex is still very much in the alpha phase of work; as such, there is no formal release version of the viewer, but alpha builds are available for download with the caveat that there is no official support as yet. There is, however, an in-world group where questions can be asked of other users and information exchanged. There is also an IRC chatroom #replex on Freenode where the developers can be reached via an IRC client or Freenode webchat.

The viewer itself is based on Singularity, unsurprisingly, given Latif’s close ties with that team, and there is an acknowledgement on the Replex website of their role in providing the Singularity source code. The viewer is available in Windows and Linux flavours as both 32-bit and 64-bit builds, and also for Mac in a 32-bit build.

The following is a very brief overview of the viewer; I don’t pretend to have covered all the options and capabilities; rather I’m just pin-pointing some of the features it includes.

Replex is a v1-style viewer based on Singularity
Replex is a v1-style viewer based on Singularity

As might be expected given its heritage, Replex has a default skin with a decidedly dark tint to it – although not so far towards the black default of Singularity, more a charcoal colour. The Singularity dark skin is also available via Preferences > Skins, as is the classic LL  v1.x blue skin and – something I’ve not seen in a while – the equally classic LL silver skin; this brought back some very old memories, as that was my preferred viewer 1.x skin when it came out.

The Replex change log lists recent features and additions to the viewer, and these are handily split between “Common” updates, indicating they are shared with Singularity (presumably in an upcoming release of that viewer), and those specific to Replex.

Toolbar Buttons

One of the more interesting updates from Singularity which appears in Replex is the ability to add / remove buttons from the viewer’s toolbar, a-la 3.x viewers. Obviously, buttons are restricted to the bottom of the viewer, but this is liable to be of interest to users as it allows some degree of customisation in the UI.

Change the buttosn you have displayed at the bottom of the viewer window in Replex, and coming soon to Singularity
Change the buttons you have displayed at the bottom of the viewer window in Replex, and coming soon to Singularity

Adding / removing buttons is a simple matter of opening the button chooser (View > Change Toolbar Buttons) and then checking those buttons to be displayed and unchecked those which are not wanted. There are a fair number of button options available, including debug options, windlight / sky /water / post-process effects, camera & movement controls, search options, etc. This can mean the button bar can get a trifle packed and a little hard to read if you go button bananas, but the feature is certainly a useful addition to the v1-style UI. Kudos, Lirusaito for the development work!

Emergency Teleport

Oddly enough, during the Simulator User Group meeting on Tuesday June 17th, a wibni (“Wouldn’t it be nice if”) comments was made about having a viewer-side capability to automatically teleport you somewhere if you happen to be AFK when a region restart occurs, rather than being logged-out.

I’ve no idea if the comment was passed as a result of someone peeking into the Singularity repository or taking Replex for a drive, because Replex has implemented this very capability using code also from Lirusaito.

Replex includes the option to define two LMs for auto teleporting you away from a region restart, should you be AFK
Replex includes the option to define two LMs for auto teleporting you away from a region restart, should you be AFK

Continue reading “Replex: A new viewer for SL and OpenSim”