The Phoenix team posted an announcement today. Some time ago they said there would be one more release of Phoenix before they moved on to the Firestorm viewer, which will be based on Snowstorm code. Well, they say the new release of Phoenix will be out this Friday. See Nov 30th Office Hour & Contest info
Jessica Lyons talked about the coming release in Rezzed.tv’s Phoenix Hour. The first announcement is about the creation of a YouTube series of video tutorials in Phoenix’s YouTube.com Channel. The first ones will cover multi-wearables and inventory links. There are two videos up as I write. One is about the new Parcel Windlight Settings. More about that later. The other is about Display Names and more about that too.
This viewer has a load of Bug fixes. Part of the reason this release has taken so long is a hole or exploit was found in the viewer. It apparently was difficult to fix and has required 4 beta’s worth of testing to get it fixed. Of course there are other fixes too.
The Team is adding a change log (Dec Changes) for viewer updates. The wiki page is incomplete but they are updating it and finishing. Jessica gave out the above link in the recent Phoenix Hour.
There probably aren’t too many of us using Windlight custom settings. Windlight is one of those great ideas the Linden Lab implemented but has never finished. The implementation is so awkward to use few of us bother. Some regions have signs and note cards to tell people how to set there Windlight for optimal viewing in their region. You then have to stop and tweak your settings. Boringly tedious. I’ve only ever bothered for a few, very few, special builds.
The Phoenix team has provided a fix that makes Windlight useful to region owners and easy for residents to use. Jessica bleives this change will put Windlight into popular use on the SL grid and I agree.
The documentation for using it is on the Phoneix Wiki. See Parcel WL. For now this is an experimental feature, just as the Emerald Secondary Attachment Points were an experiment. This too is a feature that will work only for those using the Phoenix Viewer. This feature is so neat I expect many residents will use the viewer just for this feature. It will be interesting to see how many region owners adopt it.
The Phoenix Team had to develop a means of getting this to work without server side support. They did a nice hack. Plus adding the ability to share Windlight settings as a type of note card one can click on to change the Windlight settings takes most of the brain damage out of using Windlight. This is what is meant by making something fun.
Jessica says Phoenix is the first viewer to have a parcel based Windlight feature… well… on the SL grid that is true. Also, the way this one works without server side support is a first. But, OpenSim has Lightshare, which is supported by the Imprudence/Kokua viewer. Lightshare is the server side of Windlight. Imprudence has supported this feature since 1.3.0 released in September (see their video at the above link and covered here in: Imprudence Viewer Release and Changes – Review). So, first… yes and no.
Both of these systems allow land owners to set the Windlight settings for use on their land. A limitation with the Phoenix process is all settings must come from a Windlight Preset installed on the visitor’s computer. To help reduce this limitation the Team is also developing a means to allow residents to download Windlight Presets from a web site. A problem is the viewer won’t use a preset that is not installed when the viewer is launched. So, a viewer restart is required to use a downloaded preset. But, this is a big step forward from where SL is now.
The Team has added the ability to save Windlight Presets to inventory. It is a new button in the environmental editor. One can than share the inventory item environment preset just as they would any other item. The one receiving it just clicks on it to change their Windlight settings, very easy, no brain damage. However, this only works in the new Phoenix viewer. I do expect to see other viewers adopting it.
Have you considered how a griefer might use this feature? It seems the Team may have. The Team has added a dialog to first ask if you want to allow the Windlight change and an easy way to revert back to default environment settings. They have placed an icon (sun w/cloud) in with the parcel icons (push, fly, rez, etc.) in the top of the viewer.
Also, the Team added new Preferences settings to control how this works and how the viewer handles Windlight Settings by default. I suspect the viewer can always ask, never ask, or just use the parcel’s settings. Another handy feature is this viewer will remember your last Windlight settings and use them the next time one logins in. Previously only the default settings were used when you started the viewer. To carry over Windlight settings one had to change their default settings.
In the future I expect the Lab to get around to improving their implementation of Windlight. At some point they will add the server side support similar to Lightshare. I suspect that addition may come a bit sooner with the release of this feature in Phoenix. One can hope. The server side support will make Windlight a much nicer user experience.
Sharing Windlight Settings
As I wrote above, this new release will allow you to share Windlight Settings via inventory items. The viewer has the ability to save Windlight settings to inventory. So, you can create custom settings and save them as a preset to inventory. You can then share them just as you would a note card you made.
A person only need click the environment item in inventory and the viewer will handle making the Windlight changes. Yay! Big improvement.
The coming Windlight Settings Archive with download abilities and this inventory item feature will make use of Windlight much more popular.
Multiple Wearable’s & Attachments
At mark 15:40 in Rezzed.tv’s video Jessica gets into multiple attachments and clothes layers. I hear different numbers for the maximum number of attachments one can have, Jessica says 38. Whatever, the number Jessica is making a video tutorial on how to use multiple attachments and clothes.
Most TPV’s now support SLV2 style clothing layers and attachments points. The previous Emerald/Phoenix secondary attachments are replaced, but legacy support is provided so those using them will appear correctly to those using this new viewer.But, one will not be able wear attachments to the secondary points in this release. This viewer will try to automatically move any attachment on those secondary points to the proper SLV2 style attachment point. When failing, the attachment will just detach. The viewer does its best to correctly re-attach but it may fail. It then tries to save the attachment’s positioning and rotation, so one can easily reattach them without lots of editing.
With clothes there is a onetime update when changing to this viewer. One may find they are wearing clothes in layers from their last Phoenix and SLV2.x logons. We have seen some of this as people using multiple viewers ran into this problem. The new Phoenix release is updating and adapting to the new clothing layering differences between series 1 and 2 viewers. So, after fixing your clothes once, the problem should be gone, unless you use a viewer without multiple attachments.
Time limited what Jessica could cover at Rezzed.tv. She itemized a few things she felt important and interesting. The complete list is in the Phoenix wiki. (change log)
One of features added is Outfits and Inventory Links. This is the feature that allows one to include no-copy items in several outfits. I’ve always found it a pain to build outfits. One does not think of some of the problems that come with outfits. While the new outfit feature provided by Linden Lab and now supported by most TPV’s is going to help, there are still plenty of gottcha’s.
Jessica is making a video tutorial on how to use the features. She is planning to have it up by the time the viewer releases for download.
Mac users ran into a problem with sculpties wierding out. Mac 10.4 had the problem. The Team found and fixed the problem, sort of. The problem is more in the Mac than in the viewer. This new release of Phoenix will require Mac OS 10.5 and up. The problem centers around how the sculpty maps are decoded in Mac OS 10.4.
The Team has added a load of support for new video cards. They say that have added cards that have not yet hit store selves. Card manufactors make prerelease tech data available. So, it is a nice foresight on the Team’s part.
The viewer has Qarl’s Alignment Tool added, which I love. I’ve been cleaning up some builds in OSGrid using the feature in Imprudence.
The viewer is going to have support for the new 64 meter max size prims. The Lab is soon to release that feature. It is related to meshes. Whatever the case we will get larger prims.
Last Snapshot Folder – Oh NICE! They added the ability for the viewer to remember which snapshot folder you last used and continue using it. I’m looking forward to seeing how they have implemented it.
Changes are made to support the coming 40 group limit. Finally the Lab is allowing more groups.
Phoenix Cache – OMG. Finally. Phoenix will use a separate cache by default.
Display Names – This viewer has what I’ll call limited support for display names. In the previous review of the Dolphin Viewer I noticed all the changes they are making to fully support Display Names. This affects chat, IM, item owner and creator names, profiles, group names, and more. In Phoenix it is not fully integrated. They have been concerned about confusion and added basic support and stopped. I suspect they may come back to this after they get Firestorm up and working and have more experience and information about how people adapt to Display Names.
For OpenSim users, the bridge has been made to use temp-rez prims to avoid cluttering parcels. This has been a problem in OpenSim grids.
Questions & Answers
At Marker 30:00 Q&A starts in Rezzed.tv’s video.
If you are an experienced Beta Tester and want to help the team, send applications to Will Spirit. Include all your beta testing experience and information you consider relevant. They do want you RL name, if I understood correctly. Anyone can apply, but only most experienced will be accepted.
Jessica pretty explicitly implied other grids are not supported by this realease or the Team. But this release does work in many grids. One of the developers says it works very well on In-Worldz. The Phoenix Team’s focus, for now, is the SL grid. That alone should keep them busy.
Some people wanted to know why this release took so long. Jessica said it was delayed because of a possible viewer exploit. It was complicated to fix and has required four iterations, four beta’s.
Some people are interested in undockable windows.. These are windows one can drag outside the main viewer window. Jessica says it is not planned for now. The Team is watching another TPV develop it. Undockable panels has system requirements many residents’ hardware can’t support. So, for now it is not on the ‘paln to add’ list.
This is a big release for the Phoenix Team. The 373 release has left a bad taste for some user’s. The 373 has more than the usual share of viewer problems. This seems to have led many to move to other viewers and even consider going back to an SLV2 viewer. Considering all the changes the Lindens are making the Phoenix 373 works surprisingly well.
I suspect this release will increase the Phoenix Viewer’s popularity. Plus it is a lead up to the new Firestorm viewer. But, this viewer will have a limited life. There is no mesh support mentioned in the change logs. If the Lab gets mesh out this month, that will be a powerful incentive for many to move to an SLV2 viewer or Kirsten’s (Kirsten’s (41) is experimental and carries user beware warnings, but it is out and it does mesh).
I’m looking forward to this viewer… tomorrow.