Firestorm Viewer 4.2.1 and 4.2.2 Release Review

Firestorm Release

On August 27 Firestorm 4.2.1 was released followed by an immediate OOPS! There is a problem that Tonya Souther describes as:

 It turned out that 4.2.1 has a bug in it that makes most swinging doors not look like they act correctly (though they actually do). They appear to swing normally, then jump ahead, swinging farther all at once.

I’ve seen something similar in the Linden Development Viewers for some weeks now. So, this is probably not a Firestorm bug but something in the Linden Code.

Tonya’s explanation is a good read for anyone that has never done complex software development. It is in English so you won’t get geek-i-fied. See: How to screw up a release. Fixing the door problem seems like it would be simple. Tonya does a good job of describing how things are so intertwined that simple sounding problems can be quite involved problems.

Tonya explains what is happening with this release of Firestorm and why it is out, rolled back, updated, re-un-updated… Some part of that is blamed on Pathfinding and physics updates, which Tonya sort of mixes together, which should be a hint the problems are not at all simple.

Regardless of where the problems are and who did what Firestorm 4.2.2.29837 is out. See: Firestorm Update 4.2.2.29837 (Warning: This link will age out – it is the way the FS blog works)

Pathfinding

The big change is the addition of Pathfinding Tools.

The FS/Ph Team provides their own set of Pathfinding Documentation in their wiki. See: Firestorm Pathfinding. This is mostly an index into the SL Wiki pages on Pathfinding.

They do provide instructions on how to open the Estate Manager’s Console:

  • Firestorm: Go to the top menu bar, Develop → Consoles → Region Debug Console.
    Press Ctrl-Alt-Q if you do not have the Develop menu enabled.
  • Phoenix: Go to the top menu bar, Advanced → Consoles → Region Debug Console.
    Press ctrl-Alt-D to enable the Advanced menu if you don ot already have it enabled.

The page also explains how to enable and disable Pathfinding in a region. Of course you have to be the region owner to do that. Also, ‘disabling’ doesn’t really save any processor time. It does prevent Pathfinding Characters from running within the region, which saves Character processing time.

The viewer’s tools are essentially the same as the tools found in the Linden Development viewer; Linksets, Characters, and View/Test. You’ll find this in the top menu in Build->Pathfinding. The View/Test feature is the one that requires the Havok Library. In this release 4.2.2 the panel carries a warning that the feature is incomplete.

The feature is definitely incomplete. It does not show the Navmesh, which is the whole point of the tool. So, this feature is more or less just a place holder.

The Linksets and Character panels work. You can use the Linkset panel to optimize a region for Pathfinding. The Character Panel works and you can find your lost characters, which seems to be its primary function.

RLVa

The Restrained Love Viewer features are updated in this release. Now version 1.4.7.

New Features

There are about a dozen new features listed on the Firestorm site. Several of which I have no idea what they do our how they work. I suppose the assumption is one will attend one of the in-world training secessions.

For instance: Cool new SLurl command line feature! Now that sounds cool… I mean being labeled cool has to indicate someone thought it is. So, I went looking for an explanation of the feature. Here is what I found:

Added a new Firestorm specific SLurl command/command handler that can be used for various things in the future. Currently, it allows zooming at/teleporting to/tracking an avatar from the context menu in the chat windows (nearby/IM) in cases where the avatar is within reach. Just right click an avatar’s name in chat to see the options.

Note: This currently only works when chat headers are disabled (V1 style chat)
Ansariel Hiller

OK… that is nothing like what I thought it would be and I am still uncertain why it is called SLURL Command…

If I right-click an avatar name in local chat I get the options to View Profile, Send IM, Add/Remove Friend. Nothing new there. So, it truly is not available unless you disable Chat Headers, disable the newer V3 chat stuff.

In Preferences->Chat you can disable the chat headers. Then a right click will provide; Show Resident Profile, Zoom at Resident (‘to’ migth be more accurate), Teleport to Resident, Track Resident, Copy name to Clipboard (this is way handy), and copy URL to clipboard. That URL has to be SLURL and is likely where they got the feature name.

Another oddly described feature is: Improved AO handling with other animating in-world objects. I had to think about this. I supposed it meant the AO would work better with chairs and other things that animate the avatar. The release notes describe it as making the AO work better with attachments. Apparently some foot lock animations caused problems with the AO animations making them jerky.

Some shoe/feet makers lock the foot and ankle together so the shoes/feet don’t look odd when walking. Some sort of separate at the ankle while walking.

A Flickr upload for snapshot has been added… or added back in. Whatever, it is working again.

The mesh download has been improved. Some meshes would only partially download. This could produce a mesh error, which sort of looks like a script error. Small triangles would appear on mesh item signaling the mesh render had failed. With Firestorm you should see less of that.

Group chat can be disabled on a group-by-group basis.

Experience

The download is standard as is the install.

There is a confusing update path. If you are running certain versions of Firestorm you can install over the top of the previous install. If you are running older versions, you need to do a clean install.

Some updating have not been able to login. Seems they are the ones that needed to do a clean install.

I was running 4-1-1-28744, the previous release, with the PhotoTools added. I installed over the top. That seems to work… at least so far. It does wipe out the PhotoTools. In their place you have the small Quick Preferences panel.

If any copy of an SL viewer is running FS will not install and gives an erroneous error message saying it cannot install while Firestorm is running, regardless of which viewer may be running. I had not seen this before as I usually do not have any viewer open as I try to install another viewer version.

I am getting about 20 FPS in my house. Computer specs are in About Nalates. I have Lighting & Shadows and Ambient Occlusion enabled. Sun/Moon shadows are on none. Enabling Sun/Moon takes me down to 13 FPS.

OpenSim

Some updates are made specifically for OpenSim users. One is fixing the Bridge so it is disabled on OpenSim. The MAP API for OSGrid now works, or so I’m told. The Grid Manager has better help documents.

Summary

Jessica says it will be some time before their next release. They are thinking it will take some work to get Havok integrated and working well. Havok is needed to render the Navmesh for working with Pathfinding. Otherwise, you don’t need it.

From Tonya’s article we know there are lots of problems for the team to work on. It will take some time to get the Linden Code working the way the FS/PH Team wants.

Firestorm remains the power users viewer of choice, IMO. The PhotoTools make it way handy for photographers and machinamists.

6 thoughts on “Firestorm Viewer 4.2.1 and 4.2.2 Release Review

  1. “Ability to disable group chat on a per-group basis” also sounds like an interesting nice-to-have.

  2. We all know the V3 chat headers are crap, but aside from that: 😉

    SLulrls are URLs you can use to instruct the viewer to do certain things. For instance dropping secondlife:///app/agent/1fce2750-76a7-464c-a349-195e4f92c666/pay into chat will create a link where you open a payment dialog people can pay you L$ if they click on it. There are a bunch of those commands registered in the viewer. And of course you can define your own commands like I did, so we can invoke certain viewer functions by simply executing an SLurl.

    This is currently only implemented for avatar SLurls in texteditors and not yet for V3 chat headers as they are implemented in a different way.

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