Tuesday, 20 September 2011

What's this rumor about Phoenix Viewer getting mesh?

Some time ago I told you that future phoenix releases would be maintenance only, no new major features. In that same sentence we also promised you we would try to keep it alive and maintain it until it's dying day.  I told you all that Mesh would be the end all for Phoenix because v1 viewers simply cannot support mesh and that as mesh becomes popular, v1 viewers will slowly become visually broken. During that time it seemed extremely unlikely that a v1 viewer could accomplish back porting mesh and making it work because this would require pulling the entire render engine from v2 code base into v1, Quite literally hundreds of thousands of lines of code.

It's comparable to taking a diesel engine from a school bus and fitting it into a ford pinto.. and then making it work properly. No small task.. in fact it's a monumental task and was not one I was willing to dedicate our time too, especially when we have Firestorm. It would take months and months of 100% dedication to make it happen and there was always the question of if it could even be done.

Many of you have probably heard of a resident in SL here named Henri Beauchamp, he is the developer of the Cool VL Viewer. Henri is a very smart guy.. he's also very dedicated to Viewer 1. He has ALSO spent months and months of time backporting the v2 render engine into his viewer AND providing patches for this work to the public. He has successfully backported mesh into his Cool VL viewer and released it.

Ansariel Hiller from our dev team has been not only keeping a close eye on Henri's work, but she's been pulling Henri's patches into her local Phoenix repository. This morning, we merged her repository to ours, and to answer the rumor... phoenix WILL have mesh support.

I want to make a few things clear, not the least of which.. Henri is the only reason this has been made possible. Essentially phoenix Mesh release will be little more than a piggy back on his work, leeching from him... and he deserves huge amounts of credit for making this possible. If you see him in world and appreciate the work he has done, please thank him.

Another thing I want to make clear, which will not make me popular here... I was not in favor of adding mesh into phoenix, for a number of reasons.

Firstly, I don't want you all thinking we've changed our focus back on phoenix, truth is we haven't. Ansariel handled all the work of pulling henri's work into phoenix, LGG has helped. Aside from Tonya and Tech fixing some of the bugs.. Thats it.. essentially we've only had two developers working on this, and there are no plans to increase development on phoenix beyond that. However, mesh in phoenix will accomplish two things. It will complete adoption of mesh in SL, which is pretty cool actually. But equally important, it will also fulfill our promise to keep phoenix going until it's dying day.

Secondly, Make no mistake.. V1 is still on it's deathbed. Consider this.. it took over 9 months to get mesh to work in a v1 viewer.. it took us just over 2  weeks to merge mesh into Firestorm once we started the merge. This will be the pattern with all new things LL releases, making it work in Firestorm or a v2 based viewer will be far easier to adopt faster than making it work on a v1. Maintaining v1 long term is just not being realistic. But for now.. you will get phoenix with mesh as soon as it's passed QA and is ready. No date on this yet.

Speaking of QA, don't expect phoenix to be just like the last release only now it has mesh support. This work effectively makes Phoenix a Ford Pinto with a deisel engine from a school bus duct taped into it. Not only will it have all the existing mesh related bugs, but it will have plenty of it's own bugs specific to having a diesel engine in a Ford Pinto. It will have a negative effect on crash rates no doubt, will be a performance drop for some, an increase for others. It will not be perfect, as it is not designed to support mesh.

It will also require an SSE2 capable computer to run it just like Firestorm and LL v2/v3 does. Because of the SSE2 issue, those of you who's computers are so old that they don't support SSE2, seriously.. you need to upgrade your computer. Really...

But for you, we will also release a non mesh phoenix update with the latest features and fixes. This will be your last phoenix release you can use until you upgrade your computer. We will release phoe mesh and phoe without mesh at the same time.

Also, RLVa will be updated in this next phoenix release.. on the insistance of Kitty Barnett. You will have only her to thank for that, as RLVa update was another thing I was not in favor of. My job is to ensure we stay focused on the future. Phoenix isn't it, Firestorm is. I wasn't in favor of spending Kitty's valuable time on a dying viewer when her time can be much better served on the future of viewers.

Mesh upload capability is also under development and making some promising advancements thanks to Nicky Dasmijn.

So this will extend that shelf life for the Phoenix Viewer a little bit longer, but not forever. Enjoy it while you have it, and be sure to thank Henri.

Jessica Lyon
Project Manager
The Phoenix Viewer Project, Inc

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Firestorm Mesh Beta - optional update

A new bug was brought to our attention recently that effects region restarts while using our Metaharper skin in our Firestorm Mesh Beta. Basically, the region will fail to restart and be left in a state that only LL Support can fix. We traced the origin of the bug, fixed it and have updated our download files.

If you are an Estate Manager who performs region restarts AND you use the Metaharper skin it is strongly advised that you download our updated version from our download links on this page. No other skin is effected by this bug. Alternatively, you can fix the issue yourself without installing this optional update by following the instructions listed on this page. http://wiki.phoenixviewer.com/doku.php?id=fs_region_restart_bug

We have also patched a performance issue some people may be effected by which essentially drops performance when you have many IM windows open at once. If you have performance drops while having multiple IM windows open you may find an improvement with this optional update.

If you do not fall into the above criteria there is no need for you to update or worry, aside from what's listed above, nothing else has changed since our Mesh Beta.


Jessica Lyon
Phoenix Viewer Project

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Firestorm Beta 3 with Mesh Support!

Due to popular demand we’ve decided we can't hold back the Firestorm with Mesh support release, however this hasn’t been an easy decision. Unfortunately LL Mesh code comes with a lot of new bugs and undesirable behaviors which we honestly aren’t comfortable releasing with. Many of these issues we would consider blockers for a release. The issues which we wouldn’t consider blockers simply do not reach our expectations for a quality release. However, you asked for it! And you’re getting it in its current state!

For a list of LL Bugs effecting this Firestorm release, please see:

When you first log into this Firestorm release you will note a few things. First, your settings ‘should’ get reset automatically and your cache will be cleared. This is a must for this release because so much has changed that if you didn’t get settings and cache cleared you WILL have loads of problems. You must also ensure you install this to an empty directory on your computer and not over an existing installation. 

Also, please be patient during your first login on this version as performance will be significantly degraded while your inventory and texture cache gets populated. We suggest just standing around for a few minutes while this occurs. The best way to know when it's complete is to open your inventory and watch the numbers at the bottom. These represent how many inventory items you have loaded. When they stop, your inventory has completed the fetch and your ready to enjoy Firestorm with Mesh support.

We had hoped that this would be our official release and we would by now have reached our feature goals for the “Official release”. However, fate has stepped in the way. Since the release of our Beta 2 we have had a large number of our developer team going on vacations IRL, and thus slowing down the development process, (Though I think they all earned it). Also, many features have had to take a back seat to mesh for obvious reasons; things like Spell Check simply couldn’t be completed in time. The good news though is that this is not our official release and we still have plans to reach our official release feature goals soon!

The better news is that we have achieved many of our release features already. Here’s a summary of some of the new features in this Firestorm release besides the Mesh, improved shadows, Depth of Field and other things we adopted from LL.

Default interface choices from login page. Phoenix/V2/Hybrid
Custom Colored name tags and more
Contact sets - see following link:
Phoenix style contacts/Friend list
LGG Selection beam particle effects
Build in Flight assist with Bridge!
Script count!
Auto Correct
Font options!
New starlight skins
V1 similar volume controls so you don’t have to go into prefs
Volume sliders in the local speakers panel
Ability to fully disable your camera target hints
Improved Camera floater
Greater OpenSim Support
Calc and CAO from command line
Z-Offset is fixed, for changing the height offset of your avatar.
Updated RLVa
Ability to automatically undock side bar tabs
Group IM’s in nearby chat & Console
Italicized Emotes
and more!

Remember to take advantage of our wiki where we host loads of information about Firestorm and Phoenix Viewers.

Jessica Lyon
Phoenix Viewer Project

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Phoenix Project Birthday Speeches

For those of you who couldn't make it to our Birthday Bash you can watch/listen to the two speeches by Jessica Lyon and Arrehn Oberlander here.


Happy Birthday Firebirds!

Happy Birthday Phoenix Project!

Yes..Today is our birthday! 

Exactly one year ago today this blog post  
spread around the grid like wildfire. It was the birth of the Phoenix Viewer Project. 

Today, at noon SLT we will be celebrating with a very big party. Our developers and support staff will be on hand to talk to, mingle with and ask questions. We’ll also have a live DJ and a speech or two. Unfortunately it’s only one region and if I post the location on this blog.. we’ll be overwhelmed and likely crash the sim a time or ten. So at approximately 11:45 am SLT today I will be sending a group notice out to our main Support group. If you would like to attend, be in that group :) . For those who cannot attend, I will post my speech on this blog after the party and any other speeches made from other team members. 

Hope to see you there!
Jessica Lyon
Project Manager
Phoenix Viewer Project, Inc