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.
The Phoenix Viewer Project, Inc