Cool VL Viewer forum

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Author:  Henri Beauchamp [ 2010-05-04 09:25:14 ]
Post subject:  Roadmap

With all the announcements about the official viewer future, it's time to unveil the road map for the Cool VL Viewer itself.

First, let's deal with the v1.19.2 branch:

The reason why this branch was maintained for so long (with 86 releases to date !) was to allow people with an "old" computer to still be able to enjoy SL and OpenSim grids at decent frame rates. When Windlight came into production, two years and a half ago, the said persons were left in the blue by LL: two years and older computers were not able to deal with the new rendering engine despite LL's claims (LL's only "solution" being to degrade the graphic settings to levels way below what was possible to obtain at the same frame rates with the legacy rendering engine).

With time however, the backports of the various new features and mandatory changes required to keep v1.19.2 able to connect to SL and view/use the grid contents, became more and more difficult to produce and some features simply cannot be backported without a huge overhaul of the code, for which I cannot afford spending my time upon.

For now, v1.19.2 is unable to properly show glows (a minor annoyance), cannot rez properly oblong sculpties (still a minor annoyance, but will become more annoying as time passes and those once unsupported sculpties will become more widespread on the grid), cannot deal with the "media on a prim" functions (can be an annoyance whether or not you use media), cannot be used together with scripted objects requiring face detection on touch (precludes the use of some HUDs or other in-world objects), and cannot properly rez avatars using partial Alpha wearables (ok for Alpha wearables using the full transparent texture on any body part), the latter going to become very annoying in a near future since more and more contents creators will use them for their products. If you add the announced mesh objects support, v1.19.2 will become extremely deprecated by the end of this year...

I therefore decided that I will stop developing new features for v1.19.2 starting from now (only fixing bugs and implementing security fixes when needed), and will entirely drop support for v1.19.2 by the end of this year.

It means that people with 5 years and older computers will definitely have to consider upgrading their system to be able to still enjoy SL and OpenSim at decent frame rates (invest in a new graphic card first: a Nvidia 8800GT is now very cheap and quite capable of rendering the most complex SL environments at very decent frame rates, even with an Athlon XP 3200+ as the CPU). As for people with an old notebook computer, well... 5 years is about their average lifespan anyway (your batteries are already long dead, aren't they ?... And what about the cracks on the case ?.... And the weakening backlight of the LCD display ?... Yeah, I know, it sucks that such costly items are designed to live for so little time)...

The v1.23 branch and its v1.24 successor:

Of course, I'm not dropping it any time soon... But things have to evolve if we want it to stay on par with newer viewers... I will continue to backport to v1.23 some of the features implemented in the v2.0 official viewer, such as the inventory items links and the new script functions, but fact is that the changes between the v1.23 and v2.0 code are so huge (to give you a clue, the "diff" between v1.23 and v2.0.1 is 24Mb big, that is almost twice the diff between v1.19.0.5 and v1.21.6.0) that it will not be as "easy" to backport stuff from v2.xx viewer to v1.23 than it was to backport v1.2x stuff to v1.19...

Thankfully, there is some stuff that already exists in SnowGlobe v1 and that was reused in v2.0 in one form or another. The HTTP texture loading and the media plugins come first to mind. We therefore have an "easy" path forward for at least a few more v2.0-like features, and this involves using SnowGlobe v1 as the base code for the Cool VL Viewer.

I will therefore use the time saved by the halt in the development of new features for v1.19 to port all the features of the Cool VL Viewer to the SnowGlobe code base. The new resulting viewer will be the Cool VL Viewer v1.24 (I use v1.24 because LL will never make a v1.24 viewer, and using SnowGlobe version number would mean "going backwards" in the version numbers used so far for the Cool VL Viewer), and will be based off SnowGlobe v1.4 code base.
Since Lance Corrimal already did the same kind of job with his FrozenGlobe viewer, it should not prove too hard and you can expect a new experimental v1.24 Cool VL Viewer branch in the few coming weeks. One thing I will however have to tend to is the current incompatibility of SnowGlobe with OpenSim grids: the Cool VL Viewer v1.24 will definitely be OpenSim compatible !

After v1.24 will be considered stable enough, it will replace the v1.23 branch.

And what about v2.0 and later ?

I do not plan on making a v2.0 Cool VL Viewer. The reasons are that I cannot afford spending time on developing and maintaining three different branches (v1.23, v1.24 and v2.0) and that v2.0 got nothing I'm interested into that isn't already backported or going to be backported to v1.23 (or v1.24) anyway...

Now, v2.1 and later will probably be another matter... With the announced mesh objects support, many code changes will happen in the v2 branch of the official viewer, and whether these changes will be "backportable" to the Cool VL Viewer v1.24 or not is still questionable...

The more reasonable approach in the long term will therefore be to move the Cool VL Viewer to the v2.0 era, but worry not ! I do not intend to loose the good old UI, and while the new interesting features of the v2.0 UI will be kept, I will definitely get rid of all the stupid stuff (such as this moronic side bar) and re-implement our good old floaters (such as Friends, Groups, Inventory, Profile, etc)...

For any question or comment about this roadmap, please post here.

Author:  Henri Beauchamp [ 2010-08-08 16:16:07 ]
Post subject:  Re: Roadmap

Due to the latest version numbering change, read "v1.25" for all occurrences of "v1.24" in the above roadmap.

Author:  Henri Beauchamp [ 2011-05-08 09:28:35 ]
Post subject:  Re: Roadmap

I came to a decision: I will try and port Mesh support to the Snowglobe v1.5 code base.

The bet I'm doing is that it will be less work to port Mesh to SG than to work on the viewer 2 code base to give it an (even barely) acceptable UI, and to restore the compatibility with OpenSim grids. Also, some other TPV teams are working on the v2 code base already, so I'd rather let them try and fix the v2 disastrous UI and take benefit of their work later on, while I'm concentrating on porting v2 features to SG in the mean time...

This said, I must change the way I work with the viewer sources: while using a patch set against the official, untouched sources has been a great way to keep up with the evolutions of the official viewer v1 (making it an easy game to switch from one version to another, since most patches applied without a change and the others only gave a few (easy to deal with) rejects each time), it does not make much sense any more now: the v1 code base is now "frozen" on LL's side and is too far from the v2 one (especially on the UI side, but not only) to be able to reuse easily the patches I made for v1 with v2. Plus, there are now (for the upcoming v1.25.0.34 release) no less than 158 (!) patch files to apply, a few of them resulting in mutual rejects (that are fixed by the 159th, AdjustRejects patch). Modifying the sources even deeper would mean more mutually incompatible patches.

The solution I adopted is therefore to fork the Snowglobe v1.5 code base for good, and the upcoming Cool VL Viewer v1.26 will be this fork. Its sources will be distributed as three tarballs/zip files (one for the libraries, one for the artwork, and one for the actual sources), just like LL has always been doing for their official viewer. I will also provide a diff file for each new release (the diff between the previous release and the new one: the first diff will be between v1.25.0.34 and this should make it easy enough (less easy than with individual patches however) for other developers to keep track of what I changed and to reuse the corresponding code in their own TPV.

The Cool VL Viewer v1.26.0 will be an experimental branch, in which I will push more and more v2 code till the Mesh support is fully implemented, at which point the Cool VL Viewer v1.26.1 will become the slable branch and replace the current stable v1.25.0 branch. In the mean time, I'll keep maintaining v1.25.0 but will probably only provide bug and security fixes (no new feature scheduled for it, but I will make sure any change to the grid protocols gets supported in v1.25.0 so to preserve its connectivity to the grid).

For any question or comment about this roadmap, please post here.

Author:  Henri Beauchamp [ 2011-07-28 14:56:30 ]
Post subject:  Re: Roadmap

I decided that since v1.26.0 proved extremely stable and brings a load of improvements over v1.25.0 (the diff between the v1.25.0.40 and v1.26.0.12 source trees (not counting spacing changes) is 13Mb big, representing over 38000 changed or added lines !), and since I won't have the time to maintain v1.25.0 to implement the features that will be required to keep it up to date with SL changes (new search, for example), v1.26.0 is going to become the new stable branch, starting with v1.26.0.12.

v1.25.0.40 will stay available (but will not be maintained/supported any more) till the end of this year, after which it will be retired.

A new experimental branch (v1.26.1) will be opened soon, which will be the actual start for Mesh backport (with changes that might temporarily break things, thus the "experimental" status).

Once Mesh is ready (v1.26.2.0), the v1.26.1 experimental branch will be retired.

Note that v1.26.1 and later Cool VL Viewers will be incompatible with computers without SSE2 support (this is a requirement for Meshes, just like for LL's official v2.7 and later viewers), thus why I will keep v1.26.0 active for a while, even after v1.26.2 is out.

v1.25.0 users are highly encouraged to upgrade to v1.26.0.

Author:  Henri Beauchamp [ 2011-10-09 09:34:07 ]
Post subject:  Re: Roadmap

Now that v1.26.2.0 is out (stable Mesh branch) and since v1.26.0 proves extremely stable, I retired v1.25 since it brings nothing at all when compared to v1.26.0 (which is stabler, faster and up to date with newer features such as the new web search).

Also, the new Roadmap is as follow:

  • v1.26.0 will keep being maintained for now and at least till the end of this year. Whether it will be kept around or not after that will depend on how fast Mesh is adopted on the grid (for now, it's hard to find mesh contents in actual use in SL !...) and also on the result of the SSE2-capable computers poll (please, do vote in this poll !).

  • v1.26.2 will be developed too, to implement Mesh upload (which still depends on the availability of an Open Source convex decomposition library).

  • After v1.26.2 will gain Mesh upload support, a new v1.26.3 experimental branch will be opened, which will aim to implement multiple clothing layers and other v2/3 features.

  • Once v1.26.3 will be stable enough, it will be renumbered as v1.26.4, and v1.26.2 will be retired.

I must stress out that there is no set ETA for v1.26.3, since it heavily depends on my free time. But you know me, and you can be certain of one thing: it will come !

For any question or comment about this roadmap, please post here.

Author:  Henri Beauchamp [ 2012-02-04 18:32:55 ]
Post subject:  Re: Roadmap

Update on the roadmap:

v1.26.3 is about to gain multiple clothing layers real soon (working on it right now, and getting close to a "good enough" experimental release: that's why this week's release will be a little late or postponed to next week), so it's time to extend the roadmap farther into the future...

  • Like already announced, once multiple clothing layers will be fully debugged and once I feel v1.26.3 is stable enough, it will be renumbered v1.26.4.

  • I will then probably keep v1.26.2 around for a while, at least until I open a new v1.26.5 experimental branch which focus will be on upgrading the renderer to the one of LL's latest v3.2 viewer (with all the "Shining" branch fixes, bells and whistles): this should cure all the graphics glitches that the v2.6 renderer got and that v1.26.2/3/4 inherited as a result of using it; this should also make the viewer faster on modern hardware and graphics drivers.

  • When v1.26.5 will be deemed stable, it will be renumbered v1.26.6 and v1.26.4 will be retired.

More things will probably go in either v1.26.4 or v1.26.5, like media on a prim, and of course I will keep the viewer up to date with all the mandatory changes for allowing it to connect and work flawlessly on both SL and OpenSim grids.

For any question or comment about this roadmap, please post here.

Author:  Henri Beauchamp [ 2012-11-17 21:59:43 ]
Post subject:  Re: Roadmap

It has been now 5 years that the first public version of the Cool VL Viewer has been released (I made private versions as soon as the viewer sources have been opened, about 6 years ago)... The Cool VL Viewer is the oldest, still maintained TPV, and I intend to keep it that way ! ;-)

So, as a birthday gift, here is an update to the roadmap:

  • v1.26.5 will soon become v1.26.6 and be declared stable. It will happen after shared media (AKA media on a prim) is fully implemented, tested and debugged.

  • Contrarily to what I announced in the last roadmap update, v1.26.4 is not going to be deprecated (at least not immediately) after v1.26.5 will be declared stable and renumbered v1.26.6. This is because the v3.4 renderer didn't prove as fast as the v2.6 one in non-deferred mode (i.e. with shadows off) and v1.26.4 is thus still the best choice for "old" computers...
    Once v1.26.6 is out, v1.26.4 will therefore keep being maintained (with bugfixes and any mandatory changes to the protocols backported to it), but will likely not receive any new feature (v1.26.4 will however also gain shared media before the feature-freeze).

  • Since LL forbids experimental features such as the mesh deformer in non-experimental TPVs, I will be opening a v1.26.7 experimental branch as soon as v1.26.5 is closed and becomes the stable v1.26.6 branch (this way, the mesh deformer and any new experimental stuff will still be available in v1.26.7).

Rest assured that I do intend to keep the Cool VL Viewer's features on par with LL's official viewer like I have been doing it for the past 5 years, while also keeping the exact same UI, like I always did since v1.18.1 (my first revolt against the stupid, ugly, unpractical, impairing UI changes dates back from the monstrous "communications box" that came with v1.18.2).

For any question or comment about this roadmap, please post here.

Author:  Henri Beauchamp [ 2013-01-12 10:35:52 ]
Post subject:  Re: Roadmap

Happy new year to everyone (better later than never :lol: ) !

To celebrate, here is an update to the roadmap:

  • v1.26.7 will be declared stable and become v1.26.8 as soon as server-side baking is declared stable and rolled out on the main SL grid by LL.

  • After v1.26.8 is out, v1.26.4 will receive the server-side baking code and will then be feature-frozen.

  • As soon as v1.26.8 is out, v1.26.6 will be dropped and declared deprecated.

  • As soon as v1.26.8 is out, I will open a new v1.26.9 experimental branch (the mesh deformer and any new experimental stuff will be available in that experimental branch).

For any question or comment about this roadmap, please post here.

Author:  Henri Beauchamp [ 2013-11-05 16:37:30 ]
Post subject:  Re: Roadmap

As the Cool VL Viewer's first public release is nearing its 6th birthday, here is an update to the roadmap:

  • Next Saturday will see the the promotion of the experimental branch (1.26.9) to the stable status (and it will renumbered 1.26.10 to reflect this); there are no more commits to LL's viewer-materials repository and LL merged the whole viewer-materials code to its release viewer a few weeks ago, so I assume there will be little to no significant change to the materials renderer and there is little point to keep an experimental branch for materials, even if I'm personally dissatisfied with how lighting is handled in it (in deferred rendering mode, indoors lighting is way too dark and the colors saturation is poor, way poorer than with former renderers, making indoors scenes rather ugly !)...

  • The v1.28.8 branch will become a legacy branch, mainly relevant to people not caring about materials or not having powerful enough a system to render them.

  • The v1.26.4 will coexist with v1.28.8 as a legacy branch for one more month or so, after which it will be declared deprecated (and will not be maintained at all any more). I will let its last release available on the download page for a little while after that, but it will be retired sometime in 2014.

  • I will not open a new experimental branch immediately (mainly by lack of new code to experiment with), but when I will, it will be numbered v1.26.11. Note that the only other "experimental" feature in v1.26.9, namely the mesh deformer, will be compiled in the stable and legacy branches, but it will only work in OpenSim grids and in SL's beta (Aditi) grid.

I'm also planing on migrating my Linux build system to a newer one, meaning people using systems with glibc older than 2.11.1 will have to compile the viewer from sources if they still want to use it on their old (2009-ish) system... glibc v2.11.1 seems to me like a reasonable requirement (same requirement as for LL's current release viewers, or as for current builds of Firefox, Blender, etc...), and it will allow to use a newer, more capable gcc (v4.4 or even v4.6, but the latter also requires a newer libstdc++ library: v6.0.16, instead of v6.0.13: let me know if you don't have v6.0.16 or newer in your system), that will provide both a speed gain and smaller binaries.

For any question or comment about this roadmap, please post here.

Author:  Henri Beauchamp [ 2015-02-22 13:40:51 ]
Post subject:  Re: Roadmap

It's been quite a while I didn't post an update of the roadmap... On the other hand, the development process of the Cool VL Viewer is pretty straightforward and quite Cartesian (not a surprise, coming for a French developer... :P).

Today saw the publishing of the first release of the v1.16.13 experimental branch, which implements the new "Marketplace Listings" feature (this will replace the "Merchant Outbox" in SL, in the coming weeks/months). After the feature will have reached the main SL grid and be declared as "released" by LL, the v1.26.13 branch will be promoted as the new 1.16.14 stable branch and the v1.26.12 branch will be immediately be declared deprecated and retired. This will also mark the deprecation of the v1.26.8 branch (even if that branch's last release might stay available for download for a bit).

As for the future, well only LL can say what will happen (development has been rather quiet and slow these last few months after the announce of "SL 2")... I, for one, will keep maintaining and updating the Cool VL Viewer like I already did during the past 7+ years...

For any question or comment about this roadmap, please post here.

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