Updated August 31st: Those working on Astra 1.5.10.(2) have asked me to point out that this release is still experimental, and can be unstable at times – see comments at the end of this piece.
Viewer 1.x and mesh are not things we’re used to seeing together where Second Life is concerned. However, with mesh also making its presence felt in OpenSim, it was likely that code to render mesh in a Viewer 1.x TPV would come about at some point.
Astra Viewer is an open source Viewer linked to Astra Grid / Aurora-Sim out of Pleiades Consulting of Canada. The current release, 1.0.0 is available from the Astra Viewer website. However, there is a 1.5.10 release for Windows that can be obtained from the Aurora-Sim repository that is of interest because it can render mesh objects.
It’s unclear as to how widely available this release of Astra is supposed to be; I e-mailed the individual listed as a the main coder for the version several days ago as to use, etc, but have so far failed to receive any reply. However, news of its availability is spreading through Twitter.
Astra 1.5.10 does have almost everything you’d expect from a V1.x-TPV: client-side AO, RLV/a support (accessed from the Advanced menu, a-la Imprudence), radar, V1 avatar physics, V1 shadow rendering, etc. But it’s the mesh rendering that is of interest, and it’s good.
As mesh support is (for me at least), hard to find out in OpenSim land*, I admit that I *did* sneak into Second Life using Astra in order to test it. I’m not sure if this was entirely against the rules – SL is included in Astra’s Grid Manager, but I have no idea if Astra has been self-certified under the requirements of Linden Lab’s Thirf-Party Viewer Policy. It doesn’t appear on the TPV Directory – but this actually isn’t necessarily indicative of non-certification, as certified Viewer do not have to be listed in the Directory.
Leaving that aside, I have to say, the code works fine, as the image below shows.
There’s no upload option in the Viewer at present, tho. Whether this will be added in time, I have no idea.
Overall, Astra is pretty much what you’d expect from a 1.x Viewer. The Grid Manager selection is short (defaults to AnSky Grid on initial start-up), but adding new grids follows the usual format, and as such, isn’t a hurdle to overcome.
As I said above, it’s not clear if the Viewer has been self-certified for SL use (I’ve e-mailed the perople developing it, but haven’t heard back as yet), but given the amount of resistance to the likes of Viewer “3″ within Second Life, the existence of the code to render mesh objects in the 1.x Viewer is liableto be of keen interest of 1.x TPV developers.
In the meantime, those on Windows wishing to try out Astra 1.5.10.(2) on suitable OpenSim grids can find it here.
(With thanks to Latif Khalifa).