Logging-on to SL today, I notice from the Firestorm MOTD that Jessica Lyon brings word on Firestorm and what is going on with SL’s most stable and most popular viewer – and the viewer of choice for many OpenSim grids.
The team has been hard at work on the viewer while LL have been busy sorting out stability and crash issues on their own beta. As Jessica comment in her blog post, one of the reasons Firestorm is on a long release cycle is that until now, she has preferred to see the viewer go out with significant updates which users will want to have / see (both new capabilities and bug fixes), rather than pushing out much smaller, more incremental releases which might get on people’s nerves the their frequency. The next release will be no different in that regard, with a range of further fixes and well as a host of new features, including William Weaver’s marvellous Phototools, which I simply adore. William (Paperworks Resident in SL) has been working closely with Firestorm developer Ansariel Hiller to get the tools integrated into Firestorm. I’ve been able to use the integrated version ahead of the release, and love the work both Ansariel and William have put in on this.
However, in the future, it seems things will be changing, as Jessica states:
We plan to make that updating process easier for you by setting up seamless behind-the-scenes updates you will hardly even notice, allowing us to provide more frequent updates and even hotfixes to improve your experience faster!
This sounds like the team will be implementing an automatic update process similar to that used by LL to update the official viewer. It will be interesting to see how this is implemented and how people respond to it. While it is likely most people won’t mind / will welcome the move, some may prefer to keep the option turned off (if possible) so they can track what changes are being made to their viewer installation.
An intriguing part – for me at least – of Jessica’s news is that the team are liable to be working with Doug Maxwell and his MOSES team.This is interesting for me as I covered MOSES last year in an article in this blog, and also covered a major upgrade to the platform after meeting Doug at a presentation he gave on the platform. He’s looking to enhance OpenSim security for the MOSES grid, and it appears he’ll be working with the Firestorm team on security aspects affecting the viewer, which will in turn be fed back into the OpenSim community.
In terms of direct OpenSim support, Jessica has this to say:
While Second Life still remains the primary focus of our development efforts, we have begun working towards bringing Firestorm Viewer into better compatibility with the OpenSim Platform. It is important to point out where the extent of that effort ends, though. We are making Firestorm work better on the “base” OpenSim Platform, but we cannot fix problems that arise on specific OpenSim grids because of changes those particular grids have made to their OpenSim code. For those issues to be fixed, we will rely on those grids to provide us code contributions to address those issues.
This is a pragmatic and sensible approach and typifies the considered manner in which Jessica approaches projects.
To help support the OpenSim effort, Firestom had two regions on OSgrid donated to them for their use, one of which has been outfitted to serve as Firestorm’s OSgrid headquarters and which has been named, somewhat appropriately, Firestorm Island. Directions for visiting it can be found in Jessica’s post.
All-in-all, an interesting update.