Welcome to the September (ok I was a day late, again!) newsletter! Here’s the wrap up of what we did in September 2023
Imminent V0.6.4 launch- Why we’re doing a patch release and what’s in it
Progress on V0.7.0 - What did we get done this month?
August's Platform poll - We are setting up discord, stay tuned
Instagram - I’m building out loud, follow daily progress on the addon
Imminent V0.6.4 launch! 🚀🚀
Let's goooo! We’re about to release a patch update. Yes, we’ve been talking up V0.7.0, but, there are a ton of changes in V0.7.0 and some of them we need to test now. There are two features that we need to have out in the wild as soon as possible;
The new Check for updates button
Remember the July Poll? You guys voted for easier management of software deployment, in particular with many nodes. This feature is the first step. We now have a check for updates button. Once we have this tested, it will open the way for remotely managing software deployment. Meaning you’ll be able to configure updates all your computers from one management console, without needing to physically or remotely manage each computer.
New packaging of Dependencies
The reason for this second feature is that we’ve been constantly fighting is the issue of Blender’s keen adoption of new versions of python. Like any software project, we depend on other software projects. Some of these only support one specific version of python. We have had to issue many patch updates, just to support Blender adopting a new version of python.
Recently we changed how we package our installable zip files for each release. Prior to the V0.6.4 release, we packaged all our dependencies, for each operating system, for each python version Blender uses from 3.0 to 3.6 (for the latest V0.6.X versions of our addon). This bloats the addon with unnecessary code that won’t be used on most systems. Instead our new system doesn’t package any dependencies, they are installed by the addon when you enable it, and only the specific dependencies for your OS and Blender version are downloaded.
This has two benefits, 1. The addon is now incredible small, about 500KB! 2. We now support Blender on ANY system, so long as all our dependencies support those systems. For us, this is amazing as we’ll no longer have to worry about packaging for every combination of Blender version, operating system and processor architecture. For you, there is the bonus of having a very small download, you’re no longer having to download code you won’t use, and there should be hardly any occasions where a patch version has to be released to maintain compatibility with Blender.
There are some downsides, there’s an extra step when setting up the addon, and that is to ensure you press the “install dependencies” button in the addon’s preferences. Also, if you must keep the computers you render isolated from the internet, then you’ll need to either, temporarily restore internet access, enable the addon and install the dependencies, or, copy the installed dependency packages from a computer that is connected and has had the dependencies installed.
We may eventually setup an automated build server to create pre-built packages for each OS and Blender version, we won’t be manually doing builds since that is quite error prone.
We’ve been making very consistent progress with V0.7.0. The vast majority of time and effort has gone into;
A complete replacement of the code for transferring rendered tiles/frames from render nodes to the client or master machine.
A pretty big upgrade to the rendering dispatching that has caused a pretty decent bump in speed at the cost of RAM.
A massive upgrade consisting of replacing the monolithic architecture of our background services with a design based on event driven architecture.
Most of the work regarding the file transfer module replacement is now done, so is the majority of the render dispatching upgrade. What remains is mostly assurance and testing to make sure this is our most stable version yet. You guys shouted pretty loud about the need for stability and we're listening. I'm working super hard on a completely overhauled test suite, that's taking up a lot of my dev time, but its going to result in much better and more stable operation.
What's left to do? We're now in tidy up mode, we've made most of the BIG changes, and now I'm working intensely on changes to the existing addon to accommodate the new things we introduced since V0.6.3.
August’s Platform Poll winner - Discord
This August we asked you what we should replace our current discussion forum with. You voted unanimously for Discord.
We’ve made some progress on rolling out a Discord server to replace our current forum. We’ll preserve the posts in the forum of course, eventually, however, posts and new account creation will be disabled.
Right now we're testing and setting up the experience, those who are subscribed to our dev fund are invited to join early so we can beta test this thing. We anticipate generally opening this platform up to everyone in the new year.
Building out loud on Instagram
Every day of each week, I’m building our software. I’m also sharing what I get done each day on IG, and I invite you to comment! If there’s things you feel we should be focusing on, you’re invited to share your thoughts and contribute.
And yeah, I also post some meme content, but its all in the name of empowering you guys to render better. Meme’s usually come with tips and tricks in each post’s description. You can check out our profile and posts/reels here.
Take care everyone, and happy multinode blending 😀