What's coming for the remainder of 2023?
V0.7.0, our next feature release
Our next release is coming before the end of the year. It is taking a while, here's why, what's coming and when.
First, it will have a major upgrade internally to address stability issues. We've been living off the old architecture (from 2016) for too long. Finally, we're upgrading the addon to use the same concepts as will be introduced with our new CRESS platform. This upgrade will, for the most part, not be noticeable to you, other than the addon should be more stable. Internally, it will allow for far easier upgrades.
Next up is support for Blender will be far more inclusive and will no longer require patch updates if Blender uses a different python version to our addon. We have completely redesigned how the addon installs. Previously we were reliant on packaging our code's dependencies (other projects we use in our code) with the addon. This was a problem since we had to package multiple versions to support the different versions of Blender.
We had copies of our dependencies for each operating system, and, each python version. As a result, the addon has shrunk in size from 26MB to just 180KB.
The install experience has changed to eliminate a bug where uninstalling the addon would always fail on windows. The new install experience is much the same apart from asking you to install the dependencies required and do a restart of Blender, or occasionally a reboot to finish installing. What's more, from V0.7.0 onwards, there is a button in the addon's preference to automatically update to the next available version for your account.
Speed! We've got rid of some overheads between each frame or tile that is rendered. This is part of a new "Speed Boost" feature. It is not enabled by default though, as it can use nearly double the memory, but, for scenes that you can accommodate this higher RAM demand, the results are good. We had a test scene that ran at 54 mins to complete an animation render. With V0.7.0 it completed in just 17 mins.
Bug fixes, of which, one of the most important is an issue affecting transferring finished renders from each computer. We noticed that if the data rate we are pushing through the system is high enough, it can collapse. We are talking pretty high, like high def images, with almost every render pass enabled, plus some AOV passes (Arbitrary Output Variables). V0.7.0 will have a completely redesigned system for transferring renders to your master/client machine to fix this.
Results of our feature poll
A couple of weeks ago we ran a feature poll, here's the results, next I'll talk about what each of the features we polled for actually do.
Let's go in order of most to least votes
Management - Basically it sucks to install software on multiple computers, its boring repetitive work and error prone, the more software and computers you have, the longer it takes and the more mistakes can creep in. This feature will give you a way to to manage what versions of our software are installed on each computer you have without having to manually administer each machine, potentially saving you a lot of time.
Pipeline - Do you use other applications in conjunction with Blender? Perhaps you use Nuke for compositing? Or maybe you use After Effects on your renders from Blender? Having an automated pipeline would allow you to automatically render, then pass the results to other applications in a VFX/Animation pipeline.
Telemetry - This feature allows you to see all your nodes hardware stats in one view, CPU/GPU usage, frequency and power draw to start with, then we'll turn to our community for other stats we can add.
We've already started work on telemetry since part of it was required for the speed boost feature. Once we've released the telemetry feature (before the end of 2023), then we'll be working on the management feature.
The management feature will be a management portal on our website that will allow you to update all your computers to the version you want in one place without having to manually install on each system. Part of this has already been done in V0.7.0 too. There's a button in the preferences of our addon in 0.7.0 that you can use to update to the next version.
The management feature takes this to the next level so you can update all your nodes at once, or customise them as you like.
Finally, we'll be working on pipeline, though this might not be available until next year (2024) as it is an area we're new to, so we'll be doing lots of interviews with our users to make sure we're not making something annoying or useless.