Barista 1.8.0 Development Addendum

Feb 21st 2023

I felt it was important to take time during the 1.8.0 development to add a few new milestones to the roadmap to focus on putting Barista in a true state of Long-Term Support (LTS) with 1.8.0, and also make some change to help reduce the price for new users.

You can see the current development roadmap for 1.8.0 here:

Barista 1.8.0 Development Notes

Additional Features

Instance List Reduction

The current instance list already has a lot of unused instances, and less cost-effective instances listed. The list will be drastically reduced to help users choose instances easier, and offer better cost-effective solutions by default. 

Advanced Options

A new menu will be added to the client to allow users to change "Advanced Options". These options will be specifically for the users that have a good understanding of Blender CLI rendering who want to change the fine details, but be out of the way of other users so it doesn't cause confusion. Since the Advanced Options are require various understanding in different areas of remote cloud rendering, support will be very limited. The majority of support may consist mainly of what's available in the documentation.

Advanced Option: Blender CLI Command Template

With recent updates to Blender 3.x, I found that they changed the way CLI commands and scripting works. An advanced option for custom Blender CLI commands templates will be added. This feature will allow anyone to set the command for Blender when rendering, with global variable (filename, render engine, etc), so all the required data is available for their build of Blender. 

Advanced Option: Custom AMI Image

Since a lot of updates to Barista are made only to update the instance image, an option will be added to allow users to use their own AMI image when rendering. This can be used to update the built-in Blender version, or provide updated libraries and packages to the Barista Linux OS. 

Advanced Option: Enable All Regions

There have been many requests to add various regions, so with the custom AMI option, another option will be available to use any region available in AWS. The reason this is an Advanced Option, is that it will require users to provide their own AMI in their desired region.

Advanced Option: Show All EC2 Instances

With the reduction of the instance list, and the need for supporting all regions completely, the Show All EC2 Instances option will enable the complete list of instance types. Additional functionality will have to be added to show when an instance isn't available in a region (only when selecting in), but will make sure that support is available in custom regions.

Advanced Option: Disable Default Startup Script - Tentative

There have been a few times where Blender's Python API support has changed drastically, causing the startup script to fail and cause issues in the render. This option to Disable Default Startup Script will allow the user to disable the default script, but still use their own custom script for startup instead. 

This has been set as tentative for now, as I'm considering adding this same option within a custom script instead. This will accomplish the same thing, but in a way that is easier to implement.

Update Checks

With the addition of LTS support this feature is much less important to the 1.8.0 update. The code will be included to show when an update is available, but any additional functionality is being put on hold, since there will be little need for this update.

Reducing Overhead

Hosting EC2 AMI images for Barista does incur a monthly cost in each region. With the addition of custom AMI images, the amount of hosted regions will be reduced yet again. For the people using the regions being removed, they can provide their own copy of the base Barista AMI, to continue to use the region.

Reducing the Cost

With the reduction of the AMI overhead, the price of Barista can be reduced as well. Since purchases from the Blender Market were specific for funding development, less will be needed with the LTS release. 

Free Development Builds

So that I can make sure that 1.8.0 is as stable as possible, development builds will be offered publicly at no cost. These builds will be on the Blender Market, but will mainly be available in a public GitHub repository to simplify the process. Support requests for development builds will be handled in the Community on this site, with issues logged in the GitHub repository. 

Open-Sourcing the Agent (finally™)

With development slowing down after the release, I wanted to make sure the Barista Agent was available for community use. That anyone wanting to create their own custom AWS cloud rendering platform or setup, could accomplish this easier.  If you aren't familiar with the Barista Agent and what it does, be sure to check out the article Open-Sourcing the Barista Agent which discusses what it actually does for Barista.

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