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EFT Comprehensive Performance Optimization Guide
EDIT: Corrections courtesy of Splintert , many thanks to him!
Greetings, fellow cheek dividers and cheeki breekis! I've seen a lot of players struggling to maximize their framerate in this game, even with pretty beastly rigs. I've helped a few, but I think a guide on how to get the best performance out of your machine (especially in the current beta versions of EFT, which are not very optimized) would be appreciated by everyone. Let's get into it.
DISCLAIMER: Use any and all of these tweaks at your own risk. If you don't know what you're doing, or are even a bit unsure, ask someone who does know. Don't ruin your $1000 PC because you were too proud to admit you didn't even know how to go into the BIOS!
Caveat: I only have AMD systems, so unfortunately for Intel and nVIDIA users, I won't have many tips specific to your hardware - however, general tips (and there will be many) will apply to you as well.
System 1 - Average Tier:
CPU: AMD FX-8350 Black Edition (4 cores, 8 threads) @ 4.0 GHz (underclocked from 4.2 GHz and undervolted from ~1.45 V to ~1.3 V)System 2 - Above Average Tier:
GPU: AMD Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition (2 GB GDDR5 VRAM, 1200 MHz VRAM clock, 1000 MHz GPU clock)
RAM: Corsair 32 GB (4x8 GB) DDR3 1333 MHz (XMP enabled: 1666 MHz) [16 GB would have near-identical performance]
PSU: 1000 W, 80+ Gold (Corsair)
Storage: 500 GB generic SSD (SATA)
Monitor: Generic 1680x1050 @ 60 Hz
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600 (6 cores, 12 threads) @ 4.2 GHz (stock core configuration, Infinity Fabric (memory controller) overclocked to 1600 MHz to match RAM)
GPU: AMD RX 5700 XT Sapphire Pulse (8 GB GDDR6 VRAM, 1750 MHz VRAM clock, 1815 MHz GPU clock)
RAM: G.SKILL 16 GB (2x8 GB) DDR4 3200 MHz (XMP enabled: 3200 MHz, CL 14)
PSU: 1000 W, 80+ Gold (Corsair)
Storage: 250 GB Samsung 970 EVO PRO SSD (NVME M.2)
Monitor: LG-24GL600F-B 1920x1080 @ 144 Hz
1) The "fps 1" and "fps 2" command. Use the "~" key to open the console, then type the command to enable it. Type "fps 0" to disable.
2) Radeon Performance Overlay (default shortcut: CTRL+SHIFT+O) [nVidia GeForce Experience has a similar in-game overlay]
3) CPU-Z and Ryzen Master (for CPU activity monitoring and tweaking) [Also Ryzen DRAM Calculator for RAM tweaking] [Intel does not have an equivalent to Ryzen Master, but CPU-Z is generic]
4) MSI Afterburner and RivaTuner Statistics Server (RTSS) (for GPU activity monitoring and manual fan curve adjustment)
Note: Monitoring applications that require low-level system access (i.e. need to read your hardware sensors) are sometimes identified by BattleEye as potentially dangerous applications, and will be forcefully shut down when you launch the game. This is not an application that is disallowed by BSG, and your access to the game will not be revoked (the "b" word cannot be uttered here) - it will just be closed when you launch the game, and you will have to re-launch it after you open the game. There is a workaround for this with MSI Afterburner - under Enable low-level hardware access interface, change this to "kernel mode". Then MSI AfterburneRTSS will work ingame no issues. (thanks, Splintert !)
1) Update! Make sure you're running the latest Windows version, and ensure that your BIOS, chipset drivers, sound drivers, GPU drivers, Monitor drivers and peripheral (mouse/keyboard/headphones etc) drivers are installed.
1.1) When installing a new GPU driver, make sure to fully uninstall any older driver. This is called a "clean install", and can sometimes be an option in the driver installation menu. If it's not, make sure to manually uninstall the older driver. Use DDU (Display Driver Uninstaller) for this - the fully manual way is also possible, but much slower (reboot in safe mode, uninstall, reboot in safe mode, install, reboot in normal mode).
2) Ensure that your PSU can handle the total power draw of your system hardware. A 350 W PSU is probably not enough. A 500 W one would be the minimum, with 750+ W being preferrable (the less power that is drawn from the PSU, the more efficient it is, unless if you draw less than half of its max rated wattage).
2.1) Ensure that your motherboard VRMs (the chips/capacitors/mosfets that handle power delivery to the CPU) are adequate for the CPU you are using. The cheaper (and older) your motherboard (in comparison to the age of the CPU), the more likely it is that your CPU is not adequately powered by the motherboard. Heavy in-game stutters (that happen at semi-regular intervals, different from the stutters the game gets because of optimization issues) are a tell-tale sign of VRM overheating that results in the CPU being underclocked heavily. I personally had this problem with System #1, which is why I underclocked and undervolted the CPU. Once I did that, the stutters I mentioned before disappeared completely. That said, do not mess with your CPU settings if you don't know what you are doing!
3) Ensure your RAM DIMMs (if you have more than 1) are set in a dual-channel configuration (meaning that the DIMMs should be installed in alternating slots on the motherboard, if it has more than 2 slots).
3.1) Ensure that your RAM has its best rated XMP (Extreme Memory Profile, essentially RAM overclocking) enabled. It is very often that I see people having bought very fast RAM, but without the XMP enabled, it is much, much slower than advertised. This is because the default (JEDEC) profile of the RAM maxes out at 2400 MHz - so if the RAM vendor advertises a speed over that, you need to enable the XMP, or your RAM will not be utilized to its max potential. Here's a nice guide by Corsair on how to overclock your RAM. All that said, make sure not to enable an XMP that is above what your vendor has rated the DIMMs for. That can cause all sorts of issues. If you're unsure, either don't mess with it, or ask someone who knows!
3.2) [Ryzen-specific] Ryzen processors like fast RAM a lot, much more than Intel processors (that's not to say fast RAM is bad for Intel CPUs, of course - quite the contrary). To utilize the fast ram as efficiently as possible, the memory controller of the system (the chip that handles read and write operations of the RAM) must be running at a speed that's as close as possible to the speed of the RAM. If it's slower, some of the potential of the RAM is wasted. If it's faster, the controller is overstressed for no reason. The memory controller was located on the motherboard on older systems, but the Ryzen processors have it integrated on the CPU - it's known as the "Infinity Fabric" (henceforth "IF"). To make sure that your IF uses your RAM to the max, its speed (in MHz) should be equal to half of the max speed of your RAM, in MHz. So, if you have two DIMMs of DDR4 3200 MHz RAM, half of that is 1600 MHz. Ensure that your IF is running at 1600 MHz, and you're golden. You can see the IF clockspeed in Ryzen Master, in the "Fabric Clock" field. If your RAM is running at 3200 MHz max, then the IF should clock up to 1600 MHz on its own with no action required. If not, or if your RAM is faster, you'll need to manually tweak it. You can do this in Ryzen Master. Here's a guide by AMD.
4) Ensure that your system is properly ventilated, free of dust/obstructions, and does not thermally throttle. If your system performs well for a while after startup but then loses a lot of performance, or if it does better in the winter than in the summer, then you're likely a victim of thermal throttling. PC components cannot handle extreme amounts of heat, but they generate a lot of it. If it is not dissipated in a timely fashion, performance degrades heavily - the system might even perform an emergency shutdown to prevent thermal damage to the sensitive electronics. Generally, if the system is clean of dust, free of obstructions (i.e. no large objects in front of air intakes), and its fans are running properly, you should have no problems. Otherwise, amend these issues. Check CPU and GPU temperatures with MSI Afterburner (link above).
5) Your hardware should be set to "Maximum Performance" mode in the Windows Power settings. Go to "Power Options", and see which power plan is enabled. Make sure to click the "Show additional plans" option, if it's available. Enable either the "High Performance" plan or the "AMD Ryzen High Performance" [Ryzen-specific] plan. If this setting isn't enabled, your components will draw less power, so the system will be more power-efficient. However, it will also not be able to perform as well as it could. Note that a higher power draw results in more heat generated, so make sure point #4 is taken care of first.
6) Disable background applications that might be using the CPU and/or GPU before playing EFT. Use the Task Manager to check which apps might be "misbehaving" in this way, and either disable or uninstall them. Antivirus software are notorious hogs of the CPU, so create an exception in your antivirus for EFT, so it's not monitored in real-time by your antivirus.
7) Make sure the game is installed on a Solid-State Drive, if you have one. If you don't, go buy one. Seriously, this makes a big difference - not just for EFT, but for general PC usage. Buy one!
8) Clearing the game cache or verifying the integrity of the game's files can occasionally fix some issues. You can do this from the game launcher. At the top right, under your username, there is an arrow. Click that, and you'll get a menu. There, you can find the "Integrity Check" and "Clear Cache" options. Use them if you are experiencing an error you can't seem to get past.
8.1) On the subject of the game launcher, if you experience a bug, make sure to submit a bug report through the launcher. The devs can't test all system configurations, so bugs will get through quality testing all the time. Get screenshots, record videos, type out an explanation, submit the log files, do everything you can to help the devs isolate and repair the issue. Making a Reddit post might help, or it might not. Submitting a bug report will help, however.
9) Go to the installation path of Escape from Tarkov (right-click the launcher and hit "Open File Location", then from there go to the "Battlestate Games" folder, then into the "Escape From Tarkov" folder), find the game's executable (EscapeFromTarkov.exe), right-click and go to properties, then go to the compatibility tab. Enable the "Disable Fullscreen Optimizations" option. Then, hit the "Change high DPI settings" button, and in the new window that appears, enable the "Override high DPI scaling" option. These two settings can prevent some stuttering and other problems in EFT.
10) As a final tweak, you can try setting the game to run in "Above Normal" priority in the Task Manager. Open the Task Manager while the game is running, and go to the "Details" tab. Find "EscapeFromTarkov.exe" and right click. In the drop-down menu, go to "Set Priority" and select "Above Normal". Confirm when prompted.
General: In EFT, switching some graphical settings to "low" (or anything other than "max") might actually reduce performance. Here's how that works. The engine implicitly assumes that your CPU is good enough, but that your GPU might not be. So, if you reduce a graphics setting too much, then it's sent to the CPU rather than the GPU for processing. But because the game is not optimized, and doesn't make use of multiple cores/threads effectively, you're actually bottlenecking your system by switching the load to the CPU even more! To make it even more clear, your CPU is already stressed a lot (because most of the load is on one of its cores, so that core gets used to the max), and if you change graphical settings to low (because you think that'll improve framerate), those graphical details (i.e. shadows) are then processed by the CPU rather than the GPU, because the engine thinks "oh, this guy switched shadows to low, his GPU must suck. Send the shadows to the CPU for processing!". So, counter-intuitively, decreasing graphical fidelity worsens performance (in some cases)!
NOTE 1: A common "issue" in EFT is that scoping in causes FPS drops. Scoping in (with magnified optics) will always cause an FPS drop of around 20 FPS (your experience may vary), because the game renders the image in the optic separately from outside - so it renders everything twice. This is called "picture-in-picture" rendering. This cannot be avoided, unfortunately...
NOTE 2: Offline performance is ALWAYS worse than on-line. That is because your PC runs the server and plays on it as well. Online, you only have to worry about playing - the server is elsewhere. So don't be discouraged! Your online performance will be better. This issue is also exacerbated if you enable AI. To test your true performance, go online!
Legend: I'll be using a specific notation here, to indicate the estimated impact of increasing each setting on your CPU, GPU and FPS. I'll use this notation: [CPU++ | GPU_ | FPS+], where "++" means "greatly increases", "_" means "no change" (or extremely minor change), and "+" means "slightly increases". Simiarly, "--" means "greatly decreases", and "-" means slightly decreases. For CPU and GPU, we're referring to usage, and for FPS we're referring to Frames Per Second gained (+) or lost (-).
Let's now tackle all in-game settings in order (in the Graphics settings menu). I'll also offer a brief description of what each setting does, if not immediately obvious from its name:
Screen Resolution [CPU_ | GPU++ | FPS-]: I recommend using the native resolution of your display (most typically: 720p, 1080p, 1440p). This setting has a high GPU impact, but is essential for spotting enemies. The lower your resolution, the more pixelated the image. So, at longer ranges, you won't be able to spot enemies at all. And, as mentioned in the "general" section, increasing GPU load is actually beneficial for game performance (if you don't overdo it!).
Screen Mode [???]: This isn't a setting that "increases" or "decreases", strictly speaking. However, prefer the "Fullscreen" option, as it uses the least system resources, and as such provides the best framerate. Note that there is a bug (haven't experienced it personally, but I know it exists) where the Screen Mode is "Fullscreen", but the game actually runs as "Borderless Fullscreen". This is bad, because this mode actually uses way more resources, and as such, an FPS loss is incurred. To ensure this is not the case, ALT+TAB back to the desktop. If you see the EFT window minimizing to the tray, then you're on true "Fullscreen". If not, then you're on "Borderless Fullscreen". If the latter happens, simply re-select "Fullscreen" in the menu, and hit "SAVE".
Aspect Ratio [???]: Nothing to tweak here, this simply determines which resolutions are available. The default should be ok, but if you can't find the Screen Resolution you want, check the Aspect Ratio, and see if you're on "16:9" or something else. All the resolutions I've listed above are under "16:9".
Vsync [CPU_ | GPU++ | FPS--]: Here's a good one. Always disable this. What vsync does, briefly, is that it prevents screen tearing. The EFT implementation of this, however, is not very good right now. Disable this, and enable other vsync options in your graphics card options. Both AMD and nVIDIA GPU software offer vsync options, and they both also offer enhanced vsync (Freesync and GSync), although they require a compatible monitor. Note: If your computer is powerful enough, enabling vsync in the in-game options, and disabling it from your GPU settings may remove the FPS limiter for the game, allowing you to get more than 120 FPS (which is the max in the in-game settings). This appears to be an engine bug, so don't count on it working - but it is a possiblity.
Overall Graphics Quality [CPU++ | GPU++ | FPS--]: This is a very coarse adjustment of all graphics options simultaneously. We're going to be customizing everything by hand, so don't bother with this.
Texture Quality [CPU_ | GPU++ | FPS_ or -]: Textures are the images projected on all in-game objects, giving them their actual apperance - otherwise everthing would be one solid color. The "blue grass" bug some of you might have encountered is a failure to render (display) the grass texture (and so you see the default blue appearence). This is a setting that you should adjust to match your GPU. Here's a rough guide:
-Potato-tier: GPU VRAM 1 GB -> Low (can you even play EFT with that GPU?)
-Low-tier: GPU VRAM 2 GB -> Medium (might also be able to use High+Texture Streaming, but don't count on it)
-Average-tier: GPU VRAM 4 GB -> High (if problems are encountered, use High+Texture Streaming)
-Good-tier: GPU VRAM 6 GB -> High (if problems are encountered, use High+Texture Streaming)
-God-tier: GPU VRAM 8 GB -> High
"High+Texture Streaming" is the same as "High", only a bit more efficient with using GPU VRAM. However, it can cause "pop-in" of the textures (i.e. a texture is very low-resolution one moment, then high-resolution the next). Use it if your GPU VRAM is 2 GB or more, and is completely maxed out. I've found EFT to never use more than 6 GB of VRAM, so if you've got that much or more, "High" is your clear best option. Otherwise, scale down as necessary.
Shadows Quality [CPU-- | GPU++ | FPS+]: This is a very tricky setting. As I've stated in the "general" section, some settings switch over to being CPU-rendered rather than GPU-rendered if you tweak them to "low". Shadows is one of these. Max this out as much as possible. Most GPUs should be able to handle "High" shadows. Check which one is the best by recording FPS changes when using each setting, then set to the one with the highest FPS gains.
Object LOD Quality [CPU+ | GPU+ | FPS-]: This controls how many distant objects are rendered on your screen. If you've ever seen a box/crate/bucket or whatever disappear from view if you move far enough away, this is why. In general, if you max this out, objects still disappear when you're far away, so you'll always run the risk of shooting at an enemy (player models always render) while they're behind an object that is invisible to you. As such, always keep this at its lowest setting, to minimize system load.
Overall Visibility [CPU_ | GPU_ | FPS_]: I believe this is equivalent to the "Draw Distance" setting of many other games (i.e. controls the maximum render distance). That said, I've noted minimal impact from this setting. I'd keep it at around 1000-1500.
Shadow Visibility [CPU_ | GPU+ | FPS-]: This controls the radius of the lighting "sphere" around the player, inside which lights and shadows are correctly rendered. Unfortunately, even though this looks the best when maxed out, it also means that shadows reach much further away for you, allowing enemies to hide in them more effectively. As such, and considering the fact that it does have a system impact, I'd keep this at the minimum setting, or around the half-way mark (100) if you want your game to look as good as it can without giving up too much in terms of firefight advantage.
Antialiasing [CPU+ | GPU++ | FPS-]: Antialiasing, or "AA", is a technique that attempts to reduce jagged edges in 3D rendered images. EFT supports the following AA algorithms: Fast Approximate AA (FXAA) and Temporal AA (TAA). The best performing one out of these is TAA, so enable that one. Use the normal setting (not the "TAA High") unless if your GPU is around RTX 2060 / RX 5700 performance or more, in which case you should use "TAA High". Do note that TAA generates visual artifacts near the edges of moving objects, so you might not like the look of it. In that case, FXAA gives good visual clarity, but with a bit more of a system impact.
Resampling [CPU_ | GPU++ | FPS--]: Resampling asks your system to render an image at a different resolution than the one you've selected to render at. You can sub-sample (i.e. render at a lower resolution), or super-sample (i.e. render at a higher resolution). If you sub-sample, you lose visual fidelity (essentially you've decreased the resolution), but you gain performance. If you super-sample, you gain visual fidelity (essentially increasing resolution, also rendering AA less necessary), but greatly impact system performance. Unless if your system is in the top 1% of PCs, I'd use "1x off" (if you do have a beast PC, try "2x supersampling"). Sub-sampling (i.e. 0.75x) is to be used if you are struggling to get a good framerate, and reducing the resolution helps. Instead of reducing the resolution (and losing visual fidelity in the main menu), try keeping the resolution at max, but sub-sampling. In this way, the in-game resolution will be decreased (and so you may get more frames), but the menus will still look ok when you're not in-raid (thanks for the correction, Splintert !)
HBAO [CPU_ | GPU+ | FPS-]: Horizon-Based Ambient Occlusion essentially increases lighting realism. It doesn't have too much of a system impact. If you're already struggling, keep this off - it doesn't have too much of a visual impact. If you aren't struggling, max it out.
SSR [CPU_ | GPU+ | FPS-]: Screen-Space Reflection does what it says on the box - it makes reflective surfaces reflect world entities. If you enable it and go to the Interchange puddles underneath the overpass-in-construction, for example, you'll see the concrete pillars and sky being reflected in the water. This has a slight system impact, but adds a lot to the realism of the game. I'd enable this unless if you're struggling with frames. Gameplay-wise, it makes no difference - so feel free to disable it if you want every last frame.
Anisotropic Filtering [CPU_ | GPU_ | FPS_]: This simply dynamically changes the resolution of textures, so that they "blend" a bit better. It has a minimal system impact, so feel free to adjust it as you'd like. Even for low-end systems, I recommend keeping this at "on" or "per texture".
Sharpness [CPU_ | GPU_ | FPS_]: This increases the visual sharpness of each frame (think about how the image changes when you use painkillers - that's an increase in image sharpness). This has no impact in system performance, so adjust to your personal preference.
Lobby FPS Limit [???]: Max this out. It's the maximum FPS in the menu. No system impact in-game.
Game FPS Limit [CPU_ | GPU_ | FPS_]: This puts a cap on the in-game framerate. It's usually a good idea to put a cap, so that you don't overstress the GPU. I'd recommend setting the cap to be the same as the refresh rate of your monitor, or the highest value available (if your monitor has a very high refresh rate, i.e. 144 Hz or more).
Z-Blur [CPU+ | GPU+ | FPS-]: This makes anything that's not the focal point (i.e. background) look blurry. It's also known (afaik) as Depth of Field. This is relatively system-intensive, doesn't really add anything to the scene, and can be detrimental to gameplay. Always disable this.
Chromatic Aberration [CPU+ | GPU+ | FPS-]: This is a post-processing effect that adds colorful visual artifacts to the scene where appropriate. This is relatively system-intensive, doesn't really add anything to the scene, and can be detrimental to gameplay. Always disable this.
Noise [CPU+ | GPU+ | FPS-]: This is a post-processing effect that adds visual noise to a scene (think static on a TV). This is relatively system-intensive, doesn't really add anything to the scene, and can be detrimental to gameplay. Always disable this.
Grass Shadows [CPU++ | GPU++ | FPS---------]: This allows blades of grass to cast shadows. It absolutely wrecks system performance, and although it looks very nice, is not really worth enabling. Always disable this.
Head Bobbing [???]: Set this as low as it will go. It makes the camera move around when the character is in motion. It can cause motion sickness if set too high, and also makes it harder to see distant objects (like enemies waiting to clap you, for example).
Field of View (FOV) [CPU+ | GPU+ | FPS-]: Set this to at least 67. FOV in EFT is not horizontal (left-to-right), but vertical (top-to-bottom). 67 vertical FOV is equivalent to about 100 horizontal FOV. Here's a calculator. You want at least 67 FOV because that prevents eye-relief issues with certain scopes. Eye-relief is the black circle that can appear on the inside of a scope, obstructing your view. However, do note that the higher the FOV, the more "zoomed out" everything will appear. With minimum FOV, everything appears "zoomed in". This makes it easier to spot distant enemies and aim at them, but it shows you less of the map (essentially you have a smaller "window"). Note that increasing the FOV will increase system impact.
Automatic RAM cleaner: Enable this if you have 8 GB of system RAM or less (can you even play with less?). I've found EFT to use up a max of 10 GB of RAM (max at Reserve, then Interchange, and occasionally Shoreline). If you only have 8 GB, you might not even be able to play some of the more demanding maps (i.e. Reserve). Enabling the RAM cleaner allows for more efficient use of the RAM, minimizing the impact of your lack of memory.
Use only the physical cores: This is a complicated one to explain. Essentially, modern CPUs can run multiple processes simultaneously on each core. This is called "multithreading" or "hyperthreading". As such, each available process "thread" is essentially an extra core. However, the CPU has a certain number of actual, physical cores, each of which has either 1 or 2 threads. The 2nd thread, if available, does not correspond to a physical core, but a virtual one. If EFT runs on a thread tied to a virtual core, it can underperform. Enabling this option should prevent this possibility, although the setting is finnicky at best, and sometimes does nothing at all. To ensure it is enabled on each game restart, simply go to the "Game" menu and make sure the setting is on, then hit "SAVE" (regardless of whether you changed something or not). This should force the setting on. To validate, go to the Task Manager while the game is running, find EscapeFromTarkov.exe in the "Details" tab, right click and select "Set Affinity". If your CPU has hyperthreading/simultaneous multithreading, then you should see some CPUs deselected. If that's not the case, the setting is not running correctly, and you have to do this manually. Unfortunately, this is way beyond the scope of this guide. If you're tech savvy, you should be able to find info on this and fix it. If not, you shouldn't be tweaking this stuff in the first place.
Well, that's all folks! This should help you squeeze every last frame out of your machine. Of course, there are infinite different configurations possible with PCs, so you can get an infinite number of problems. This guide can't guarantee you good performance, but if you're not a victim of a fringe performance bug, you should be able to improve your FPS in EFT.
If you have any questions, or if you spot any errors in the guide, please let me know!
Polar 2.0 Beta Release and General Update
Well we’re getting close to having 2.0 out the door and wanted to get you an update.
The plan is to try to have a public beta out in 1-3 weeks. We’re still putting the final touches on the release but wanted to rope you in now to get your feedback and to prepare you for the beta process.
We’d LOVE to have beta testers and to get more feedback. The betas will be public so anyone can just download them via the Electron app and we should have a version of the website that’s beta as well as our new chrome extension.
Here’s a general high-level list of features that we’re going to be shipping in 2.0:
- Dark mode by default. You can switch to light mode but Polar will be dark by default. We surveyed a bunch of our users and 95% wanted dark mode.
- New document viewer. The document viewer has been completely rewritten. It’s faster and supports pluggable document formats which leads me to...
- EPUB. We know you wanted EPUB but it required us to rewrite the document viewer. Well, we have it now!
- Material Design UI. This will bring a consistent and professional design across all platforms.
- The annotation view in the repository is now completely in-sync with the document view. If you make changes to the document view they’re immediately reflected in the annotation view. Additionally, you can comment or tag annotations in both places and you have a consistent look and feel.
- Keyboard shortcuts. Shortcuts will be supported natively for nearly every major operation. More importantly, we can now easily add new shortcuts.
- Content capture for web pages has been redesigned to make it a LOT more reliable and usable (see below).
- Improved flashcard and reading review. This will work natively on Polar and supports mobile. With some of our changes we’re also planning on the ability to edit and change flashcards on mobile devices too.
- We really wanted stability to be a big priority with this release including both the UI but also the data stored in Polar (see below).
We’re working on a few additional features which might make it into 2.0 but might be part of later releases. We designed 2.0 specifically for these features but they’re complicated and we don’t want to slip our release date to get these out.
- Android and iOS apps. That’s right. We should have Android and iOS apps. 2.0 was designed with this in mind but we still have a bit more testing to make sure they work. Also, one of the things we identified is that the platform-specific issues/bugs tend to slow us down so we’re anticipating that, while we have the code written, actually pushing this out and into the app stores (including approvals) might take some time. We’re concerned that the iOS app might take a bit longer because of App Store requirements.
- We’re planning on making some more changes to the document viewer to allow you to do things like change the tags for the document, update metadata (like author name) but there is still a bit more work to do here.
- There may be some additional features that will ship in 2.1 just so that we can get 2.0 out the door quicker. Examples would include the ability to rename tags and other smaller features that really shouldn’t be blockers.
Anki Connect and Anki Sync
We know that a lot of our users are avid Anki users and that creating flashcards in Polar is a big time saver.
We also know that PolarConnect is still causing issues with some users (two-way sync, issues with tags,…).
What we’d like to do is move our Anki support out of the ‘core’ and into its own module to facilitate more collaboration with the community.
By putting it into a module it’s clear what is and is not part of the Anki sync so it should be easier for contributors to make changes.
We’d like to have someone, outside of the core team, step up to help maintain it directly (with our help of course). Any volunteers?
The idea is that Polar will provide the UI hooks and the Anki sync will just provide callbacks and our sync engine will do the rest.
If you’re relying on Polar and Anki sync we want it to work and work well.
We also want to take the same strategy with exporting data. We know that some users have higher requirements for exporting data including specific file formats, required fields. We don’t want to hold back the community. We’re going to try to document this more so you guys can make changes without having to wait for us.
Web Capture Redesign
We’ve redesigned the way web capture works to make it both more reliable but also support additional features like reflow and dark mode.
Due to issues with HTML capture, simplicity, annotations, dark mode, etc, we’ve decided to go with a new capture model that uses Mozilla’s Readability project to clean the page down to JUST the bare essential text and images.
This means that it can support reflow (and the ability to read on your phone), annotations, better pagemark support, and dark mode.
We’ve also completely redesigned it so it works in the browser so your cookies, ad block, and other extensions can be used during capture. This was a major design flaw in 1.0 so were happy to have it resolved.
Captured pages will now be stored as EPUB. No custom formats. Our HTML captures are just plain-old EPUB so you can use them with other document viewers if you want.
The downside is that Polar 1.0 captures won’t be compatible with 2.0 but we’re building an importer to convert documents captured in 1.0 to 2.0. We’re going to try to make sure that this is included in 2.0 so that you don’t lose any data by switching.
Removal of Local Storage in Favor of Cloud
We're making a change to how we deal with data including local and cloud storage and wanted to let you know about the pending changes.
I want to surface this now before we ship 2.0 because there might be some missing or key functionality that is required by the community. This will give us enough time to implement any required changes.
The local 'disk' datastore, (the .polar directory) where we keep local data will be going away in favor of keeping all data in the cloud.
When you login to 2.0 for the first time, we will detect that you have a .polar directory and import your data for you so that you can keep using 2.0.
This design will improve stability, make it easier for us to support and maintain a high-quality offline experience, support more features, improve data integrity, and increase stability.
Grandfathering Existing Users
Since existing users might have large local repositories, we don't want to all of a sudden force you guys to purchase premium.
We're going to grandfather in anyone with a large amount of data on 2.0 so that they don't hit any storage limits which would force them to upgrade to premium.
Because of this change we're going to be reworking our pricing a bit to enable people to run larger repositories and for the pricing to scale a bit better.
We'll update you guys once we have this available.
In case you’re using Polar without an account, please create a Polar account now (if you haven't already) so that we can see that you were a user before 2.0 so that you can be grandfathered.
Pros vs Cons for migrating to cloud storage
Here are a list of pros/cons for this switch to help really understand why we're making this change:
- Reduced time between release and improved development cadence.
- Massive amount of code that no longer needs to be supported (disk + cloud sync code).
- No need for cloud sync on login for the Electron app. MUCH faster app startup time. I'm on a slower link now that I live in Colorado and it's about 30x faster.
- Offline will still work including re-sync on reconnect.
- FAR lower potential for UI bugs due to the event model being different between the cloud vs local modes).
- Desktop, web, and mobile apps will all use the same storage so you can login anywhere and see the same data.
- The app will 'feel' local except during the initial opening of a document. There will be a slight delay. We're going to cache immutable binary data like images, PDF and EPUB files and the JSON will always be cached locally.
- This will allow us to support robust offline tolerant apps on all platforms including iOS, Android, Electron, Web, Desktop, MacOS, Firefox, Safari, Chrome, ChromeOS, Surface and Chromebook.
- There are some very important and exciting features we're working on and using our current local store would prevent us from shipping them.
- Far less dependence on Electron/Node and more code-sharing between the web and mobile builds. Ideally our electron build would just be a thin wrapper around our web build with some glue to make it integrate well with the desktop.
- Improved local disk space usage. This allows you to have a large repository and keep most of it in the cloud and only a smaller percentage locally. Initially it will just cache the books you're actively reading up until the cache size limit (which is device dependent but usually < 50MB). Long term we're going to force 'pinning' documents locally so you know they are always stored local and available offline.
- Supporting one high-level datastore will allow us to implement other features including snapshots (fast/quick backups of your data)
- Cloud is required. There will be no way to use Polar without cloud.
- Users who were using the on disk data as an API won't be able to access it for that use case anymore.
- Not all countries support our cloud provider (Google). We're not 100% certain as we haven't tried ourselves but China and Russia might be the biggest issues here.
- For now, the region for data is the US. We're going to bring up datacenters in the EU and Asia as well but might not have this done for 2.0.