Project Shining: project viewer released for new HTTP Library

A part of the Shining project is to improve the underpinning HTTP messaging that is crucial to simulator / simulator and simulator / Viewer communications. As commented upon in the notes from the TPV/Developer meeting on July 13th, the initial focus on this project is to provide an initial texture fetch library for the viewer, together with a “wrapper” that will allow further http code enhancements to be added over time.

On Friday July 27th, Linden Lab made the initial code available within an LL project viewer (SL Alternate Viewers). The availability of the code, and LL’s plans / hopes for it were discussed during the TPV/Developer meeting also held on the 27th July. The discussion can be heard in full on the meeting recording, the key points from which have been summarised below.

During the discussion, both Oz and Monty Linden (who is leading the project) had the following to say:

  • The code is currently free-standing, although there will eventually be server-side protocol changes made to better support it (as well as further capabilities to be added to the libraries), which should further improve robustness and overall performance
  • Even without the server-side changes, the Lab hopes that the code itself will make things “a little bit better” for those using older routers, particularly Linksys WRT routers (Monty indicated server-side work would most probably be required to improve things for people using Belkin G-series routers)
  • While  the libraries are close to what is expected to be the “final” code (barring bug-fixes, etc.), it is unlikely they will be integrated into the Development Viewer for at least the next two weeks. The reason for this is two-fold:
    • The code needs to be merged-up with 3.4.0
    • Integration is dependent upon what kind of experience is had with the code “in the field”
  • LL hope that people will use the project viewer, and TPV developers will integrate it into experimental releases of their own, so that greater feedback (via JIRA entries, etc.) can be obtained in terms of:
    • General experience reports – completeness, reliability, robustness, improved rezzing, etc.
    • Whether the new code is helping to ease the strain faced by the likes of Linksys WRT routers, and what (if anything) it is doing to people’s home networks
    • (From the TPV developers themselves) design comments on the code itself, whether it is felt things have been missed, if there are issues in integrating the code into TPVs, etc.

Again, note that the code is currently only related to textures; the “more ubiquitous” uses (as Oz has previously put it) of the new http library within the viewer have yet to be implemented, so HTTP inventory, etc., is currently unchanged.

Oz asked the question (of Monty), as to whether it would be a problem if TPV developers were to convert some of the additional HTTP functionality for use with the library. Monty didn’t see any major issues, other than the new library introduces the concept of a policy class, rather than the current global priority scheme, and this has not been fully implemented as yet, because it is not required in this first pass. However, additional functions could share the policy used for HTTP textures, and that would “still be productive”. Monty further indicated that there is a “to do list of intent” included in the code as a file, which TPV developers can look at if they are minded to look at committing to some of the work themselves.

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Server roll-outs w/c 30th July

Oskar has issued a notification of the planned server roll-outs for this week. As they currently stand, the roll-out will comprise:

Main Channel: Sever release 12.07.24.262437 – Tuesday 31st July

This should see a further roll-out of the LSL functions related to the Advanced Creator Tools. This release will see the addition of three new LSL functions:

These new LSL functions work with the current runtime permissions system, and are precursor to future work with experience permissions. More information about the runtime permission is here:PERMISSION_TELEPORT.

This is a roll-out of the code deployed to LeTigre and BlueSteel last week. As with both of those channels last week, the code will be enabled on the main channel regions following the deploy (although LL retain the capability to disable it).

Magnum RC: Further Pathfinding Roll-out – Wednesday August 1st

Roll-out due to commence: 07:00 SLT

A further roll-out of the server-side pathfinding code, with fixes. Currently the wiki notes for this channel appear to be stalled on the 12.07.24.262484 release.

Note that the viewer-side pathfinding tools are now available in the latest Development Viewer.

BlueSteel RC – Wednesday August 1st

Re-start due to commence: 08:30 SLT

There are no changes to this channel. It will have the same code as the main channel.

LeTigre RC: Infrastructure Project update – Wednesday August 1st

Roll-out due to commence: 09:30 SLT

Oskar comments: “This channel will have an infrastructure project that has no intentional changes to existing behaviour. There are perhaps unintentional changes to existing behaviour. If you find some please let us know!”

Teapot: brewing-up a viewer

Teapot is a Kokua-inspired, SL 3.x-based, viewer for Second Life and OpenSim grids, compiled by Armin Weatherwax (on OS Grid, or ArminWeatherHax Resident in SL). It includes numerous TPV derived functions and capabilities (please refer to the About Teapot pop-up in the viewer itself for additional credits), but is not top-heavy in terms of additional functionality.

The version reviewed here is 0.2.5, released on July 20th.

Download and Installation

Teapot is available in three flavours: Linux 32 and 64-bit, and Windows. The Windows installer is 42.3Mb in size, and downloaded and installed on my PC without any issues.

On start-up, the viewer displays the familiar splash screen, but with a slightly different approach to grid support.

Grid list pull-down and New Grids button

Clicking the arrow next to the grid name field will display a default list of popular grids, as per most other viewers that support OpenSim. However, if the grid you wish to log-in to is not displayed in the list, you can click NEW GRIDS. This will display a more complete list of grids (some 168 with this release of the viewer) in a pop-up window, which also contains a warning that “some of these grids, especially smaller ones, might be not online all day, or at all”. Clicking on the name of a grid in the list will initiate an attempt to log-in to it.

If the grid you wish to access is not displayed in either list, you can type the uri for it directly into the grid name field. When you click the refresh button next to the field, the grid name (if found) will be added to the drop-down list and an attempt to log-in to the grid will be initiated.

User Interface

Once logged-in to a grid, Teapot reveals itself to be something of a hybrid. The overall layout is very much Viewer 3.x, but the menus combine elements of both viewer 3.x and viewer 1.x, including as they do File, Edit and View from the latter and combining them with World, Build and Help from the former (with Advanced and Develop also available).

The File, Edit and View menus (click to enlarge, if required)

Default buttons are all arranged at the bottom of the screen, and are displayed with icons only visible. They comprise (in left-to-right order): Chat, Speak, Voice Settings, Preferences, Snapshot, People, Build, Camera, Map, Mini-map, AO and Inventory.

The AO (Animation Overrider) is by Zi Ree, and is as found in Firestorm – including using the #Firestorm folder (so if you have run Firestorm with the AO set-up, Teapot will use the same settings).

Preferences

Teapot more-or-less uses the default SL viewer Preferences floater and tabs, with the addition of an OpenSim Grid Manager  tab, and the inclusion of options to enable the pie menu for those that prefer it over the V3.x context menus (enable / disable the pie menu in the Advanced tab of Preferences, set background colour and opacity via the Colors tab).

Other Functionality of Note

  • Teapot uses V1-style profiles by default (using older code from Firestorm) and includes Nicky Dasmijn’s open-source mesh upload floater
  • Objects can be temporarily derendered from your world view, however:
    • They will only be derendered while they remain in your world view, and will be rendered once more should you re-log or teleport away and back
    • The derender option is only available when using the pie menu – it is not displayed in the context menus
  • There is no RLVa support included in the viewer at present.

Performance and Feedback

Performance-wise, using my standard set-up with the viewer and on my home sim, Teapot produced the following frame-rates: ground level: 16-18fps; 370m: 29-32fps; 2875m: 40-43fps. With lighting and shadows enabled, these became 7-9fps, 14-16fps and  20-21fps respectively. These figures put Teapot roughly between my recent “tests” of Niran’s 1.46 and Firestorm 4.4.1.28744.

Overall, the viewer performed well during a 4-hour test run on Second Life, which was crash-free. There are some nips and tucks required in places – such as ensuring options included in the pie menu are also available in the context menus (inspection option, derenderer) – but overall, Teapot presents itself as workable and pleasant viewer. It may not be as feature-heavy as other viewers that are out there, but this shouldn’t be held against it. Indeed, if you’re an OpenSim user looking for a reliable, fast and well-presented V3.x-style viewer that offers core functionality and things like Media On A Prim, mesh uploads, etc, then Teapot might well be … just your cup of tea!

Some Things to Remember

  • Teapot should not be confused with the Teapot-Viewer, used for viewing OpenGL models
  • The viewer is very much a personal project Armin has put together, and his time / ability to provide support or add specific functionality is limited
  • Efforts have been made to ensure Teapot is compliant with the TPV Policy, but it is not currently listed in the TPV Directory
  • While inspired by Kokua, Teapot stands as an independent viewer, and should not be confused with the Kokua project.

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Viewer release summary 2012: week 30

The following is summary of changes to SL viewers / clients (official and TPV) which have taken place in the past week. It is based on my Viewer Round-up Page, which provides a list of  all Second Life viewers and clients that are in popular use (and of which I am aware) and which are recognised as being in adherence with the TPV Policy.

This summary is published every Monday, and by its nature will always be in arrears. Therefore, for the most up-to-date information on viewers and clients, please see my Viewer Round-up Page, which is updated as soon as I’m aware of any changes, and which includes comprehensive links to download pages, blog notes, release notes, etc., for Viewers and clients as well as links to any / all reviews of specific viewers / clients made within this blog.  

Updates for the week ending: 29 July, 2012

  • SL Viewer updates:
    • The release version rolled to 3.3.4.262321 on July 24 (release notes)
    • Development: rolled to 3.3.5.262596 (July 26) and then 262681 on July 27: core update: addition of viewer-side pathfinding tools (also see my notes on the tools)
    • HTTP Project Viewer 333.262585, July 27th – initial release of a unified approach to HTTP-based communications between the viewer and grid services with a goal of achieving reliability, consistency and a better overall experience on the grid.
  • Dolphin rolled to 24724 on July 27th, which apparently contained “serious flaws on windows”, prompting the release of 24731 on July 28th, with an advisory that anyone running 24724 on Windows should immediately update – release notes are as per 24724
  • Niran’s Viewer rolled to 1.46 on July 26th – core changes: experimental new Preferences overlay; removal of Darkness skin; some rendering updates
  • The Cool Viewer Experimental version (SL3.3 renderer) rolled to release 1.26.5.1 on July 29 – core changes: renderer updated to SL 3.3.4; added options for Classic Clouds and animating trees; backport of support for private memory pools from viewer 3; Advanced menu more logically arranged
  • Group Tools rolled to installer release 2.2.8 on July 28th.

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Svarga: of memories old and new

Svarga is a place of legend among those who have been active within Second Life for more than four or so years. Created by Laukosargas Svarog in 2006, in a time before sculpts – or even flexiprims – Svarga was a place of mystery and beauty; a must-see destination within SL.

Svarga

In its heyday, Svarga was famous for its rich design and unique artificial ecosystem, as well as a number of other features which allowed for a very immersive experience. Then, in 2009, the region became unreachable in-world and remained that way for some time. In March 2010 the sim made a “return” after Linden Lab had apparently purchased it from Laukosargas Svarog in a move “To provide a way for this high-quality experience to live on in the ever-changing world of Second Life.” At the time, the move was largely welcomed within the community, simply because Svarga was – and is – regarded as so unique among “early” builds, although some did express a certain discomfort at the idea of the Lab stepping-in to preserve regions in this way and where it might lead.

When Svarga initially returned, elements were missing: the ecosystem was only partially restored, the tour system had gone, as had the ambipod and light show. Since then, a new tour system has been added – using giant wasps, which is entirely in keeping with the feel of the region, and Svarga remains very much a testament to all that could be achieved just through the use of the humble prim.

Nor does what has been lost in any way detract from one’s visit; the spires and walkways remain, complete with torches, flags and the small library of old books referencing SL. The offshore glade still provides a rich lavender carpet of flowers where you can sit and think alone, or share time with a friend or loved one. For the keen-eyed, the underground caverns lie waiting to be explored, and birds and bees can still be seen among the flora as footpaths lead you between the strange plants and trees and over rope bridges, or to the door of the hexagonal house where you can sit among the cushions or play the waiting drums. Take the wasp tour, and you can learn more about the history of the region, and its roots in old Slavic mythology.

Svarga: ideally suited for Windlight experiments in photography

If you’ve never visited Svarga before, I recommend you do. It has a mystique and mystery that makes any visit worthwhile. As it came at a time before Windlight, it doesn’t utilise any special presets of its own – and thus presents itself as an open canvas for the imaginative SL photographer, as there is nothing to influence the choice of sky and water presets. For the romantic or those seeking a place to sit and share company with a friend or small group of friends, Svargat offers a calming, gentle environment in which to spend time and perhaps reminisce about the “good old days”.

Svarga
Svarga

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Duché de Coeur: third Annual Music and Arts Festival

The weekend of the July 27th through 29th will see the Academies Royale de Musique and Peinture hosting the The Duché  de Coeur’s third are proud to present the 3rd Annual Music and Arts Festival.

The event commences at 13:00 SLT on Friday the 27th July, with Tamra Sands performing at the Languedoc Opera House Ballroom. Events will then continue throughout the weekend at venues across the Duché’s regions in Second Life, featuring a number of familiar artists as well as names new to the Duché, with a grand total of 20 artists performing over the three days of the festival.

The Music and Arts Festival is presented in appreciation for the continued support of our audience and as a part of The Academies Royale de Music and Peinture’s mission to support and showcase fine music and art in Second Life. The Academie itself will be open throughout the festival and well feature many of the artists performing over the weekend.

Schedule of Events

As posted on royalcourts.ning.com and may be subject to update (all times SLT).

Friday July 27th:

  • Languedoc Coeur Ballroom
    • A Reception & Auction Opens the Festival
    • 13:00: Tamara Sands
    • 14:00: Therese Nightfire
    • 15:00: Clarice Karu
    • 16:00: Joaquin Gustav
  • Isla Pequena
    • 18:00: Voodoo Shilton
    • 19:00: SaraMarie Philly

Saturday July 28th:

  • Languedoc Coeur Beach
    • 11:00: JooZz Magic
    • 12:00: Mapoo Little
    • 14:00: Ceci Dover
    • 15:00: WaltKeys Faith
    • 16:00: Maxx Sabretooth
  • Queen’s Hamlet
    • 18:00: Kitty Zeddmore
    • 19:00: Ichie Kamachi
    • 20:00: Noma Falta
    • 21:00: Prowess Rayna

Sunday July 29th:

In-world Contacts

For more information about the Duché de Coeur of any of the festival events, contact Duc Bedrich Panacek, Duchess Tatiana Varriale or Duchess SkyeRyder Varriale.

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