Belated avatar baking service update

The server-side elements of the new avatar baking service (part of the Shining Project) continue to progress, alongside what Nyx Linden has referred to as, “Some pretty scary viewer re-architecting” which is being undertaken by the Lab in order to try to isolate some of the avatar baking aspects from the rest of the viewer code base. As such, he’s anticipating the eventual code merge to be “fairly significant” when it does happen, although at the time of commenting (the last TPV/Dev meeting, September 7th), the code was not in a condition where it could be used by any of the TPVs.

Bake fail: a familiar problem for many

Overall, the viewer elements of the project are the priority, with the aim remaining to get the viewer code completed first, and to make it available to TPVs so that test viewers can be built. This is likely to happen before the code is ready for any formal release, the aim being to allow TPV devs to carry out test merges and to let LL know anything else has been broken as a result of the changes made to the code in order for the new service to work.

Once the code is available for testing both within the viewer and on test regions on Aditi, Nyx will be looking for “as many people as possible to pile-on” and test the code in order to see how the service works and how it may break, so that  by the time the viewer code is merged for release purposes, it will be as robust as possible.

Test Avatars

To assist with the work, Nyx is also looking for volunteers willing to take part in the initial round of testing using avatars wearing multi-layer outfits (e.g. outfits combining undershirt, shirt and jacket layers, etc; outfits using multiple elements of the same layer; outfits with system skirts and glitch pants, outfits using alpha and/or tattoo layers, and so on). Anyone interested in joining-in the testing should contact Nyx via e-mail or by sending him an in-world notecard, specifying the avatar name and details of the outfit itself. When volunteering, bear in mind that:

  • The outfit must be a Viewer 3 outfit, and your viewer must support the Current Outfits folder (which is used to drive the new service from the viewer end)
  • Testing will be on Aditi, and as such, the avatar and outfit must be available on Aditi. If necessary, you may need to update your Aditi inventory to make the outfit available.

Going Forward

The plan is still to have the new code support both the “current” method of avatar baking  and the new baking service, until such time as the new service is fully deployed. This means that if a user is in a region that does not make use of the new baking service, avatar baking will continue to be handled using the viewer-side mechanism. However, if the user is on a region that utilises the new baking service, avatar baking will be handled through that, with a flag set via the region capabilities being used to distinguish whether or not the new service is available.

There is still no definitive time frame for the project because of the complexity involved in both developing the viewer code (which is currently using a branch of the SL development viewer, but will obviously be moved to whatever code release is current) and with the development of the new server-side service. As such, it is still liable to be at least another month or so before the code is ready for significant testing on Aditi.

Related Links

This is a little overdue due to problems earlier in the week accessing the recording of the TPV/Dev meeting (which I was unable to attend in person). Thanks to Oz for sorting the problem out, allowing me to catch-up on overdue updates on this and JIRA matters etc.

Making Changes

I’ve been tweaking the blog a lot of late; some of it may have been noticeable (particularly for those on the RSS feed, which seems to pop out a “new post” notification every time I sneeze when tweaking bits of the blog – my apologies for that), other changes hopefully not so blatant!

Today I’m launching the new theme and updates, and would welcome constructive feedback on the revised look and feel of the place. Key changes are:

  • New Categories menu (sidebar)

    A new theme with greater white space within the text and an updated font, both of which I hope will improve readability

  • Inclusion of the sidebar on every page, rather than just the home page, which I hope will assist in better navigation
  • New hierarchical Categories menu, with additional sub-categories to improve topic selection (e.g. Viewer and Clients has been updated to allow you to pull-up all reviews on a specific viewer, rather than relying on tags, plus three new sub-categories added for viewer round-up summaries, general news on viewers of any flavour (rather than reviews) and news and updates relating to the TPV Policy)
  • New sidebar DESTINATIONS REVIEWS category for accessing reviews of SL destinations and other virtual worlds / immersive environments I’ve visited.

Hopefully, these changes will help make the blog more readable and more effective as a resource  / reference tool for those who use it that way.

I’ve retained the menus as well, but the new theme allows me to move them to the top of the page. Hopefully this will make those items which include drop-down lists and sub-menus (e.g. Reviews) to be more usable than the older layout, which sometimes required page scrolling in order to properly display a sub-menu.

I’ve included a little poll here, please feel free to use it as an indicator of how well you like the new layout.

The poll is now closed. Results are shown below.