SL projects update week 20 (2): materials beta, SSB/A

Server Deployments – Week 20

As always, please refer to the release forum  thread on the weekly deployments for the latest updates and discussions.

Second Life Server (Main channel)

On Tuesday May 14th, the Main channel received the Experience Keys project. This means the project is now available across the grid, although there are no visible changes to be seen at this point. Release notes.

Release Candidate (RC) Channels – JSON Capabilities

On Wednesday May 15th, all three RC channels received a new server maintenance project (release notes (Bluesteel)).  The project is designed to fix two crash modes and two bugs, and introduce new LSL support creating and parsing of JSON-formatted strings – see part 1 of this week 20 report.

Commenting on the JSON capabilities at the Server Beta meeting on Thursday May 16th, Maestro Linden said, “There are some issues with this week’s Json functions… the keys in key-value pairs are not quoted, but should be and right now you’ll run into problems when you add stings which contain escaped quotes.”

In addition, a further confirmed bug has been found in the code on the three RC channels (BUG-2601), described by Lucia Nightfire as:

Seems that the release on the RC channels has brought about an annoying bug that affects control event triggering in attachment’s child prims after changing regions.

There are two different effects depending how you enter a version RC region.

After going into an RC region while using any controls, those controls will lock under execution and remain locked until you reset the script or the control perms or detach the object.

After going into an RC region without using controls like with a teleport, the control event will not trigger when attempting to use any controls until you re-request/re-grant control perms or go back to a main channel region.

Should this problem be encountered, returning to any Main channel region should restore the broken functionality.

Because of both of these issues, it is believed the code currently on the three RC channels will remain on them for a further week while fixes are developed and implemented.

SL Viewer Updates

Beta Viewer

The current SL beta viewer code, which contains the FMOD Ex updates is expected to be merged with viewer release shortly, prior to going to testing. Depending on the results of the testing, an updated SL release viewer should appear early in week 21.

Viewer Release Process

Because the version upgrading changes will move to the viewer release channel with the move of the current beta viewer, the viewer beta repository will stop being used, and viewer releases will start switching over to the new release process. As a part of this, two new wiki pages will be appearing in the next future (probably in week 22).

The first of these will be a revamped Alternate Viewers page on the wiki, which will list all the available LL project viewers and beta viewers and release candidates which are available, as well as the current viewer release, all of which will have download links and links to their respective release notes.

The second wiki page will have the same information together with pointers to which repository used to build the viewer, which changesets were used to build a viewer, and whether or not the repository is public.

The plan remains that under the new release process, all beta and release candidates will have public repositories, while project viewers many not initially have public repositories, but will have as they reach the later stages of their development.

Cocoa Project

The Cocoa project for Mac versions of the viewer has been largely stalled as a result of redeploying TPV assistance from that project to the materials project. It is anticipated that once materials moves to a beta viewer status, the emphasis will shift back on to the Cocoa viewer work

Materials Processing

Providing all goes according to plan, the Materials Processing code should move to a beta  status within its own repository and hopefully also make an appearance in week 21. Commenting on this, Oz Linden said at the TPV Developer meeting o Friday May 17th, “It’s still not 100% there; there’s still a few known bugs, but we think we’ve got all the serious ones and so we’re going to put it out where people can play with it.”

Once the materials viewer does reach beta, the anticipation is that it will remain there for “a little while” and the it will not be a one-spin beta release prior to moving on.

Detail on the hint of a Katana created entirely using the new materials capability. The sword is made by June Dion and has an LI of 7
Materials used to create details on the hilt of a Katana created by June Dion – soon to be visible in the Materials Processing beta viewer

Server-side Baking / Appearance

Additional viewer-side changes have been  released to the Sunshine external repository, which Nyx Linden described as the Lab’s “next round” of viewer changes. “As we started to test server-side appearance, we noticed that the bake failing point was inventory. So as a second follow-up release, we’re going to be working on the inventory issues.”

The code updates also include assorted bug fixes, but the code, according to Nyx, speaking at the TPV Developer meeting on Friday May 17th, “Is not release ready by any stretch of the imagination, it’s still very much under development and very much not a strict requirement for supporting server-side appearance.”

Currently, the Lab’s view on this is that all viewers synced to the current 3.5.1 release viewer code should be “perfectly functional as much as the inventory system works as-is”, and deployment of SSB/A will not be delayed pending additional code in the Sunshine external repository reaching a point where it is in a fit stage to be merged-up with the SL viewer and TPVs.

When asked whether or not the issue was considered serious enough to delay deployment of SSB/A, Oz Linden responded, “Well, let’s put that in perspective. The question is not whether or not there will be no bake fails. The question is whether there will be fewer bake fails than there are now – that is, without server-side appearance. We’re still doing some final checking on that, but I believe we’ve actually passed that threshold already, even without the changes which are in Sunshine external right now.”

Nyx added, “The inventory issues I’m talking about are the next major failure for appearance [ after a straightforward bake fail], but we don’t believe that our changes to the system have made inventory any worse than it is today. So we don’t believe that will be a blocker for rolling-out server-side appearance, but if we find any evidence to the contrary, we will let you guys know.”

It’s probably worth reiterating that if people find they are still having some bake fail issues once SSB/A is deployed, the usual force rebake shortcut of CTRL-ALT-R will still work.

Test Regions and Deployment

Two regions are initially been set-up with the server-side SSB/A code enabled on them. These do not mark the start of the roll-out of SSB/A, but are intended to allow TPVs to gain confidence that the code they have in their viewers can handle the requirements of server-side baking without the additional complications which interfered with smooth testing on Aditi (the various inventory and other issues which were ongoing on the beta grid at the time of SSB/A testing there).

In terms of the actual start of any SSB/A roll-out, the Lab is still unwilling to commit to any dates, as they’ll also be looking at this “TPV test” period as an opportunity to gain further additional metrics on the system and to look for anything untoward occurring. The plan is still to make a formal announcement about SSB/A ahead of any actual roll-out.

Other Items in Brief

Second Life and Occulus Rift

There has been much mention of Occulus Rift in several blogs (including this one). However, Jo Yardley of the 1920s Berlin project fame has the real scoop. Not only was she the catalyst in getting Occulus Rift’s CEO Palmer Luckey talking directly (if electronically) with Rod Humble and set up the “unofficial (but approved)” Facebook page to help people keep up with SL/OR developments, she also got this scop from Rod Humble himself:

Engineers working on it. Scoop? Sure! It is up and running right now within SL but we want to make it excellent. The new work is on integrating the mouse/cursor/UI support within the Rift, this is important because real VR requires rethinking the way you interact with the world and UI to take advantage of head tracking. Hopefully we will be sharing some vids within a few weeks then get into testing after that. I don’t want to over hype this BUT SL+OR is like having dinner with Stefan Zweig and Peter Altenberg.

Read more on Jo’s blog!

HTTP Project

Monty Linden is back working on the viewer-side of his HTTP project, looking at mesh downloads, which he’s planning on handling the same way as he did texture fetching in 2012. He describes the work as “underway”, but notes he doesn’t at this point in time have a schedule for any releases.

Baker Linden’s Bug Stomping

“I’ve made some good progress in understanding our agent system this week! I may have one bug fixed (stripping leading whitespace from usernames)!” Baker Linden announced at the Server Beta meeting on Thursday May 16th. This is one of a number of bugs Baker is working on as he makes his way towards developing and implementing a new group bank feature (see JIRA 29337). He added, “it seems to work the way I’m expecting it. Just confirming the database write is using the stripped display name.”

This will still leave him with two other bugs to sort out – a fix for a problem with searching people when using the choose resident floater and another for a problem with unmuting an object. However, it would appear that some people are possibly looking to woo him into working on group bans sooner rather than later 🙂 …

Whirly Fizzle in disguise - an attempt to woo Baker Linden into working on Group Bans?
Whirly Fizzle in disguise – an attempt to woo Baker Linden into working on Group Bans?

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