Lab updates on forthcoming improvements to SL

On Thursday July 17th, the Lab issued a blog post outlining further improvements being made to the Second Life platform.

Following a short introduction, the post reiterates the arrival of Experience Keys, and the new demonstration game for this capability – The Cornfield. For those interested, I have a review of the game available, and an overview of both Experience Keys and the Experience Keys project viewer, which can be downloaded from the Lab’s Alternate Viewers wiki page.

The Cornfield, the Experience Keys demonstrator game, gets a further mention in the blog post (note the game play area iuses a much darker and more atmospheric windlight)
The Cornfield, the Experience Keys demonstrator game, gets a further mention in the blog post (note the game play area uses a much darker and more atmospheric windlight)

The post then goes on to highlight three aspects of the platform which are currently being enhanced (note this is not an exhaustive list of all work that is being carried out – it’s just three of the projects thought to be of particular interest to SL users):

Improving Group Chat Performance

Today, group chat messages can sometimes take a long time to be delivered, and in some cases delivery fails entirely. This is an issue that impacts lots of Second Life users, and it’s something we’re actively working to improve. Anyone should be able to reliably hold a conversation using group chat in Second Life without delivery delays or other problems.

We’re carefully monitoring the effects of the changes we make to improve group chat performance, and so far, the results of efforts like upgrading the servers that host chat have been positive. We anticipate that the work to improve group chat performance will continue for some time as we identify the underlying causes of the issues, experiment with different fixes, and analyze results, and as we move forward, we’ll use this blog to share our progress.

Implementing the Chrome Embedded Framework

We’re working to upgrade the component of the Viewer that’s responsible for rendering web content, including the Viewer splash screen (displayed before login), the content of a number of floaters, and inworld media-on-a-prim. This is important because it will fix a number of bugs (especially related to streaming media) that currently affect many Second Life users, and it will also make available many modern web features that aren’t possible with the Viewer today.

We’re making good progress on this initiative already, and expect to have an experimental Project Viewer ready for testing soon.

More Texture and Mesh Loading Improvements

Building upon the performance enhancements we made with Project Shining, we are continuing to make improvements to how the Viewer retrieves texture and mesh data from our servers.

The next round of improvements will reduce the number of connections the Viewer needs to get this data (making it easier on your router and network), while also using each connection to retrieve more data more quickly (for the technically inclined, this means that among other things we will add support for HTTP pipelining).

These improvements will mean that as you explore Second Life, objects will appear more quickly and reliably, especially for users who have longer latency connections (higher “ping times”), such as those who live outside the US.

We have begun doing small-scale testing with a selected group of users, and the early results have been great from a performance point of view. Unfortunately, we’ve also encountered a bug that we need to tackle before we can move on to releasing a project Viewer. We’re eager to move ahead as quickly as we can, and will use this blog to announce that project Viewer as soon as it’s available.

Above: Whirly Fizzle produced a video showing the comparative texture loading between the (then) current SL release viewer (June 27th, 2014) and the HTTP updates experimental viewer

As always, I’ll be doing my best to report on the work outlined above through my weekly SL project updates as and when there is news to impart.

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4 thoughts on “Lab updates on forthcoming improvements to SL

  1. The Chrome Embedded Framework replacing the old Qt/Webkit stuff is a very pleasant surprise. Can’t wait to have it.

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  2. Great news!
    I’m excited about all those improvement, but the CEF is the one I’m the most excited about. I believe it’s the best route to take.

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