SL project updates week 35/1: server, viewer, unified snapshot floater and CDN

Matoluta Sanctuary, Sartre; Inara Pey, July 2014, on FlickrMatoluta Sanctuary, Sartre (Flickr) – Blog post

Server Deployments, Week 35

As always, please refer to the server deployment thread on the forums for the latest updates and information.

Main (SLS) Channel

On Tuesday August 26th, the Main channel was updated with the server maintenance release previously deployed to all three RC channels in week 34, which contains a single crash fix.

RC Channels

On Wednesday August 27th, all three RC channels should be updated with a new server maintenance package, which contains further crash mode fixes and, as indicated in the second part of my week 34 report, fixes for the following:

  • SVC-2262 – “Incorrect height value in postcard which sent from above 256m” (a postcard being a snapshot sent to e-mail)
  • A “re-fix” for BUG-6466 – “Numbers expressed in scientific notation and include a plus sign in the exponent are not parsed as JSON numbers by LSL”, which was thought to have been fixed a while ago, but which in fact resulted in BUG-6657 – “Valid JSON numbers like 0e0 no longer valid after”, prompting the original fix to be rolled back.

SL Viewer

A new Snowstorm contributions RC arrived in the viewer release channel on Tuesday August 26th. The viewer, version, includes a number of fixes for viewer issues and the new unified snapshot floater. As such, the list of contributions comprises:

  • OPEN-213 Broken header guard in llaudiodecodemgr.h
  • OPEN-217 Change to media_plugin_quicktime.cpp causes Windows compile to fail
  • STORM-2030 Rapidly clicking the refresh button in selected floaters may result in duplicate entries
  • STORM-2031 Display issues with Top colliders/Top scripts floater
  • STORM-2034 Support ‘older than’ when inventory filtering
  • STORM-2037 LSL syntax fetching for new keywords appears to be broken
  • STORM-2038 On the Edit tab of the build menu, clicking the area in between the Full Bright check box and the materials drop down box opens the color picker.
  • STORM-2040 Unified Snapshot floater
  • STORM-2076 Width spinner is broken in the Snapshot->Save to disk floater.
The new snapshot floater by Niran V Dean: note the button options for Flickr, Twitter and Facebook uploads
The new snapshot floater by Niran V Dean is now available in a new Snowstorm contributions RC viewer. Note the button options for Flickr, Twitter and Facebook uploads, the position of the filter option and the enlarged preview panel. Please refer to my preview of the floater for further details

The new snapshot floater provides an enlarged preview panel, plus buttons to access the Facebook, Twitter and Flickr upload floaters. However, what’s possibly going to be very popular among SL users is the ability to use the filter options with snapshots saved to inventory, disk or to e-mail – and the ability to use them on snapshots to be uploaded to the SL profile feed. Further information on the floater can be found in my preview article about it.

While there have been no changes to either the Experience Keys project viewer or the Oculus Rift project viewer, an update to the Experience Keys viewer is also anticipated soon.

Texture and Mesh CDN

Testing is continuing on the Aditi set-up to test the initial configuration of the proposed texture and mesh fetching CDN, and results are seemingly positive.As noted in my last reports, if successful, this approach will see texture and mesh fetching bypass the simulator entirely, being routed instead directly between the viewer and asset servers via the CDN, which should see improvements in the speed and reliability of such transfers.

Given the CDN nodes are located around the globe, they offer significantly faster response times than trying to reach the SL servers. For example: ping times to the SL servers from the East coast US or the UK can be measured at an average of around 110ms or 180 ms respectively; ping times to a local CDN however, have been reported at 10ms and 30 ms respectively.

The way the system works means that when a new asset (with a new ID) is created, it is initially held by the Lab’s servers. However, the first time the asset is called, it is delivered to the CDN nearest to the person calling it, and cached there, and once cached, is then served locally whenever called by anyone connecting to that CDN, thus making for faster delivery to the viewer.

Whirly Fizzle has been driving a lot of the tests, carrying out direct comparisons in texture fetching via the CDN and via the current method of running things through the simulator, and her results are promising:

The results from Whirly Fizzle's testing with the CDN and classi download mechanism for textures, using the test regions on Aditi - click for full size, or go here for the original document
The results from Whirly Fizzle’s testing with the CDN and classic download mechanism for textures, using the test regions on Aditi – click for full size, or go here for the original document

However, a couple of points need to be remembered when looking at these figures. Firstly, the work is still in its infancy, and there is a way to go before the Lab is in a position to announce anything is ready for prime-time use. The test environment, while producing valid figures, isn’t something that will scale particularly well, a fact which caused Oz Linden to comment at the Simulator User Group meeting that while the Lab does have a plan for building a scalable solution, hasn’t as yet actually been built.

An additional point worth noting is that while the test environment doesn’t require a special viewer (any viewer will work in the test regions on Aditi), any solution which will eventually be deployed will require viewer-side updates. To ensure that all viewers can leverage the new system as quickly as possible when both it and the viewer changes are ready, the Lab plans to release the viewer updates separately from everything else so that TPVs can quikcly merge them into their own viewers.

Even so, the Lab welcomes people testing the new set-up, as it helps them to gather more data. Details on the testing and the Aditi regions can be found in the Server Beta meeting agenda notes.

Oz is particularly excited about this work, commenting, “It’s something I’ve wanted to see done since I got here.”

Other Items

Not strictly an SL project update, but something related to SL project work.

Loki Eliot has posted a couple of blog posts related to Experience Keys / Tools. In the first, he provides notice that his Escapades Island has now been updated to use Experience Keys – which should make for some interesting fun! In the second, he provides some feedback on his dabbling with Experience Keys, highlighting one or two shortfalls which, while not devastating to the system, do point at least one area where the Lab might want to consider extending the permissions system (seating avatars, which might need a little careful thought), and on how things might be improved on the Oculus Rift side of things for those wanting a really immersive experience with Exp Keys.