SL project updates week 41/3: TPV Developer meeting

The following notes are drawn from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday October 10th, and shown in the video above. Time stamps, where relevant, have been included for ease of reference to the video. Note that items are listed according to subject matter, rather than chronologically, so time stamps may appear out-of-sequence in places. My thanks as always to North for the recording.

SL Viewer

HTTP Pipeline Viewer

[0:26:35] As noted in part 2 of this week’s report, the HTTP pipelining viewer was looking close to being ready for deployment as an RC viewer, possibly in the next week. However, it hit a final QA snag, and in Oz’s words, “Monty is busily correcting the problem and getting it back in the queue.” Or as Monty put it in chat “:(“. Apparently a workaround for a CURL bug “tends to disable pipelining”.

Benchmark and Experience Tools Viewers

[0:27:20] It is hoped that these two project viewers will be updating and moving into the viewer release channel as release candidates “pretty soon”.

Viewer Build Tool Chain

[0:41:51] The tools upgrade project for building the viewer has been subject to a few delays. Currently, the Lab has just about finished putting together all the build prerequisites for building the Mac version of the viewer directly on OS X 10.9, and are about to commence test builds of the viewer using the new tool chain. This has also led to some progress being made on updating the Linux build process as well. The windows environment will require further work, so it will be a little longer before things are fully in place.

Group Chat

[0:28:58] Again, as noted in part 2 of this week’s report, the latest updates for group chat are being deployed to various back-end chat servers by the Lab, and may be deployed to all of the chat servers in the next week.

While investigating group chat, the Lab has noticed that in general it is “unbelievably spikey”, with chat sessions having peaks of really good performance followed by troughs of really bad performance regardless as to whether the groups are regarded as being “good” or “bad” in handling group chat. There is no real pattern to these peaks and troughs, other than the larger the group, the more it seems to swing between the two extremes, and nothing to correlate them with anything in particular beyond the bad times occurring when a lot of people in a group are online.

Z-offet height Adjustment

[0:31:52] Work is continuing on the z-offset height proposal, which Vir Linden has been engaged upon. However, it appears the Lab has encountered some issues which have made it “a little more complicated” than had initially be thought. hopefully, these will be overcome, and they won’t bring the work to a halt.

CDN

[0:32:28] As noted in part 2 of this week’s report the number of regions on Snack and utilising  the Highwinds CDN for mesh and texture data servicing had reached around the 270 mark, but has since come down a little as a result of the Lab overloading the Snack sim hosts with regions running high volumes of users.

Metrics gathered by the Lab have been positive, and even though the Snack sim hosts were initially overloaded, the Lab feel they performed significantly better thanks to texture and mesh fetching being off-loaded to the CDN than would have been the case had the “old” method of texture / mesh fetching still been in use.

One aspect of the move to using the CDN is that until now, the sim host Apache service was being used for texture and mesh data handling and “lots” of other things which are timing critical to operations such as region crossings. With the move to the CDN, much (if not all) of the texture and mesh data handling is removed from the Apache service, making it easier for it to better handle time-critical activities.

If all goes according to plan, the CDN support will be expanded to the BlueSteel release candidate channel in week 42 (commencing Monday October 13th). This will allow the Lab to gain data on performance using the CDN support which can be directly compared with historical data available for region / sim host performance in BlueSteel. Those regions already running on Snack will continue to do so alongside of BlueSteel, so that around 5% of the main grid will be using the CDN service.

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Lab announces “viewer-managed Marketplace” on the way

secondlifeDuring the TPV Developer meeting on Friday October 10th, the Lab announced that there will be changes coming in 2015 to how merchants interact with the SL Marketplace.

These changes are in part the result of the Lab working to resolve outstanding issues around Direct Delivery, including the fact that not all use cases for Marketplace sales could be solved through Direct Delivery, but still require the use of Magic Boxes.

Brooke Linden was on-hand at the meeting to provide and overview of the forthcoming changes – which are unlikely to be implemented in full until the end of the first quarter of 2015, although broader testing with them is set to commence towards the end of October or in early November 2014.

The new functionality is discussed in detail in the October 10th meeting video. The following notes are intended to provide a general overview of what is planned,  and includes audio of key statements from Brooke for reference.

The major aspects of these changes will be:

  • The changes are being referred to as “viewer-managed marketplace”, or VMM
  • Items for sale on the Marketplace will not longer be stored on the Marketplace servers – they will remain in the merchant’s inventory (so there will not longer be any need to upload stock to the Marketplace)
  • There will be a new panel (as yet apparently unnamed) within the viewer. This will replace the Merchant Outbox and provide merchants with more information on their stock (e.g. information on whether or not an item is listed, stock levels on No Copy items, etc), and allow them to carry out the following Marketplace tasks from within the viewer:
    • Create new listings with stock
    • Associating inventory to an existing listing
    • Remove items from a listing
    • Unlist goods entirely.
  • (Note that other Marketplace activities will still require logging-in to the SL Marketplace web interface as is the case today.)

Brooke Linden provides an overview of the upcoming changes to the Viewer and the SL Marketplace

As a part of these changes, there will be a migration process, which the Lab hopes to make as smooth as possible. This will involve updating current Marketplace listings so that they correctly point to the inventory servers (rather than the inventory store on the Marketplace servers), and which will return items to the merchant, where they will be visible in the new Marketplace panel.

The plan is to make the migration process as automated as possible, with migration times scheduled with larger merchants as stores and listings will be temporarily unavailable during the migration process. However, for those who prefer, their will also be a manual migration process.

Brooke Linden on the migration process once the new functionality starts rolling-out in 2015

As noted above, the Lab is looking to deploy the new functionality around the end of the first quarter of 2015. In the meantime, a project viewer with the new panel will be deployed, most likely before the end of October, and it will be possible to under take testing on the new capabilities on Aditi (the Beta grid) starting wither towards the end of October or in early November.

Testing will initially involve those merchants who have been involved in providing input into the development of this new functionality, together with TPV developers. However, the plan is to then broaden it out and invite other merchants into the testing to generate broader feedback and input. Following the Aditi testing and feedback, there will be a beta phase using the production Marketplace prior to a full migration / switch-over.

Full updates on the changes will be forthcoming through future meetings as well as, hopefully, via a Lab blog post at some point in the future.