The following notes are primarily taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, March 13th, a video of which is included at the end of the article (my thanks as always to North for recording it and providing it for embedding), and any time stamps contained within the following text refer to it.
Server Deployments Week 11 – Recap
As always, please refer to the sever deployment thread for the latest updates and information.
- There was no Main (SLS) channel deployment on Tuesday, March 10th
- On Wednesday, March 11th, all three RC channels received the same new server maintenance package comprising “internal improvements for premium users”.
The Avatar Hover Height viewer reached the release channel on March 10th, with the release of an RC version (22.214.171.1249635). Avatar Hover Height allows you to adjust the vertical position of your avatar within some preset limits. See the wiki page and my overview.
This brings the total number of RC viewers in the viewer release channel to four, however:
- [0:41] It is unlikely the Maintenance RC viewer (currently version 126.96.36.1999610, released on March 6th) will be promoted without further update, as it has been found to contain a significant number of additional bugs which require fixing
- [0:51] As the Avatar Hover Height RC viewer has only just been released, it is unlikely that the Lab will have enough stats on it to judge whether or not it can be promoted to the de facto release viewer in the immediate future; it is therefore likely to remain at RC status for at least another week, although initial reports suggest it is stable and doesn’t hide any unpleasantness
- [01:07] The back-end support for Experience Keys / Tools still isn’t ready for the service to go live, although the Lab is making further progress with whatever needed to be done; it is therefore remains unlikely the that Experience Keys viewer (currently version 188.8.131.529338, released on March 9th) will be promoted to the de facto release viewer until such time as the remaining back-end work has been completed.
Tools Update Viewer and XP Users
[01:20] This potentially means that the Tools Update RC viewer (currently version 184.108.40.2069443, released on March 4th) may be promoted to the de facto release viewer in week #12.
When this happens, it will obviously mean that all future builds of the official viewer will be made using the new tool chain and autobuild process. This in turn means that any Windows version of the viewer built using the new tools set (which includes MS visual Studio 2013) will not run on any version (32-, or 64-bit) version of Windows XP. To this end, the installer is being set so that it requires a minimum of Windows Vista with Service Pack 2 installed, in order for it to successfully install the viewer.
Note that this is not a deliberate attempt to block XP users from Second Life; it is purely the result of the Lab moving towards the use of up-to-date tools for building the viewer (and which will yield positive benefits elsewhere, such as with greater tool commonality between the Lab and TPVs), and some of these tools do not support windows XP due to its age and it no longer being actively supported by Microsoft.
[16:54] Some TPVs may investigate / opt to build the viewer somewhat manually using the new tool chain in such a way that it can be used on XP, but this is reportedly requires a “very large amount of work” to achieve, requires a lot of command line input, an avoidance of VS 2013, and is “really hacky”.
- [03:28] The Viewer-Managed Marketplace project viewer (currently version 220.127.116.118865, released on February 13th) is liable to be updated in week #12 as a result of further fixes and updates that came out of the last round of testing
- [04:20] The Mesh Importer project viewer (currently version 18.104.22.1688441, released on February 3rd), is currently undergoing further update with new fixes and will be updated as a project viewer in the near future.
Avatar Layers Global Limit
[04:41] In response to BUG-6258, “Popularity of Mesh Attachments Facilitates Need For More Alpha Layers”, the Lab is working to implement a new “global” limit to the number of system clothing layers an avatar can wear.
Under the current system, there are 12 types of clothing layers or wearables (alpha, tattoo, undershirt, shirt, jacket, underpants, pants, gloves, socks, skirts, shoes, and physics), with (generally) up to 5 of each type of wearable able to be worn at the same time, giving a maximum of 60 wearables that can worn simultaneously.
Under the new code being developed by Vir Linden, a new “global” limit of 60 wearable layers is being set per avatar, and users will be able to wear any number / combination of layers up to that limit (so you could opt to wear 60 jacket layers if you wanted, or 10 each of alpha, shirt, pants, gloves, jacket and socks, for example).
This update requires changes to both the viewer and to the server-side Appearance (SSA) service. The viewer-side changes are updates to the viewer’s logic, so it is purely checking the number of worn layers against the global limit of 60, rather than limits set for individual layers. The SSA changes will similarly support the new “global” use of clothing layers, but will also continue to support the 5-per-layer limit for viewers that do not adopt the newer code, or require a longer lead time in order to adopt the new viewer code, once it is available, thus providing a measure of “back compatibility”. The viewer code is expected to appear in a project viewer once it, and the back-end changes have cleared the Lab’s QA team.
[09:29] As noted in my recent updates, changes made to the group change service in the last two weeks unexpectedly resulted in up to 20% of messages failing to be delivered correctly. Simon Linden spent a fair amount of time during week #10 stabilising things and delivering further updates to try to correct the problem. As a result, in what has been called an “educational” two weeks for the Lab, the situation has been largely reversed, although some problems still remain.
The Server Beta User Group meeting on Thursday, March 12th, saw a further set of updates from Simon undergo testing on the Beta grid, and during the TPV Developer meeting on Friday, March 13th, Oz indicated that the Lab will probably undertake a further round of “serious” upgrading of all the technology associated with group chat before they declare the project in any way “finished”. This will likely involve putting the back-end service support group chat on more up-to-date hardware and OS environments.