As noted in a recent TPV Developer meeting summary, things are in a state of flux with regards to Firestorm updates.
Originally, it had been hoped the team would have an update released during March; however, there have been numerous projects coming through the Lab which have encouraged the team to delay their release. These include things like fixes for the assorted issues of attachments either dropping off following region crossings (notably teleports) or failing to attach, and also with the upcoming Viewer-Managed Marketplace updates (VMM).
In addition, testing of the current pre-release beta has resulted in a very mixed bag of feedback from users involved in the beta process. Some have reported significant issues which may be linked to HTTP pipelining or the recent AIS v3 updates from that Lab, while others have indicated they’ve encountered very few issues, up to and including the attachment loss / failure issues mentioned above (although somewhat limited due to PC issues, my own use of the 4.7.0 pre-release versions of Firestorm has given me almost no issues whatsoever).
Because of this, it now seems likely that the Firestorm team will be handling the next release as follows:
Two initial preview releases, issued to the Firestorm preview group. One of these will have the latest AIS v3 updates and HTTP pipelining updates from the Lab enabled by default, and the other will have them disabled by default. The hope is these will help determine how many users may be impacted by any AIS v3 / HTTP pipelining issues, and how things should be defaulted for the follow-up releases
A public beta release will follow these two preview releases, which will see Firestorm brought up to par with the current LL viewer code
A “full” release will follow some weeks after the beta release, which may include any additional updates from the Lab (e.g. the attachment fixes and / or VMM, depending on the overall status of these updates from the Lab).
No precise time scales are available for any of these releases, but it seem likely (based on comments passed at the TPV meeting linked-to above), that there will likely be an initial call for users to join the Firestorm preview group to assist with the preview testing. The public beta then many still appear later in April. So, keep an eye on the Firestorm blog for any call that may be made, and for news on upcoming releases.
In the meantime, the Firestorm has announced a “Fed up with Winter!” party – or as I’ll prefer to call it, a “spring into Spring” party.
Headlining the event which will start at 12:00 noon SLT on Saturday, March 28th, will be Seth Regan, known in-world as Mankind Tracer. After his set, Firestorm’s own Ed Merryman will be providing the music in his usual style of spinning the discs until he (or everyone else) fall over from exhaustion!
The following notes are primarily taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, March 27th, a video of which is included towards the end of the article (my thanks as always to North for recording it and providing it for embedding), and from the Server Beta meeting held on Thursday, March 26th. Any time stamps contained within the following text refer to the TPV developer meeting video.
Server Deployments Week 13 – Recap
As always, please refer to the deployment thread in the forums for the latest updates / news.
On Tuesday, March 24th, the Main (SLS) channel received the server maintenance package deployed to the three RCs in week 12, comprising updates which allow the Lab to make various configuration changes without having to necessarily run a rolling restart when they have done so. It contains not actual functional changes to the simulator software
On Wednesday, March 25th, the three RC channels received the same new server maintenance package, which is focused on inventory loss issues, and provides the Lab with better error detection and logging, improving their ability to look at some of the failure places and the removal of unused code. This updates does notremove the server-side messaging used in support of RTLP.
SL Viewer Update
Avatar Layers Project Viewer
Vir Linden’s work on a new global limit for system layer clothing was released as a project viewer, version 188.8.131.529805. With this viewer, a user can wear any combination of clothing layers (wearables), up to a maximum of 60, rather than being limited to (in general, and as with the official viewer) to a maximum of 5 items per layer type. Note that these changes do not apply to body part wearables (skin, shape, hair, eyes), for which the limit is still one of each, and do not affect attachments, for which the limit is still 38 total.
[07:18] There is already an update in the pipe for this viewer, which should be appearing next week.
Camera Positioning / Handling
[05:12] While there are no specific details as yet, the lab is hoping to put some work into improving camera positioning and handling in the not too distant future, in the hope of removing various glitches and issues.
Build Tools Viewer
[05:54] There have been a few fixes added to this viewer (currently version 184.108.40.2069443), so a further update to the release candidate version is with the Lab’s QA team and should be appearing in week #14 (week commencing Monday, March 30th).
Maintenance Release Viewer
[06:29] Currently at version 220.127.116.119845, the latest Maintenance release viewer has a range of issues, many of which have hopefully been addressed with a series of fixes, so an update to that viewer is also with the Lab’s QA team. However, given the scope of the updates, it is proving a little harder to pass the QA process.
Experience Tools Viewer
[06:50] The Experience Keys / Tools viewer (currently version 18.104.22.1689338) is being merged-up with the latest release version of the viewer code (version 22.214.171.1249635). The updated version should also be appearing (again as an RC) in week #14.
[17:27 – 19:50] There is an interesting discussion on the viewer code which, for anyone interested in how the viewer has developed over the years, and how much of it dates back some 14 years.
[00:00] There was a pile-on test of the new Viewer-Managed Marketplace capability on Aditi in week #12, and Brooke Linden was at the TPV Developer meeting to provide feedback. The pile-on test did not reveal any significant issues in terms of performance.
However, there is still a viewer / simulator / marketplace communications issue which has to be resolved, which may take another couple of weeks to fix. After that, there are two grid deployments which need to take place: one for the VMM code itself, and one for updates to the Advanced Inventory System (AIS), so it is unlikely VMM will be fully deployed within the next month to two month, and the project viewer (currently version 126.96.36.1998865) is unlikely to progress through a release candidate to release status until after the server components have been deployed.
[07:32] Simon Linden has been continuing to work on the group chat code, and all of his current updates should have been deployed to the back-end group chat servers. A broad consensus is that the issues which recently occurred as a result of some changes have been reversed, and that the group chat service as a whole is now running a lot better, both in terms of the early performance improvements Simon made, and with regards to the overall stability of the service and the servers.
[08:24] There is a further round of updating in the planning, but these require a platform upgrade to be carried out for the group chat service first. Therefore, unless unless the latest set of updates deployed by the Lab start to show issues, the engineering team will be switching focus for the immediate future, and will return to working on group chat once the necessary upgrade work has been completed.
Experience Keys / Tools
[09:20] One of the items the engineering team want to focus on in particular is Experiences, and getting the remaining back-end issues sorted out so that Experiences can be properly deployed.
[09:59] There will be a further round of voice updates which are expected to appear in a project viewer “shortly”. They include (but are not limited to) things like general code clean-up to prevent unnecessary list loading, removal of media messaging in person-to-person calls (which has never worked), fixes for issues related to microphone volume and improvements to the microphone test so that you can now hear yourself when testing your microphone, and improvements for hot swapping microphones / headsets.
[13:58] There is some confusion over whether or not a fix to voice designed to prevent someone’s voice channel being “left behind” when teleporting between regions has actually worked. It had been thought that the fix for this had been deployed in later 2014. However, bug reports are still being made still reporting issues (see BUG-8543 and STORM-2109), prompting the Lab to re-examine the status of the fix.
[19:54] Voice package updates from Vivox are also expected to be forthcoming in the future as well.
Restore To Last Position (RTLP)
[21:08] There have been around 400 responses to the Firestorm call for feedback on how people use the Restore To Last Position functionality found in some TPVs. As I’ve previously reported, the Lab had been considering deprecating the server-side message RTLP uses as an overall part of on-going work to reduce the amount of inventory loss issues (real or perceived) which can occur.
Firestorm’s call is helping the Lab to better understand how, as faulty as it might be, RTLP does fulfil a range of useful / valid use cases. Commenting on the fact the he has been reading through the feedback, Oz Linden said:
[21:49] Well, I understand that there are user scenarios that need to be addressed and need to be better supported. Whether the existing feature is the way to do that or not, I still consider to be an open question. I do want to take those use cases and work back through that process [of determining how best to serve them].
So the Lab still isn’t going to do anything “quickly” either way on RTLP, and people needn’t worry about RTLP vanishing / breaking “suddenly”.
In the meantime, they are working on other changes intended to address various rezzing failure situations. This work is more server-side focused, although it may be a while before updates appear on the grid as the exact nature of the updates is still being determined.
[23:42] Oz also again thanked everyone who responded to the Lab’s call for feedback on inventory losses in general, defining the feedback as “really, really useful”.