The notes in this update are taken from the abbreviated TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, December 16th. The video of that meeting is embedded at the end of this update. My thanks as always to North for recording and providing it.
Expect no further viewer promotions to release or RC status until 2017, as the No Change window is now in effect through until January 2nd, 2017. although this doesn’t necessarily prevent project viewers from appearing (see below).
[00:07] The Lab is progressing with the 64-bit builds (Project Alex Ivy – which I assume is a reference to 64 in Roman numerals: LXIV = aLeX IVy). Oz reports they are not quite there with the Mac builds as yet, with more work needed on the library builds. However, Whirly Fizzle has already uncovered some issues with the Windows build, although she reports it as being largely stable through her own testing. Oz indicates there is still “some chance” a project viewer may appear before the holiday break takes full hold.
[05:59] The 360 snapshot viewer remains on hold while development is focused is on the 64-bit viewer builds. As soon as working versions of the latter are available for all the OS platforms, efforts will be switched back to 360-snapshots.
Viewer-side Voice Updates
[01:54] A new Voice update viewer should be available early in the New Year. This should fix a number of bugs and add improved diagnostics. There is currently no time line on when older versions of the Voice package will be blocked from connecting to the service, as “other things” are now seen as having a higher priority.
New Strategy for Rendering Fixes
[16:45] Up until now, fixing for rendering issues have been handled as a part of the Lab’s “standard” methodology for viewer updates: develop a fix for an issue and release it in a Maintenance release candidate viewer. This hasn’t always worked, with some fixes introducing problems of their own (the solid grey / black rendering of invisiprims perhaps being the most visible in recent times), which then prevent other fixes in the same Maintenance RC from progressing while the Lab works on the rendering fixes.
To try to avoid this, the Lab is going to experiment with separating out rendering fixes and moving them to their own release branch of the viewer. This should both prevent other Maintenance fixes and updates from being bottlenecked, but also allow for better QA testing of rendering system fixes / changes.
Sounds and Animations: HTTP and CDN Delivery
[02:22] In 2013 / 2014, the Lab made a huge change to how avatar appearance information and texture and mesh assets are delivered to users, shifting them away from UDP (User Datagram Protocol) delivery through the simulators, to HTTP via Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) – see my past reports on the HTTP updates. and CDN work.
For 2017, the Lab plan to move sound and animation assets (which may or may not include gestures) to delivery via HTTP and thence to CDN distribution and delivery. There is no precise time frame for this work, but once fully implemented (including by TPVs) the UDP / simulator messaging and routing for these assets will be removed.
While some have experienced CDN related issues with textures and meshes, the hope is that the move will make the delivery of sounds and animations more robust and faster (sounds are reported as being “amazingly slow” to delivery over UDP via the simulator – 10K/second), and remove more of the heavy lifting of assets from the simulators.
First TPV Developer Meeting for 2017
[24:26] The December 16th meeting marked the last TPV Developer meeting for 2016. The next meeting will not by until Friday, January 13th, 2017. This is largely due to the fact that not a lot will have changed between now and the second week of January to make a meeting worthwhile.
Second Life and Oculus Rift
[33:28] In July 2016, Linden Lab suspended development on Oculus Rift support in the viewer, but left the door open a crack for the potential for the work to be picked-up at some point in the future. However, as things stand with the current generation of headsets, this is not going to happen in the foreseeable future.
The belief is that the rendering requirements – particular frame rates sit well above those which can be reasonably achieved in Second Life through the viewer (Oculus VR quotes a minimum of 60 fps and a preferred rate of 90 fps, which the Lab sees as being doubled to 120 and 180 fps when rendering an SL scene in stereo).
Firestorm 5.0.1 Download Issues
[20:16] Jessica Lyon gave further insight into the recent issues with people trying to obtain the Firestorm 5.0.1 Bento release (see my review here, and subsequent updates on the download situation here and here).
While there were some indications demand would be high – the Firestorm Preview group had expanded to over 8,000 people – it nevertheless outstripped all expectations, and the Firestorm download server almost came to a standstill. To try to correct this, the server was restarted, driving traffic back to the web server in the process, which then overloaded and crashed.
Firestorm hope that with Bento out the door, the viewer can resume a more “normal” QA / release cycle through the Preview and Beta groups. However, a mirror site for new release downloads will be maintained going forward. Options for hosting the Firestorm JIRA service, considered a major resource hog on the FS servers, are also being considered, although there are pro and cons involved in making changes.
Jess also took the opportunity to again thank Linden Lab for stepping up and providing a mirror for downloads.