Sansar product meetings 2017: week #34

People gather for the morning product meet-up, Friday, August 24th

The following notes are taken from the Sansar Product Meet-ups held on Friday, August 25th. These meetings are held every Friday at 9:30am PDT and 4:00pm PDT, and are open to all. There is no set agenda (currently), and the meetings are a mix of voice and text. Venues change on a weekly basis, and are announced in the Meet-up Announcements;  the August 25th meetings took place at Voyage Live: Egypt. The official meeting notes published the week following each pair of meetings.

The meetings are chaired by Jenn (aka Xiola Linden) from the Community Team, and feature various members of the Sansar teams. The August 24th meetings, for example, saw Cara and Caroline from the Product Team in attendance, with Hydro Linden from the Modelling Team, and Brett from the Community Team.

Next Release

The tentative date for the next major Sansar release is Thursday, August 31st. This is in keeping with the Lab’s approach to making major (feature) updates at the end / start of a month, with smaller interim releases focused on bug fixes and patches being rolled out as required between these major releases. There is still some work to be done on the release, so the 31st is not a definite date. Highlights of the upcoming release include:

Terrain Editor

A first implementation of the Sansar Terrain Editor; the ability to upload custom textures to follow. Cara reports there are still some issues with this at present which need to be sorted before it is released.

Scripting Updates and Improvements

A range of scripting updates and improvements, including:

Ambient Occlusion (AO)

An initial implementation of AO to allow things like indirect lighting shadows to help objects and avatars look more “rooted” in a scene. This should not require creators to re-visit and update the Global Illumination (GI) bakes for their experiences, as the AO will be a real-time effect.

Other Notable Updates

  • Avatar Attachments: creators will be able to upload and sell their own avatar attachments through the Sansar Store.
  • Object Animations: animated objects created in Maya, StudioMax, or Blender can be imported them into Sansar.
  • Support for custom music and live streaming: e.g. via Shoutcast an similar services, for audio streaming in experiences.
  • 3D Video support: ability to watch 3D movies within experiences.
  • Bug fixes.

Once the release has been deployed, details of updates, changes, improvements and fixes will be documented in the Release Notes section of the knowledge base, and form an e-mail to users. Specific feature notes will also published through the forums.

Jenn and Cara Linden at the 09:30 PDT meeting, Friday, August 25th.

Beyond the Next Release

The following areas are priority work areas for future releases:

Collaborative Building / Design

While seen as a priority, it may take some time to appear, as it is also reliant on other aspects of the platform, such as the permissions system.

It’s also not clear what form it might take – will creators be able to work together to “block out” a scene collectively, using tools in the editor to construct basic models (walls, floors, door, etc), which can then be positioned, modified and used as a reference for the off-line building of the actual optimised, fully textured items for use in the scene, for example?

Social Aspects Improvements

These include:

  • Making it easier to find others in Sansar and communicate privately with non-friends (currently, you can only direct message someone you have friended)
  • Greater avatar-to-avatar interaction when in Desktop mode (e.g. the ability to identify other avatars, ability to directly mute (voice only) other avatars, etc).
  • Text chat improvements (e.g. clickable support for URLs rather than reliance on the “Go” button function to identify URLs; ability to copy / paste chat, etc.).

Text chat and messaging in particular lack some core functionality (scrolling back through open chat, for example, no time stamps on messages, muting only applies to voice, etc). The current inability to directly contact non-friends came about as a result of muting being limited to voice chat only, and will hopefully be reversed in time.

An attempt will be made to get someone from the UI Team and from the Product Team involved in the UI / chat tools to come to a meeting to discuss their work and priorities.

Other Items In Progress

  • Inventory management improvements.
  • User preferences – but no details on what these will be.

Sansar Roadmap

There is a Sansar roadmap for updates and improvements, etc. This is currently being refined, revised and prepared for public release. Once available, the hope is that it will form the basis for more focused discussions on Sansar’s development and for obtaining feedback from Sansar users.

Avatar Improvements

A means to refine the texturing of hair for avatars was discussed several weeks ago, but it’s not clear if this is on general release to creators, or something only available for the Sansar Character team to use in refining the current avatars. If it is generally available, a request as been made for documentation / examples.

There is a longer-term project to refine and improve the Sansar avatars. This includes separating clothing from the avatar bakes to make it easier to support clothing (e.g. clothing making, mixing and matching items, etc.). The time frame for this could be several months.

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SL project updates week 34/2: TPV Developer Meeting

Yamagata; Inara Pey, August 2017, on Flickr Yamagatablog post

The majority of the notes in this update are taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, August  25th 2017. The video of that meeting is embedded at the end of this update, my thanks as always to North for recording and providing it. Timestamps in the text below will open the video in a separate window at the relevant point for those wishing to listen to the discussions.

Server Deployments Week #34 – Recap

Please refer to the deployment notice for the week for latest updates and news.

  • On Tuesday, August 22nd, the  Main (SLS) channel was updated with server maintenance package, 17#, comprising internal fixes and the following feature requests:
    • BUG-5398: llGetObjectDetails() constants OBJECT_SELECTED & OBJECT_SAT_UPON. This sees the addition of two new parameters:
      • OBJECT_SELECTION_COUNT – returns how many agents are selecting any link in a linkset
      • OBJECT_SITTER_COUNT – returns how many agents are sitting on any links in a linkset.
    • BUG-9666: llGetObjectDetails() constants OBJECT_REZ_TIME, OBJECT_CREATION_TIME and OBJECT_RETURN_TIME.
    • BUG-134057 OBJECT_CREATION_TIME output precision possibly clamped – this sees a shift to 6-digit precision.
  • On Wednesday, August 23rd, the three RC channels all received a new server maintenance package, 17# comprising the MIME type changes for HTTP.

SL Viewer

[2:35] The Maintenance RC viewer, version and dated August 9th was promotion as the de facto release viewer on Wednesday, August 23rd.  A new Maintenance viewer is expected to appear around the middle of week #35 (commencing Monday, August 28th).

[1:23] The Alex Ivy 64-bit viewer failed a QA test as a result of issues being introducing in refectoring how the SL Luncher code (used to determine whether the 32-bit or 64-bit version of the viewer should be installed on Windows systems). The issues aren’t serious, so it is hoped this viewer will appear some time in week #35.

[10:50] A further delay in promoting this version of the viewer, which currently remains at version, is that accurate crash reporting data isn’t being gathers, due to issues with the back-end crash analyser, which are in the process of being addressed.  This problem isn’t uinque to the 64-bit build, but does seem to impact it the most.

[2:13] The Voice viewer, currently version, dated June 21st, has been updated for parity with the release viewer, but has yet to pass QA testing at the time of writing.

This leaves the overall pipeline as follows:

  • Current Release version, dated August 9, promoted August 23 – formerly the Maintenance RC
  • Release channel cohorts (please see my notes on manually installing RC viewer versions if you wish to install any release candidate(s) yourself):
  • Project viewers:
  • Obsolete platform viewer version, dated May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

[2:50] It is likely the the Lab will, at some point in the future, move to block some of the older and more outdated versions of the official viewer from accessing Second Life.

Texture Memory Increase and Cache Improvements

[13:58] The 64-bit viewer build will see an increase in the texture memory size, although this isn’t part of the current Alex Ivy build. This work includes:

  • [14:23] Changes to texture caching, including some re-organising and optimisation, and improvements to  statistics gathering to assist in understanding how well it is performing.
  • [15:25] Changes to format of the stored texture data, using the post-decoding raw data, rather than the JPEG2000 data, which should “significantly” improve the amount of textures which can be loaded per second by the viewer, when visited a location previously cached.
  • [16:18] An expansion of the cache version guards so that if a TPV changes versions of their texture decoding software (e.g. KDU) or change from 32- to 64-bit, the cache will get wiped, and force the start of a new one (this is something Firestorm already does).
  • An increase in cache size.

Further changes will follow from these, including possibly changing how the static VFS cache is handled, but this work has yet to be fully characterised.

BUG-10515: Unable to Rez Due To Invalid Mesh Data

[24:42] The have been increased report of mesh rezzing failures with the message “Unable to rez object because its mesh date is invalid.” It has been noted across different objects, but multiple reports have been made for it occurring with the Maitreya Lara 4.1 body.

The problems seem to occur randomly on different simulators, and the Lab has had problems getting the issue to reproduce, as often a simulator restart may clear it, so Grumpity Linden is seeking reports of the problem which can be made as they occur (object, region name, date / time, etc.), so that an attempt to reproduce the error can be be made and log files immediately gathered before any restart takes place (and/or log files are lost).

Other Items

[3:32] Infrastructure work:  the events of Tuesday, August 22nd (see April Linden’s blog post) became an accidental way of testing some of the new infrastructure changes (in this case, the log-in servers) the Lab is implementing, and will continue to implement over the next several months. This encompasses Second Life and the Lab’s various web properties related to it. This includes further operating system updates as well as various component updates.

[24:09] Part of this work involves inventory, although whether it will lead to user-visible improvements to inventory handling is unclear at this point.

[4:19] Place Pages: this have received a number of fixes recently, for those who wish to use them (see here for general information on Place Pages if you are unfamiliar with them).

[5:32] Estate Tool ban list improvements: The lab did some initial work to improve ban lists at the estate / region level a while ago, but the intended work to improvement to overall layout for the lists, etc., has been delayed do to work on dealing with viewer crashes, etc. However, work will be resuming before the end of the year, and possibly sooner. However, this work is unlikely to see an increase in the number held by the ban list, but will focus on usability improvements.

[28:44 McAfee Total Protection Issue: This is a problem being experienced by some users on TPVs (e.g. Alchemy and Firestorm) where the viewer is being flagged by McAfee Total Protection. This might be down to a code signing issue, however, to assist in further investigations, the problem needs to be reproduced and reported using the LL viewer.

[33:35] BUG-6925, HUDs and Attachments randomly detaching on region crossings / teleports: This has been investigated and determined to most likely be the result of a race condition, but a fixed has yet to be implemented.

[39:56-end] General discussion on documentation (e.g Axon animation; Objectllsd) and avatar physics calculations.