2018 SL UG updates 48/3: TPV Developer meeting

Black Bayou Lake; Inara Pey, October 2018, on FlickrBlack Bayou Lakeblog post

The following notes are taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, November 30th, 2018. A video of the meeting is embedded below, my thanks as always to North for recording and providing it.

SL Viewer

[0:46-3:50] No overall changes since the start of the week and the EEP viewer update. This leaves the official viewer pipelines as follows:

  • Current Release version, dated October 18th, promoted November 14th. Formerly the Animesh RC viewer – NEW.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Love Me Render RC viewer, version, November 20th.
    • Spotykach Maintenance RC viewer, version, November 15th.
    • Estate Access Management (EAM) RC viewer, version, September 28th.
    • BugSplat RC viewer, version, September 10. This viewer is functionally identical to the current release viewer, but uses BugSplat for crash reporting, rather than the Lab’s own Breakpad based crash reporting tools.
  • Project viewers:
  • Linux Spur viewer, version, dated November 17th, 2017 and promoted to release status 29th November – offered pending a Linux version of the Alex Ivy viewer code.
  • Obsolete platform viewer, version, May 8th, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

It is hoped there will be two viewer releases prior to the end-of-year no change window coming into force, with the likelihood that there will be at least one. The viewers potentially in the running for promotion are: the Bugsplat RC and / or the current Maintenance RC, and / or possibly the Bakes on Mesh viewer, even though this is currently still at project viewer status.

[13:35-15:10] It is also hoped that EEP will reach Release Candidate status before the end of 2018, but it will not be ready for promotion as a release viewer until 2019. This will also require the server-side support to be deployed to at least the primary RC server channels, if not grid-wide, something the Lab hopes to do “as expeditiously as we can”.

Also: see my previous CCUG summary for updates on EEP and Bakes on Mesh.

No Change Window

[3:54-4:25] The 2018/2019 no change window comes into effect from close o business on Friday, December 21st, 2018, and will run through until at least January 2nd, 2019.

Firestorm Bridge Issue  – Server Release /

[4:35-8:45] Since the deployment of server release 18#, there has been an issue with the Firestorm viewer LSL Bridge being set so that the scripts are not running. The issue also reproduces on server release 18# (currently grid-wide), and on the limited EEP release, 18# See BUG-225839 for more.

Part of the problem here is that the Bridge itself is something of a hack, both in the way it operates, and in the way it is created. Currently the focus is on working to create the Bridge in a cleaner, more efficient way (such as avoiding the need for code to be compiled twice). Longer-term, LL and Firestorm hope to review the Bridge functionality, with LL hopefully being able to provide server messaging, etc., to allow as many Bridge functions as possible to be performed without the need for LSL hacks.

It is hoped that the solutions developed between LL and Firestorm will ultimately resolve the need for the Bridge functionality, which will help reduce simulator script utilisation (as every active Firestorm Bridge is eating into script resources). In the meantime, work on this will not delay progressing the upcoming Firestorm Animesh release.

Complexity Calculations, Project ARCTan and Firestorm Animesh

[10:21-15:45] As noted in my CCUG meeting notes, Vir Linden is making adjustments to the avatar complexity calculations associated with Animesh attachments, which should appear in the next LL Maintenance RC viewer.

  • Most of this code has already been picked-up by Firestorm and incorporated into their upcoming Animesh release.
  • Further changes to limit the rate of prim parameter changes on worn objects are being considered by the Lab, and are likely to be introduced as a part of project ARCTan, which is re-evaluating all rendering costs associated with avatars and in-world objects.
  • ARCTan will be resuming in 2019, so any further updates on this front should not interfere with any Firestorm release plans.
  • It is also hoped that any further LL viewer releases will not disrupt any Firestorm Animesh release once it is ready to go. Depending on which viewer(s) Linden Lab promote before the end of 2018.
  • While it is anticipated EEP will reach RC status before the end of 2018, it does not appear that this will impact the Animesh release, but it will have major implications for Firestorm in general (e.g. OpenSim support).

[18:06-18:20] The current plan from Firestorm is – and assuming no significant blockers arise – to have a release out prior to the no change window coming into effect, which Firestorm prefer to respect.

MP4 (H.264) Video Playback

[19:52-23:26] There has been an ongoing issue with regards to MP4 encoded video playback in Second Life being “broken”. In fact, due to assorted (and complicated) patent / licensing requirements, support of MP4 (specifically H.264 encoded video, together with similar formats), was deliberately removed from the official SL viewer.

The issue had been under legal review within the Lab, and it had been hoped an official announcement would be forthcoming after the change to the official viewer was made. However, it matter has again been referred to the legal team at the Lab for further consideration.

It’s not clear how long it will be before the Lab’s legal team determine whether or not MP4 support can be returned to the viewer, nor how long it make take to re-introduce the viewer-side support, should the go-ahead be given. The latter is described as a “non-trivial” task, but also one the viewer team would be willing to undertake if legal provide the necessary OK.

In the meantime, to try to explain the situation to their users, who have been impacted since the 5.1.7 release in July 2018, Firestorm has issued a blog post on the matter: Why Is My TV Not Working. I refer readers to that blog post for further details – especially the explanation relating to why accepting “patches” to “fix” the issue may not be advisable.

In-Viewer Animation Creation

[19:12-19:50] and [23:25-27:12] This is a project based on contributions from NiranV Dean (Black Dragon viewer), this is now an official LL viewer project. It had recently been stalled due to other work, but resources are again being allocated to it.

This work will likely include some major UI changes, and has caused some discussion on possible (albeit hard to implement) means to directly manipulate bones without resorting to sliders. However, the initial aim is to hopefully provide a means by which simple animations can be created from within the viewer (remembering that most animators / animation content creators will likely continue to use their preferred tools for doing so), rather than trying to provide some complex toolset within the viewer.

In Brief

  • [9:27-10:20] December TPVD meetings: due to other commitments, December will likely only have one TPVD meeting, on Friday, December 21st, 2018.
  • [27:47-32:08] Linden Realms: There is a brief discussion on open-sourcing the Linden Realms code, first mentioned at the CCUG meeting. See my blog post here for more.
  • [32:13-33:10] and [34:02-34:28] Further work on Pathfinding to come? Oz Linden indicated that he’d like to see Pathfinding improved / made easier to use, but it has until now been something that has tended to fall just below the line of things to do that get resources allocated. Might this change in 2019? Animesh might be one related tool that might benefit from a better / improved Pathfinding implementation.
    • Those that have spent time delving into Pathfinding and can provide a considered write-up on shortcomings and / or improvements are asked to do so (presumably via Jira), in order to help the Lab to define a list of things to be addressed / considered.
  • [33:15-33:49] Premium on Aditi: support for Premium accounts will be coming to Aditi (the Beta gird) “real soon now”, although precisely when is still TBD.
  • [34:29-40:05] Premium Account Lock-Out: a discussion on the lock-out on “delinquent” Premium accounts (those that fall behind in payments): in LL’s view, there should be a fairly long grace period before any lock-out applies; some users have found this not to be the case.
    • The reason Premium accounts are not “simply” downgraded to Basic until payment is made rather than locking the account, is that there is no way to block access to any land the account holds and which may be due tier.
    • If anyone has an example of an immediate Premium account lock-out (or experiences one), they are asked to contact the Lab with the specifics.
    • There has been a fear amount Basic users that they may lose their inventory should they become delinquent in payments – however, it s no longer the Lab’s policy to delete accounts after 90 days of delinquency (or at all).
  • The final 16 minutes of the meeting covers a range of general discussion points ranging from direct AO support through the viewer (without script intervention), how the viewer was open-sourced, issues over the current viewer contribution agreement methodology, forum threads, etc.  – please refer to the video below for that section of the meeting