Category Archives: SL Project Updates

SL project updates 2017 12/1: server, viewer, Aditi testing

Field of Dreams; Inara Pey, March 2017, on FlickrField of Dreams / L’intangible – blog post

Server Deployments

As always, please refer to the server deployment thread for the latest information.

  • On Tuesday, March 21st, the Main (SLS) channel received receive the same server maintenance package previously deployed to the three RC channels, comprising new internal logging output and changes to increase stability and security
  • There is no planned deployment for the RC channels on Wednesday, March 22nd. As all three were restarted as a part of the week #11 deployment, they will not be restarted.

SL Viewer

Maintenance RC Viewer

A new Maintenance RC viewer, version 5.0.4.324646 was released on Thursday March 16th.  This update includes a range of bug fixes (please refer to the release notes) and improvements as per my overview of the release. However, the updates to Avatar Complexity recorded in the release note appear to be absent the viewer / not working correctly. There are:

  • “We will now remember your choices of whether to render or not render certain avatars. You can set this by right-clicking on someone in-world and choosing Render avatar -> Default / Always / Never” – avatars still revert to Render Normally following a re-log
  • Your selections can be seen (and changed) in Preferences -> Graphics -> “Exceptions…” (under) Maximum Complexity – this “Exceptions” option does not appear to be in the viewer
  • We’ve also added a setting to always render your friends, regardless of complexity – also does not appear to be in the viewer.

A bug report has been filed on this.

Voice RC Viewer

The new Voice release candidate viewer, version 5.0.4.324770, arrived on Monday, March 20th. This viewer offers a number of improvements to voice:

  • Fixes the apparent position of voices in local voice
  • Improves retry behaviour when there are problems connecting or during temporary connection problems
  • Logs more detailed information to the Lab for quantifying connection issues
  • Improves security of the communication between the viewer and SLVoice

Alex Ivy 64-bit Viewer

The 64-bit viewer for Windows and Mac was updated to version on Friday, March 17th.  This update should include the following:

  • An open-source wrapper for CEF called Dullahan (link for those who are curious about the etymology of Lab project names) which will replace llCEF, making it easier to render web content through the viewer
  • The same versions of Dullahan / CEF and libVLC (audio handling) on both the Windows and Mac builds.

In addition, the 64-bit Mac build now uses MacOS Sierra, and will be backwards compatible as far as OSX 10.9 (Xcode 8). The 64-bit Windows build still uses Visual Studio 2013, and will support Windows 10, 8 and 7. Vista support is TBC.

New Simulator Build

DRTSIM-323 is the channel on Aditi (the beta grid) which is carrying the a new version of the simulator code using the Lab’s latest build of the server operating system. In includes the regions: Fire Ants, Bug Island and Mauve (again, these are on the beta grid).

HTTP Asset Fetching

This is another project on Aditi only at present. As previously noted, it will eventually see the move of the remaining Second Life inventory assets  – landmarks, gestures, animations, shapes, sounds and wearables (system layer clothing and body shapes) – to delivery over HTTP and via the Content Delivery Network(s), rather than via UDP through the simulator.  Testing is still progressing, and an initially project viewer repository has been offered, but is not currently listed in the Alternate viewer page, as the server-side of the new code is only available on Aditi, as noted.

If you want to test the new capabilities (uploading new assets – particularly sounds and animations and then running them – you can obtain the project viewer (for the time being) from the Server Beta Group meeting agenda page on the SL wiki. Note the links are liable to vanish as the agenda page is updated, and that this viewer will only currently work in testing the new fetching capabilities when logged-in to Aditi.

Other Items

  • A new feature that aims to improve landowner experience and help premium members in also in the early stages of testing. no details as yet on what it is, but it has previously been hinted at in recent TPV Developer meetings. More details to come, as they become available
  • There is a general capabilities failure issue which can occur when connecting to region on on Aditi, which prevents users entering the region. It is under investigation, but JIRA reports if you persistent encounter the problem in respect of one more more regions on Aditi would be welcomed.
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SL project updates 2017 11/1: server, viewer, misc

Spring Spirit, Dalaran; Inara Pey, March 2017, on FlickrSpring Spiritblog post

Server Deployments

There was no deployment to the Main (SLS) channel on Tuesday, March 14th. As there had been a deployment & restart in week #10, the channel was not restarted this week.

On Wednesday, March 15th, the three RC channels should all receive the same new server maintenance package, comprising new internal logging output and changes to increase stability and security.

A major reason for the slow-down in apparent server updates is significant effort is being put into SL’s back-end services, much of which lacks any obvious user visibility. As Simon Linden said at the Simulator User Group meeting on Tuesday, March 14th, “Second Life needs that stuff for the long haul – we’re working on projects to keep SL going for years to come.”

SL Viewer

There is currently no change to the current official viewer list, which comprises:

  • Current Release version: 5.0.2.324126, dated March 3, promoted March 6 – formerly a Maintenance RC viewer download page, release notes
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • None at present.
  • Project viewers:
    • Project Alex Ivy (LXIV), 64-bit project viewer, version 5.1.0.501863 for Windows and Mac, released on January 10th
    • 360-degree snapshot viewer, version 4.1.3.321712, dated November 23rd, 2016 – ability to take 360-degree panoramic images – hands-on review
  • Obsolete platform viewer version 3.7.28.300847 dated May 8th, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

It is anticipated that the 64-bit viewer will receive an update this week, which should include:

  • An open-source wrapper for CEF called Dullahan (link for those who are curious about the etymology of Lab project names) which will replace llCEF, making it easier to render web content through the viewer
  • The same versions of Dullahan / CEF and libVLC (audio handling) on both the Windows and Mac builds.

The 64-bit Mac build now uses MacOS Sierra, and will be backwards compatible as far as OSx 10.9 (Xcode 8). The 64-bit Windows build still uses Visual Studio 2013, and will support Windows 10, 8 and 7. Vista support is TBC.

Second Life Community Platform

The new Second Life Community Platform officially launched on Tuesday, March 14th. You can read my overview of the platform here.

Second Life Places

Second Life Places allows region and parcel owners to create a web browsable page for their location(s) in-world where they can be shared through blogs, websites, etc. Included with each page are buttons to allow visitors to the page to launch their viewer and teleport directly the specified location.

The programme has been in beta since November 2016, and you can read my overview here. However, it appears that beta will be coming to an end in the near future, and the programme will be open to all who meet the criteria for setting-up their own pages.

SL project updates 2017 10/3: TPVD meeting

Mystical Fae Forest, Elvenshire; Inara Pey, February 2017, on FlickrMystical Fae Forest – blog post

The notes in this update are taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, March 10th, 2017. Audio extracts from the core points of the meeting are included.

SL Viewer Pipeline

There have been no further updates to any of the official viewers since part 1 of this week’s updates, leaving the pipelines as:

  • Current Release version: 5.0.2.324126, dated March 3rd, promoted March 6th – formerly a Maintenance RC viewer download page, release notes
  • Project viewers:
    • Project Alex Ivy (LXIV), 64-bit project viewer, version 5.1.0.501863 for Windows and Mac, released on January 10th
    • 360-degree snapshot viewer updated to version 4.1.3.321712 on November 23rd, 2016 – ability to take 360-degree panoramic images – hands-on review
  • Obsolete platform viewer version 3.7.28.300847 dated May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

A further Maintenance RC viewer is in the offing; expect that soon.

Love Me Render Viewer

The Love Me Render RC viewer containing rendering pipe improvements was withdrawn due to assorted issues, in part justifying the move of rendering fixes to their own viewer branch to prevent them bottlenecking viewer releases (which could have happened if they had been a part of the “regular” Maintenance RC). It will hopefully reappear once the issues prompting its withdrawal have been dealt with.

64-bit Viewer

The Project Alex Ivy 64-bit viewer has a new update currently with the Lab’s QA team. It has “quite a bit of work” in it, and should hopefully appear early in week #11 (week commencing Monday, March 13th). This update will include:

  • An open-source wrapper for CEF called Dullahan (link for those who are curious about the etymology of Lab project names) which will replace llCEF, making it easier to render web content through the viewer
  • The same versions of Dullahan / CEF and libVLC (audio handling) on both the Windows and Mac builds
  • The 64-bit Mac build now uses MacOS Sierra, and will be backwards compatible as far as OSx 10.9 (Xcode 8)
  • The 64-bit Windows build still uses Visual Studio 2013, and will support Windows 10, 8 and 7. Vista support is TBC.

360 Snapshot Viewer

Work is expected to resume on the 360 snapshot viewer, which will include further integration with various means of sharing snapshots – such as through the new Second Life Places pages.

New Viewer Management Framework

The next 64-bit update after the one referenced above will include the new viewer update process, which is specifically targeted at Windows users. This will run a process when updating the viewer to check the version of Windows being run (32-bit or 64-bit), and ensure the correct version of the viewer is downloaded and installed. In time, this process will eventually take over producing crash dump data as well.

Some concern was raised over forcing 64-bit users to run 64-bit versions of the viewer if they have found 32-bit versions to be easier (for whatever reason). However, the Lab believes this is unlikely to be the case.

Viewer Build Process

The viewer build process is changing with the arrival of the 64-bit viewer versions. One aspect of this is a new version of autobuild itself. The build process also uses the same compiler switches for building all of the various libraries which go into a viewer build, which are controlled by a new repository. This should smooth the build process and means that for Windows, the process can build either the 64-bit version of the viewer or the 32-bit version, providing the core 64-bit repository is used and depending on how an address size switch is set.

32-Bit Windows Support

There is still a large number of Second Life users running computers with 32-bit windows. As such, the Lab intends to support 32-bit windows for as long as the numbers warrant it / it is practical to do so. However, those on 32-bit versions of the operating system are liable to experience higher crash rates and poorer viewer performance, simply because of the memory limitations inherent in 32-bit Windows.

Voice Updates

The next Voice update should be appearing soon, which fixes the left / right orientation of Voice on the Mac. There are still some connection issues to be resolved, but hopefully the viewer will reach LL’s QA team in the next week or so, paving the way for its public appearance.

Abuse Report Categories

Currently, the report categories associate with Abuse Reports (ARs) are currently held in the viewer. This means that any changes made to the categories may not be reflected in all viewers, complicating the Governance Team’s work it triaging incoming reports.

While first mooted in August 2016, the Lab is now looking to make the Abuse Report categories a simulator-side capability downloaded to the viewer (most likely at log-in). This would both make it easier for the Lab to revise the abuse categories (were their ever a need to do so) and, over time, help eliminate the problem of incorrect abuse categories existing in older viewers.

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SL project updates 2017 10/2: Content Creation User Group w/audio

The gathering: people gather for the CCUG, including a ridable dragon, a work-in-progress by Teager (l) and a wearable dragon, also a WIP by Thornleaf (r)

The Content Creation User Group meeting, Thursdays, 13:00 SLT

The following notes are taken from the Content Creation User Group meeting, held on  Thursday March 9th, 2017 at 1:00pm SLT at the the Hippotropolis Campfire Circle. The meeting is chaired by Vir Linden, and agenda notes, etc, are available on the Content Creation User Group wiki page.

HTTP Fetching

As I’ve noted in several recent SL project updates, the Lab is shifting the fetching landmarks, gestures, animations, shapes, sounds and wearables (system layer clothing) away from UDP through the simulators and to HTTP via the CDN(s).

The simulator side of the code is already in place on Aditi and awaiting further testing (see here for more). Vir is heading-up the viewer side changes required to support this work, which is now getting “petty close” to being available in a public viewer (most likely a project viewer). I’ll continue to update on this work through my various SL project update reports.

Rendering Costs

Vir has also been looking at the viewer-side rendering costs of various avatar models to improve the rendering overall rendering cost calculations. This is more a data gathering exercise at the moment, but it is hoped it will lead to improved calculations when determining the overall rendering complexity of models, and will likely mean that, for example, the cost of rendering rigged meshes will at some point be updated.

This isn’t directly related to the potential of animating objects (e.g. for non-player characters). While the Lab is apparently still pondering on this as a possible project, it would mean back-end changes to calculate the land impact of avatar models used as NPCs, rather than alterations to the viewer-side rendering cost.

Animation Transitions

There have been, and continue to be, a number of issues with animation playback, some of which appear to be related to llSetAnimationOverride, one of the server-side functions for controlling your animation state. Some of these were reported early on in Bento, which exacerbated some of them (e.g. quadrupeds crossing their forepaws).

Issues can also occur with jump animation states (pre-jump, jump and landing), as has been reported in BUG-7488. For example, During the meeting, Troy Linden and Medhue Simoni pointed to problems: for Troy, it was with respect of an avatar “sticking” in the landing animation, rather than returning to the expected standing animation; Medhue reports issues in general playback, and whether the transitions will actually play correctly.

It not clear if these issues are all a part of the same problem, but feedback from the meeting is being relayed back to those at the Lab poking at things.

Information and Tools

People are still having problems finding Bento information on the SL wiki – such as the skeleton files. This is partially due to the files being on the Bento Testing page.  It’s also not easy for new creators to find information on suitable tools (e.g. Avastar. MayaStar, etc.).

One suggested solution (allowing for the wiki currently being locked from general edits) is to have a general SL tools page where the various tools, etc. can be listed with links to their respective websites. This could include free tools: GIMP, Blender, Wingz 3D, etc.), plus tools which are not specific to SL can be used within (e.g. Maya, Zbrush, etc), and then add-ons like Avastar and Mayastar.

Such an approach, coupled with a clean-up of the Bento information, might be suited to being included in an overhaul of the wiki Good Building Practices pages the Lab is working on as and when resources are available. Troy has made a note to take these ideas back to the Lab.

Other Items

Transparency Rendering Cost

There was some discussion on whether the rendering cost of a rigged mesh should remain high if it is set to transparent. Some felt the cost should be lower, and Vir noted that the system avatar has a special UUID for an invisible texture when can reduce the rendering cost of the system avatar. However, rigged meshes may not be subject to this check, which may also depend on how the mesh is made transparent (i.e. via a texture or via the transparency setting). He also noted that rendering as transparent could add cost over rendering a rigged mesh as opaque.

There was some discussion on whether simply having the mesh in memory, whether or not it is rendered, could add to its complexity. Vir indicated that as he’s not precisely sure how things are handled, he’d have a look at the code.

Calling Animation UUIDs via Script without the Animation Residing in Inventory

A question was asked whether it would be possible to have a script call an animation via the animation’s UUID without the animation being physically in the parent object’s inventory. The short answer to this is “no”.

While animations can be pulled from objects with modify permissions and used elsewhere, many items with animations (chairs, beds, etc.), tend to have animations in them set to No Copy, limiting the ability to freely re-use them. If animations could be freely called via script using their UUID, this protection would be eliminated, as anyone with the UUID could use the animation as often as they wished, regardless of whether or not a version of the animation resides in their inventory.

This conversation edged into the issue of people being able to pull Copy permissioned inventory from a No Modify object by opening it; however, that is something of a separate situation, which was not discussed further.

Avastar Status

AvaStar is now at release candidate 4, with RC 5 on its way, which may be the final RC before a release.

.ANIM Exporter for Maya

Aura Linden is re-working the code on her open-source Maya .ANIM exporter. She was originally working on it in Maya’s MEL scripting, which would make it compatible with all versions of Maya.

However, after encountering some problems, she is now coding it in Python. This means the exporter will only initially work with versions of Maya supporting Python  (version 8.5 onwards). It may be that once this work has been finished, Aura hopes to be able to go back and complete the exporter in MEL for older versions of Maya.

Mayastar Update

Cathy Foil will have an update for Mayastar appears shortly. When the .ANIM exporter is available (above), it will be folded in to Mayastar, although it is not exclusively for Mayastar.

Splitting the Avatar Shape into Different Elements

This was suggested some time ago as a possible Bento follow-up as a means of making it easier for users to mix and match heads and bodies by allowing different underpinning avatar shapes for both, which could be worn simultaneously. This was seen as particularly useful for users who are uncertain about customising their form using the sliders, or where creators provide No Modify shape with their head or body product, limiting the suer’s ability to modify one or the other. N definitive proposal has been put together on how this might be achieved.

Supplemental Animations

This was also the subject of early Content Creation meetings with Vir as a possible Bento follow-on project. The idea is to allow “supplemental” animations to run alongside the animation states keyed by llSetAnimationOverride(), effectively allowing them to play together, rather than conflicting with one another as is the case at the moment. This is still be considered, but no work has been carried out as yet.

Next Meeting

As Vir is out of the office in week #11, the next Content Creation meeting will be on Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 at 13:00 SLT.