2020 Simulator User Group week #28 summary

The Woods of Whimsy, May 2020 – blog post

The following notes were taken during the Simulator User Group meeting of Tuesday, July 7th, 2020.

Simulator Deployments

Please refer to the server deployment thread for news and updates:

  • There was not main channel deployment on Tuesday, July 7th, leaving the servers on server release 543526, comprising further infrastructure updates to support Group chat improvements / support of the cloud uplift work.
  • On Wednesday, July 8th, the RC channels should be updated with server release 544419, which should resolve issues with off-line inventory offers and group notice attachments
    • Note that this requires a viewer-side update, which should currently be in all the Viewer RC versions.

SL Viewer

  • The Arrack Maintenance RC viewer updated to version 6.4.5.544465 on July 6th.
  • The Tools Update RC viewer updated to version 6.4.5.544474 on July 7th.

The rest of the current range of official viewers remains as follows:

  • Current Release viewer version 6.4.3.543157, dated June 11, promoted June 23, formerly the CEF RC viewer – No Change.
  • 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:
    • Custom Key Mappings project viewer, version 6.4.5.544079, June 30.
    • Mesh uploader project viewer, version 6.4.4.543141, June 11.
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version 6.3.5.533365, December 9, 2019.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.532999, November 22, 2019.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.3.2.530836, September 17, 2019. Covers the re-integration of Viewer Profiles.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, July 16, 2019.

Region Restarts and Region Crossings

The server deployment threads generally reference rolling restarts being performed if channels have been running for 10 days or longer, regardless as to whether there is an accompanying deployment (e.g. so at least once every 14 days).

However, during the Simulator User Group meeting, comments from the Lab suggest this is not an absolute. For example, if agents (avatar or scripted) are in a region, a restart may not occur. As it is, there is currently a fair number of mainland and private regions that have not seen a restart in 2-3 weeks.

This is causing some consternation among road vehicle users who see region restarts as (currently) the main panacea for their region crossing woes; there may well be fair mileage in this – no pun intended; but equally, there are reasons why restarts may not resolve issues, but as they are a non-trivial matter, could be disruptive to other users, requiring a balance to be struck.

The fact is the physical region crossings involving vehicles are a complicated issue. There is no single point of failure – and issues can be exacerbated by factors external to SL; it might even be argued that as script load plays a role in bad region crossings, loading vehicles up with scripts to monitor / log crossings could actually exacerbate the problems being encountered by those using said scripts. However, Given that rolling restarts are expected every 14 days, regardless of deployments, it might not be a bad idea to try to ensure this is a regimen that is more rigorously held to, in that restarts can be seen as calming region crossing issues.

2020 Content Creation User Group week #27 summary

Yes – Endless, May 2020 – blog post

The following notes were taken from my audio recording and chat log of the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting held on Thursday, July 2nd 2020 at 13:00 SLT. These meetings are chaired by Vir Linden, and agenda notes, meeting SLurl, etc, are are available on the Content Creation User Group wiki page.

SL Viewer

  • A Custom Key Mappings project viewer, version 6.4.5.544079, was issued on Tuesday, June 30th.

The rest of the official viewers in the pipeline remain as follows:

  • Current Release viewer version 6.4.3.543157, dated June 11, promoted June 23, formerly the CEF RC viewer.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Love Me Render RC viewer, version 6.4.5.544028, June 30.
    • Tools Update RC viewer, version 6.4.5.544097, June 25 – this viewer is built using VS 2017 / a recent version of Xcode, and Boost.Fiber. It contains no user-facing changes.
    • Arrack Maintenance RC viewer, 6.4.5.544024, issued on June 24 – this viewer uses Viewer Manager 2.0.538279.
  • Project viewers:
    • Custom Key Mappings project viewer, version 6.4.5.544079, June 30.
    • Mesh uploader project viewer, version 6.4.4.543141, June 11.
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version 6.3.5.533365, December 9, 2019.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.532999, November 22, 2019.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.3.2.530836, September 17, 2019. Covers the re-integration of Viewer Profiles.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, July 16, 2019.

General Viewer Notes

  • The Love Me Render (LMR) RC viewer is still absorbing fixes for EEP and rendering issues. Version 6.4.5.544028, dated June 30th includes a fix for BUG-225784 “BUG-225446 regression – HUDs are again affected by environment setting”. This viewer will hopefully in time include a fix for specularity issues (see BUG-228781 and BUG-228581).
  • It looks like the Legacy Profile viewer could be getting promoted to RC status very soon.

ARCTan

Project Summary

An attempt to re-evaluate object and avatar rendering costs to make them more reflective of the actual impact of rendering either in the viewer. The overall aim is to try to correct some inherent negative incentives for creating optimised content (e.g. with regards to generating LOD models with mesh), and to update the calculations to reflect current resource constraints, rather than basing them on outdated constraints (e.g. graphics systems, network capabilities, etc).

As of January 2020 ARCTan has effectively been split:

  • Viewer-side changes, primarily focused on revising the Avatar Rendering Cost (ARC) calculations and providing additional viewer UI so that people can better visibility and control to seeing complexity.
  • Work on providing in-world object rendering costs (LOD models, etc.) which might affect Land Impact will be handled as a later tranche of project work, after the avatar work.
  • The belief is that “good” avatar ARC values can likely be used as a computational base for these rendering calculations.

Current Status

  • Vir’s updates to jelly dolls have hit a couple of issues whilst in QA, but should still get rolled into the ARCTan project once he’s had a chance to fix them.

In Brief

Pathfinding Navmesh

  • A request was put forward to allow scripted access to rebaking a region’s navmesh (used with Pathfinding).
  • A use case for this would be something likes a procedural game where elements of the scene may be placed via script in accordance with progress.
    • As alterations to a scene impact the navmesh, this can upset NPCs using it.
    • Currently, the only way to rebake is via manual intervention, which can be missed.
    • Offering a scripted means would ensure the navmesh is automatically updated when required.
  • This type of scripted update has been requested in the past, and generally frowned upon due to the risk of potential abuse. However, risk could be mitigated by limited the scripting option to estate owners / managers, and using a throttle on the number of allowed requests.
  • That said, multiple rebakes of the navmesh can themselves have a cumulative impact on simulator performance and resources (particularly on Homestead regions), such that a region restart is required to correct matters, which might in some cases be as disruptive, so this would likely need to be re-examined.
  • Currently, there are no plans to work on Pathfinding in the short-to-medium term, however, it has been requested that the idea is written up as a feature request for review by the Lab.

Other Items

  • There as been a request for the viewer to support Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) image format (see: BUG-229007). However, this would require an extensive overhaul of the graphics pipeline (which currently uses JPG2000) in order to ensure all texture handing had a code path for running SVG. So this is not a likely target for a project.
  • There was a general discussion on the animation system and file formats (.ANIM and .BVH) including long-standing requests to overhaul the system and provide overrides for priority, speed, start / stop frame, etc., and more informed control of easing out/in to the animations. Currently, there is no work being planned for the system, however.
  • A request has been made to allow for scripted interrogation on how people are using EEP. The specific use case would be a game or similar, where a specific environment has been set (e.g. fog / reduced visibility) and the system could query incoming systems to ensure the viewer is set to Use Shared Environment, and if not, advise the user they need to change their setting. Not clear if / how this will be addressed.
  • Next meeting: Thursday, July 16th, 2020.

2020 Simulator User Group week #27 summary

Cherishville, May 2020 – blog post

The Simulator User Group meeting held on Tuesday, June 30th was a relatively brief meeting in terms of actionable news.

Simulator Deployments

Please refer to the server deployment thread for news and updates:

  • There was not main channel deployment or restart on Tuesday, June 30th, leaving the servers on server release 543526, comprising further infrastructure updates to support Group chat improvements / support of the cloud uplift work.
  • On Wednesday, July 1st, there should by an RC server update that includes a fix for off-line inventory offers failing. However, this update requires a viewer-side fix that should be in all RC versions of the official viewer, and TPVs will need to pick it up. Please refer to the deployment thread for further information on this update, when available.

SL Viewer

  • The Love Me Render RC viewer updated to version 6.4.5.544028. Among its updates and fixes, this viewer includes:
    • A fix for BUG-225784 “BUG-225446 regression – HUDs are again affected by environment setting”.
    • Additional logging for detecting Vulkan graphics support on Windows clients.

The rest of the current range of official viewers remains as follows:

  • Current Release viewer version 6.4.3.543157, dated June 11, promoted June 23, formerly the CEF RC viewer – NEW.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Arrack Maintenance RC viewer, 6.4.5.544024, issued on June 24 – this viewer uses Viewer Manager 2.0.538279.
    • Tools Update RC viewer, version 6.4.5.544097, June 25 – this viewer is built using VS 2017 / a recent version of Xcode, and Boost.Fiber. It contains no user-facing changes.
  • Project viewers:
    • Mesh uploader project viewer, version 6.4.4.543141, June 11.
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version 6.3.5.533365, December 9, 2019.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.532999, November 22, 2019.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.3.2.530836, September 17, 2019. Covers the re-integration of Viewer Profiles.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, July 16, 2019.

In brief

  • The was some general discussion on region crossings. However, as LL are not currently working on these, here is nothing solid to report in terms of updates.
  • The second half of the meeting was dominated by comparisons between the the Lab’s Copy / Paste project viewer and a similar parameters capability that has long been a part of editing objects in  Firestorm.

2020 SL project updates week #26: TPVD summary

South Shore Bay, May 2020 – blog post

The following notes are taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, June 26th, 2020. These meetings are generally held every other week, unless otherwise noted in any given summary. The embedded video is provided to Pantera – my thanks to her for recording and providing it. Time stamps are included with the notes will open the video at the point(s) where a specific topic is discussed.

SL Viewer News

[0:00-4:27]

  • On Tuesday, June 23rd, the release viewer updated to version 6.4.3.543157, dated June 11th, formerly the CEF RC viewer.
  • On Wednesday, June 24th, the Arrack Maintenance RC viewer, 6.4.5.544024, was issued. This viewer uses Viewer Manager 2.0.538279.
  • On Thursday, June 25th, the Tools Update RC viewer updated to version 6.4.5.544097. This viewer is built using VS 2017 / a recent version of Xcode, and Boost.Fiber. It contains no user-facing changes.

The rest of the current official viewer pipelines are as follows:

  • Release Candidate viewers:
  • Project viewers:
    • Mesh uploader project viewer, version 6.4.4.543141, June 11.
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version 6.3.5.533365, December 9, 2019.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.532999, November 22, 2019.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.3.2.530836, September 17, 2019. Covers the re-integration of Viewer Profiles.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, July 16, 2019.

General Viewer Notes

  • The CEF viewer supports live streaming into Second Life by You Tube and Facebook. Other services may also work, but further bug fixes may be required for them to work smoothly.
  • The Love Me Render (LMR) RC viewer should be the next viewer in-line for promotion, mostly likely in week #28, however, this is dependent on it getting some remaining priority fixes related to EEP.
    • These fixes include the reported specularity issues and now include the reported HUD issues (BUG-225784).
  • The Legacy Profiles Project Viewer had been awaiting a web update which may have gone through. If so, and it correctly addresses the issue, then it is likely the viewer will go to RC status.
  • The Copy / Paste Project Viewer also shouldn’t be “too far” from an RC update.

Simulator News

[4:42-5:35]

  • A new simulator version that includes a fix for the failure to deliver inventory offers to a user who is off-line is available for testing by TPVs.
  • Viewer developers wishing to test the updates can do so on regions Preflight3, Preflight4 and Preflight7.

Texture Caching, HTTP and General Viewer Caching

[6:05-9:51]

  • Work had been in progress to update texture caching and HTTP2 (the TCO viewer. That viewer has been split between the texture caching work and the HTTP2 work, so it has effectively become two viewers in development.
    • The HTTP2 viewer will likely remain on hold until after the Uplift project work is complete.
    • It is not currently clear when work on the texture caching (TCO) viewer will resume.
  • In terms of revising viewer caching as a whole, this is liable to be a fairly large project.
    • First item of business will be to completely replace VFS caching (the system used to cache information on in-world objects) with a new, more performant format.
    • Once this has been done, other aspects of caching with the viewer will be looked at.
  • Inventory caching is another area of work that may be looked at in the future.

In Brief

  • [10:26-12:59] Beq Janus and Polysail have been digging into how normals are applied to mesh surfaces and have come up with some interesting findings that have been passed to Linden Lab.
    • Initial review suggest at least two issues are present.
    • However, the graphic team currently has its hand full until the LMR viewer is released, so work is unlikely to progress until then.
    • The “good” news is, at least one of the issues, related to debug normals, can be readily reproduced.
    • If the issues can be quickly rectified, the fixes might be pulled into the Mesh Uploader Project Viewer.
  • [21:15-22:15] In response to a question it was reiterated that Vulkan is being given serious consideration as the rendering API to replace OpenGL, given Apple’s intent to deprecate the latter.
    • One potential issue is that a lot of older PCs used with SL do not have support for Vulkan.
    • To assist in determining how big an issue this might be, the Arrack Maintenance RC viewer includes logging code to detect Vulkan support within client systems.
  • [22:45-26:07] the announcement by Apple that they plan to switch away from using Intel CPUs to their own ARM-based CPUs starting in 2020 was discussed. LL will be looking into this more once they get some dev kits from Apple.

2020 Simulator User Group week #26 summary

Kintsugi: Spirited Beyond – blog post

The following notes were taken at the Simulator User Group meeting held on Tuesday, June 23rd. Not much to report as it as another live music event.

Simulator Deployments

Please refer to the server deployment thread for news and updates:

  • On Tuesday, June 23rd, the min channel was updated to server release 543526, comprising further infrastructure updates to support Group chat improvements / support of the cloud uplift work.
  • There is no planned RC deployment or restart planned for Wednesday, June 24th, also leaving regions running on release 543526.

SL Viewer

There have been no updates to the official viewers to mark the start of the week, leaving the current viewers as follows:

  • Current Release viewer version 6.4.3.542964, dated May 29th, promoted June 2nd, formerly the FMOD Studio RC viewer – No Change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • CEF RC viewer, version 6.4.3.543157, June 11.
    • Tools Update RC viewer, version 6.4.4.543148, June 5 – this viewer is built using VS 2017 / a recent version of Xcode, and Boost.Fiber. It contains no user-facing changes.
    • Love Me Render RC viewer, version 6.4.4.543142, June 3.
  • Project viewers:
    • Mesh uploader project viewer, version 6.4.4.543141, June 11.
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version 6.3.5.533365, December 9, 2019.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.532999, November 22, 2019.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.3.2.530836, September 17, 2019. Covers the re-integration of Viewer Profiles.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, July 16, 2019.

2020 Content Creation User Group week #25 summary

Thermae, May 2020 – blog post

The following notes were taken from my audio recording and chat log of the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting held on Thursday, June 18th 2020 at 13:00 SLT. These meetings are chaired by Vir Linden, and agenda notes, meeting SLurl, etc, are are available on the Content Creation User Group wiki page.

SL Viewer

  • It had been planned that the next viewer to be promoted to de facto release status would be the Love Me Render (LMR) RC viewer. However:
    • LMR is being held over pending the inclusion of various EEP bug fixes, including a fix for the HUD issues (see BUG-225784) and a fix for the specularity problems (see BUG-228781 and BUG-228581).
    • This means the next viewer that will likely be promoted will be the CEF RC viewer, and this could be promoted in week #26 (commencing Monday, June 22nd).

Viewer Caching

  • Work is continuing to try to improve viewer caching.
  • First outcome of this work is liable to be a viewer that has improved VFS caching (the system used to cache information on in-world objects). This will be a complete replacement of the VFS cache with a new format that retains data better and is more performant.
  • The next element of work after the VFS update is liable to be an overhaul of the viewer’s texture caching.

ARCTan

Project Summary

An attempt to re-evaluate object and avatar rendering costs to make them more reflective of the actual impact of rendering either in the viewer. The overall aim is to try to correct some inherent negative incentives for creating optimised content (e.g. with regards to generating LOD models with mesh), and to update the calculations to reflect current resource constraints, rather than basing them on outdated constraints (e.g. graphics systems, network capabilities, etc).

As of January 2020 ARCTan has effectively been split:

  • Viewer-side changes, primarily focused on revising the Avatar Rendering Cost (ARC) calculations and providing additional viewer UI so that people can better visibility and control to seeing complexity.
  • Work on providing in-world object rendering costs (LOD models, etc.) which might affect Land Impact will be handled as a later tranche of project work, after the avatar work.
  • The belief is that “good” avatar ARC values can likely be used as a computational base for these rendering calculations.

Current Status

  • Vir now trying to roll the jelly doll updates into the rendering cost calculations and performance measurements.
  • One thing the core work on ARCTan has been awaiting is a fix to the Bake Service for errors arising when calculating height offsets with complex mesh items, which can result in the avatar bake failing. The fix for this is in place, and the updated Bake Service should be exposed to a simulator RC for testing “fairly soon”. The change itself should have no visible impact other than to correct the rare instances where the issue occurred.

In brief

  • There have been reports of avatar bakes taking longer to complete recently.However, it is not clear if this is an actual issue; LL have not noted any Bake Service processing issues, and also note that users may be noting a perceived “slowing” due to changes made a while ago to try to prevent avatars de-clouding fully nude (e.g. due to latency between the viewer and the CDN, or local caching issues, etc.).
  • In terms of avatar rezzing, there is also work being put into reducing the instances of rigged mesh elements rezzing offset / incorrectly sized related to an avatar (e.g. clothing appearing off to one side and rotated to be on its side; gigantic heads rezzing, etc.).
  • Next meeting: Thursday, July 2nd, 13:00 SLT.