As always, please refer to the deployment thread in the forums for the latest updates / news.
On Tuesday, March 24th, the Main (SLS) channel received the server maintenance package deployed to the three RCs in week 12, comprising updates which allow the Lab to make various configuration changes without having to necessarily run a rolling restart when they have done so. It contains not actual functional changes to the simulator software
On Wednesday, March 25th, the three RC channels should all receive the same new server maintenance package, which is focused on inventory loss issues, and provides the Lab with better error detection and logging, improving their ability to look at some of the failure places and the removal of unused code.
On Tuesday, March 24th the Avatar Hover Height (AHH) viewer, version 188.8.131.529635 became the de factorelease viewer. Avatar Hover Height is a new feature that allows you to adjust the vertical position of your avatar within some preset limits. This is a purely graphical tweak that does not affect your position for physics purposes. For it to work properly, both you and observers watching you need to be running a supported viewer.
You can find out more information view the wiki page and / or via my overview of AHH.
A very slight peculiarity with AHH, which seems to work very well, that if you have camera angle moved to the “default” view looking out from behind your avatar by hitting ESC to reset your camera angle, and use the AHH function, it can also change your camera angle. However this doesn’t happen if you’re using any other camera position at the time you alter your height using AHH. This appears to be because there is some interact between the avatar’s height and the default camera position which might be expected behaviour, and may be looked at again in the future. In the meantime, it doesn’t impinge on the overall functionality of AHH.
Restore to Last Position
Note that the RC update is does notinclude any deprecation of the server-side message used by the restore to last position code (RLTP) used by TPVs.
Commenting on the status of any removal of the server-side support for RTLP (see here for background on this) during the Simulator User Group meeting on Tuesday, March 24th, Simon Linden said, “We haven’t done anything about RTLP and it’s still officially unsupported. There’s a long list of issues that would really make that feature work. It would be really nice, but it’s not just fix-one-bug.”
Oz Linden then added, “We won’t disable it completely without fair warning at the TPV meeting. What I’ve done so far is just ask questions – it doesn’t count as fair warning :-).”
There is currently a mesh uploader project viewer (version 184.108.40.2068441), which includes various improvements to the uploader, and which will most likely be progressing through to RC status and to a release status over time. However, there are still further requests for the uploader to be improved in terms of the information it displays, two of which are:
Better capabilities for zooming the model preview window after using the scale option, so that if the preview image is enlarged the user can zoom out further than is currently possible
The ability to provide an actual LI calculation while using the custom physics model upload, rather than just a convex hull measurement (see VWR-28177 “Enable Prim physics-shape-type physics weight display in upload floater”).
Both of these were raised at the Simulator User Group meeting on Tuesday March 24th; which doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily be acted upon, but while the Lab is tinkering with the uploader, it does bring both matters back to the Lab’s attention.
On Tuesday, March 24th, the Lab promoted the Avatar Hover Height release candidate viewer to the de facto release viewer, meaning it is now available to everyone receiving official viewer updates / downloading the official viewer directly.
As I reported back towards the start of the year, prior to the arrival of server-side appearance (SSA), many TPVs included a capability commonly referred to as “z-axis height adjustment”. Simply put, this allowed the height of an avatar to be adjusted up or down, relative to the ground or to an object they were sitting on, which allowed for a wide range of adjustments to be made (such as when sitting or kneeling on the ground, to prevent the appearance of hovering over it or to more finely tune the avatar’s pose on the ground, or to re-adjust an avatar’s height relative to the ground when using things like dancing posballs, etc, and so on).
However, with the introduction of SSA, the viewer / server messaging that made this kind of adjustment possible was removed. While the Lab attempted to offer an alternative capability – the Hover slider, available when editing your avatar’s appearance, its effectiveness has always been limited. You can’t for example, use it to adjust your avatar’s height when seated, for example, to prevent any appearance of sitting “inside” a chair or hovering above it; nor can you adjust your position above the ground when using poseballs, etc.
Avatar Hover Height, developed as a direct request of a proposal put to the Lab by members of the Firestorm team, addresses these shortfalls.
It allows “on-the-fly” adjustments to be made to your avatar’s height with the minimum of fuss and without having to use the Edit Appearance Hover slider.
It does this by providing a new right-click avatar context menu option called, oddly enough, Avatar Hover Height. Right clicking on this displays a slider. Moving the slider to the right increases your graphical height above the ground, and to the left decreases it (you can also input values via the slider for additional control).
Overall, the slider allows for adjustments of +/- 2 metres relative to the default graphical position of your avatar. Note that this is a graphical (/visual) change – the option does not make any associated change the avatar’s height in terms of platform physics.
Avatar Hover Height has been extensively tested while the viewer was both in a project status and was available as a release candidate viewer, and no significant issues or breakages were noted in that time.
Note that this capability does not replace the Edit appearance Hover option – than can still be accessed and used in circumstances where it might be more appropriate to use; rather it present a further, more convenient, means of adjusting your avatar’s height.
The following notes are primarily taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, February 27th, a video of which is included at the end of the article (my thanks as always to North for recording it and providing it for embedding), and any time stamps contained within the following text refer to it.
Server Deployments Week 9 Re-cap
As always, please refer to the server deployment thread for the latest news and updates.
There was no deployment to the Main (SLS) channel on Tuesday, February 24th
A server-side fix for BUG-8297, “Unable to teleport anywhere using SLGO”
Improvement to server logging.
Viewer-Managed Marketplace Project Viewer
[0:35] As noted at the last TPV Developer meeting, the VMM functionality still has some issues that are being worked on. some of these appear to be on the back-end of things, rather than within the viewer itself. As such, it is unlikely that there will be further updates to the viewer in the near future while these are being addressed.
Experience Tools Viewer
[0:50] The Lab is also continuing to work on the back-end of things for Experience Tools / Keys. This work is apparently focused on overall robustness of the service prior to fully deploying it to the grid. As no viewer-side changes are anticipated as a result of this work, the viewer itself should be ready for promotion to the de facto release viewer once the Lab is ready to go with things.
Avatar Hover Height Project Viewer
[4:21] Vir Linden is continuing to work on a couple of the bugs uncovered during testing. One of these is related to leg position issues, which can see an avatar’s leg “buckle” if the position is adjusted downwards such that the feet sink into the ground, becoming more and more pronounced the lower the avatar is set. Currently, there is no ETA on providing a fix for this.
Mesh Importer Viewer
[5:47 – via chat] It is anticipated that the Mesh Importer project viewer (currently version ) will receive an update in week #10.
Tools Update Viewer
[6:56] A line has been drawn under the current set of changes to the viewer-side build tools, so the aim is now to get the viewer in the release channel.
However, there are further changes already being queued behind the current set of updates, many of them contributed by open-source developers, which the Lab believe will further improve the viewer build process. As such, it is likely that there will be further updates to the viewer in relation to the build tools, most likely in the form of a “build clean-up” viewer, which will likely include all of the agreed updates which didn’t make it into the current version of the build tools viewer code.
The hope is that, moving forward, all viewers – LL’s own and TPVs – can, as far as possible, be built using the same tool set the only difference being whether or not a TPV sets a build switch to use proprietary libraries (e.g. Havok) or not.
[2:10] The Lab continues to roll-out updates as a result of this work, and updates focused on the issue of group chat servers themselves stalling, and they are confident that progress is being made. This is supported by anecdotal evidence from moderators of large groups with active chat, who are indicating the instances of visible server slow-down / stalling have been decreasing over the past week or so. Commenting on this during the TPVD meeting, Oz Linden said, “we haven’t declared victory in this yet, but it’s looking a lot more stable.”
In the meantime, some groups are reporting performance issues whereby for short periods – measured in terms of 2-3 minutes, where group chat messages won’t go through at all, and no time-out message is being displayed by the viewer, while other messages are being delayed, but then getting through, but without the massive roll of delayed messages. These may be related to previous changes made to improve the overall performance of group chat, and news of the problems is being taken back to the Lab for investigation.
[4:39] As I most recently reported in week 8, there are on-going issues related to attachments. Vir Linden has also been investigating these, and there is a project viewer in development which includes fixes for those issues the Lab has been able to consistently reproduce. Unfortunately, the infamous BUG-6925 is not among these, but Vir hopes that the updates he’s been making will address it to some degree.
There is currently no ETA for the project viewer, but the Lab hopes that when it does appear, they’ll get some clear and constructive feedback on what it does and does not seem to address.
The following notes are primarily taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, February 13th. A video of the TPV Developer meeting is included at the end of the article (my thanks as always to North for recording it and providing it for embedding), and any time stamps contained within the following text refer to both it and the TPV Developer meeting.
Avatar Hover Height (AHH)
[09:17] It had been expected that the Avatar Hover Height project viewer (version 220.127.116.118129) might have been replaced by a release candidate during the course of the past week. However, some of the reported issues are still being worked on, most of which are related to the code which tries to keep an avatar’s feet in contact with the ground, and problems which can occur in certain extreme cases. It is now anticipated that the viewer will be updated to a release candidate viewer once these issues have been fixed.
Viewer Build Tools
[14:37] It had been hoped that this viewer would be updated with a release candidate version prior to the long weekend no change window (see below), however it didn’t clear QA in time. Unless something significant happens on the QA side, this viewer should therefore reach release candidate status some time during week 8 (Week commencing Monday, February 16th).
However, it is anticipated it will undergo further updates while at RC status, and so therefore is unlikely to progress directly from RC to the de facto release viewer in a short space of time. One such update might be to include various patches to further simplify the build process, notably for windows, for example.
Graphics Settings and Avatar Rendering
[19:49] This work is a combination of STORM-2082, which allows users to create and save multiple graphics settings defaults, and internal work carried out by the lab to help users improve their viewer performance by defining limited above which avatars with heavy rendering costs are replaced by a solid colour. A viewer with these updates has been under limited testing for a while, and is liable to be appearing very soon, particularly given the Lab’s recent announcement on forthcoming improvements.
[23:43] There are a fair number of bugs and issues which have been identified with the current mesh importer project viewer (see the JIRA filter list for details), it is therefore unlikely that it will be progressing in the short term.
Viewer-Managed Marketplace (VMM)
[00:05] A new version of the Viewer-Managed Marketplace project viewer was released on Friday, February 13th, version 18.104.22.1688865. This viewer includes updates as a result of feedback from initial testing on Aditi, and is available for further testing, but again must be used on Aditi in regions ACME D, E, or F.
A number of issues remain open with This update:
VMM-20 Include product listing ID in audit listings window results
VMM-17 Support listing folders at any level of Marketplace Listings folder.
A list of key changes can be found on the forum update announcing the release of the new version of the viewer, and further details on VMM can be found in the SL wiki FAQ.
This viewer doesn’t address all of the concerns raised during testing, as some are still being discussed internally by the Lab, and a decision has yet to be taken on whether to address the additional concerns (which are presumably non-viewer specific) prior to holding a feedback meeting, or whether to push ahead with a further feedback meeting which might encompass the use of the new project viewer. This largely depends on the likely time frame for addressing the remaining issues: it might be as little as a week or so, or it might potentially be a month or so.
Experience Keys / Tools
[06:34] The Lab is continuing to work on back-end issues which need to be sorted prior to the project progressing. It is still believed that none of these issues directly affect the viewer or will require updates to the viewer, however, it is unlikely the viewer will be updated (other than to maintain parity with any other viewer that might be promoted ahead of it), until such time as the Lab is confident they are ready to start pushing things forward again.
The Lab is also continuing to work on group chat, and a further mini-test took place during the Server Beta User Group meeting on Thursday, February 12th. This focuses on testing viewer-side freezes when opening and closing or swapping between group chat tabs, and chat update times when moving across region boundaries either physically for via teleports. The overall results of these tests were that users experienced almost no viewer-side freezes in comparison to the last tests, where some severe viewer lock-ups were experienced.
[10:27] Most of the effort on group chat is now being directed into these issues of stability and eliminating the need for servers to be restarted as a result of server-side freezes, given that one the whole, performance for the majority (all but some of the very largest groups) has been noticeably improved. In terms of the server freezes, progress is being made, with Oz reporting that there might only be once such instance a day now as a result of fixes already implemented, which is currently being iterated upon as a result of the additional monitoring / logging capabilities the Lab have also introduced.
[24:52] There have been increasing reports on variations of a problem with attachment rendering following teleports / region crossings (e.g. attachments seem to detach and then re-attach, people see their attachments as missing while other see them as still attached – and vice-versa, and so on). Some of the issues are listed in BUG-6925, and the issues have been noted by the Lab.
The likelihood is that these issues are the result of more than one problem, and possibly the result of various race conditions resulting from the complexities of data packaging and hand-over required in both a region crossing and a teleport (which are both essentially the same things – the packaging and handing of data relating to an avatar and its attachments between simulators, and then passing of updated information to users’ viewers). Some also appear to be directly related to AIS v3 (as per BUG-6925) Currently, the Lab is still prioritising SL issues and problems, and full determination as to what needs to be down to resolve these problems has yet to be made.
In the meantime, if you do encounter the problem, and you’re preferably using the official viewer, you might want to consider filing the following information via BUG-6925:
The specific time, origin region (the place you were crossing / teleporting from) and destination region (the place you were crossing / teleporting to)
The item ID (UUID) for the attachment(s) exhibiting a problem
The viewer log that was recorded at the time the problem occurred.
This will at least provide the Lab with data they can use in further investigations into the issues, once matters have been prioritised.
Monday, February 16th marks Presidents’ Day in the United States and Linden Lab will be observing the holiday. This means that there is effectively a no change window in force from February 13th through 16th inclusive. This in turn means:
There will be no Open-source development meeting on Monday, February 16th
Any server-side deployments scheduled for the week commencing Monday, February 16th will most likely take place a day later than usual. So any Main (SLS) channel deployment will probably occur on Wednesday, February 18th and any RC channel deployments on Thursday, February 19th.
On Monday, February 9th, the Lab issued a blog post outlining some of the upcoming improvements to Second Life.
In all six improvements are listed, five of which are user-facing, while the sixth should also yield benefits, although these may not be in terms of observable differences in how SL operates for most people. Further of the six listed, four have project viewer associated with them, three of which relate to visible viewer-side changes in terms of improved or new functionality. The remaining two updates should be appearing as either project or release candidate viewers in the very near future.
Regular readers of my weekly SL project updates will likely already be familiar with these improvements, at list in principle, but I’ll run through them here as well.
The first of the improvements which is already available for testing is the new Avatar Hover Height (AHH) feature. For those who remember it, this effectively sees the return of the old “z-offset height adjustment” found in many TPVs, which allowed users to adjust their avatar’s height relative to the ground, whether standing, sitting or kneeling, or when using poseballs, etc., to ensure they were correctly positioned relative to whatever they were standing / sitting / kneeling upon.
I’ve provided a complete overview of the new functionality, which does not replace the existing Appearance panel Hover slider), and server-side support for it is now available grid-wide. So, if you want to try-out the feature for yourself, you can do so by downloading the Avatar Hover Height project viewer. I’ll continue to provide updates on this feature under the Avatar Hover Height tag in this blog.
The second of the improvements currently undergoing testing is the Viewer-managed Marketplace (VMM). This is more specifically aimed at people selling goods on the SL Marketplace, and provides them with the means to manage their Marketplace inventory and carry out an number of Marketplace operations from directly within the viewer.
Server-side support for this functionality is only available on Aditi, the beta grid at this point in time, and I’ve also provided an overview of how it works, complete with a look of the viewer-side changes and how to use the test regions on Aditi for those interested. Testing of VMM on the main grid should be commencing some time in the next month (but not until after February 14th), and I’ll continue to carry news about it under the Viewer-managed Marketplace tag in this blog.
The third improvement that is available for testing and mentioned in the blog post is that of the new Mesh Importer (upload) project viewer. As the name suggests, this provides a modified mesh uploader with optional debug output, performs name-based LOD association, and handle models with many materials, allowing models with more than 8 unique faces to be imported.
A number of bug reports have already been filed for this viewer – see the JIRA filter list for details.
The remaining two updates which will be visible to users should be appearing in project or release candidate viewers in the near future are:
An improved means to control and organize the many notices users receive: inventory offers, group notices, event invites, and money transactions, which will offer a new floater for such messages, rather than simply having them arrive in the same pop-up / chiclet formats which make them indistinguishable to one another at first glance
A means for users to save one or more sets of graphics settings on a per-account basis, allowing them to quickly switch between different sets of graphics options to assist with performance as they move around the grid (so, for example, you might have a set of “low” graphic settings you could switch-on in order to maintain performance in busy regions, and a set of “high” graphics settings, with as many bells and whistles turned on as you like and in accordance with your GPUs capabilities,, for use in quieter regions). It will also provide controls for defining how other avatars are rendered in your field of view, by allowing you to define a limit above which the viewer will cease rendering avatars fully, and instead will render them as a sold colour imposter.
The last update mentioned by the blog post is that of the Lab’s extensive tool chain update and changes to the viewer autobuild process. While this won’t bring any noticeable changes to the viewer UI, etc., it should, as the blog post notes, “improve stability, performance, and the productivity of developers so that we can more quickly bring you an even better Second Life.”
As added benefit in this work is that it should in time allow TPVs to build their viewers using the same packages as the Lab a lot more easily. And, as a side note, it also potentially smooths the way for the Lab to produce 64-bit versions of the official viewer, although there are currently no plans in the pipeline for them to start doing so, due to the 32-bit versions of the official viewer being very stable on 64-bit operating systems.
An initial project viewer built using the new tools is already available, but note that this does not contain any functional changes compared to the current release viewer.
In addition, as the Lab’s blog post notes, a similar operation has been under way to update a number of the tools used to build the server-side simulator software as well.
The following notes are taken from the Server Beta User Group (SBUG) meeting held on Thursday, January 28th, 2015, and the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, January 30th. A video of the latter is included at the end of the article (my thanks as always to North for recording it and providing it for embedding), and any time stamps contained within the following text refer to both it and the TPV Developer meeting.
Server Deployments Week 5 – Recap
On Tuesday, January 27th, the Main (SLS) channel received the server maintenance package previously deployed to Magnum and LeTigre
On Wednesday, January 27th, the RC channels should all receive a new server maintenance package comprising an Experience Keys / Tools related fix, and internal Experience Keys / Tools improvements.
It was stated during the TPV Developer meeting that this update saw the support for the Avatar hover Height (AHH) capability extend to all three RC channels, although no mention of it was made in the release notes.
Tool Chain Project viewer
The Lab issued a new Tools Update project viewer, version 22.214.171.1248587, on Wednesday January 28th. This viewer has been built using the new viewer tool chain for Windows and Mac builds (which includes the upgrade to Visual Studio 2013 for Windows and, Xcode (5 or 6) for Mac, and the use of the autobuild 1.0 process).
Wiki notes for using the new build tools are in the process of being written / enhanced for self-compilers – please note these are a work in progress. Notes on the new autobuild process can also be found on the wiki.
[06:42] It is anticipated that this viewer will progress through to release candidate status, quite probably in week #6 (week commencing Monday, February 2nd).
Maintenance RC Viewer Issues
Users receiving the Maintentance RC, version 126.96.36.1998030, released on Tuesday, January 27th, have reported a series of irritating bugs with the viewer:
BUG-8324 (and duplicate BUG-8333) reports the appearance of the term “nolink>” in numerous places within the viewer – such as toasts and notifications – this issue has been imported by the Lab and a fix is apparently in development
BUG-8331 – some links containing the text secondlife or lindenlab incorrectly open a Place Profile in the Places panel when clicked
BUG-8328 – very jagged pictures created by the snapshot floater
BUG-1028 – the fix for MAINT-2056 “Lots of CURL GET FAILED spam in logs when browsing World Map – Beta viewer only” appears not to have fixed the problem, but rather replaced it with an equally spammy message.
Issues with this viewer can be tracked on the JIRA using this filter.
Viewer-Managed Marketplace (VMM)
[00:12] Brooke Linden was at the TPV Developer meeting to provide an update on the state of play with the Viewer-Managed Marketplace (VMM) work, which has been undergoing some beta testing with the project viewer on Aditi.
As a result of this testing, the Lab has been re-visiting the project viewer and incorporating feedback and observations for improvements into it, and are “really close” to having an updated version of the viewer available. When the appears depends on whether the Lab opt to release the updated viewer for limited beta testing on Aditi, or to wait until they’re ready to go with beta testing on the main grid, which is also not too far over the horizon.
The current plan is for more widespread beta testing to commence some time after February 14th (so as not to clash with any Valentines Day sales and promotions merchants may be running between now and Feb 14th), then run the beta for around a month, possibly longer, depending on feedback / issues. After this, VMM support will be deployed as a production tool, and things will move to a migration period which will also last around a month.
All this is still TBC, but a schedule will be posted (presumably via the Commerce / Merchant’s forum) once the Lab has worked through dates and requirements.
Experience Keys / Tools
[03:50] The Experience Keys / Tools project is currently awaiting some final server-side updates to be fully deployed (see the server release notes above). It is not anticipated that the Experience Tools viewer which is currently in the viewer release channel (version 188.8.131.528001) will require any further significant updates, so its promotion to the de facto release viewer is pending the server-side updates.
In the meantime, the Lab has already commenced work on a set of enhancement to the Experience Keys / Tools which will further extend capabilities once they are ready to be deployed.
Avatar Hover Height Project
As noted above, server-side support for the Avatar Hover Height project (see my overview for details) is now on all three RC channels, and the plan is to deploy the server code to the Main channel in week #6 (week commencing Monday, February 2nd). Because of this, the current project viewer (currently version 184.108.40.2068129) is liable to be superseded by a release candidate viewer following the server-side deployments for that week.
[18:00] A couple of small issues have been noted with AHH, and which only occur is very specific instances. One is that if an adjustment leaves your avatar floating more than around 1/2 a metre above the ground, an attempt to sit down can result in your avatar going up. In the other, standing on a prim and lowering your hover height into the prim can result in your avatar’s legs buckling as you slide into the prim. On terrain, where there can be limited physical penetration, this can be expected behaviour; but when occurring on a prim, it is suspected that the system may not be accurately assessing your avatar’s position.
[19:38] There have been one or two points of concern raised about the similarity in the name of this function – Avatar Hover Height – causing people to confuse it with the existing avatar hover slider (which will not be retired or removed from the viewer once AHH is fully deployed, as the two capabilities provide different use case solutions). The concerns are being fed back internally at the Lab, and if a name change is thought to be required, it may be slipped into the upcoming RC rebuild for the viewer, or the Lab may opt to wait and see if any confusion does arise.