SL projects update week 15 (1): Server and viewer; materials and land impact

Upate April 10th: The BlueSteel / LeTigre package did not deploy as planned due to problems getting the updates completed in time. The Magnum package therefore deployed to all three RC channels.

Server Deployments Week 15

Second Life Server (Main) Channel

There was no planned deployment to the Main channel on Tuesday April 9th. The next scheduled deployment will be in week 16 (week commencing Monday April 15th). This was because there were bugs found in both of the RC releases from week 14 which the Lab wanted to resolve rather than having them propagate across the grid.

Release Candidate Channels

All three Release Candidate channels remain on the same releases as week 14, the only updates to be deployed on Wednesday April 10th being:

  • BlueSteel and LeTigre (currently running the new server-side AO capabilities) – should receive  a design change to improve compatibility between the new animation override system and other scripted objects that animate avatars (such as poseballs). This may be in response to a JIRA – BUG-2164 – being raised in relation to conflicts between the new AO capabilities and poseball systems
  • Magnum (currently running Monty Linden’s HTTP updates) – should receive a fix to correct a crash mode.

As always, there is a forum discussion thread for the week’s deployments.

SL Viewer Updates

CHUI – Communications Hub User Interface – Flickering Issue

The CHUI merge with the SL release viewer has brought with it an increase in the ATI/AMD issue of clickable links in the viewer’s UI flickering when anti-aliasing is enabled (BUG-1560, relating specifically to cards running the 12.10 (or later) Catalyst). This tends to happen with links in the chat window, but may also affect the selection box surrounding items in the inventory floater.

Those encountering the problem should consider raising a bug report.

Materials Processing – Land Impact

The most notable update to the SL viewer has been the release of a project viewer for materials processing. The viewer is available on the SL wiki Alternate Viewer page, and the code is available on Bitbucket. However, due to the work still going into the project, both come with caveats:

  • It is still very fragile
  • It is still subject to change in various ways
  • It should not be used on content you care about – particularly if said content is MODIFY / NO COPY
  • It is not recommended that TPVs integrate the code into their release viewer at the moment due to the fact the code will be changing (and there is not SSB merge as yet).

The release of the viewer has also brought with it something of a concern.

Qie Niangao has been carrying out further tests with the Materials Processing project viewer, and has come up with evidence that aspects of the material system can result in objects experiencing sudden (and potentially large) Land Impact value changes. Specifically use of the Alpha Masking and Emissive Mask options when working with alphas can have unexpected results – which is not to say that the result are not unexpected behaviour from LL’s perspective.

Qie describes his discovery in MATBUG-13, is which he offers the following exercise:

  1. Create a sphere. Hollow it 95%. Add a simple rotation script.
  2. Set the Alpha Mode to Alpha masking. Note that the land impact is now 43. “More info” shows the extra weight attributed to Physics.
Using the Alpha Masking and Emissive Mask Alpha Mode options with tortured prims (in this case a hollow sphere) into the "new" LI accounting system
Using the Alpha Masking and Emissive Mask Alpha Mode options with tortured prims (in this case a hollow sphere) can lead to a inflation of LI for an object

Qie goes on to note that cutting or squashing such an object can have an even more dramatic impact (path cutting the sphere in half, for example, can push LI to 1348, while squashing it almost flat can lead to an LI of 154).

Commenting on the JIRA, Maestro Linden notes:

This is expected behavior. When a material is added to an object, it is enrolled in new prim accounting. A 50cm, 95% hollow sphere has 43.5 physics cost when using a ‘prim’ physics representation. This high cost is caused by the high complexity physics shape. See https://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Physics_Optimization for a guide about how to reduce physics cost.

It is interesting to note, however that the same prim using Alpha Blending retains the same physic cost, but only generates a LI of 1. As Alpha Blending is essentially the way alpha layers are currently handled by the system at the moment, Qie’s theory – which I agree with – is that the existing system as been somehow “grandfathered-in” to the LI accounting system.

Continue reading “SL projects update week 15 (1): Server and viewer; materials and land impact”

SL projects update 14 (1): CHUI, SSB, and getting immersive

The best laid plans of mice, men and Linden Lab gang aft a-gley…

Back in my week 12 update, I reported on the Lab’s hoped-for deployments, viewer-wise in the upcoming weeks, noting that if all went well, CHUI would reach the release viewer late in week 13, and open the door for Server-side Baking to move to the Beta viewer at the start of week 14 – possibly even on April 1st (and no, that wasn’t an early April Fool’s joke from Oz!).

However, a couple of things have come up which are tweaking things slightly.

Communications Hub User Interface

There are a number of unresolved issues with CHUI, not all of which might necessarily prevent the code moving to the release channel, but some of which do have  significant performance / useability impacts, such as:

  • CHUIBUG-132 – Frequent performance issues on recent CHUI builds – fast timers show problem is in “URL Complete”
  • CHUIBUG-183 – cancelling an inventory search before the search is complete results in blank inventory contents (issue thought to be the result of a refactoring of the inventory code which is included with the CHUI code)

As a result, there was a further release of the CHUI beta viewer on April 1st (3.5.0.273174), which was followed by a further development viewer update (3.5.1.273259) on the same day.

Server-side Baking

Server-side appearance baking - no beta viewer just yet
Server-side appearance baking – no beta viewer just yet

It had been hoped that the viewer code for SSB would move to the beta channel once CHUI had moved to the release channel. As CHUI is now remaining in beta for a while longer, the move with SSB has been delayed.

In terms of SSB’s viewer beta run, LL are re-assessing the time frame. Again, on March 22nd, Oz Linden suggested that the beta run would be between two and four weeks and liable to sway towards the latter – with the caveat that a lot depends on issues / bugs which are found during the beta run. The current thinking at LL appears to be more pragmatically focused on seeing what occurs during the beta run, rather than pinning matters to a firm timescale – as such, SSB is liable to be in beta for around two weeks, possibly longer.

However, in terms of the server code, the plan remains to cut-over to the new server code capability after the SSB code has reached the release channel of the SL viewer – although again, it is possible some initial testing regions may be running on Agni prior to the SSB code appearing in the release viewer. Until now, LL have indicated that the server-side deployment will be gradual, again as indicated in my week 12 notes linked-to above; however, exact plans still have to be confirmed within the Lab, so this may well also be subject to change in the future.

One issue with the SSB server-side code is that crossing from an SSB-enabled region to a non-SSB region triggers the need for a manual rebake (going from a non-SSB region to an SSB-enabled region will trigger and automatic rebake), and some concern has been raised that this might cause some upset as the SSB code is deployed. However, and as Oz Linden points out, manual rebakes are currently a fact-of-life on SL, and as such, this is unlikely to be seen as a reason for an immediate deployment of SSB right across the grid; nor does it warrant time being spent on ensuring rebakes are handled automatically during such region crossings as once server-side deployment does commence, the issue is liable to be relatively short-lived.

Oculus Rift and Leap Motion

The Oculus Rift headset has been garnering a lot of interest. While still very much under development, the headset has already gained considerable support from the likes of Valve Software and other game-makers. This has inevitably lead to some asking whether LL have their eye on the technology.

Whether they have or not is unclear. What is clear, and while not quite the same, is that there has been some informal experiments with the Leap Motion system, courtesy of Simon Linden, as reported on in the SL blog and also in these pages.

Commenting on the Leap Motion work which chairing the Open-source Dev meeting on monday April 1st, Oz Linden said, “If an open source dev wanted to pick up what Simon started, that would be great. That was a side project of his, and right now we don’t have time to do much more with it internally.”

The code for the work Simon has completed was also made available when his experiments were made public – so if anyone is up for the challenge, the links are still live!

SL projects update week 12 (3): viewer, CHUI, SSB, materials and releases

SL Viewer Updates

The SL beta and development viewers saw end-of-week updates in week 12, with the beta viewer rolling to release 3.5.0.272486 and the development viewer 3.5.1.272521, both on March 22nd.

The beta update is primarily focused on CHUI, and may be the final beta release for CHUI before the it appears in an official release version of the SL viewer (see below).

On March 20th, the Sunshine project viewer (Server-side Baking) updated to release 3.5.0.272211, which may be the last releases of the SSB code as a project viewer prior to the code arriving in the SL beta viewer – see the SSB section of this report (below).

Communications Hub User Interface (CHUI)

As indicated above, the Lab is hoping that CHUI, the Communications Hub User Interface, is now in its final beta viewer run with the release of 3.5.0.272486, and that the code should be appearing in the release version of the SL viewer, possibly later in week 13 (week commencing Monday 25th March).

CHUI: probably making a final appearance in the SL beta viewer prior to appearing in the release viewer
CHUI: probably making a final appearance in the SL beta viewer prior to appearing in the release viewer

However, TPVs are still considering how best to tackle CHUI in terms of integration and deployment in their viewers. Part of the problem here is that for some TPVs, the CHUI user interface changes conflict with changes the TPVs have themselves made, and so consideration needs to be given as to which parts of the UI updates and changes a given TPV wishes to adopt. A wider issue, however, is that CHUI also includes a large about of v3 code refactoring, all of which needs to be considered for implementation into views, particularly those which are v3-based.

Further, as most TPVs have been focused on SSB updates, it may take a while before CHUI itself appears either in whole or in part, in some third-party viewers.

The CHUI updates don’t only impact TPVs – there is a knock-on effect with some of the upcoming changes / code contributions flowing into the SL viewer code as well. For example, the viewer side of the request teleport feature (STORM-1838), which I originally commented on in week 4, has been delayed while it is re-worked in light of CHUI-generated changes.

Server-side Baking

Viewer-side SSB Code

Following-on from the recent pile-on / load tests carried out using the official viewer (Thursday March 14th) and Firestorm (Friday March 15th), the Lab believes that the viewer side of the code is doing “quite well” in testing, with both tests recording very similar results, including hitting the same problems related to inventory fetching / rezzing issues for attachments.

As a result of this, the Lab have been looking at releasing the SSB viewer code to the SL beta viewer (with CHUI integration) on or around April 1st (week 14). However, the discovery of a bug with the latest version of the SSB project viewer code ( version 3.5.0.272211), may delay matters.

SUN-57, raised by Tonya Souther, reports a fix for earlier issues (non-public JIRA SH-3941 and SH-3954), now appears to cause avatar bake fail issues when running the viewer-side SSB code on regions using the current avatar baking mechanism. Whirly Fizzle has been able to reproduce the issue when using pre-saved outfits in her My Outfits folder, and describes it thus:

Replace outfit with a ready saved Outfit A from My Outfits folder (Right click -> Replace current outfit). Relog Usually, but not always, I will see part of my baked textures as grey with this certain outfit A. This session my torso texture appears grey to me. My torso fully rezzed without needing to rebake in about a minute.

[Now] Replace outfit with Outfit B, which is a ready saved outfit from My outfits folder (Right click -> Replace current outfit).Outfit B bakes fast & looks correct to myself.

Wait 30 secs or so [and] replace outfit again with outfit A. My avatar will then show the correct head and lower baked layers from outfit A but my upper/torso layer will be that of outfit B.

The SUN-57 issue, as defined by Whirly Fizzle: left - Outfit A from her My Outfits folder replaces whatever she was previously wearing, and appears correct; centre - after a relog, she repalces Outfir A with Outfit B, and again, everything appears correct; right - she replaces Outfit B with Outfit A, but her skin fails to bake correctly, the head and legs showing the skin associated with Outfit A, the torso still showing the skin from Outfit B (shown naked for clarity) - images courtesy of Whirly Fizzle / JIRA SUN-57
The SUN-57 issue, as defined by Whirly Fizzle: left – Outfit A from her My Outfits folder replaces whatever she was previously wearing, and appears correct; centre – after a relog, she replaces Outfit A with Outfit B, and again, everything appears correct; right – she replaces Outfit B with Outfit A, but her skin fails to bake correctly, the head and legs showing the skin associated with Outfit A, the torso still showing the skin from Outfit B (shown naked for clarity) – images courtesy of Whirly Fizzle / JIRA SUN-57

Whirly further reports that the issue doesn’t resolve itself after several minutes, and rebaking using CTRL-SHIFT-R has no effect (other than reducing her to a cloud in other people’s view), while using Edit Appearance also fails to clear the problem.

Again, this issue only occurs when using viewers incorporating the latest SSB code, and only on regions which are not themselves running the server SSB code. It is of concern because the viewer code is designed to work with both the current baking mechanism and the upcoming SSB mechanism, and will be expected to do so during the SSB deployment to the main grid, when there will be a period when both the “old” and “new” baking services will for a time be running side-by-side as the latter is gradually rolled-out.

Continue reading “SL projects update week 12 (3): viewer, CHUI, SSB, materials and releases”

SL project updates: week 10 (3): viewer, CHUI, SSB and HTTP work

SL Viewer Beta and Viewer Development  and CHUI

There have been updates to both the beta and development viewers. The beta viewer moved to release 3.5.0.271345, and development to 3.4.5.271386. Both releases were focused on CHUI, and according to Oz Linden, “Right now they are almost identical; different only in the viewer number I believe.” He went on to say, “There is significant uncertainty as to when CHUI will come out of the beta channels, and it’s very likely that will remain true for a while yet – that is, that the two will remain pretty similar.”

With one CHUI update having just gone to the beta viewer, the Lab anticipates there will be at least one more update for the project while in beta before it makes any more to the viewer release channel.

Server-side Baking (SSB)

Server-side Baking saw the release of a further viewer update – 3.4.5.271419 – on March 7th, which was partially in response from information gained from the first public pile-on / load test for SSB, held on Thursday February 21st.

Commenting on the ongoing work to integrate SSB into TPVs at the TPV Developer meeting on Friday March 8th, Oz linden thanked the TPVs for their work to date on trying to integrate the viewer-side SSB code into their offerings in order to keep the project on track. “I’m very pleased to say that right now it does not look like support for it [SSB] in third-party viewers is going to end up being the limiting factor on when it can be deployed,” he said, although he did caution against showing any complacency in getting the code to a deployable condition.

Merge with CHUI

Also at the TPV Developer meeting, Nyx indicated that overall, the project viewer for SSB is becoming more and more stable, and that his team now has and initial merge with the CHUI code, which they are going to be “hammering on”, prior to pushing it to the internal Sunshine branch. As such, the most recent release of the SSB project viewer is possibly the last push prior to CHUI appearing in the viewer.

Given there are concerns over the merger and its possible impact on TPVs, Nyx is going to see if it is possible to maintain a side branch of the SSB viewer code which does not include the CHUI merge, which could continue to receive fixes and make it easier for TPVs to obtain them, however, until this has been looked into in more detail, he is unwilling to commit to how easy it would be to achieve and maintain – or how long for.

Second Pile-on  / Load Test

Serer-side baking - further testing on March 14th
Serer-side baking – further testing on March 14th

Attending the Server Beta meeting in week 10, Nyx Linden announced that the updated viewer will be required  for a further pile-on / load test, which has been scheduled for Thursday March 14th. The test is liable to be in much the same format as the first test, and those wishing to participate are advised to attend the Server Beta meeting on Aditi ahead of time (the meeting commences at 15:00 SLT on Thursdays).

Those wishing to take part in the test should also ensure they are using the latest version of the SSB project viewer linked-to above, as this as this has been specifically set-up to enable correct logging of data, etc., for the test. Nyx hopes that the latest updates to the logging parameters, coupled with the recent inventory fixes applied to Aditi should do much to both lessen the impact of Aditi issues should they occur and make them easier to identify when analysing feedback. However, Nyx suggested that those who have experienced Aditi inventory issues and who wish to join-in the test on March 14th should log-into the Sunshine test regions ahead of time and confirm that they can access their inventory using the project viewer.

Continue reading “SL project updates: week 10 (3): viewer, CHUI, SSB and HTTP work”

Lab updates on recent improvements – no date for materials processing

Linden Lab issued one of their (increasingly rare) blog updates on ongoing work with Second Life. The updates comes on the heels of the release of CHUI, the Communications Hub User Interface, which reached LL’s development and beta viewers on the 26th and 27th February respectively, and which I’ve briefly overviewed. Until now, the only official notice of CHUI’s arrival had been via a forum post which hasn’t been entirely visible, so the blog update include Torley Linden’s informative YouTube video on the release.

The update also references the e-mail preference changes made to the Marketplace at the start of February, as well as passing comment on region crossings, noting:

We have made several improvements to region crossing that allow a smoother transition between regions, instead of the jerky transition some users experienced in the past. This change also reduces the rate of teleport failure rate. This went out the full grid on January 25, 2013. Since that date, the number of reported teleport failures has dropped by 91%.

While teleport failures may have been reduced, many are still seeing continued issues with vehicle crossings …

The Cocoa project for the Mac builds of the viewer, which I made mention of in week 8, and offers a link to the Cocoa Project viewer for Mac users.

Finally, the post looks ahead to upcoming features and updates – but sadly, only makes passing mention of the materials processing project. One can hope that as CHUI is now in the beta viewer and there was, s of week 8, apparently only one remaining issue with materials to be dealt with, a project viewer will finally be appearing sooner rather than later …

Related Links

CHUI reaches the SL beta viewer


CHUI, the Communications Hub User Interface has taken two major steps towards official release, having been integrated into both the SL development and beta viewers.

The release of the SL development viewer containing CHUI came on February 26th (3.5.1.270826). This was followed 24 hours later with a beta viewer release on the 27th February, again containing the CHUI code (3.5.0.270825). Both of these releases see the SL beta and development viewers move to the 3.5 code base.

As well as CHUI’s new conversational and chat log floaters, which I previewed a while back – although it has had a number of changes since then – the viewer brings a number of changes to the overall way in which user communications are handled by the viewer, including a new set of chat preference options for handling incoming messages and notifications.

The most immediate change with CHUI is the conversations floater, which may open automatically as the viewer is started if you have received offline IM or are receiving incoming messages from HUDs, etc., while logging in.

Conversations Floater

For those who have been using TPVs as their primary viewers, the updated CHUI Conversations floater will appear very familiar, as it gathers IM windows and Local Chat into the same panel. On the left is a vertical tab display which will list all open conversations, whether individual IMs or group chats, and which includes four buttons. On the right is the actual conversation window, which has six buttons associated with it, not all of which many be active at all times (the first three are automatically disabled in local chat, for example).

CHUI Conversations floater
CHUI Conversations floater

These buttons put all of the most common controls required for text / voice conversations within the floater itself, providing it with considerable power and ease-of-use. The chat window display options, of example, allow you to switch quickly between displaying chat headers (the little icon bars within the conversation) or removing them (so that just names and text are displayed) and whether or not to show the time, or even the name of the other person in one-to-one IM conversations.

As noted in my original preview of CHUI, the minimise buttons on the floater are particularly useful, as they offer a number of ways in which the amount of screen space is taken up by the floater. The buttons can be used individually or together, to radically reduce the amount of space the floater takes up.

CHUI: The new conversations floater in three display modes - open, collapsed, & minimised (image uses the CHUI project viewer)
CHUI: The new conversations floater in three display modes – open, collapsed, & minimised (image uses the CHUI project viewer)

Continue reading “CHUI reaches the SL beta viewer”