On November 5th, Latif Khalifa posted a notice to the Radegast blog that he is ending development of the Radegast viewer, and ceasing work on other virtual worlds open-source projects in which he has been engaged. Citing health reasons, Latif stated:
It saddens me to have to inform you that I won’t be able to continue work on Radegast or my other opensource projects. My health has been deteriorating over the past few years to this point where my use of computers is down to just a few minutes daily. Not being able to work for several years bring its own set of problems.
This isn’t necessarily the complete end for Radegast – as Latif notes, the code is open-source, and as such will remain available should anyone wish to continue with its development.
Radegast is a lightweight virtual worlds client that offers considerable flexibility of use for users, including the ability to render in-world scenes in 3D, thus enabling avatar movement and interactions. Almost all of the core capabilities found in a the full viewer are available within Radegast, including inventory management, the ability to change outfits, chat, IM, teleport, undertake group management activities, manipulate objects and their contents, script, use voice (local chat) listening to music streams, use avatar gestures, and more.
Radegast has particularly seen considerable use with visually impaired users, offering speech recognition for controlling UI and entering text in chat and text-to-speech for reading out loud incoming messages, and a special accessibility guide has been written in support of this.
As Latif has kept the client up-to-date with all major SL and OpenSim changes to date (including mesh rendering, server-side appearance for SL, etc.), there is no danger of it suddenly ceasing to work in the immediate future for those who do use it on a regular basis; so there is no need to immediately abandon it, even if the option to continue developing it isn’t taken up by another developer.
Latif himself has been a towering force within the open-source community, working on a number of viewer projects, including Singularity and, most recently, Replex, and he has been heavily committed to the support of the OpenSim community as well as working to improve the user experience in Second Life. He is the founder of the Advanced Worlds SL group in support of the creation, design and development of technologies for virtual worlds, and the promotion of open standards and open-source software.
While there has been no similar notice on the Replex blog, that Latif has indicated a withdrawal from his open-source projects suggests that work on this viewer may also be suspended unless someone else is steeping into the breach. However, I am still awaiting confirmation on this.
There is little doubt that his presence, if he is forced completely away from virtual worlds, will be very much missed – as the comments following the announcement on the Radegast blog demonstrate. In the meantime, my personal message to Latif – someone I’ve been privileged to call a friend for a good while now, and who has always been a huge amount of fun, even when we’ve bumped heads on occasion(!) – is simply this: look after yourself, and am hoping things improve in the future.