On Wednesday March 5th, two new release candidate viewers appeared in the viewer release channel, bringing the total number of RC viewers back up to five, with more still sitting in the queue and yet to be seen, together with some project viewers as well.
Sunshine Release Candidate
The Sunshine RC (version 188.8.131.527158 – download and release notes) contains the latest updates related to Server-side Appearance (Project Sunshine, hence the viewer’s name), which comprise two key elements.
The first of these is a code-clean-up / polish which includes the removal of a lot of the old avatar baking code from the viewer, as this is no longer required for Second Life, and the removal of a number of redundant viewer requests related to avatar baking operations. In addition, the code has performance and stability improvements and bug fixes, all designed to further improve avatar baking, such as dealing with conditions where an avatar’s appearance may appear to be stuck.
The second part of the update – which is related to SSA – is the support for the Advanced Inventory System version 3 (AIS v3). This is a set of changes which are being made both to the viewer and to the simulator software. Currently, the simulator code is only available on the Magnum RC, and will be progressing to the other RCs and the Main channel in due course. However, the viewer code is compatible with both the “new” simulator AIS v3 code and the current AIS v2 code, so this release candidate can be used freely across the grid.
The functions initially being deployed with AIS v3 (server and viewer) are mostly related to improving the reliability of outfit changes, which should also improve performance and see a drop in failure rates once the AIS v3 simulator code is fully enabled across the grid, and the necessary viewer code merged into all viewers.
Longer-term, AIS v3 has broader goals, as Don Linden explained at a TPV Developer meeting back in October 2013 (see the section titled Advanced Inventory Service (AIS v3)). These are (in part) aimed at giving more control to the viewer about what it wants to do with the inventory without necessarily having to go through the simulator when working with one’s own inventory or the Library inventory; the viewer will communicate directly with the inventory service. However, certain capabilities will remain unchanged; avatar-to-avatar inventory transactions will still be handled via the simulator, and it will still not be possible to copy personal items to the library folders, for example.
TPVs will be integrating this code so that their users will benefit from the SSA improvements, although the release of TPV updates with the code may take a little longer where there is s need to avoid the removal of the “old” avatar baking code to maintain support for OpenSim users.
Voice Viewer Release Candidate
As many who routinely use voice will be aware, there have been issues with voice for some considerable time, some of which were exacerbated recently with the release of the Vivox API 4.5, updates used in recent versions of the SLvoice.exe plugin which did not play well with earlier versions of SLvoice.
Whirly Fizzle and Ed Merryman produced a couple of videos demonstrating the issues, one of which is included below.
As I recently reported, Vivox reached out to Linden Lab to help resolve many of these issues, and a starting-point for this work was seen as getting all viewers updated to the latest version of the Vivox API (4.6.x). This release candidate viewer (version 184.108.40.2067288 – download and release notes) includes the updated API in the SLvoice plugin, and is aimed at improving voice reliability and performance as well as hoping dealing with some of the significant issues users on Mac Mavericks have been experiencing.
To encourage TPVs to integrate the Vivox updates into their own offerings, the autobuild packages for generating the new voice modules for the viewer have been made available to TPVs, allowing them to test new voice builds alongside LL rather than having to wait for the Lab to build, test and release new voice plugins.
It is also hoped that once built, the new modules will be binary compatible and have no related viewer code changes, potentially allowing TPVs to offer the updates directly to their users who prefer to run older versions of a viewer, thus allowing them to (hopefully) resolve their voice issues without being forced to update their viewer if they’re not ready.
If you use the official SL viewer, and you have been experiencing problems with voice, you may want to manually download and run this RC if you haven’t been selected to receive it as part of the RC testing.