2018 SL project updates 2/3: TPV Developer meeting

Tranmore Bay; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrTramore Bayblog post

The following notes are taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, January 12th 2018. The video of that meeting is embedded at the end of this update, my thanks as always to North for recording and providing it. Time stamps in the text below will open the video in a new tab at the relevant point of discussion.

Viewer Pipeline

[0:00-4:24] The Nalewka Maintenance RC updated to version 5.0.10.330173 on Wednesday, January 10th, and the Wolfpack viewer has been withdrawn. This leaves the remainder of the SL viewer pipelines as follows:

  • Current Release version 5.0.9.329906, dated November 17, promoted November 29th – formerly the “Martini” Maintenance RC – No Change
  • Release channel cohorts:
  • Project viewers:
  • Obsolete platform viewer version 3.7.28.300847, May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

The Update to the Alex Ivy 64-bit RC viewer (Tuesday January 9th, and reported in Part #1 of this week’s updates) will be the last such update for that viewer as an RC, and it will most likely be promoted to release status in week #3 (commencing Monday, January 15th). There should be an official blog post accompanying the promotion when it happens, encouraging those on Windows who can upgrade their version of Windows to 64-bit / Windows 10 to do so.

  • [28:16-30:11] A reminder that Alex Ivy is Windows and Mac, and that the Lab has a separate project for Linux. This will require support from the Linux community to help move the Linux viewer build to a Debian package using system libraries, so allowing TPVs to add the dependencies they require for their flavour of Linux build. If help is given and the project is successful, the Lab will then maintain the Linux build, with the caveat that it will only be subject to cursory QA, and will continue to require support from the Linux community for fixes. A repository for code submissions will be made available, together with a blog post / open-source community notification on the specifics, after the 64-bit viewer has been promoted to release status. Those wishing to support the work will need to sign a contribution agreement with the Lab.

The Voice RC has no known outstanding issues, and should be ready for promotion once Alex Ivy has been promoted to release status and the Alex Ivy code has been merged into the viewer.

The 360-snapshot viewer is looking set to move from project viewer status to a release candidate viewer.

A new viewer branch is being prepared – the media branch, which will be specifically for Chrome Embedded Framework (CEF) changes and other media handling updates. This will likely appear some time after the Alex Ivy viewer has been promoted to release status.

A further viewer project on the horizon is a further update to the viewer build chain, and bring that more up-to-date with things like Visual Studio, etc.

Viewer Deprecation

[4:25] Once Alex Ivy is promoted to release status, the Lab will be deprecating all versions of their viewer not using Asset HTTP loading (e.g. viewers prior to version 5.0.6). At some point after this, work will then commence on removing all UDP asset messaging from the servers, so anyone still using a viewer not fully supporting Asset HTTP will be unable to load gestures, animations, sounds, etc.

Avatar and Object Rendering

[9:26-10:32] Work on revising the current avatar complexity and object rendering calculations is due to resume “in the next week or two”. It is hoped this will allow the Lab to adjust the formulas used to make a reasonable generalisation in the rendering cost of things, and whether or not objects are being reasonably accounted for in those calculations, although things may not change that much. However, the Lab is “determined to fix some of the bad incentives in the current calculations”.

Environment Enhancement Project (EEP)

Project Summary

A set of environmental enhancements, including the ability to define the environment (sky, sun, moon, clouds, water settings) at the parcel level; a new environment asset type that can be stored in inventory and traded through the Marketplace / exchanged with others; scripted, experience-based environment functions, an extended day cycle and extended environmental parameters. This work involves both a viewer updates (with a project viewer coming soon) and server-side updates.

Current Status

[33:32-35:06] Rider linden is making progress, with his next step being to get the new setting objects defined as assets which can be stored in inventory. Once this has been done, he will be comfortable with setting up test regions on Aditi ready for testing once a project viewer is available. The viewer will require new UI elements for manipulating windlight assets, the initial design work on which, Rider jokingly claims, has already given him a nervous twitch in his left eyebrow!

In Brief

  • [13:35-15:32 ] Group Notices failures: some work has been done on this, showing that problems can start to occur if the group chat servers are left running too long, so a round of restarts should hopefully prevent this. Work is also going to be put into making group notice delivery more robust when logging-in, and this will hopefully be out in the next few months.
  • [22:49-26:55] Viewer widget documentation & additional viewer documentation: the viewer web widget wiki documentation is currently out-of-date, and a request has been made to update it. The Lab doesn’t have any documentation on the viewer (e.g. design documents etc.), outside of what is available on the wiki.
  • [32:04-32:45] IMs to E-mail: there have been reports at the recent Web Group and Simulator User Group meetings that some IMs to e-mails failed over the holiday period. This has been investigated, and the issue did lie with the Lab. However, it has been rectified, and all IMs to verified e-mails addresses should work correctly.
  • [11:02-11:48 – in text+ voice comments] The next Firestorm release will not allow changes to the debug RenderVolumeLODFactor which go above 4 to persist between log-in sessions. People will still be able to set the value above 4, but will have to do so each time they log-in. [18:33 – in text] There is to be one more beta release of the new Firestorm, which should be followed in about a week’s time with a formal release (late breaking issues allowing).

 

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SL project updates 50/3: TPV Developer meeting

The Outer Garden; Inara Pey, November 2017, on FlickrThe Outer Gardenblog post

The following notes are taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, December 15th 2017. The video of that meeting is embedded at the end of this update, my thanks as always to North for recording and providing it.

SL Viewers

[2:35] The Alex Ivy 64-bit RC viewer has one more bug the Lab would like to resolve, this one with the updater within the viewer. The hope is a fix for the issue will be in a further update to the viewer at the start of week #51, commencing Monday, December 18th. If so, the viewer might be promoted to de facto release status before the holiday break.

[6:46] Once the Alex Ivy viewer is promoted to release status, the Lab will move to block versions of their viewer older than the 5.0.6 viewer (the HTTP updates from June 2017).

[4:00] The Voice RC viewer updated to version 5.0.10.330039 on December 12th. This is doing “very well” and is currently being held from promotion due to the wish to promote the Alex Ivy viewer. As a result, the Lab might do a further RC update for it, with a new update from Vivox.

[5:19] A new Maintenance viewer, version 5.0.10.330035, appeared on December 13th. It features a range of fixes, and is code-named Nalewka, in keeping with the Lab’s new habit of naming Maintenance viewers after alcoholic beverages. Nalewka is, according to Wikipedia, a rather interesting beverage mixing alcohol (vodka or neutral spirits) and fruits, herbs, spices, sugar / molasses and which has a liquer-like taste.

[5:43] The anticipated 360-snapshot viewer update has been held while it is integrated with Second Life Place Pages. This will allow 360 images to be uploaded to Place Pages and used in hero images, etc. It is anticipated that these updates will now appear early in the New Year and the viewer should move quickly to RC status thereafter.

[4:43] TPVs attempting to use the viewer updater have encountered issues, often resulting in them disabling it. Oz Linden acknowledges it isn’t easy for TPVs to update it, but has offered to work with them to fix issues once the Alex Ivy viewer (which uses a new version of the updater) reaches release status, coupled with a code refactoring to make updating it easier in the future.

Linux and the Viewer

[20:51-24:28] As per my previous TPV meeting notes, once the Alex Ivy 64-bit viewer (Windows and Mac) goes to release status, the Lab will look to TPV / open-source developers to help move the Linux viewer build to a Debian package without the additional libraries. this will allow TPVs to add the dependencies they require for their flavour of Linux build. If help is given and the project is successful, the Lab will then maintain the Linux build, with the caveat that it will only be subject to cursory QA, and will continue to look to the Linux community for fixes.

A repository for code submissions will be made available, together with a blog post / open-source community notification on the specifics, after the 64-bit viewer has been promoted to release status. Those wishing to support the work will need to sign a contribution agreement with the Lab.

Texture Decoding and Texture Memory Limits

[28:23-29:52] The Lab is making improvements to texture handling (e.g. using raw texture data rather than encoded). Some of this work is in the current rendering project viewer; there is another non-public viewer which uses a new structure for the rendering cache – although this hasn’t been overly successful in testing thus far. Oz is anticipating his team spending more time on rendering in early 2018.

Environment Enhancement Project (EEP)

A set of environmental enhancements, including the ability to define the environment (sky, sun, moon, clouds, water settings) at the parcel level; a new environment asset type that can be stored in inventory and traded through the Marketplace / exchanged with others; scripted, experience-based environment functions, an extended day cycle and extended environmental parameters. This work involves both a viewer updates (with a project viewer coming soon) and server-side updates.

[10:01-11:34] “Rider’s been on a power trip since starting this project!” Grumpity joked at the meeting, “Moving these celestial bodies around the sky!” – which Rider admitted was fun.

Progress continues, and it is anticipated that test regions on Aditi and a project viewer will be available “soon after” the new year, although these may not initially support using environment settings and inventory assets.

 

Server-side Reset Skeleton

[30:10-35:25] Bento introduced a reset skeleton option for details with avatar deformations. However, it is viewer-side only – therefore, if someone swaps between skeletons / avatars + attachments and is displayed deformed (e.g. BUG11310) or with attachments wrongly place (or a combination), they, and everyone viewing them has to individually perform a reset skeleton on their avatar to correct how they appear.

A preferred means of handling this might be for a local reset to be sent update the appearance system to ensure everyone gets updated (so if I’m deformed, I can use reset skeleton, and everyone around me gets the update as well, rather than having to also use the reset skeleton option). Oz has requested clear, concise feature request on the idea. Grumpity has indicated she’ll follow-up on the specifics of BUG-11310, which the Lab thought to be resolved through and internal JIRA.

Simulator Resources and Simulator Crashes / Performance Degradation

[43:53-50:20] Discussion on simulator resource use / loading balancing. This proceeds from the false assumption that a region / simulator can be crashed “just” by overloading it via a resource / physics hungry script. While there may still be exploits where this might be the case, the Lab long ago imposed absolute limits on script and physics time per frame. What more usually happens is that excessive script / physics loading on a region as whole as a whole can degrade performance as some script / physics executions are skipped within a frame (so scripted objects are slow in responding / may not respond as anticipated, for example); although it is acknowledged that specific items – intentionally or through bad scripting – can have an undue impact on performance.  Anyone encountering specific objects, which can individually adversely impact region / simulator resources / performance is asked to file a JIRA with details of the object in question, so that the Lab can obtain a copy and poke at it.

Other Items

  • [13:24] Estate access / ban lists: (Estate/Region floater) – work has stalled on this.
    • [14:21] A question was raised on the ability to teleport others home from, or out of, your own parcel, a capability that had been available in the older v1 (and v2?) viewers. Having an ability to remove people at parcel level is something the Lab will likely look at as they continue to work on the land tools.
    • [16:59] the updates to the estate tools will include a log of ban actions taken – who banned whom and when – which will be visible to all Estate Managers (not general group / land users).
  • [35:35-36:20] Semi-automatic viewer tests: Kitty Barnett (Catznip) have a number of semi-automated viewer tests (e.g. checking to see if all UI elements / floaters work in different languages). The Lab have found that as the viewer is updated / changed so often, such tests rarely maintain their value over a period of time. However, Oz is willing to learn more about at Kitty’s framework if it avoids such issues.
  • [36:39-37:53] Viewer support for local meshes: this has been a frequent request, particularly with content creators. It is also something the Lab and Firestorm have looked into. However, supporting multiple mesh formats, dealing with LOD compositing, etc., makes it complex and difficult to implement within the viewer. However, if the Lab can find a way for the viewer to do this, they would consider implementing it.
  • [50:43-55:07] Phishing/ URL link spoofing: a discussion on the use of URL link spoofing – which has affected Second Life and is a general issue on the web as a whole. Short version: always check URLs before clicking whatever you’re doing, and in terms of SL: always treat links receiving (e.g. via dialogue boxes, via unexpected / unknown IM, etc.) with caution, and while it does not eliminate risks, configure your viewer to use an external web browser to open external links. Obviously, and like any other company, the Lab cannot – and will not – every guarantee the safety of accessing URLs which are outside of its control.
While not foolproof, setting your viewer to use an external web browser or to only use the built-in browser for trusted links from LL, might provide some added protection against scam URLs you might obtain through in-world sources
  • Lab No Change window: runs from Thursday, December 21st 2017 through until Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018.
  • Next TPV Developer meeting: Friday, January 12th, 2018.
  • Firestorm release: the next Firestorm release now looks set to go to beta in the week commencing Monday, December 18th, with a release to be made early in the New Year.

 

 

SL project updates 46/3: TPV Developer meeting

The Silent Mind; Inara Pey, October 2017, on Flickr The Silent Mindblog post

The following notes are taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, November 17th 2017. The video of that meeting is embedded at the end of this update, my thanks as always to North for recording and providing it.

SL Viewer

[0:50-2:22] The Alex Ivy 64-bit RC viewer, version 5.1.0.510354, has been holding up “really well” in its release cohort, although there is a start-up / benchmark crash the Lab has had difficulty reproducing, but for which they now believe they can fix in the next update, which should appear after the US Thanksgiving break (Thursday November 23rd – Sunday November 26th, 2017). If the crash is shown to be fixed, then the viewer should hopefully be in a position to move to release status in December.

[2:25-2:43] Vixox is still working on a race condition in the Voice RC viewer, version 5.0.8.328552 at the time of writing, and the Lab is hoping for an update on that either in parallel with or shortly after the Alex Ivy update.

[2:46-2:59] The current “Martini” Maintenance RC viewer  updated to version 5.0.9.329906 on Friday, November 17th.

[3:00-3:28] An update to the 360 snapshot project viewer, version 5.1.0.506743 at the time of writing, is in progress, which should greatly improve image quality. If possible, this update might appear ahead of the US Thanksgiving break.

Rendering Project Viewer

[5:15-5:52] A new project viewer – Project Render, version 5.1.0.510604, dated November 14th, 2017, is available for Windows (32-bit and 64-bit) and Mac OS X. This viewer includes several fixes to the Rendering pipeline, and comes with a request that all issues are reported via JIRA.

The viewer is now built from the Alex Ivy (64-bit) branch (hence no Linux version), and all known issues for the Alex Ivy Viewer apply to it. It is intended to provide  / address:

  • Improvement to mesh LOD calculation (account for CTRL+0).
  • Agents that render as jelly dolls should have their attachments render at 0 LoD to prevent loading higher LoD complexity in memory thus deterring crashes -> debug setting RenderAutoMuteByteLimit has to be > default of 0 for this feature.
  • Bug: Mesh avatar deforms constantly – was due to bounding box / LOD swaps.
  • Bug: Some mesh turned invisible when camera is moved – was caused by fix for MAINT-6125.
  • Bug: Setting one avatar to “Do not render” causes all avatars to become impostors.

Viewer Development Focus

Linux Viewer

[3:32-4:52 and 15:28-15:46] Currently, the Lab is aiming to get 32-bit and 64-bit Windows builds on the current viewers, together with 64-bit only Mac builds.

Once this has been done, the Lab will try again to get a 64-bit Linux build of the viewer, with the overall goal being to change the Linux build over to a Debian package without the additional libraries, allowing TPVs to add the dependencies they require for their flavour of Linux build.  However, the Lab will be looking for help from TPVs and open-source developers in getting this done.

If help is given and the project is successful, the Lab will then maintain the Linux build, with the caveat that it will only be subject to cursory QA, and will continue to look to the Linux community for fixes.

General Focus

[10:10-14:35] In general, the Lab will be focusing more on current hardware (see resource usage tools, below) and operating systems over older / outdated hardware and operating system flavours. So for Windows, for example, while the Lab is not dropping support for 32-bit systems, the recommendation is that those who can upgrade to support Windows 64-bit (and particularly Windows 10 64-bit) should do so. If nothing else, this should substantially reduce viewer crash rates, particularly when used 64-bit versions of the viewer (e.g. fewer out-of-memory crashes).

Resource Usage tools

Note the following elements are discussed between 6:16-10:08 and then from 19:52-49:10.

VRAM and Texture Information

Chalice Yao has proposed a feature to the Firestorm team to allow users better understand the resources they are using, both through their avatar’s VRAM usage and the VRAM (triangles and vertices) for any selected object (see FIRE-21793).

Demonstration images (via FIRE-21793 / Arcane Portal) showing the proposed texture VRAM resource usage information on both a full avatar on the left and a specific attachment (Catwa head), on the right

Textures are a significant issue because of the widespread use of 1024×1024 textures on multiple faces of items at 4 MB a texture, whether needed or not (do buttons on a jacket really need 102×1024 textures?). This can lead to avatars using VRAM in the gigabyte ranges – simply because there is no incentive in place for creators to optimise their use of textures. so, offering a means by which users can see and understand their resource usage might encourage creators to start thinking in terms of optimising their use of the textures.

Overall, Oz is in favour of the idea, noting that it could be a good fit with the Lab’s own work in trying to make the render cost calculations for avatars and objects more accurate (allowing for the variances in handling information inherent within different types of graphics cards with different capabilities one to another).  In addition, the Lab has been working on an experimental viewer which radically re-organises the texture cache to make it simpler, but this has yet to work (this includes the previously mentioned idea of storing textures already decoded).

The discussion (a fair part of which is in text) also covers the upcoming Bakes on Mesh work (see my CCUG meeting notes), the benefits of supplying users with pertinent information vs. the problems of witch-hunts, providing the means for people to be better educated and to make more informed decisions, how any additional information should be displayed etc.

Hide All Objects Outside of A Parcel

BUG-5671 outlines another idea related to data handling / viewer resource usage: offering parcel owners a setting that  would effectively prevent the simulator from downloading information about objects outside of their own parcel. This would reduce simulator load, bandwidth use and mean the viewer doesn’t have to manage object data and rendering for items the parcel owner doesn’t want to see when with their parcel (although it also means their view would be reduced to looked out over “empty” land).

The feature request has been accepted by the Lab – but when or how it, or something like it, may be implemented – if it is implemented at all – has yet to be considered.

BUG-5671 another demonstration of the important difference between a JIRA being Accepted compared with being implemented. JIRAs can be Accepted for a number of reasons, but does not automatically mean it will be implemented. Reasons JIRAs might be Accepted include: it explain an issue the Lab may want to address at some point; or because it might offer a means to resolve part of a larger issue or group of issues the Lab might want to address, again at some point in the future.

RenderVolumeLODFactor

Mixed with the above discussions (again in text) is a debate on RendeVolumeLODFactor settings, with some viewers (e.g. Firestorm) defaulting to higher values than the official viewer, and the impact this may (or may not have) on content creators.

Certainly, high-end LOD settings are detrimental to viewer performance, but whether enforcing a lower LOD setting would encourage content creators to optimise their designs is questionable: “recommendations” for very high LOD settings (often much higher than the defaults used by any viewer) have been a factor in content creation for a very long time, with some creators even foregoing the use of lower LOD models (so it because an “all or nothing ” approach). As such, a more effective means of preventing this might be to penalise creators who fail to provide proper medium and low LOD versions of their creations, something the Lab is considering.

This conversation (largely in text) continues on to alpha blending / masking, etc.

Continue reading “SL project updates 46/3: TPV Developer meeting”

SL project updates 44/2: TPV Developer meeting

The updated official viewer splash screen for general users (i.e. not first-time log-in)

The following notes are taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, November 3rd 2017. The video of that meeting is embedded at the end of this update, my thanks as always to North for recording and providing it.

SL Viewer

The Voice RC viewer has one remaining significant bug, which causes some of those on the Windows version of the viewer to connect to the wrong voice channel, which is preventing this viewer progressing further.

The 64-bit Alex Ivy RC viewer updated to version 5.1.0.510354 on November 2nd, 2017. Overall, this viewer is described as doing “really well”, although there are still crash issues with it. These are most noticeable with people on 32-bit Windows systems (those on 64-bit versions of Windows running the 64-bit version of the viewer are experiencing far fewer crashes).

The latest update should correct issues with the viewer’s updater, and it is likely more users will be added to the RC cohort usage pool before this viewer is promoted to release status.

Work is once again proceeding with the 360-snapshot viewer, with improvements to image quality and processing speed, and a new update should be appearing soon. The Lab is also working on a new means to upload 360 snapshots from the viewer to SL Place pages.

Inventory UDP Messaging

Work has started in deprecating all UDP inventory messaging. This is not progressing “super fast”, as it is being progressed alongside other work, and the projected end date is some time “fairly soon” after the end-of-year holidays, when back-end support for the UDP messaging will be turned off. This means that any active viewers still using the UDP inventory handling routes should be making the move to HTTP.

No Change Windows

With the end-of-year holiday season approaching, the Lab is looking at dates for no change windows – periods when they will not be making and simulator or viewer releases, and would prefer to see TPVs do the same.

The first of these periods will be the US Thanksgiving holiday period, when a no change period is liable to be enforced from Wednesday, November 22nd, with the all-clear on Monday, November 27th (subject to formal confirmation).  The Christmas no change window is still TBD, but will likely be from at least Friday, December 22nd through until shortly after the new year.

Other Items

Resource Usage tools

Chalice Yao has proposed a feature to the Firestorm team to allow users better understand the resources they are using, both through their avatar’s VRAM usage and the VRAM, triangles and vertices for any selected object (see FIRE-21793). As the Lab is currently working on amending how rendering cost calculations, a more detailed discussion on these ideas has been tabled for the next TPV Developer meeting, on Friday, November 17th.

Firestorm Release

The next Firestorm release has been delayed of late, but recently entered beta testing, with the aim of it appearing before the end of the year. When it arrives, I’ll have me usual overview of significant updates, but Beq Janus recently blogged about a couple of updates she has contributed to the release, and the Lab have indicated their own interest in possibly adopting the updates, if contributed.

Second Life Minimum System Requirements

It has been noted that the specified minimum system requirements for Second life may be out-of-date (see BUG-139301), and this may be exacerbated with the Alex Ivy viewer. It’s likely that the specifications will be looked at again.

SL project updates 40/2: TPVD Meeting; e-mail verification

Mitsumi-Town in Tokyo; Inara Pey, September 2017, on FlickrMitsumi-Town in Tokyoblog post

The majority of these notes are taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, October 6th 2017. The video of that meeting is embedded at the end of this update, my thanks as always to North for recording and providing it. time stamps in the text below will open the video in a separate tab for ease for reference to the relevant points of discussion in the meeting.

The meeting was chaired by Rider Linden, who was filling in for Oz, and was somewhat foreshortened.

SL Viewer

There were no updates to the current crop of official viewers during the week, leaving the pipeline as:

  • Current Release version 5.0.7.328060, dated August 9th, promoted August 23rd – formerly the Maintenance RC
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Voice RC viewer, version 5.0.8.329250 on Friday, September 29th
    • Maintenance RC viewer, version  5.0.8.329115, dated September 22nd.
    • Wolfpack RC viewer,version  5.0.8.329128, dated September 22nd – this viewer is functionally identical to the release viewer, but includes additional back-end logging “to help catch some squirrelly issues”
    • Alex Ivy 64-bit viewer, version 5.1.0.508209, dated September 1st
  • Project viewers:
  • Obsolete platform viewer version 3.7.28.300847, dated May 8th, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

Quick notes:

  • [4:35-4:52] Work is continuing to fix the texture crashes in the 64-bit Alex Ivy RC.
  • [5:25-5:40] There is a reference to Voice changes, however, the question is non-specific, and it is unclear if it refers to the current Voice RC (updated at the end of week #39) or to further updates, the question is deferred to Oz (who is directly involved in the Voice project).

E-mail Verification

[2:56-4:00] As noted in part 1 of this week’s report, the Main channel deployment saw an update to IMs-to-e-mail as part of the Lab’s move to only handling verified e-mail addresses.

The sending / forwarding of messages to unverified addresses is not blocked – as yet. However, once a viewer-side changed has been deployed, accounts with unverified emails will no longer be able to request that IMs be forwarded to e-mail; attempts to enable the viewer-side setting will fail, and result in a message advising the account holder to verify their e-mail address.

Potential Interest List Change

[15:52-18:40] (with a lengthy silence)] There is a potential simhost change to the Interest List under discussion at the Lab. This will in essence reduce some of the aggressive culling of updates from objects behind an avatar (particularly useful in the case of light sources, moving objects, etc). If it goes ahead, this update could also benefit the 360-snapshot viewer.

Other Items

 

Estate Tools Update

[6:07-10:40 (ish) and 13:10-14:20] There is a lengthy on-off exchange, in Voice and text (with some long pauses in both) regarding the Estate Tools updates in the viewer. In short: updates to the estate ban lists (see BUG-8883 and BUG-40676 as examples of requested changes), have resumed. however, as Alexa Linden, who is running this project, was unavailable for the meeting, no detailed update was possible.

Viewer Build Issue

[10:50-12:00] There is “progress” in fixing an incorrect viewer build update involving a change to the Cmake files which results in a forced rebuild of the Windows version of the viewer (the “-z0” issue).

In-world Posing

[20:48-end of meeting] NiranV Dean has been experimenting with a means of in-world posing an avatar through the viewer (e.g. for things like photography), which would be visible to the person posing their avatar (as it would require server-side support to be visible in all viewers). There may be interest from the Lab in accepting as a proposal / contribution, if the details of what is required can be agreed between the Lab and Niran.

There were concerns among those attending the meeting (and raised largely in text) on what Niran is trying to achieve and how it might related to content ripping. If nothing else, the conversation underlines the need for a clearly thought-out proposal outlining the idea, its purpose, how it might be implemented, potential issues which will need to be considered and addressed, etc., rather than requesting people “try” the idea and give feedback.

Date of Next Meeting

The next Third-Party Viewer Developer meeting will not be until Friday, November 3rd, 2017.

 

SL project updates week 38/3: TPV Dev meeting and the Cloud

Gentle Breezes; Inara Pey, September 2017, on FlickrGentle Breezesblog post

Updated, September 25th: As indicated to me by Grumpity Linden, the cause for the Wolfpack and Maintenance RCs to be withdrawn as noted in this article (and which was as a result of this issue), has now been resolved and the two updated versions of these viewers are once again available. As a result, the links to their release notes and download options have been restored.

The majority of the notes in this update are taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, September 22nd 2017. The video of that meeting is embedded at the end of this update, my thanks as always to North for recording and providing it. Timestamps in the text below will open the video in a separate window at the relevant point for those wishing to listen to the discussions.

Server Deployments Week #38 – Recap

  • There was no deployment / restart on the Main (SLS) channel on Tuesday, September 18th, leaving that channel running on 17#17.09.01.508236.
  • On Wednesday, September 19th, the RC channels were updated as follows:
    • BlueSteel and LeTigre received a new server maintenance package, 17#17.09.14.508549, comprising improvements to address some problems that could degrade simulator performance in rare cases.
    • Magnum received a new server maintenance package, 17#17.09.14.508533, containing a fix for BUG-100505  “llGetEnv (“agent_limit”) is returning an empty string in Magnum, LeTigre and Blue Steel regions.”

SL Viewers

Alex Ivy 64-Bit

[0:54 and 6:00] The Alex Ivy 64-bit viewer is due an update, possibly in the early part of week #39 (commencing Monday, September 25th). This may not have all the fixes required for the viewer to get promoted to de facto release status. Before this happens, the Lab wants to tackle the problem with pipeline stalls in this viewer, and are working on an experimental branch of the viewer to try to resolve the issue. This branch will be made available as a test viewer to those who have reported the issue and can reliably repro it. Depending on the outcome of this testing, a decision will be made on folding it into the RC branch for the viewer.

The wiki instructions for the viewer should now be updated to the 64-bit build requirements, nd Oz indicates that a new 64-bit Havok library should follow the release of the viewer.

Voice Viewer

[1:33, 2:13, and 34:02-37:14] There will be a new Voice SDK arriving for the Voice RC viewer in the near future, which will include an updated SDK that includes a fix for some long-standing problems. There are still some problems to be fixed, so it is unlikely this viewer will be promoted until the new SDK has spent time in RC and the remaining major issues have been resolved.

This viewer already fixes the high number of failures to connect to the Voice service when logging-in; however, there is an issue where manually killing the Voice process will not restart (as it used to), and so Voice won’t work. The Lab would like to fix this so the process does restart the process, but this is not seen as a critical issue to be resolved before the viewer is promoted.

The new SDK does not alter the Voice protocols, but is not compatible with previous versions, requiring the supporting updates in the viewer to work. This means the new SDK cannot work with older viewer versions, and older SDKs cannot be used with viewers incorporating the code updates to support this new SDK.

Maintenance and Wolfpack RCs

[2:04 and 4:15] The meeting references updates to the Maintenance RC viewer (to 5.0.8.329115) and the Wolfpack RC (to 5.0.8.39128). While both updates were available at the time of the meeting and shortly thereafter, the Alternate Viewers wiki page now references the previous RC releases for both (5.0.8.329065 and 5.0.8.328990 respectively). It is not clear whether this is an error with the wiki page, or if the updated RCs have been withdrawn (both still appear on the viewer release notes list). Resolved.

Snapshot Viewer

[5:14] There may be a new updated to the 360 snapshot viewer in the next week to two weeks. Work has also started on providing better support for using 360-degree images in Second Life Place Pages (see here and here for more on Place Pages).

Pipeline Status

Keeping the above in mind, the current viewer pipeline comprises:

  • Current Release version 5.0.7.328060, dated August 9th, promoted August 23rd – formerly the Maintenance RC
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Maintenance RC viewer, version 5.0.8.329065, dated September 18th.
    • Wolfpack RC viewer,version 5.0.8.328990, dated September 12th – this viewer is functionally identical to the release viewer, but includes additional back-end logging “to help catch some squirrelly issues”
    • Alex Ivy 64-bit viewer, version 5.1.0.508209, dated September 5th
    • Voice RC viewer, version 5.0.8.328552, dated September 1st
  • Project viewers:
  • Obsolete platform viewer version 3.7.28.300847, dated May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

New Viewer Splash / Log-in Screen

[7:12-7:42] As noted in my week #36 TPV meeting notes, Phronimos Linden is updating the viewer splash screen which will see a different look and feel to the screen, including how information is displayed (such as making grid status info more prominent), and will see updates to some of the widgets providing information in the splash screen. This work is now with the QA team, and information on the updates will be available for TPVs soon.

Windows Viewer  Installation Warning

[7:47-8:48] The Lab’s code-signing key used to verify the viewer with Windows (notably Windows 10) has expired. The Lab have a new key, but for an interim period, it means users installing the Windows version of the official viewer may find Windows SmartScreen reports the viewer as unverified.

You can read more here, on via my own blog post, which includes steps on clearing the warning and installing the viewer.

Server Version Updates and Move to the Cloud

[12:13-12:53] A number of server version updates are advancing. these don’t always have user-visible changes, but they are nevertheless important to Second Life. Among other things, they are part of the preparatory work for moving SL capabilities to the cloud (see my week #36 TPV notes for more on this).

[15:08-19:06] There is no time line for moving things to the cloud, simply because the Lab does not know at this point how long it will take. There are some significant changes which must be made to both the way things are built and the way they are run, and there need to be assorted updates to various components that go into building and running SL services.

Some SL services are already being tested in the cloud, and some are performing well – such as the process for determining if a user requires a viewer update. Others have been tested and revealed problems which must be addressed if they are to be run from the cloud – or should be addressed even when not running in the cloud.

It is unlikely the Lab will be providing specifics on services which have moved to the cloud / are being tested, and which are still based within their data centre until things reach a point where simulators are running in the cloud, simply because where many SL services run makes absolutely no difference to the user experience, as long as they are running. Moving and testing simulators in the cloud is likely to be one of the last things to be tackled, simply because of the complexities involved.

The first goal is to get everything working pretty much “as is” from the cloud. Only after this has been done, will work start on leveraging the benefits of having everything in the cloud be explored and exploited.

[19:06-21:49] This could include giving – and to use Oz’s words, the option of having their regions hosted in specific geographical locations. So, for example, the various communities located in South America could have their regions all hosted in South America, potentially improving response times between viewer and server.  However, whether this will in fact be possible is dependent on the Lab reaching that point at which they can start leveraging the benefits of the cloud.

Obviously there are trade-offs in this kind of shift, should it occur; relocating a simulator to better serve a community may not improve things for others access the region on that simulator. However, in potentially supplying the option, the Lab is providing land owners with a choice of what they would like to do.

[21:56-22:38] If nothing else, this work should be a demonstration that the Lab really is continuing to invest in Second Life and its future. Were they seriously thinking of letting it go (i.e. in favour of Sansar), then none of this work  – and the associated expenditure – would be taking place.

Environment Enhancement Project (EEP)

(See also my week #38 CCUG update.)

[29:26-31:16] There is a “fair amount” of back-end work that is being worked through, and the work is approaching the point of internal testing within the Lab. Once this has reached a suitable point, the server-side / simulator changes will be deployed (e.g. to Aditi) for wider testing, alongside of a project viewer to handled the client-side application of the capabilities.

Recent Grid Issues

[37:51-39:20] As most are aware, there have been some recent grid issues. While not the cause of these issues, but which has been a contributing factor to their duration, is some low-level code within the viewer which handles log-in retries far too aggressively. When this happens en masse (such as when there is a grid issue), it results in the log-in servers being swamped, adding to the woes for people trying to log-in.

A recent Maintenance update to the SL viewer addresses this issue (see my week #30 TPV update), and the request for TPVs to pick these code changes up was re-iterated at the meeting. In addition, the log-in servers have themselves been made more robust when facing large number of attempted / repeated log-in attempts.

Other Items

Estate Tool Ban List Improvements

[9:32-11:22] The Lab has resumed work on the region ban lists (layout / usability, etc), and the updates should be appearing soonTM. The specifics of what is being done will hopefully be available for the next TPV Developer meeting.

Premium Member Benefits

[13:13-14:53] There is apparently at least one Premium member benefit that will be appearing  real soonTM which the Lab believe people will like, and some further ideas are being considered.  Oz declined to comment on what any of these might be, citing it being more fun to find out when they are announced. He also indicated that appropriate and considered suggestions  / ideas for benefits (e.g. not things that persist after a Premium subscription has been cancelled) are also welcome.

Group Notice Failures

[28:00-28:55] Still no work on group notices (on-line and off-line) sometimes not getting through for some people. It’s not on the “now / next” roadmap of things the Lab is / will be looking at. The focus on sever-side work is on dealing with instability issues which can cause crashes / offer exploits to griefers.

Asset HTTP Messaging and Asset HTTP Issues

[41:14] As noted in my week #36 TPV meeting update, the recent Asset HTTP updates are leading to the texture pipeline getting out of sync, and people experiencing texture load stalls. A JIRA for this has been filed (BUG-139123), and a possible fix has been submitted to the Lab by Sovereign Engineer.

[43:16] The Lab is also working on the texture caches in an attempt to make them faster and more effective.