If you have checked some of the video from SLCC 2010, or got to attend, you know lots of changes are coming to Second Life, especially to the Second Life Viewer. This article is about the goings on in the Snowstorm team, the group responsible for changing the Second Life Viewer.
Esbee Linden has office hours on Wednesday 8AM-9PM SLT (PDT). One can read transcripts of the meetings in the Wiki on Esbee’s page. User:Esbee Linden He is designated as the Business Lead and Product Owner for the Second Life Viewer. Q Linden and Oz Linden are also Snowstorm project leads. Q is the tech lead and Oz is the open source lead.
Oz Linden made one telling comment in one of his office-hours meetings, “Q was instrumental in recruiting me into LL. Without him convincing me personally that LL needed to do a better job of open source, and that he wanted that to happen, I would not be here.” I think this speaks well to real change coming to Linden Lab.
The Snowstorm team has a backlog of things they are working on. You can read it here: Esbee Linden Backlog – There is little prioritization yet. Esbee says a road map is coming ‘soon’.
Snowstorm even has its own Twitter channel. snowstormsl
There is a blog: Snowstorm Blog – Not really in use yet…
There is a calendar: Project Snowstorm – Provides the most general information.
Daily Scrum Meeting at Hippotropolis (SLURL) M-F 6:30am-6:45am PDT
Esbee’s Snowstorm is tasked with making rapid changes to the viewer and setting the path for the rest of the teams. So, information from this team might be considered the leading indicator. Part of Esbee’s task is getting resident input into the system for the viewer and avoiding duplication of effort.
As you might imagine the SL 2 Viewer’s user interface (UI) is a prime target for change. As the viewer code becomes more modular it will be easier to change the UI. All sorts of things are being looked at and prioritized; dockable panels and tabs, panels that float outside the main window, inventory that scrolls as one types, changes to make group chat popups less annoying, moving Snowglobe features and code into the SL 2.1 code, double click TP, implement Windlight settings change when entering SIM, Windlight Estate Settings – a Lightshare thing in use on OpenSim now (See Imprudence Viewer of more info), moveable bottom menu buttons, easier planar texture alignment, breast physics (see Emerald and Imprudence), scripting includes (Emerald has), some type of Twitter connection (people have asked for it…), custom teleport screens, all sorts of user interface changes (too many to itemize), additional inventory sorts, chat user interface changes… ok… most of this is the tedious ‘remove the pain, leave the fun’ work needing to be done. Not much exciting stuff… yet.
When Will We See Something?
As of 8/25 Snowstorm was half way through a scrum and expects to release something ‘pretty soon’. I take that to mean weeks.
The automated developer’s build is out. Snowstorm Viewer (208569). Not a prime time viewer. In fact it may not have even been tested yet… this is as bleeding edge as it gets. KirstenLee’s viewer is a similar bleeding edge tech viewer but with more testing. Neither are for non-tech users. The ‘Latest Build’ viewerr is for the other third party and within the Lab programmers. See Lindenlab Viewer Development Overview.
Latest Viewer – Use at your own risk!!! I strongly suggest you set this up with its own cache.
Main Line Viewer
The SL 2.1.1 viewer is the latest production level viewer. It contains a cache fix that should greatly speed up scene renders. Oz Linden acknowledged the open source developers for catching this bug. My experience is there is a noticeable difference when returning to a previously visited SIM.