Second Life Snowstorm Viewer Status Week 18

Snowstorm

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There are a few interesting things happening in the Snowstorm Project. It has been awhile since I looked at where they are and what they are working on. For a time they have been focused on getting the code to compile with MS VS2010, which while important is  boring to read about. But there are a few things going on I find interesting.

VS2010: They are still working on the VS2010 compile. I suspect some part of this work includes the effort to merge in the mesh code and mesh upload features. From the server development group we know the mesh code is being merged into the main grid’s software.

Customizable User Interface: You may remember that one of the plans for Viewer 2 was to add a User Interface (UI) that users could easily change. The idea is that an explorer needs a different interface than a builder or a machinamist. A new draft of the Customizable UI Specifications is being finalized. Once the Lindens agree on a plan work on it will start. So, that is in progress even if a ways away.

WLRS: ? This abbreviation has snuck in. I’m not sure what it is. Still trying to figure it out. Whatever it is a new spec is being written and a project viewer for it is being considered.

It took awhile, but I found it. WLRS = WindLight Region Settings. These are the controls that will allow the estate/region owner to set the region’s Windlight settings and allow the resident to use those or override the settings and have their own. We have Windlight setting in Preferences now. But, they are mostly a viewer thing.

We have seen this extended in use in Imprudence on the OpenSim grids where it is called LightShare. A user can set their viewer to always use the region’s local settings, ask whether to use them, or never use them. Notifications are used to let the user know that different settings are available.

It can be annoying to get these notices. So, a sort of default plan is to allow the region to change your settings if you use the Default Windlight setting and only ask if you are using custom settings. I think this is handy for new users learning the ropes.

For the SL Viewer a user interface is being designed, settings dialogs, menu items, notification boxes, and assorted support stuff.

Time Spin: Sounds cool, huh? It is a feature request to place a control in the Environment editor to allow a better way to set region time. Spin controls are those input fields with up and down arrows that allow one to spin the value up or down in set increments. See: STORM-1202

Video Card Table: You may or may not know that the viewer has a list of video cards it uses to set your initial graphics settings. The file with that data is rather old. The viewer also requests a copy of an updated file from the SL servers. That file is not retained on the user side.

A feature request was made to update the client side file and to find a means of keeping it up to date. The idea has some complications but is in progress. Once it is working well the change should reduce video problems for those with new video cards. See: STORM-1100 There is a discussion of the problems they have run into. If you are having video problems you can’t resolve, you may want to read through the item.

Lost Sound: There is a problem where one looses sound after teleporting. That is being worked on. See: STORM-1215

Mac Scrolling Bug: Seems those using a Mac are running into scrolling issues. It seems to be related to MagicPrefs, an Apple tool. While this is considered an ‘edge’ case it apparently has some broader implications. The Lab cannot reproduce the error, a jittery and chaotic scroll. So, if your on Mac and having the problem, add to the JIRA. See: VWR-25664

Crash on Close: Some versions of the SLV crash when being closed. That is hopefully fixed. See: VWR-25609

Regression Testing: This is a label for the work done to see if past fixes are still working. As code moves through the repository and things branch and merge it seems some things fall through cracks. In other cases a latter fix breaks an earlier fix. So, the testing reviews the viewer to see that all things still work. AFAIK, all this testing is done by Lindens and volunteers in-world and as much as possible on the main grid. Lindens tend to use alternate avatars so they can work undisturbed.  As best I can tell regression testing is completed up to version 2.6.6.

Summary

Work continues on Snowstorm. It is less glamorous and contentious than earlier in the year. In some ways the ‘less contentious’ is a mark of the team’s success. I think it is also a matter of residents adapting to the improved Viewer 2. Once one is familiar with the viewer it is less of a problem. Since the TPV’s are adopting SLV2 user interface resistance to Viewer 2 is decreasing. Also, at some point new residents will out number long time residents and SLV2 will likely be dominant. For now the SLV main and beta viewers are the most stable and crash resistant, at least according to the stats.

As we near the release of mesh the life expectancy of the series 1 viewers shortens. I suspect once mesh is released the series 1’s will be discontinued and blocked from the grid. May be not blocked, but using a series 1 viewer in a mesh world is going to be a disappointing experience.

Work continues at a good pace. If you read the Kokua Viewer Test Build Release Announcement, you may have noticed it is based on 2.4 version Snowstorm code (the next release is promised to be on 2.6 code). The current Snowstorm Development viewers are version 2.6.8. I expected that TPV’s would have a challenge keeping up with the Lab’s development pace and that seems to be the case. Over the next few months we’ll see if they catch up or the Lab stays ahead.

Any developer of a TPV has a challenge. Most TPV developers are modifying the viewer to add features or improve core code for a better experience; Kirsten’s with a modified render pipeline and OpenJEPG, or the new Kokua (eventually to replace Imprudence) to better integrate with OpenSim or Firestorm to be the power user’s viewer. They do all that and integrate the Lab’s flood of code and changes. It has to be an amazing amount of work. Do what you can to help out our TPV Developers and the Snowstorm team. Even a thank you post in the forums helps. I suspect the Snowstorm Team and TPV Devs will appreciate it. Plus it might help shift the perception of residents that think nothing is being done to improve or fix SL.

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