We have heard various Team members, Jessica, and now Tonya say that Phoenix updates and support should be dropped. I’ve heard from a couple of sources that the development team does not like to work on Phoenix code. So, while the team has continued to support Phoenix after saying they wouldn’t, it is looking more and more likely they will stop spending time on the Phoenix Viewer.
Along with a change in the HTTP parts of the viewer comes another change, Avatar Baking. This is going to be a bit of a bumpy change over… little bumps.
You may or may not know that the viewer ‘bakes’ a composite avatar texture made from the skin and clothes textures. That single composite texture is sent to the SL servers and the servers send it to you and each person that can see the avatar.
This process will change. The Lab is going to stand up a Compositing Service. The viewer will continue to use its compositing process to give us interactive appearance editing. When we are done the viewer now sends the composite texture to SL. In the future it will send a request to the Compositing Server (CS). The CS will then look in our Current Outfit folder and bake that information into a composite texture. It will put that texture in its cache then hand out that texture to us and anyone that can see the avatar.
When we see our avatar go blurry the second time what we are seeing now is our viewer downloading and rendering the texture we just sent and which the SL servers sent back to us. The idea is it gives us a check on how others are seeing us. Unfortunately that has not been working well. In the future when we go blurry for the second time we will be downloading the texture the Compositing Server made. Again we will be seeing what others see. But, then it should work and be accurate.
In some third party viewers the returned image may not be an exact match with the composite the viewer made. It depends on the compositing code the viewer uses. I doubt this sill be an issue, unless one perv-cams with a microscope.
For a time viewers will need to support both processes. Regions will support one or the other. As the service rolls out we will have some RC to non-RC region problems. If you are in an RC running the new code that uses the CS, you will see avatars in the adjacent region that does NOT use the CS as gray and they will see you as gray. That problem will go away when all regions are rolled to the new code.
After the code is rolled out to the main channel there will be a grace period while it is tested and tweaked. Sometime after that, the old services will be shut down and the servers likely repurposed. Once shut down any viewer that has not been upgraded to use the new service or lacks the Current Outfit folder will see avatars as gray. They will never rez no matter what one does… other than updating to a newer viewer.