SL Viewer Updates
It seems the memory leak problem has finally been solved for the SL Viewer. We’ve had a number of false hopes that it was fixed. But now the main production viewer has updated. That is a sure indication the problem is fixed. That does not mean every problem is fixed. But, the problem causing a high crash rate in the Beta & Dev viewers is fixed. So, fixes can now start to roll again. For the last few weeks updates had stopped while the problem was tracked down. So, we sort of have open floodgates and a surge of updates rolling out. Viewer versions are changing quickly.
The Development viewer is at version: 3.4.4-267322
The Beta viewer is at version: 3.4.3-267135 – Release Notes
The main SL Viewer finally updated and is now 3.4.2-267137. There are 56 changes listed in the release notes for this version. Some of the more interesting fixes and new features I think you may find interesting or like are listed below with my take and explanation, which may not be totally correct… but, I think I’m close:
- Merchant Outbox import failures – This should help a bunch of people. I think it had to do mostly with Linux users, but I’m not sure.
- Crash on startup – This has only affected a portion of the population.
- Top Scripts: Break down usage by parcel – This tells estate managers which parcel has which scripts and their script time use. It is important because some things use scripts with the same name. Knowing which one is being triggered or misbehaving should help.
- Renaming a new inventory item while filtering item names renames parent folder instead.
- Render Metadata > Physics Shapes shows inconsistent information – This is a debugging tool that some of us use to figure out why sculpties and mesh items are not behaving as we expect.
- Disabling Basic Shaders Now Changes Terrain Appearance – fixed so ‘did change apparance’.
- DoF looks partly sharp and partly blurry at a certain distance – I don’t use DoF (Depth of Field – photographic term) but some photographers will be happy about this one.
- Navmesh disabled when graphics settings are changed while it is being used – OK… changing graphics settings and having the Navmesh editing panel open at the same time… really?
- TargetOmega object’s rotation resets – I guess…
- As a viewer architect, I would like to understand how fast each of the components of the texture pipeline can run in isolation – This was a request for a new feature. I expect to find some changes in the Fast Timers (Ctrl-Shift-9).
- Implement a fast cache system for texture fetching – Nice. I’ll explain below.
- Download bandwidth drops off while gray textures remain visible – This means that the download process was stalling before all the textures you need were downloaded. They have that fixed, so we should see things fully render without a stall and resulting long periods of grey things.
- Many “HTTP GET failed errors” with Drano merge candidate 255539 – I’m not sure of the specifics. But, a significant number of people have had HTTP Get Texture problems. So, much so that some third party developers recommend turning it off. I recommend having it on because HTTP is faster and uses error correction, mean it is less likely downloads will stall.
- Textures are loaded at lower detail on subsequent log-ins – This is related to the fast cache above. More information below.
- As a user, I would like quicker access to the volume sliders found in preferences – Oh goodie more volume sliders in some place handy. I have something else to look for.
- Add “Copy SLURL” to context menu when right clicking Landmarks in Inventory – OH! This is going to be so handy. Previous to this change I’ve had to click through several things to get an SLURL from an LM in inventory. This will be so much easier.
- Blocking an avatar does not derender worn lights – This is the problem where one blocks and avatar and their face lights, replicas of the sun, still shine. Blocking should now kill the lights too.
- Animations with included hand poses randomly overridden by other animations with hand poses and or ‘hand_motion’ – You may see some animation behave a bit differently. I think they will more correctly as intended.
- Rotating doors do not get their position updated on screen for the first time after logging in – This has been a problem in the Beta and Dev viewers for some time. The problem never made it into the main viewer release. For those of us using the Beta & Dev viewers it was a surprisingly annoying bug.
- Primitives not rebuilt after hitting CTRL Z to cancel a translation or rotation in Build/Edit mode – This should help builders. This was a problem of the object and the screen image being out of sync… the viewer thought a prim was in one place or orientation and the server thought another. At some point the viewer updated or the builder moved prims and they suddenly appeared to move differently than expected.
- Beta & Dev Viewers cannot render PF Characters – I think this is my bug report. When I was working with my Pathfinding (PF) character I was having problems because the three prims that made him were rendering at different places while the script swirls were showing in another place. That made it impossible to click on her…
- Dev Viewers cannot render PF Characters – They stole my bug 🙁
- Large group management changes – These are the changes to allow users to edit their groups over 10,000 members. We have had this in the Beta and Dev viewers for a time and it has been appearing in third party viewers over the last couple of weeks.
- Cannot put more than one object into the contents of an object – I ran into this one. What a pain.
Texture Cache – Tech
You may have noticed how textures render and not quite known what was happening. In a mall you probably see textures start to render as a black & white blurry image, then start to get color, and finally to get sharper. If you move in closer you see another round of sharpening.
If you have a home location set, you often login into it. I do. The cache should preserve those textures and avoid downloading them each login. It does. I seldom see the black & white image. But, I do see a low rez blurry image. So, what is happening?
When you see the B&W image the texture is partially downloaded. The JPEG2000 format used by Linden Lab™ contains several compressed images at different resolutions… or said another way, the image format allows a JPEG2000 image to be downloaded at different resolutions. So, viewing a vendor texture from a distance may only require a 64×64 pixel image. The server gets the data for a B&W 64x64px image and sends it while getting the color data from the image for a 64×64 and then sending it. If needed, eventually the entire image at max rez is downloaded.
Your home’s textures should already be downloaded. So, why the login fuzzy render? It seems the JPEG2000 image is stored and must be decompressed with each initial use… or may be more accurately said, each load into your graphics card. The viewer has to do a decompression each time it loads the texture into video ram. At least that is the way I think it is working.
The fixes to a fast cache system and for better rez on subsequent logins should address this problem.
Using the new 3.4.2 (267137) Nov 19 2012 12:24:52 (Second Life Release) viewer I see no difference on my initial login. Nor on my second login… but my third was different. I suspect it depends on whether you fill up the fast cache and it has to start flushing textures to make room for current stuff.
If I teleport into an empty area and return home, everything renders almost instantly. If I teleport into N-Core’s shop and let the gazillion plus textures load and render then I get grey textures when I return home. So, the new caches may help.
In general the viewer seems slow rendering some textures. But, that may be because it is Tuesday morning on a roll out day. I’ve heard several people talking in group chats about things being wonky in SL today. So, that could be the problem.
We will see lots of fixes rolling out during the next three weeks. Then SL will go into a no-change-window for a couple of weeks for the Christmas and New Years holidays.
I wonder if we will have any news from the Lab about the coming year.