Second Life News 2013-2

Sever Side Avatar Baking

This change touches many parts of the Second Life™ system, both server and viewer side. The server side changes are nearing completion and the viewer side changes are about midway, IMO.

Third Party Viewer Developers are working to get the code changes merged into their projects. This is a VERY complex task because of the changes TPV Dev’s have made and the changes from Server Side Avatar Baking. (SSAB)

Since the SSAB clock started ticking most of the time has been used to sort out merge problems. I get the impression that is getting worked out and TPV Dev’s will soon be in a place to actually run their test viewers.

The Lab is working on testing the scalability of the project and determining the level of hardware support needed. In other words it is unknown how many servers and connections will be needed to handle the user load. There are currently too many unknowns to make a prediction, which likely means hardware can’t be ordered and installed.

The FS people think they will not be ready to release a viewer with SSAB before end of February.

The Lab feels once one TPV is ready to implement SSAB then LL will be comfortable solidifying a rollout date.

For now, it looks like the end of February or a bit later.

Beta Viewer Updates

January 4th more changes were going into the Beta Viewer, which should show up Monday or Tuesday as a new build, viewer version. These changes are going to affect the SSAB merging efforts.


Chat or Communication Hub User Interface is still in development. There is no ETA for it and no order for release CHUI vs Serv Side Bake has been decided on. Currently the CHUI is being refactored, I suppose to clean up the code.

Materials System

Last week at some point there was a public release of the Materials System code. This apparently was later considered a bit premature. Whatever, later this month a better release is coming.

The release of the code has revealed some things about the new feature. For one it will require Lighting & Shadows (the label in Preferences), otherwise known as Deferred Rendering. For many that will be a problem. Older computers and video cards are not necessarily able to render SL using deferred render. Plus some Third Party Viewer (TPV) Dev’s are saying there are bugs in that system that crash the viewer.

The Lab has no plan to add a version of the Materials System that works without deferred render. So, if your computer cannot run ‘deferred’, you are not going to see the new Materials people will be using. However, this is likely a conditional decision.

A criterion in the decision is the consideration that if a computer cannot run deferred render and perform well then it is not going to have power needed to render the new materials.

Next it is assumed that builders will use a rational base texture for the Diffuse Texture. The diffuse texture is the texture we use now. Put a texture on a prim and you are putting a ‘diffuse’ texture on it. But, it is possible for a builder to be unreasonable or ignorant of good building practices and get an object that renders really badly.

Depending on how materials are used in the new system will determine if the decision to NOT provide the Materials System outside of deferred render is revisited.

The decision was NOT made to exclude people or eliminate old viewers. The Lab is dealing with reality of the varied equipment people use to run SL and advancing technology. It has always been true some people can’t render SL at Ultra. That some person has old equipment is not a reason to punish the rest of the world or hold development of SL back.

The Lab is looking at adding Best Practices for how to use the Materials System to the wiki’s Best Practices pages. If you haven’t looked through Best Practices for a time, it may be good to do so. A lot of new information has been added.

Full Bright

There are some viewer crashes caused by Full Bright objects. Some are thinking a viewer-side-disable option for Full Bright would solve the problem. The Lab’s goal is to have as few options as possible. So, a disable option is something the Lab will resist.

Again this is a problem for only some users. Expect some TPV’s to have the disable feature for Full Bright.

Viewer Stats

Viewer statistics are used to order the Third Party Viewer Directory. For a time there has been a problem with the stats collection.

I think I remember that some stats-collection-things were being changed. My guess would be the changes made some problems that had to be resolved. Whatever, they seem to have been fixed. So, we should see stats data reflected in the Viewer Directory updates.

Free Type

The SL Viewer and some Third Party Viewers use Free Type to render text. A recent update to 2.4.4 has degraded the appearance of text in the viewer.

Also, the version of Free Type being used varies from Mac and Windows to Linux. Some have been upgraded to FreeType 2.4.4. I think version 2.3.9 is in use by Firestorm, because they found it giving better quality text.

The Free Type site is showing version 2.4.11 dated 12/20/2012 as the latest update.

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