Firestorm Q&A Meeting Summary

It looked like most of the development was there. The meeting was in voice. Questions were asked in local chat. Jessica Lyon was facilitating. She worked through the chat to answer most of the questions. Team members were also answering chat questions.

FS Q&A Meeting Feb 13, 2013

FS Q&A Meeting Feb 13, 2013

I think most of the audience was Firestorm (FS) fans. The meeting was civil and moved quickly without snide remarks or cheap shots, a nice thing for the team. It went well and was well done, I think.

Jessica took 15 to 20 minutes to start the meeting with news of coming things and to provide a warning.

As you might expect, the team is getting lots of questions about Server Side Avatar Baking (SSAB). The FS viewer will support it, eventually. For now FS is not yet merging the Lab’s SSAB code with the FS main build channel. Internally the team has merged to the Lab’s version 3.4.5. Jessica tells us that the internal version of FS is pretty bad off. It crashes often. The current release is far better than the current internal builds.

So, all those wanting a new release to fix their current crashing problems would likely be very disappointed. Consider. The FS crash rate is an average from all users. So, while you may personally experience a high crash rate a lot other people are not crashing. For instance Ed Merryman, one of the FS Team only crashes 1 or 2 times per month on the main FS release. The main release’s crash rate is 8%+ now. With the internal builds Ed is crashing a couple times an hour… or something like that.

All of the problems they are having now are before they even attempt to merge in the SSAB code. So, Jessica is expecting even more problems when they make that merge.

Jessica tells us that the Lindens are seriously concerned whether Third Party Viewer  (TPV) Dev’s can get SSAB code working in their viewers in time for the planned LL release. On the TPV side RLVa is holding things back, among other things. The SSAB code has a big impact on RLVa functionality.

Some of the current hold up is that only a couple of test regions are available for SSAB in the Beta grid. Scripts are disabled in the regions so RLVa cannot be tested. Jessica has just put in a request for the scripting to be enabled. That is likely going to happen as the Lindens want SSAB working ASAP and are helping wherever they can.

Jessica tells us the TPV developers are being pushed to meet the Lab’s release date. She feels the FS team can make a release available when they have to, but it is not going to be pretty and will likely have a higher crash rate. She hopes that since the Lab has to resolve issues they have with their viewer and server code, it will give the FS Team time to fix the problems they have.

Those testing SSAB have provided an image of how things will look in viewers that cannot support SSAB.

What you see without SSAB

What you see without SSAB

Some of the problems integrating SSAB are from the way the FS Team has done things, some are from how LL has done them and bugs that both have created. So, the rollout of SSAB may be delayed… probably delayed. Later discussion revealed Jessica is thinking the roll date is already behind schedule. So, I suspect we may see the rollout slide from the end of February to the end of March. But, that is speculation on my part.

Chat Hub User Interface (CHUI) must merge into FS also. The interface changes are mixed in with a load of refactoring. That makes it hard for the FS Team to integrate the code to the FS code. While the FS team wants to add it, it means they have to merge in over 1,000 changes. There is little doubt that will break FS and the team has to fix all the merge problems. Then testing the viewer after a massive change is always a big deal. This is devastating for the FS Team, a load of work.

Also, the Materials System is coming. That code has to be merged in also. Jessica thinks that won’t be too bad, but it still has to be done.

15 thoughts on “Firestorm Q&A Meeting Summary

  1. Like I’ve said before, while I appreciate what the FS team has done for SL, not having a business model will eventually kill the viewer. Making money is not evil. It makes things sustainable. Plus, I’m sure FS could show LL how to make money with a viewer. I’m not saying charge people for using it. I’m saying charge for advertising in an exclusive FS feature. Possibly a working search engine. I’d pay for that. Yeah, I already pay LL for that, but they obviously have no idea what the purpose of a search engine is.

    • A viewer with pop-up ads? Or taking up space inserting ads into specific features of the UI? Gick! What a horrid idea! Whatever the feature was that the ads were associated with would be the LAST feature I’d use. That idea needs to be killed with fire!

    • Viewers are made by people who do not like the limitations of a vanilla browser/client/etc. If they no longer enjoy SL and prefer to stop playing, then they should stop bothering with said client. However, if they still enjoy their game then they will likely continue to work on a viewer that meets the needs they’ve set for themselves.

      But Advertising and charging? GFYS. Advertising is the Devil and I’d like to eventually have one thing that I don’t have to deal with ads or the effort involved in blocking ads across the board.

      And further suggesting that FS could teach LL how to make MORE MONEY? It’s about time we stop giving LL any money at all. All they’ve done is break shit each and every time. I think I’m still waiting for Havok to be fully functional and even after 11 years they STILL CAN’T FIX random crashes or my personal favourite; crashing TPing elsewhere.

      • So… if everyone stops paying the Lab any money… how do you propose we pay the developers to move the platform forward?

        Do you really think they are breaking Second Life? I think they are proceeding down the normal path of human powered advancement. SL has advanced considerably since I joined.

        If you stop advertising, advertisers will stop paying for the things we enjoy. Then how will you obtain those things they have paid for? Would you perfer to pay for them yourself? And how will you even know about them?

        I am amazed you think the tp-crash problem is caused by the same software problems as 11 years ago. You probably don’t know you only ever have a flu once. From that time you are immune to that specific virus. But, the same symptoms we label flu are cause by a new virus the next year. It isn’t that we cannot cure a specific flu, we can. But, we cannot cure the next one we don’t know about. Software is the same as it develops and changes.

  2. I’m quite a bit surprised by the argument following which RLVa would be an issue with the server side baking code !… While it is true that you must make sure that RestrainedLove restrictions are not in force when removing or wearing clothing items, it is trivial to implement the corresponding checking functions as callbacks pointers used by the llappearance library and initialized by the RestrainedLove core; this is how the Cool VL Viewer has been doing it for weeks in its server-side baking enabled branch.

    As for stability, the current sunshine-external code (with this week’s latest commits) has been largely improved and is proving quite stable (currently testing Cool VL Viewer v1.26.7.11 that is based on it and will be released today or tomorrow). As a TPV developer, I’m ready for the roll-out of the server side baking code on the main grid.

    • I haven’t been interested in viewer code for anything more than animations… and that code has been/is difficult for me to understand. I also have not looked through the FS code or tried to compile it. So, I am clueless as to what is actually going on.

      That said, I’ll suggest what was said at the meeting was a combination of actual tech and team politics mixed with Jessica’s understanding of what is happening. She doesn’t claim to be a techie, so I assume she is doing some interpreting of what the programmers are saying. Plus there is the need to placate the user base, which Jessica seems sensitive to. I imagine there is concern that when people react to what she says, it gets taken out on support people. As people’s responsibility for others increases they tend to be cautious.

      Thanks for mentioning that Sunshine code is now more stable. Jessica tends to see things as a bit dark. I too expect to see problems as new software tries to carry the load of the main channels. But, whether it is going really bad, just bad, not so bad, or just your normal SL is all opinion.

    • Two things I’ve learned over the years is that **nothing is trivial when making changes to viewer code**… and stability is a matter of being able to run, reliably, with very few crashes, across many platforms, many hardware differences, and many variations to the options built into the viewer (and Firestorm has a ponderous number of possible options). What is stable on my computer with the options I choose may be wholly unstable on another person’s computer or even on my computer with different options chosen.

      All that said I’m sure they’ll work it out in the end.

      • The Firestorm team has done an amazing job over the years. I expect they will continue to. I probably feel more appreciation and respect for the team than I do gratitude, but only because I am not a big Firestorm user.

        They do draw their share of haters. While it is possible to criticizer the team in constructive ways, self centered haters have made it hard for the team and the Lab and I believe slown the advancement of SL. I see no reason to even attempt to be PC about such people. That these idiots exist makes it that much more important that we thank the FS team and express our gratitude and thanks.

        Thanks for what you do FS Team.

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  5. Hey all! I hate to read all this slamming of the FS team. They are doing an amazing job of bringing *the best SL viewer in existence* to your doorstep ,and asking nothing in return except an occasional “thank you.” I think we owe it to them to support them, especially through these more difficult times when LL makes major changes to the SL architecture. Ed, Jessica, and the whole dev team do what they do out of love for this medium. Please.. take it easy on them, huh?

    For me, all I can say is THANK YOU to the entire team. I would probably not still be on SL were it not for Phoenix/Firestorm. I, like many others, really hated the V2 viewer.. and these guys gave us workable alternatives. Thanks again, FS team!

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