Viewer changes are picking up speed. As the new multi-channel process moves forward we will see more viewer projects moving forward. Some of these things are things I’ve written about weeks and months ago. Now they are coming to a viewer near you.
Inara has written an update on the SSA (Server Side Appearance): SL projects update 24 (5). See it for details. The summary of that news is simple. We are likely to see SSA enabled over the next 2 to 6 weeks. I expect it to SLOWLY creep across the grid. The server side code has already been rolled out to the main channel. Now it is just a matter of enabling it on the regions. But, there are concerns about problems and whether the new servers can carry the load. So, this will be a very careful roll out.
There is a fix for the texture corruption problem (SUN-74). It is not guaranteed. This is the problem where older viewers can corrupt mod-OK eye, skin, and hair/bald textures on the asset server, meaning the texture is permanently corrupted. So, if you haven’t already, get a newer viewer with SSA support.
Friday they were hoping to test the fix in a pile-on test in some private regions in the main grid.
The Lindens feel they now have enough hardware to handle the SSA server load. I suspect that if the load stays within their projections we will see the roll out proceed quickly. If not, then much more slowly. But, I am guessing we will have full roll out between weeks 26 and 32.
Also, I suspect that the roll out is a decision more up to the operations people than to the development engineers. This makes it a bit hard to figure out the ‘when’ because we usually only hear what the engineers say.
The Lab is cautious about providing release dates for the various fixes. Software bugs are always unplanned. They come by surprise and can change release dates. Past behavior by the community has taught the Lindens to simply not provide dates, unless they are for things already pretty much in place. That makes it hard for the Third Party Viewer people to make plans and keep to their schedules.
Friday the FS Team was hoping to test version 4.4.1 with the SUN-74 fix during the SSA pile-on test. Then a request went out to test with 4.4.0. I suppose it occurred to someone that some number of people might not upgrade to 4.4.1.
As it is now the FS Dev Team is planning to release 4.4.1 in week 25, provided nothing goes wrong. The 4.4.1 was to be in final version for QA and in tester’s hands Monday. THAT ISN’T a promise; it is a plan subject to change.
The 4.4.1 is not going to have all the features hitting the SL Viewers. The version is, in my words, more of a bug fix release.
FS 4.4.0 has a small group of users that cannot download inventory. All the work-around processes for those people are messy hacks requiring the use of another viewer to download inventory and copying files around in the user’s file system. It is the FS Team’s intention to get 4.4.1 out to fix problems that made it past the QA testing and into 4.4.0.
The group that is having inventory problems with 4.4.0 is a group that seems to have no common denominator. The FS Team cannot identify a reason why these people have a problem and others don’t. Unfortunately, none of the Firestorm QA testers ran into the problem. Thus the problem made it through testing. If you are one of the people that ran into the inventory problem, you may want to consider joining the QA team.
Soon after the release of 4.4.1 another release, 4.4.2, should roll out. The 4.4.2 release will be more about adding in the Lab’s changes and features. Both 4.4.1 and 4.4.2 should come out quickly.
Vivox is the voice chat system that Second Life™ uses. It has been in the upgrade process for some time. It will roll out ‘soon.’ This is another fix/change/upgrade that has been held up by a single viewer release channel. The multi-channel will move things faster.
Amazon & Steam
You may know that Second Life can be downloaded from Amazon. In the viewer repositories list you might have noticed the Amazon viewer. This is a viewer with special packaging for Amazon and it carries the Amazon name somewhere on the viewer. It also uses a special channel ID so the use can be tracked.
It may seem that Steam has fallen by the side. But, a similar viewer will be used for Steam. The Steam viewer is another project held up by other projects the Lindens are working on. Also, there is a gotcha in the system. Steam’s distribution system cannot handle files with a space in the name. There are lots of Second Life Viewer files with spaces in the name.
The Lab is hoping Steam/Valve gets that fixed by the time they have time to start working on the Steam project again.
I wonder if the delay in getting the Advanced Experience Tools out is part of the reason for the Steam delay…
The only reported difference in these viewers is the viewer’s packaging.
This is a viewer for Apple users. The Lindens are wrapping up some final issues with language (aka localization) working and displaying. The project viewer should update in week 26 or 27.
You will be able to download it from the Second Life Alternate Viewers page.
There is a fix coming for a problem where color is not working right and some problem with large, hi-rex images. The fixes appear to be in the new Second Life Beta Maintenance viewer. It also is available on the Second Life Alternate Viewers page.
If you are a photographer, you may want to check it out. Problems you point out now will likely get quick fixes. If you want until after the main release, the programmers will have moved on.
One fix, the High res snapshots tiling, broke custom screenshot resolution feature. That has now been fixed. See the Beta Maintenance Viewer info beleow.
Particle System Selector
You may remember that some time ago we were talking about the new particle features added to the grid. One allows people to right click on a particle and block its emitter. There is also the ribbon particles.
The Beta Maintenance Viewer has that selection feature. I hear that not only is the emitter blocked but so is the owner of the emitter. This will be a tool that greatly helps with fighting griefers.
There is also a fix called Particle grievance, it is a limit on the number of particles rezzed at low viewer fps.
Other Viewer Updates Coming
There are a load of great improvements in the Beta Maintenance Viewer:
- Mesh transfer down load timeout improved.
- New viewer restart notifications work better.
- GPU Table updated.
- Sculpts rez fail fixed.
- They added a debug toggle to enable Depth of Field while in edit mode.
- We now have scripting simulator support for Script Constants for Neck and Avatar Center attachment points.
- Since the MAINT reports are off limits to normal humans, it is hard to know what is meant by the fix: Garbangles on rigged attachments with Vertex Buffer Objects enabled.
- And a fix for: Crash on Attempted Upload of Certain Rigged Mesh DAE File.
The Third Party Developers work hard to keep their viewers up to date and crash free. The Lab has full time staff planning for the future and writing features into the SL Viewer. Plus a full time team is working on bug fixes.
There has been a throttle on the Lab’s viewer development; the single viewer release channel. In the next few weeks that will change with the addition of more viewer candidate channels.
This will present more confusion for the TPV Dev’s. The Lab is not going to know in advance which candidate is going to make it through testing. The TPV Dev’s will have to anticipate as best they can which release in which channel will be out first. What I am saying is: I expect to see TPV’s fall further behind the SL Viewer.
TPV’s will stay ahead of the SL Viewer in regard to features. For instance: the build tool prim alignment is a TPV exclusive. The Lab has never been happy with how the feature works. I take it that they think it is too confusing for new users. How it works is confusing when one does not understand how prims, sculpties, and mesh have evolved and work. So, they may have a point. When users have learned enough to want to use prim alignment in building, they are ready for a TPV.
The result has been TPV’s are the builder’s choice. But, what happens when Oculus Rift (ORIFT) headsets come online? Those architects using ORIFT now are relating how it is changing how they design. I would expect that to happen in SL too.
The Lab is currently working on creating a ‘AAA’ user interface (UI) for ORIFT. To understand some of the UI design problems see: Oculus Rift 2013-21. We have no idea how the UI will look or work. Nor do we know how easy or difficult it will be to integrate the UI into TPV’s that are using their own custom UI’s.
The FS Team is still considering and working on getting CHUI (Chat Hub UI) working in a way they like. CHUI was released to Beta in January and to the main viewer in early April 2013. It took the Lab months to get CHUI written and implemented. The FS Team is listening to users and studying code and deciding how they want to implement it, which takes time. So, any developer not merely copying code is going to be behind the Lab. Of course there are features that the TPV’s have where the Lab is behind them.
But, it looks like the cutting edge viewer is now the Lab’s viewer. I expect it to stay that way.
The TPV’s are the power users’ viewer of choice… and that seems to be the viewers of choice for the majority of SL users. I expect that to stay that way too.