At Linden Lab, we’ve recently been reviewing the long list of improvements and enhancements we want to bring to Second Life, weighing priorities, and scoping out important projects for the next few months. We wanted to share a few highlights from the list of projects we’ll be working on so that you can know what improvements to expect in the coming months. This isn’t an exhaustive list, of course, but here are a few of the initiatives we think will have a big impact on improving all of our Second Life experiences.
Releasing Experience Keys
We recently put out a call for creators to join a limited beta for Experience Keys - new LSL functions and calls that make it possible to bypass the multiple permissions dialogs that you encounter with scripted objects today. Thanks to the applications we received, we now have enough creators to move ahead with the beta, and we’ve begun giving these beta users access the keys. The feedback we get from beta participants will help determine our next steps for making Experience Keys available to everyone, and we may start by expanding the beta group with a second group of creators.
Improving Group Chat Performance
Today, group chat messages can sometimes take a long time to be delivered, and in some cases delivery fails entirely. This is an issue that impacts lots of Second Life users, and it’s something we’re actively working to improve. Anyone should be able to reliably hold a conversation using group chat in Second Life without delivery delays or other problems.
We’re carefully monitoring the effects of the changes we make to improve group chat performance, and so far, the results of efforts like upgrading the servers that host chat have been positive. We anticipate that the work to improve group chat performance will continue for some time as we identify the underlying causes of the issues, experiment with different fixes, and analyze results, and as we move forward, we’ll use this blog to share our progress.
Implementing the Chrome Embedded Framework
We’re working to upgrade the component of the Viewer that’s responsible for rendering web content, including the Viewer splash screen (displayed before login), the content of a number of floaters, and inworld media-on-a-prim. This is important because it will fix a number of bugs (especially related to streaming media) that currently affect many Second Life users, and it will also make available many modern web features that aren’t possible with the Viewer today.
We’re making good progress on this initiative already, and expect to have an experimental Project Viewer ready for testing soon.
More Texture and Mesh Loading Improvements
Building upon the performance enhancements we made with Project Shining, we are continuing to make improvements to how the Viewer retrieves texture and mesh data from our servers.
The next round of improvements will reduce the number of connections the Viewer needs to get this data (making it easier on your router and network), while also using each connection to retrieve more data more quickly (for the technically inclined, this means that among other things we will add support for HTTP pipelining).
These improvements will mean that as you explore Second Life, objects will appear more quickly and reliably, especially for users who have longer latency connections (higher “ping times”), such as those who live outside the US.
We have begun doing small scale testing with a selected group of users, and the early results have been great from a performance point of view. Unfortunately, we’ve also encountered a bug that we need to tackle before we can move on to releasing a project Viewer. We’re eager to move ahead as quickly as we can, and will use this blog to announce that project Viewer as soon as it’s available.
Stay tuned for more!
Again, these certainly aren’t the only things we’re working on as we continue to improve Second Life, but they’re among our priority initiatives in the coming months. As we move forward on these and other improvements, you’ll hear more from us on this blog, so keep an eye out!