The AssetHttp Project Viewer is now available on the alternate viewers page! We expect it to help with speed and reliability in fetching animations, gestures, sounds, avatar clothing, and avatar body parts - but we need your help to make sure everything works!
Historically, loading assets such as textures, animations, clothing items and so on has been an area where problems were common. All such items were requested through the simulator, which would then find the items on our asset hosts and retrieve them. Especially in heavily populated regions it was possible for things to fail to load because the simulators would get overloaded. Having these requests routed through an intermediate host also made them much slower than necessary.
A few years ago we made the change to allow textures to be loaded directly via HTTP. Now instead of asking the simulator for every texture, the Viewer could fetch textures directly from a CDN, the same way web content is normally distributed. Performance improved and people noticed that the world loaded faster, and clouded or gray avatars became much less common.
Today we are taking the next step in enabling HTTP-based fetching. If you download this test Viewer, then several other common types of assets will also be retrieved via HTTP. Supported asset types include animations and gestures, sounds, avatar clothing, and avatar body parts such as the skin and shape.
Based on our tests, this change also helps with performance. We need your help to make sure it works for people all over the world, and to identify any remaining issues that we need to fix. Please download the Viewer and give it a spin; we hope it will make your Second Life even faster and more reliable.
Sometime after these changes go into the default Viewer download, we will be phasing out support on the simulators for the old non-HTTP asset fetching process. We will let you know well ahead of that time so you can download a supported Viewer, and so that makers of other viewers will have time to add these changes to their products. Please let us know how it goes!