Formal announcement of Server-Side Baking/Appearance by Linden Lab

Project Shining, a concerted effort on behalf of Linden Lab to improve Second Life’s server-side underpinnings and give users a (hopefully) better experience, has been underway for quite some time now. A sub-project of Project Shining is Project Sunshine, which is more widely known among SL’s users and observers nowadays as (take your pick) Server-Side Baking (SSB) or Server-Side Appearance (SSA) or Server-Side Baking/Appearance (SSB/A). Project Sunshine’s objective is to resolve an issue that has been bothering SL users for as long as I can remember myself in SL: avatar bake fail. Avatar bake fail is this annoying situation where avatars (yours or others’) fail to render correctly either to you or to others around you (or both) and appear blurry.

On 29 May, just a few short hours ago before I sat down to write these lines, LL formally announced the forthcoming arrival of SSB/A with a special announcement on their own blog, in which a short video explaining the changes and improvements was also included:

As indicated in the post and the video, the deployment of SSB/A will take place in three stages:

  • Viewer update: Available now for the majority of popular SL viewers
  • Deployment of server-side changes, which will begin soon
  • A second viewer update that will happen after server deployments are completed

Don’t expect the server-side changes to take place overnight, though. This new service will require extensive testing, which will take place in order to ensure that things will be working as smoothly as possible before LL decides that the time has come to  enable SSB/A gridwide. So, a number of region will have SSB/A enabled and they will be used as testbeds to assess the new service’s performance for a period of time (which is not yet determined, as LL is being cautious and working closely with third-party viewer (TPV_ developers to ensure a smooth transition. When the results of the testing are deemed to be satisfactory enough, the decision will be made to “throw the switch” and SSB/A will be enabled throughout the grid. Please note that the number of test regions may increase over time, depending on the progress of the testing.

Now, it must be pointed out that none of us will be able to tell which regions are SSB/A enabled and which aren’t. So, it’s extremely important that you make sure that you have updated your viewer with a release that supports the new avatar baking capabilities, otherwise, when SSB/A is activated gridwide, you will see grey avatars and others will see you as a cloud. To illustrate the situation that you will encounter if you keep using an outdated viewer, I’ll use a picture that Exotix (Inara Pey) has used on Her blog (where you will find some of the best coverage of not only Project Shining, but numerous other SL-related issues, technical or not):

Server-Side Baking/Appearance (SSB-A): Most viewers should soon support this new capability. Make sure that you have installed an updated release of your favourite viewer, otherwise you will see grey avatars when this new capability is added (deployment schedule is undetermined at the moment).

Server-Side Baking/Appearance (SSB-A): Most viewers should soon support this new capability. Make sure that you have installed an updated release of your favourite viewer, otherwise you will see grey avatars when this new capability is added (deployment schedule is undetermined at the momentis scheduled to begin on 9 July 2013). – Image by Exotix (Inara Pey)

 

Right now, the viewers that support SSB/A are the following:

In the meantime, Catznip‘s R8 release, which will feature SSB/A compatibility, has been in development for quite a while now. Also, I fully expect that Dolphin and Exodus will be SSB/A-capable soon.

For more details on SSB/A, I highly recommend reading the detailed and concise coverage that Exotix (Inara Pey) has offered on Her blog ever since LL disclosed technical details about it.

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Mona

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Shortlink: http://wp.me/p2pUmX-dz

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2 thoughts on “Formal announcement of Server-Side Baking/Appearance by Linden Lab

  1. Mona, Thanks for the indepth article, I have only recently the past month migrated to FS, and intialially I wasn’t a happy vegemite about it, now I am loving the experience, I only have one tehcnical issue that I seek help on, being that in some club/venue’s the inhouse stream works perfectly and in other club/s venue’s the stream contnually breaks which is most unpleasant, Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    1. Hello Caramia. I’m not a member of Firestorm’s support team – I’m just a user who, after combining Linux and Firestorm, has all but forgotten the meaning of the term “viewer crash”. However, I think that your question doesn’t concern Firestorm per se, as it is something I’ve encountered with other viewers as well in the past. My guess is that it should be attributed to network hiccups between you and the audio streaming server, especially in situations where your viewer (regardless of which viewer it is) needs to download a lot of data (for instance, in places where there’s a lot of big sculpty and mesh content – and this is exacerbated when people have ridiculously high script counts).

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