The day of liberation is almost upon us. In the next release, 1.18, we’ll be shipping a project called “Message Liberation”. This project lets us make almost all viewer updates be optional, so you can download them if and when you want.
Second Life has a “message system”, which is the code that moves information between the viewer and the simulators (servers). The message system has a file, called the template, that describes the format and encoding of the information. In the past, when that template changed, even a tiny bit, all the programs in the system had to be updated to use it and restarted. This meant that if someone added a feature or fixed a bug, you needed to download a new viewer, even if it didn’t affect you.
When the message system is “liberated” from the template, it will be possible for most changes to be backward and forward compatible with different versions of the software. This means that you don’t need to download a new viewer every time. If you just want to pop in-world, and don’t need the latest features just this moment, you can skip the download dialog and proceed in-world. Of course, you won’t get the new feature or fix until you do download the new version, but it’ll be your choice when you want to do so.
This change also means that we can do many more kinds of changes using the rolling update method, rather than having to bring the whole grid down.
Now, to be sure, there are still some kinds of changes where we’ll require you to download a new viewer. Closing security holes is a likely example. And there are others, like some database maintenance, where we’ll have to close the entire grid for an update. But, our aim is to do these as little as possible, and Message Liberation goes a long way to making that possible.
Viva la Liberación!
Viva Second Life!