Some time has passed away since I last posted something about the Second Life Grid Architecture Working Group and related efforts (because there are now).
So what has been happening on defining a new protocol for Second Life? Well, actually technically not too much, we are still being in the discussion phase. But a lot of discussion has happened. A big one was of course the discussion around Intellectual Property and fears such a new protocol can open the door to all sorts of misuse. There is a lot of detail on this wiki page about it. Summarized the situation is that we don’t want to implement any DRM as it will be hacked anyway but we will keep the permission system as it is (other grids are free then of course to implement their own permission system like a true GPL one) and make sure the objects will stay in the trust domain you define.
Then there was some discussion about alternative region and geometry formats but Zero made clear in his lates office hour that we won’t define a new format for all this. Groups who want to discuss this can do so but in a different place while they still should stay abreast with the protocol work the SLGAWG is doing. Should there be the fear that some doors might get closed which are not being that easy to reopen again, they should say so.
From these discussions which got a bit unstructured the idea of the Viewpoint Advocacy Group (VAG) was born. Those groups have a special topic such as Scalability, Quality Assurance or Geometry/Physic and they will closely follow the protocol definition. They will also discuss certain use cases under their individual viewpoint. Should there be conflicts between different views then somebody (probably Zero) needs to decide on them. The goal though is of course to reach consensus where possible. You can find more about them on this wiki page.
In-world group AWGroupies
Zha Ewry of IBM founded a group called AWGroupies as a group for meetups in Second Life. Zha also provided some group space for those meetings to take place. Meetings are once or twice a week and there is an agenda on what to talk about here. This group is invite only but if you are interested in the technical details of the protocol definition and want to contribute to a technical conversation there should be no reason not be allowed in.
These meetings are sort of preparation sessions for the office hour with Zero Linden. Results will of course be posted on the wiki.
AWGroupies also have a public subversion repository here: http://openmv.org/cgi-bin/viewvc.cgi/archwg/
The Scope of the SLGAWG
In his last office hour Zero Linden was talking about the scope of this project: The main goal here really is Second Life and how to make it possible to open up the grid and that way also make the architecture more scalable. It is a project for the next 1-2 years. It is not about redefining everything, most of the data structures present in Second Life today will probably also be used in the new architecture. It is also not about being able to host 5000 people on a region because this needs severe rethinking and experimentation about how to do that with all the SL features still intact. For a more general standardization of virtual worlds there is actually the vwinterop project which I will describe later.
The last decision of what is in scope and what isn’t is now defined by Zero should there be problems coming up regarding this. He also promised to edit the wiki next week and move stuff not in scope “elsewhere”.
Well, on the coding front not much really has happened yet. We are sort of still in the discussion on how this project actually should work instead of working on something. There are some exceptions of course, like Gareth Ellison who is working on some python based components. From the official site (== Linden Lab) there is only known right now that they want to have an implementation for a customized client logging in to an agent domain at the end of Q4.
But now that Q4 is passing past fast and Zero will edit the wiki I hope that some more official coding is happening soon. I think this is very important because right now probably everybody has their own view on how things might or might not work.
Code can then also be used as a basis for discussion and an example for the ongoing work
Virtual World Interoperability
At the Virtual Worlds Conference and Expo in San Jose earlier this month IBM hosted a closed session with many players from the virtual worlds business, such as AutoDesk, Samsung, HiPiHi, Anshe Chung Studios, Sun, Transmutable, Areae, Forterra, Mindark, IBM, Cisco, Google, Linden Lab, Sony, Multiverse, Intel, Microsoft, Motorola, and Philips. According to Peter Haggar, Emerging Technology and Standards Senior Technical Staff Member at IBM, this meeting was mainly meant to check out if there is interest in creating standards for virtual worlds to make them interoperable.
It seems there is some interest and so a group has been formed which now has a home on the web at http://vwinterop.wikidot.com. This page includes the full agenda for the day complete with presentation slides.
The status of the group is probably “forming”. Not real work has been done except some discussion about how this group might work. So it’s definitely an interesting place to watch and maybe participate. I missed the last meeting unfortunately but will try to attend the next one. Everybody can join this effort btw, just signup at the site. You need to be confirmed but for me this seemed not to be any problem.
So there are definitely interesting projects going on. One a bit more concrete (SLGAWG) and another somewhat broader (VW Interop). Now if the first one just gets a better name than SLGAWG it might be all fine 😉
PS: There is also the press release from Linden Lab and IBM regarding creating e.g. a standard for universal avatars. This is probably more related to the work done by the VW Interop group.