Developer Correspondence

Every now and then voices are heard within the OpenSimulator community actively targeting the developers being the core version of OpenSimulator, specifically with the complaint that correspondence is being ignored and user requests are not met with an appropriate response. This sentiment has lead to many not actively engaging in the channels of communication provided by the project as well as to form committees and organizations designed to “ease the connection between uses and developers” often with the exact opposite effect. While this is a valid concern for any project and communication between users and developers on any project is always strained by many factors; the core OpenSimulator developers have been doing respectively well in their efforts in communication.

This is specifically highlighted each time Zetamex has proposed changes of various degrees to the project. As you may know, Zetamex maintains a fork of OpenSimulator that leans toward extending the functionality and customizability of OpenSimulator to suit more peoples needs. Historically these changes were kept exclusive, but recently we have made a few of them available for the core project as well as engaged in discussion towards bugfixes and new features as well. This communication, while not always fruitful, has so far been fairly positive and discussion was civil, solution orientated and has produced some welcome changes and improvements.

The dialog first began over two years ago with the apparent problem of interruptions in movement of avatars on regions. These spikes and delays caused by some complex physics calculation and prioritizing were solved within a few days after testing and continuous dialog helped pinpoint the issue. What followed were changes to scripting functions like llDetectedGrab to better reflect the expected behavior and solve a rotation gimbal lock. To just yesterday, at the time of this post, solving a constant not being obeyed by an OSSL function. From the time of reporting the problem and discussing potential solutions to a fix was mere hours. Today the enhancement was properly signed off and confirmed working, further extending the capabilities of OpenSimulator.

These repeating cases of a problem being addressed and solved in a timely fashion and with great regard toward least inconvenience to users, along with careful consideration as to the extend new functionality should go with regard to performance; this, to us, shows a real commitment toward the future of OpenSimulator and displays the great passion the developers, specifically one Antonio Jose Almeida Leal Duarte aka Ubit Umarov. We believe the project has a true future with the passion that has been recently displayed toward improving and expanding OpenSimulator.

The same, however, can not be said about the other side of the coin; The Viewers. Historically changes to OpenSimulator requiring changes to the Viewers have not been met with a the same kind of passion or even understanding. Usually the correspondence is very onesided toward not implementing any features simply to support OpenSimulator. That is despite some viewers explicitly aiming toward “supporting” OpenSimulator and its development. A good example were the changes required to the syntax of OSSL after new functions were introduced. For a simple request of updating a single file to contain the new definitions based on recent changes the response was a complaint toward the rapidly changing nature of OpenSimulator at the time. Other requests to adjust viewers to better reflect capabilities within OpenSimulator were met with bewilderment as to why such capabilities were added in the first place. This, among many other instances or rejection and hostility toward OpenSimulator specific changes and issues has the relationship between the core OpenSimulator project and Viewer developers somewhat strained.

For the last few years the outcry toward a true, maintained and non-SL Viewer specifically for OpenSimulator has been widely discussed, but no instance within the community has committed itself to this. Attempts have been made numerous times, but non have so far produced an equivalent project carrying with it the guarantees and structure required to truly represent OpenSimulator as an official Viewer or associated project. Various capabilities that would be within reach of OpenSimulator are kept back by this fact and so improvements can only be achieved in the realms of bugfixing, performance and stability. New and exclusive features requiring handling on the side of the Viewers are very unlikely to be implemented.

The Viewers who have historically committed toward OpenSimulator specific versions and offered implementation of features, at the time of writing this, are not looking too healthy and an official association is not sought after by the core OpenSimulator project. Even the testing of most bugfixes and performance enhancements are made along existing, SL-first, Viewers. We dearly hope this situation improves at some point as we can see a great deal of potential in changing some of the core capabilities of OpenSimulator to better reflect current technology and code standards along with simply expanding their functionality into new realms.

We will maintain the correspondence we have with the core OpenSimulator project and aim to advance the correspondence with the various Viewer projects to attempt to create a better dialog. However it is still unlikely that one of the existing projects gains the required momentum for a true OpenSimulator-first Viewer.

As for any user of OpenSimulator we encourage to browse the links at the bottom of this post in regards to some of the features being requested and implemented into the core version of OpenSimulator. It is not always so easy to create a dialog between users and developers and this has caused and will cause friction. However, the many organizations that have so far formed to easy this dialog all have so far not managed to close this divide. More so the developers have expressed a clear distaste for the attitude and entitlement these groups have shown in the past. It is not likely the divide will ever be closed, but it can be reduced somewhat through empathy and an understanding that many things sounds easier than they are to implement. Those with ideas should not keep them to themselves, but we encourage anyone with an idea to first speak to others and attempt to gain an insight into the processes and workings of OpenSimulator before attempting to create a feature request or bug report.

Lastly, as this is the last blog post for this year, we wish everyone, users, developers and spambots happy holidays and a happy new year!