On Mon, Feb 19, 2007 at 04:10:28PM -0800, Ken Taylor wrote:

> Not just donors/investors, but I'd say you'll also want to attract new
> users, contributers, collaborators, and content-developers. It's still
> fundamentally an open-source project and can only benefit from more eyes :)

Yes!  Absolutely.  However the problem is that new users need to be 
supported -- and my time right now is extremely tight, which is why I'm 
working towards the goal of funding VOS development full-time, so that I 
can devote the time required to get new users get up to speed.  (Even 
writing documentation to help people get up to speed is pretty time 
consuming...)  I am a strong believer in community, but that has to be 
balanced against the pragmatic goals of actually making sure the 
software gets developed :-)  It's hard to build a user community when 
the software isn't quite functional enough to be useful to anyone 
beyond hard-core hackers.

On the topic of community, I should also mention there is a #vos irc 
channel on irc.freenode.net that has been continously occupied for about 
four years.  Come visit!

> A lot of activity happened recently getting a requirements document together
> for "Interreality 3D" -- and I'm assuming this is driving the design of "s5"
> that you're working on. But I don't think this should mean that s4 dies or
> goes into stasis. I think it would be interesting to flesh out a
> roadmap/requirements kind of plan for the rest of s4's lifespan, until s5 is
> in a state where it can replace it. I guess what I'm saying is... is

The goal now for s4 will be to identify a set of demos that are 
relatively easy to achive with the current codebase, and implement 
those.  This will serve as a prototype to try and spur interest that 
will support development of the next version.

> http://interreality.org/cgi-bin/moinwiki/moin.cgi/VosRoadMap still accurate
> as to your plans, or does it need to be modified with the new s5 plan?

The roadmap isn't up to date.  The s5 plan is still in progress, 
although the intention for it to be a much more detailed development 
schedule than a vague list of stuff we want to work on.

> As for what should go in it, here are my thoughts:
> S4 can act as the beacon of "hey, this is what we're doing, and this is what
> it's capable of" for the purpose of attracting the people listed above, and

Right.  Some of the challenges are mainly in the design of A3DL which 
are a separate issue from the underlying VOS design.  We were planning 
an overhaul of A3DL anyways, because the current design doesn't 
accomodate personalized views of the world space.  

> at the same time be a kind of test bed for ideas in order to refine the s5
> design. Obviously, s4 will have some limitations due to its design, and some

The three basic limitations that spurred the move towards the s5 design 
are scalability, scripting and threading.  Scalability is a big problem 
because s4 stores all objects in memory, and not very efficiently at 
that, so beyond 20,000-30,000 objects overhead becomes an issue.  For 
scripting, we decided that we didn't want scripts to be "second class 
citizens" but rather would have the same (or better, due to being a 
dynamic language) access to vobjects than you would get in C++.  In 
particular, being able to use scripts to attach behaviors and message 
handlers brought up a slew of issues that seemed to be best addressed by 
redesigning the architecture from scratch to support cross-language 
method calls.  Finally, the threading design is s4 is a terrible mess, 
imposing a huge burden on the programmer to keep all his ducks (and 
locks) in a row.  The s5 design will significantly simplify that.

There's a some of other changes that are planned as well (mostly 
redesigning things with the benefit of hindsight of what works and what 
doesn't), but let me reassure you that the fundamental approach is still 
by and large the same.  One of the luxuries of open source compared to 
commercial development is the ability to throw code that doesn't work so 
well, so as to more quickly converge on the ideal design :-)

> things will have to be "thrown out" in the switch-over to s5, but there are
> still a lot of areas that can be worked on:
> - fleshing out a3dl
> - improving content-development tools/documentation
> - improving client gui and capabilities
> - writing server plugins that do "neat" things for demo purposes

Yes, I agree those are all valuable tasks.  That's quite a lot of work, 
though, so I hope you're volunteering to do some of it :-)

> And some things that can be worked on at the same time, but which aren't
> strictly s4 related:
> - better default demo worlds / included avatars / animations / sample
> content

Yes.  One thing we need to think about is what the content creation 
pipeline will look like.  From my experience with the Gamebryo engine, 
"real" modeling tools focus on making the trip between the modeler and 
target 3D environment as short as possible -- often one mouse click to 
export the file and run a viewer.  We will eventually want to do 
something like that.

> - get a bugzilla server up and running again

Yea, that's a good idea.

> - fix the vos/irc bridge in the default world (I've never seen it working...
> but maybe it's just me)

Actually, the only reason this hasn't been working is that the 
configuration file had the wrong hostname of the IRC server.  It's 
fixed!  Give it a try!

> - going through the wiki and updating it to match the current state of VOS
> and the new plan
> - updating the manual to talk about VIP instead of VOP
> etc...
> If I had to suggest a priority, I'd say #1 content-development (tools,
> documentation, and a3dl capabilities). And at #2, a capabilities-demo
> (client and server features to support it, and the content itself). -- I
> think finding sponsors/investors is important, but what's really going to

The goal here is for me to be able to work on this full time, so that 
everything else can happen.  The vast majority of VOS code was written 
when I was in college (undergraduate and graduate), but in the past 
couple years I've been a professional programmer and my free time to 
work on it has gone way down.  I've learned a lot about software 
engineering so I don't feel like my time was wasted, but basically if 
I'm not able to work on VOS full time it's going to eventually be 
overtaken by someone who does have more time/money to pour into it.  
Thus, my top priority is determining what I have to do to secure funding 
to continue working on VOS, and how I can create a self-sustaining 
business in the long term.

The free software community does come first, though.

> help VOS thrive is community-building. Having an active community around the
> technology might impress the sponsors as much or even more than a nifty demo
> showing server-scripting and portals...  Of course you guys have been doing
> this longer, so I defer to you :)

We have a community, it's you!  And everyone who participates in the 
mailing list and IRC.  Considering we put zero (almost negative) effort 
into promoting ourselves, we've gotten quite a lot of interest.  Just 
think how much interest there would be if we had a program normal people 
could actually use!
> caveat: I haven't actually looked at 0.24 yet. I hope to get to that this
> week.

Looking forward to hearing about your experience.  I'll support your 
attempts at compiling 0.24 any way I can.

[   Peter Amstutz  ][ [EMAIL PROTECTED] ][ [EMAIL PROTECTED] ]
[Lead Programmer][Interreality Project][Virtual Reality for the Internet]
[ VOS: Next Generation Internet Communication][ http://interreality.org ]
[ http://interreality.org/~tetron ][ pgpkey:  pgpkeys.mit.edu  18C21DF7 ]

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