Cut World Startup Time in Half, and Improved Performance

We have some good news! We upgraded the servers that we use to host OpenSim worlds, and this has improved performance significantly. The new servers have faster CPUs, and they use SSDs instead of regular hard drives.

Here’s an example of the performance improvements with the new servers. Universal Campus is a 4-region world with more than 43,000 prims and about 2,000 scripts. It used to take 1:25 minutes to start on our old servers, even with all of our performance optimizations (starting this world on a regular version of OpenSim would have taken much longer). With the new servers this world starts in just 43 seconds, i.e. twice as fast! We see similar improvements in other worlds’ startup times, as well as faster performance while the worlds are active.

This upgrade is available automatically to all Kitely users, at no additional cost.

If you need even more performance then consider changing your world’s type to an Advanced World, since they get more resources than other types of worlds.

In other news: in the last week we’ve donated over 40 patches to OpenSim. These are features and bug fixes that have been active in Kitely for a while, and now everyone in OpenSim will be able to take advantage of them starting with OpenSim version 0.8.0.

Even as we’re making more contributions to OpenSim, it’s important to keep in perspective the benefits of being a Kitely user. Over the last 5 years we’ve written more than 330,000 lines of code, less than 10% of which are OpenSim-specific. Kitely users will continue to have first access to the improvements that we make to the open-source OpenSim project, as well as exclusive access to our many features that aren’t part of OpenSim such as our powerful on-demand servers; fast cloud-based asset and inventory systems; intuitive HTML5 control panel; tight integration with Kitely Market; and more.

Kitely Market Hypergrid Delivery Is Now Open to All

We updated Kitely today, and now everyone can use Kitely Market to buy items for any avatar on the Hypergrid! Other new features include: merchants in Kitely Market can download their sales report; we’ve made it easier for new users to start using Kitely; and we changed our logo. Another important update is that Kitely is now part of the OpenSim Core Group.

Kitely Market Hypergrid Delivery

This feature, which was introduced in a private beta two weeks ago, is now available to everyone. You can buy items in Kitely Market and have them delivered to any avatar on any grid that is open to the Hypergrid.

To use this feature, first add items to your Shopping Cart. Then, in the Shopping Cart, select to deliver the items to “Other Grid”:

Shopping Cart - Other Grid

Select the destination grid from the drop-down menu, and enter the name of your avatar in that grid. If your grid isn’t in the built-in list of grids then add it as a custom grid using the Grid Manager. (The built-in grids were chosen because they’re the top 5 grids that are open to Hypergrid, by number of active users. The list of built-in grids may change in the future if other grids prove popular.)

Add Custom Grid

Once you’ve completed the purchase, your avatar will get an Instant Message:

Delivery Notification IM

Click on the link in the IM. Your avatar will then get the item itself:

Item Received IM

Click “Keep” or “Accept” to save the item (different viewers use different buttons).

The item will now appear in your inventory. It will appear either in the “Objects” folder, or in the the “My Suitcase > Objects” folder. In some cases the item might not appear immediately; this happens in simulators that run an old version of OpenSim. In that case, restart the viewer and the item will appear in the inventory.

Inventory with Delivered Item

Rez the item. This creates a box that contains your entire order. Copy the box’s contents to your inventory; you will get one inventory item for each item in your order. Rez these items, and copy their contents to your inventory. These are the actual items that you have bought, and you can use them immediately! (The reason we use these container boxes is to support orders in which multiple items were bought at once.) Here’s what the boxes look like, along with the purchased item in the inventory:

Delivery Boxes

A note to content creators: we recommend that you don’t place your Kitely Market items in boxes, because that would mean that users who deliver your products to other grids will have to open three boxes before they get to the actual items. Kitely Market already makes sure that items are delivered to separate folders (when delivering in Kitely), or in boxes (when delivering to other grids), so adding another box to the process is not necessary.

Show Only Exportable Items

Only products that have the Export permission may be delivered to grids other than Kitely. If you’re looking for Exportable items then you may want to enable the Export filter: this will ensure that you only see exportable items. This filter is located in the bottom-left corner of the main Kitely Market page:

Enable Export Filter

Tools for Merchants

We’ve made it easy for merchants to test that their products work correctly in other grids. It has always been possible to use the “Test delivery” link in the Edit Product page in order to deliver the product to the merchant’s avatar in Kitely. This feature has now been extended to deliver to other grids as well. The way this works is that you go to the Shopping Cart page, and select a grid and an avatar. You don’t actually have to buy anything; just enter that information. Then return to the Edit Product page, and click “Test delivery”. The product will be delivered to the “foreign” avatar that was selected in the Shopping Cart instead of to your Kitely avatar.

Another feature for merchants is that in the Sales History, merchants can see which grid each sale was delivered to, because foreign avatars appear along with their grid: e.g., “Jane Vespa @ OSGrid”.

Download Sales Report

Merchants can now download a CSV file that contains all of their sales. To do so, click “Download sales report” in the Sales History page.

Download Sales Report

Easier Passwords for New Users

We changed the user experience for new users. The problem that we wanted to solve is that users didn’t know which password they need to use in order to login to the grid from their viewer. That happened because we generated a random password for the user. It was possible to see this password in the GUI, but this was still confusing.

Therefore, we made the following changes:

  • For users that create an account using email/password: the password that they select during signup is now used to login to both the website and the grid (from the viewer). Previously this password was used only for the website, and the grid password was generated randomly.
  • For users that create an account using Facebook or Twitter: we now ask them to choose a grid password during signup. Previously we had chosen a random password for them.

A note about users with an email/password account: we do still allow setting different passwords for the website and the grid; it’s just that by default, these passwords are now the same. The reason we allow these passwords to be different is that some users, e.g. educators, want to create accounts on behalf of their students. The students need to know their grid password, but they shouldn’t know their website password. Therefore, you can still change both the website password and the grid password in the Settings page.

New Logo

We’ve started a process of overhauling our company image. The first step was changing our company logo to the following design:

Kitely Logo

We created the old logo ourselves, about five years ago. It was playful and served us well, but now we want a new logo that better reflects our company’s professional, modern, and energetic vibe. In order to design this logo we used a contest on the site 99designs. We chose this logo out of more than 700 submissions, and towards the end we used Google Consumer Surveys in order to help us decide on the final design. We hope you like it!

OpenSim Core Group

On a personal note, I’ve been invited to join the OpenSim Core Group. I am thankful for the core developers’ confidence in me, and this level of access will make it easier for me and Kitely to improve OpenSim for everyone.

Kitely Market Hypergrid Delivery – Beta Test

We updated the system today with support for Hypergrid delivery in Kitely Market. But this feature isn’t open for general use yet, so don’t look for it 🙂 . Hypergrid delivery is challenging because we need to interact with other grids, each of which might implement OpenSim in different ways. This can cause problems which don’t happen when we deliver items in Kitely (where we control every aspect of the process).

Therefore, we are now starting a Beta Test of Hypergrid Delivery. Please see this forum post for details about how to join the beta test.

Other Changes

We fixed a bug with permissions: when a user links together two objects, OpenSim used to set the permissions of the combined group to the permissions of the last selected group. But actually it should use the lower permissions found in either group; otherwise users could circumvent the permissions system.

We changed the maximum viewer password to 16 characters. We used to allow users to choose longer passwords, but some viewers don’t actually support more than 16 characters.

We fixed a bug in Kitely Market, where if a merchant deactivated or reactivated a product then its reviews counter would reset to 0. (The reviews were never deleted; only the counter was wrong.)

In World Pages, we added two Meta tags to the HTML. These tags may be used by automatic scripts to detect information about the world:

  • maturity – possible values are adult, moderate and general
  • account_type – which types of users can visit the world. Possible values are regular, premium and private. In the future we’ll add another value here: hypergrid.

By the way, if you’re writing scripts that check World Pages then you may be interested to know that world pages also have a “Permanent URL”. Normally the World Page’s URL changes whenever the world is renamed. However, the Permanent URL uses the World ID instead of its name, so it never changes. The Permanent URL can be found as a Meta tag in the HTML, called og:url.