[opensource-dev] Client-side scripting in Snowglobe

Morgaine morgaine.dinova at googlemail.com
Thu Feb 18 08:42:35 PST 2010

Kent, it is true that Office Hour discussions can sometimes get a bit heated
because of the format, which allows little time for careful consideration
and reflection before writing, but that is not the case here.

My opening post above was polite and factual, and it considered all the
points that have been revealed to us.  Please do not make blanket
accusations about flaming as an excuse for keeping the project under wraps,
when my goal in the thread is collaboration.

Quite the opposite of flaming, I am trying to bring into the open here some
very key issues of viewer design that will directly affect the Snowglobe
community branch of the viewer in numerous far-reaching ways.  That
discussion belongs here, not in informal chat at Office Hours which is a
completely inappropriate medium for technical design.

Re your closing line:

On Thu, Feb 18, 2010 at 3:57 PM, Kent Quirk (Q Linden) <q at lindenlab.com>wrote:

> I'm afraid the tone and direction of this discussion are making it
> impossible for us to talk about this project productively.

The direction of this discussion is towards involving the Snowglobe
community in the design process for their viewer.  The tone of this
discussion is (speaking for myself) polite.  I see no reason why you would
not wish to talk about the design of client-side scripting with us, very



On Thu, Feb 18, 2010 at 3:57 PM, Kent Quirk (Q Linden) <q at lindenlab.com>wrote:

> This makes me sad.
> I've been trying to have an open discussion about some of the design issues
> in my office hours, specifically to understand the constraints and
> requirements of the community. But every office hour seems to be followed up
> by flames on this list and in other forums interpreting what was said in the
> worst possible way.
> I'm afraid the tone and direction of this discussion are making it
> impossible for us to talk about this project productively.
> Q
> On Feb 18, 2010, at 7:42 AM, Morgaine wrote:
> I referred recently to Linden's internal project "Firefly" to add
> client-side scripting to SL viewers.  This has been the topic of open
> discussion at several Office Hours with Lindens in SL, but that openness has
> not extended to many design details --- the Firefly design process is not
> open to the community.  The only technical details that are being disclosed
> about Firefly appear to be:
>    - "Scripts" are actually *Mono assemblies*, so that only languages that
>    compile to Mono will be allowed.
>    - The programs run in a *sandbox*, which means that most platform
>    resources are not accessible to them.
> Please note that I quite like C# as a language, but the following remarks
> are about Mono use *in the SL viewer*, only, where its tradeoffs are poor.
> The first known detail about Firefly (mandatory Mono) is problematic on
> several fronts:
>    1. Only a tiny fraction of the world's applications, libraries and
>    languages work on Mono, so client-side scripting will be unable to benefit
>    from the huge mountain of resources available on the Internet.  This is an
>    extremely severe limitation, and an unnecessary restriction in the context
>    of client-side viewer scripting.  If I want to use a locally-installed
>    package X from within my client-side script, I should be able to.  What runs
>    client-side should always be our individual choice, not someone else's.
>    2. Programmers want to write client-side scripts in the language that
>    they know best, because that always yields the fastest progress and highest
>    quality results.  There was a good technical reason for forcing everyone to
>    use LSL server-side, but there is no technical reason to impose this
>    requirement on all client-side scripting.  It is counter-productive to force
>    CLR compatibility on client-side script developers when there is a simple
>    alternative:  define a *socket-based viewer API* for client-side
>    scripts instead, hence usable from any language.
>    3. Mono runs poorly on Linux, so from being rock-solid on Linux now,
>    the LL-derived viewers will become second-rate on this platform.
>    4. The viewer is already extremely bloated and a memory hog.  Adding a
>    Mono dependency will compound that horribly.
>    5. There is only one effective supplier of Mono:  Novell.  That is a
>    very bad situation to encourage and to support in the viewer.
>    6. Some parties identify other reasons for avoiding Mono in general.
>     Without getting into that subject at all,
> The second known detail about Firefly (mandatory sandbox) is problematic on
> two related fronts:
>    1. Sandboxes by design do not allow most platform resources to be
>    accessed, as a security measure.  This is fine and important when scripts
>    are being downloaded from unknown places (like Javascript in web pages), but
>    that same protection also means that client-side scripts would be powerless
>    to do useful things for us in concert with local applications, files,
>    devices, etc.  Sandboxing client-side scripts effectively hardwires in
>    script weakness for no reason discussed as a requirement.
>    2. Sandboxed applications cannot be linked with user-chosen native
>    libraries since allowing native code breaks sandbox protection.  This means
>    no accelerators, no extensions, and no interop with other systems since
>    sockets are inaccessible from any strong sandbox.  This also means no
>    evolution or progress outside of what the sandbox designers permit.
> This mailing list is concerned with development of open source viewers, in
> particular Snowglobe.  This is heralded as a *community* viewer, embodying
> *community* requirements much more directly than the LL mainstream viewer.
>  Client-side scripting will impact on every single aspect of Snowglobe bar
> none, yet the community is being excluded from the design of its most
> powerful infrastructure element.  This is entirely wrong, far beyond the
> normal observation that secrecy in design has no place in open source.
> It is hard to assess things technically when the design requirements are
> formulated in secret.  The Snowglobe community has design requirements too.
>  Those deserve to be examined here openly, not limiting Snowglobe to a
> design that stems from Linden requirements alone.
> Morgaine.
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