On the horizon in Second Life is server-side baking, or SSB.
SSB takes the job of rendering an avatar’s skin, tattoos, alpha and clothing layers (baked textures) from the client to the server. This should all but eliminate bake failure because the client and the connection between it and the SL servers are taken out of the loop, and everyone, including you, should see your avatar’s baked textures correctly.
This does also spell the end of life for pretty much every viewer in release status today because none of them support SSB. Those old viewers will show avatars as gray shapes (plus worn attachments). It means not only Linden Lab, but every third-party viewer (TPV) developer is working to merge the new SSB code into their viewers, and every SL user will have to install a new viewer once SSB goes live.
LL have not had a lot of success with their tests, but they are still testing and the Firestorm team (at least) are assisting both in code development and in testing.
One thing the Firestorm team have indicated, for those inquiring minds, is that the SSB version of Firestorm will also retain “fallback” code. [The team] do not believe Linden Lab will be able to simply toggle SSB on and CSB off as they have mentioned. Instead, it is expected to roll out over at least a week or two, beginning with RC regions and then to main regions.
So those of you using the Second Life or Firestorm viewers, know that the developers and a large testing team are working hard to make SSB work. Phoenix users, I’m sorry to say your viewer will become even less useable with SSB because there are no plans to port the code to Phoenix, at least not by the Firestorm team. I’ve not asked any other TPV developer what their plans are regarding SSB, if you use one of those I encourage you to use their support or community forums to gain a clear picture.
From the Official Blog Post Release , Jessica Lyon, Firestorm Project Manager had this to say:
Good things are coming and the destination looks very promising, but the journey may be a long and rough ride… This is because we are on the clock with this one and once LL flips the switch for SSB you will all need a viewer that has SSB capability, else avatars everywhere may look like this.
Not a pretty picture.