This Week In Matrix – 2018-04-20

This Week In Matrix – 2018-04-20

Matrix Ecosystem Updates

Drupal matrix_api module

Updated the Drupal matrix_api module to pass the auth token as a header instead of as a GET param… the GET param was leaking the token if there was an http exception thrown.

(John) – https://cgit.drupalcode.org/matrix_api

mxisd

v1.0.0 has been released and is now stable, making it the first community Identity server and first open federation one.

(Max) – https://github.com/kamax-io/mxisd

nheko

0.3.x of nheko was released! There is progress towards e2e encryption in mujx/mtxclient. Once this encryption is working there, it can eventually be included in nheko.

(mujx) – https://github.com/mujx/nheko

Fractal

Fractal 0.1.26 was released this week, which includes an animated scroll to bottom animation, fixed MacOS compilation, and bug fixes. Since then markdown support and many other commits have been spotted…

https://gitlab.gnome.org/World/fractal/

libqmatrixclient

kitsune released 0.2 of libqmatrixclient a couple of weeks ago, which he says is “the first one more or less functional and stable”!

Highlights include redactions support, files transfer (both ways), rooms creation, account data (tags, direct chat flags). Also there are a few things making libqmatrixclient clients stand out compared to, e.g., Riot: one can set per-room names/avatars, and also the best estimate for the number of unread messages can be taken from the library and shown in the client application.”

(kitsune) – https://github.com/QMatrixClient/libqmatrixclient

matrix-monitor-bot

#monitorbot:t2bot.io is a bot to measure latency between homeservers (as perceived by users).

It’s able to report metrics to Prometheus and has it’s own built-in dashboard (see https://lag.t2bot.io/ for some horrendous times). In the coming weeks it’ll become more production-ready, however in the meantime if people are looking to help iron out the scalability issues, please run an instance on your homeserver.

(TravisR) – https://github.com/turt2live/matrix-monitor-bot

uMatriks

thrrgilag wrote on behalf of uMatriks, to say that v0.10 was published to the openstore this last week which now includes unread counts for rooms. Those not already familiar, uMatriks is a native matrix client being developed for Ubuntu Touch.

https://github.com/uMatriks/uMatriks

Construct

There looks to be lots of activity on Construct (jzk’s fork of the charybdis ircd which adds in a C++ homeserver implementation) based on the commit log at https://github.com/jevolk/charybdis. jzk’s work there has been highlighting some of synapse’s nastier problems (e.g. thundering presence bugs), and it looks like the federation support is progressing steadily, including handling EDUs (presence & typing data).
(jzk) – https://github.com/jevolk/charybdis

matrix-puppet-maxs

tyler shared his “horrifying” project, for people that want to use Matrix to send an SMS via an XMPP bridge to their Android phone, in order to provide SMS and call notifications inside Riot.

(tyler) – https://github.com/tfreedman/matrix-puppet-maxs

matrix-register-bot

krombel built a bot to have a two step registration to synapse, check it out:

(krombel) – https://github.com/krombel/matrix-register-bot

picard

Cadair reported that he and SolarDrew have written a bot to bridge a whole slack team into a matrix community. It basically handles all the room admin for you including:

  • Invite the slack bot to the channel
  • Creating matrix rooms
  • Setting users as admins
  • Setting room name and room avatar and as publically joinable
  • Setting up the link with the slack AS
  • Creating and adding rooms to the community
  • Inviting all members of the communtiy to the rooms

It does these things on a 1 min cron, to pick up new channels as they are created on the slack side.

(Cadair) – https://github.com/SolarDrew/skill-picard

opsdroid connector

Cadair also mentioned that picard uses the opsdroid connector for matrix, also written by himself and SolarDrew, and has had recent updates.

(Cadair) – https://github.com/opsdroid/connector-matrix

matrix-python-sdk

Release v0.2.0 of the python sdk. Highlights from this release are a workaround for https://github.com/matrix-org/synapse/issues/3054 and use of connection pooling via a requests session.

(&Adam) – https://github.com/matrix-org/matrix-python-sdk

matrix-twitch-bridge

MTRNord is at the early stages of working on a twitch bridge for Matrix, written in golang.

(MTRNord) – https://github.com/Nordgedanken/matrix-twitch-bridge

IdleRPG

remaeus wrote in to say “we (+rpg:verse.im) just launched an initial build of #idlerpg:verse.im (now also available at #idlerpg:matrix.org) — an automated RPG that rewards you for staying online (via the presence API). It’s an initial test case for prototyping out a bot framework called “doorman” with multi-service support, but focused on Matrix as we are using it as a “backbone” for our p2p app framework.”

(remaeus) – https://github.com/FabricLabs/doorman

URI protocol scheme

kitsune started working on a design proposal for the Matrix URI scheme, with the ultimate goal to have the scheme passed through IANA so that we’re no worse than IPFS and others. The document is here (alpha quality but comments are already welcome): https://docs.google.com/document/d/18A3ZRgGR-GLlPXF_VIHxywWiX1vpMvNfAU6JCnNMVuQ/edit

There is also a spec proposal room: #uri-scheme-proposal:matrix.org.

(kitsune)

Riot/Web

  • The Great Relayering landed – almost all of Riot/Web’s code is now gathered together in one sensible place (matrix-react-sdk). No more duplicate PRs or CSS & JS living in different repos!
  • Folks with open PRs against the riot-web repository will need to reopen them against matrix-react-sdk (or more likely, merge them into their existing equivalents on matrix-react-sdk)
  • Michael (t3chguy’s) Replies work has almost landed and is looking fantastic!
  • Next up: improving test coverage slightly; fixing regressions in 0.14; and a few other minor bits and bobs before we land 0.15.

Riot/Mobile

  • New releases on the horizon for both iOS & Android
  • Welcomed Benoit to the Android team, acting as lead android dev!
  • Finalising all new UX for configuring push notification permissions…
  • Final touches for Sticker viewing (including animated stickers!)
  • Fix embarrasing crash on iOS on certain shapes of Riot/Web URLs…
  • Supporting French Government Matrix activity

Synapse

  • Operational firefighting continues: stopping malformed events from impacting federation; investigating thundering herds of presence EDUs; trying to keep Freenode joins from lagging;
  • Meanwhile, Erik has been working hard on the problem of Incremental State Resolution (the big algorithmic win which could massively improve HS performance, especially for Synapse); this is looking promising and has ended up taking the form of a formal mathematical proof that the proposed algorithm works: https://matrix.org/_matrix/media/v1/download/jki.re/hSmkLkFGVUnrXjtYcjsCUsyS (aka https://github.com/matrix-org/synapse/pull/3122) is where that’s happening! Warning: contains maths.
  • …and also wrote a Rust testjig for state resolution to help reason about it: https://github.com/erikjohnston/rust-matrix-state
  • Official Ansible playbook repository dev is progressing on the develop branch at https://github.com/matrix-org/matrix-ansible thanks to massive work from Michael K. We’ll blog properly about this when ready for use in earnest.
  • Dave has been doing an interesting experiment in syncing user profile data from HSes into ISes (useful for folks running a private federation with its own IS who want to use the IS as a global user directory); almost complete – we’ll see how this goes.
  • GDPR work is in progress. We’re seeing how far we can push the envelope on improving privacy, including a very interesting thought experiment on pseudonyimsing MXIDs to provide ‘perfect’ right-to-erasure. vdH is on the case. Warning: this may well require a major federation protocol bump if we go through with it.
  • More Python3 port PRs are landing from NotAFile – thanks! They’re getting slightly lost behind everything above.

Dendrite

  • Still stuck behind Synapse work.
  • Barring disasters we have at least 2 new folks starting fulltime in the core team (both synapse & dendrite) to help backend progress at the end of May however!
  • Lots of PRs coming in from APWhitehat though – thanks!!

Spec

  • uhoreg has been looking at the .well-known URI proposal again
  • Spec work on the core team is currently stuck behind Riot/Web and Synapse work, sadly, on the basis that burning implementation problems are more visible and harming to the project than burning spec problems.

Matrix in the News

Tom’s Hardware provided a great article on about Matrix in the French Government.

Next INpact produced two articles, one from last week introducing a project from the French government to use an open messaging platform, then a follow up provided an extremely thorough story covering Riot & Matrix following the announcement of the French Government encrypted messaging project. (Article is in French, but will Google Translate nicely!)

Huge thank you to nouts who produced a great intro to Riot and Matrix! Check it out! (Note that is also in French.)

 

New Rooms roundup

And Finally…

Check out Matrix Live, now available at https://youtu.be/EstVaVUWkdw

Thanks for reading the very first This Week in Matrix! There will be another post next week, so if you’d like to be included join us in #twim:matrix.org. See you next week!

Synapse 0.27.3 released!

Today we release Synapse 0.27.3!

Hot on the heels of 0.27.2, notable changes include API support for joining groups/communities as well as a major bug fix (#3082), that is particularly important for those upgrading for the first time in a while. Also new metrics and phone home stats. Phone home stats include better visibility of system usage so we can have a better idea of how synapse’s RAM and CPU is behaving in the wild. Also, recording the number of users on the server who have been using it for at least 30 days.

Phone home stats are entirely optional and can be enabled/disabled by setting “report_stats” in homeserver.yaml. Please consider enabling phone home stats if you currently have not done so – this data is really important to us in improving Matrix as a whole (and justifying future funding for Matrix.org).

As always, you can get it from https://github.com/matrix-org/synapse/releases/tag/v0.27.3 and thanks to everyone who tested the release candidates.

Changes in synapse v0.27.3 (2018-04-11)

Bug fixes:

  • URL quote path segments over federation (#3082)

Changes in synapse v0.27.3-rc2 (2018-04-09)

v0.27.3-rc1 used a stale version of the develop branch so the changelog overstates
the functionality. v0.27.3-rc2 is up to date, rc1 should be ignored.

Changes in synapse v0.27.3-rc1 (2018-04-09)

Notable changes include API support for joinability of groups. Also new metrics
and phone home stats. Phone home stats include better visibility of system usage
so we can tweak synpase to work better for all users rather than our own experience
with matrix.org. Also, recording ‘r30’ stat which is the measure we use to track
overal growth of the Matrix ecosystem. It is defined as:-

Counts the number of native 30 day retained users, defined as:-
* Users who have created their accounts more than 30 days
* Where last seen at most 30 days ago
* Where account creation and last_seen are > 30 days”

Features:

  • Add joinability for groups (PR #3045)
  • Implement group join API (PR #3046)
  • Add counter metrics for calculating state delta (PR #3033)
  • R30 stats (PR #3041)
  • Measure time it takes to calculate state group ID (PR #3043)
  • Add basic performance statistics to phone home (PR #3044)
  • Add response size metrics (PR #3071)
  • phone home cache size configurations (PR #3063)

Changes:

  • Add a blurb explaining the main synapse worker (PR #2886) Thanks to @turt2live!
  • Replace old style error catching with ‘as’ keyword (PR #3000) Thanks to @NotAFile!
  • Use .iter* to avoid copies in StateHandler (PR #3006)
  • Linearize calls to _generate_user_id (PR #3029)
  • Remove last usage of ujson (PR #3030)
  • Use simplejson throughout (PR #3048)
  • Use static JSONEncoders (PR #3049)
  • Remove uses of events.content (PR #3060)
  • Improve database cache performance (PR #3068)

Bug fixes:

  • Add room_id to the response of rooms/{roomId}/join (PR #2986) Thanks to @jplatte!
  • Fix replication after switch to simplejson (PR #3015)
  • Fix replication after switch to simplejson (PR #3015)
  • 404 correctly on missing paths via NoResource (PR #3022)
  • Fix error when claiming e2e keys from offline servers (PR #3034)
  • fix tests/storage/test_user_directory.py (PR #3042)
  • use PUT instead of POST for federating groups/m.join_policy (PR #3070) Thanks to @krombel!
  • postgres port script: fix state_groups_pkey error (PR #3072)

Synapse 0.27 released!

We released Synapse v0.27.2 today (the first stable release in the 0.27.x series) – it contains loads of work since Synapse v0.26 back in January.  The main highlights are:

  • All the perf improvements which we’ve been landing as we race to keep the matrix.org homeserver in the face of ever-expanding traffic levels over the last few months
  • Support for custom storage providers for media repository.
  • Ability to limit the email addresses allowed to register on your HS, and ability to limit the homeservers your homeserver is allowed to federate with
  • All new purge API – letting you purge history by date as well as by event (and having a nice new async way of doing it)
  • Make search work again!!! (by switching from GIST to GIN indexes)

And a few release notes worth calling out:

  • The common case for running Synapse is not to run separate workers, but for those that do, be aware that synctl no longer starts the main synapse when using -a option with workers. A new worker file should be added with worker_app: synapse.app.homeserver.
  • This release also begins the process of renaming a number of the metrics reported to prometheus. See docs/metrics-howto.rst 
    Note that the v0.28.0 release will remove the deprecated metric names.

As always, you can get it from https://github.com/matrix-org/synapse/releases/tag/v0.27.2

 

thanks for flying Matrix!

Changes in synapse v0.27.2 (2018-03-26)

Bug fixes:

  • Fix bug which broke TCP replication between workers (PR #3015)

Changes in synapse v0.27.1 (2018-03-26)

Meta release as v0.27.0 temporarily pointed to the wrong commit

Changes in synapse v0.27.0 (2018-03-26)

No changes since v0.27.0-rc2

Changes in synapse v0.27.0-rc2 (2018-03-19)

Pulls in v0.26.1

Bug fixes:

  • Fix bug introduced in v0.27.0-rc1 that causes much increased memory usage in state cache (PR #3005)

Changes in synapse v0.27.0-rc1 (2018-03-14)

The common case for running Synapse is not to run separate workers, but for those that do, be aware that synctl no longer starts the main synapse when using -a option with workers. A new worker file should be added with worker_app: synapse.app.homeserver.

This release also begins the process of renaming a number of the metrics
reported to prometheus. See docs/metrics-howto.rst <docs/metrics-howto.rst#block-and-response-metrics-renamed-for-0-27-0>_.
Note that the v0.28.0 release will remove the deprecated metric names.

Features:

  • Add ability for ASes to override message send time (PR #2754)
  • Add support for custom storage providers for media repository (PR #2867#2777#2783#2789#2791#2804#2812#2814#2857#2868#2767)
  • Add purge API features, see docs/admin_api/purge_history_api.rst <docs/admin_api/purge_history_api.rst>_ for full details (PR #2858#2867#2882#2946#2962#2943)
  • Add support for whitelisting 3PIDs that users can register. (PR #2813)
  • Add /room/{id}/event/{id} API (PR #2766)
  • Add an admin API to get all the media in a room (PR #2818) Thanks to @turt2live!
  • Add federation_domain_whitelist option (PR #2820#2821)

Changes:

Bug fixes:

  • Fix broken ldap_config config option (PR #2683) Thanks to @seckrv!
  • Fix error message when user is not allowed to unban (PR #2761) Thanks to @turt2live!
  • Fix publicised groups GET API (singular) over federation (PR #2772)
  • Fix user directory when using user_directory_search_all_users config option (PR #2803#2831)
  • Fix error on /publicRooms when no rooms exist (PR #2827)
  • Fix bug in quarantine_media (PR #2837)
  • Fix url_previews when no Content-Type is returned from URL (PR #2845)
  • Fix rare race in sync API when joining room (PR #2944)
  • Fix slow event search, switch back from GIST to GIN indexes (PR #2769#2848)

Urgent Synapse 0.26.1 hotfix out

Hi all,

We just rushed out an urgent hotfix release for Synapse 0.26.1, addressing a nasty bug in the ujson library which causes it to misbehave badly in the presence of JSON containing very large >64-bit integers.  Anyone whose synapses are currently filling up with “Value too big!” errors will want to upgrade immediately from https://github.com/matrix-org/synapse/releases/tag/v0.26.1.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

Changes in synapse v0.26.1 (2018-03-15)

Bug fixes:

  • Fix bug where an invalid event caused server to stop functioning correctly, due to parsing and serializing bugs in ujson library.

Security update: Riot/Web 0.13.5 released – fixing XSS vulnerability

Hi all,

Heads up that we made an emergency release of Riot/Web 0.13.5 a few hours ago to fix a XSS vulnerability found and reported by walle303 – many thanks for disclosing it responsibly.

Please upgrade to Riot/Web 0.13.5 asap. If you’re using riot.im/app or riot.im/develop this simply means hitting Refresh; otherwise please upgrade your Riot deployment as soon as possible. Alpine, Debian and Fedora/RPM packages are already updated – huge thanks to the maintainers for the fast turnaround.

The issue lies in the relatively obscure external_url feature, which lets bridges specify a URL for bridged events, letting Riot/Web users link through to the ‘original’ event (e.g. a twitter URL on a bridged tweet).  The option is hidden in a context menu and labelled “Source URL”, and is only visible on events which have the external_url field set.  Unfortunately Riot/Web didn’t sanitise the URL correctly, allowing a malicious URL to be injected – and this has been the case since the feature landed in Riot 0.9.0 (Nov 2016).

If you’re not able to upgrade to Riot/Web 0.13.5 for some reason, then please do not click on the ‘Source URL’ feature on the event context menu:

Apologies for the inconvenience,

thanks,

Matthew

3D Video Calling with Matrix, WebRTC and WebVR at FOSDEM 2018!

TL;DR: We built a proof-of-concept for FOSDEM of the world’s first(?) 3D video calling using Matrix and the iPhone X… and it looks like this!!


Last year we spent a few weeks putting together a proof of concept of using Matrix as an open, interoperable communication layer for VR/AR – showing how you can use it as an open signalling protocol to connect users within (and between) virtual worlds, with full-mesh E2E encrypted video conferencing in VR; WebRTC calls overlaid on 360 degree video, and other fun stuff. The reasons for building the demo were quite eclectic:

  1. Try to highlight that Matrix is about much more than just about instant messaging or team chat
  2. Try to encourage the community to jump in and build out more interesting use cases
  3. Learn where the state of the art in WebVR + WebGL is
  4. Kick off the process of encouraging folks to think about storing world geometry and physics in Matrix
  5. Have a fun visual demo we could show to excite potential investors in New Vector (which comically backfired when the investment community spontaneously decided that VR is still too early).

In the end it succeeded on some points (highlighting exotic uses of Matrix; learning all about WebVR) and failed on others (a surge in Matrix-for-VR) – although we did have a lot of fun showing it off at the ETHLDN meetup back in October. (Eagle eyed viewers may be amused to spot team Status & Matrix sitting together in the audience ;)

However, we still believe that Matrix is the missing link for decentralised communication within VR/AR, and we were lucky enough to get a talk about Matrix+WebRTC+WebVR accepted to the Real-Time Communications Devroom at FOSDEM 2018! So, given a new chance to show the world how cool Matrix-powered comms could be in VR/AR, myself and Dave Baker went on a (very) quick detour to update the demo a little…

One of the issues of the original demo is that the video calling bits were just putting plain old video planes into the scene – floating television screens of 2D video content, if you will. This is better than nothing, but it’s sort of missing the whole point of VR/AR: surely you want to see who you’re talking to in 3D? Ideally they should have the same presence as if they were physically in your virtual space. This could also be a big step towards fixing one of the oldest problems of video calling: gaze correction. We’ve been obsessed about gaze correction since our early days (pre-Matrix) building mobile video calling stacks: gaze correction tries to fix the fact that the break in eye contact caused by staring at the screen (rather than the camera) has a terrible impact on the emotional connection of a video call. *But* if the person you are talking to is 3D, you can always rotate them in 3D space (or reposition yourself) to correct their line of sight – to re-align their gaze so they’re actually looking (in VR) at the thing they’re looking at in real life!

Back in early 2017 it would have been wildly ambitious to build an off-the-shelf 3D video calling app – but this changed overnight in late 2017 with the introduction of the iPhone X and its TrueDepth infrared-dot-projector based depth camera; effectively a mini-Kinect. Suddenly we have a mainstream high quality depth+video camera perfectly optimised for 3D video calling, with excellent API support from Apple. So we decided to see if we could be first in the world (as far as we know) to do 3D video calling using the iPhone X, using Matrix to signal the WebRTC media and using our WebVR demo as the viewing environment!

Step 1: Hack on WebRTC to add support for the iPhone X depth camera as a capture device. This is pretty easy, at least if you’re just swapping WebRTC’s AVFoundationVideoCapturer to request the depth camera instead of the video camera: https://github.com/matrix-org/webrtc/commit/c3044670d87c305d8f8ee72751939e281bf5223f is the starting point.

Step 2: Build a custom Riot/iOS with the right WebRTC SDK.  This is relatively easy thanks to Riot/iOS using CocoaPods and Google shipping a pod for WebRTC these days – it was a matter of tweaking Google’s pod so it could be referred to directly as a local project by Riot/iOS (and so that it provided debug symbols in the form CocoaPods expects). Brief notes are at https://github.com/matrix-org/webrtc/blob/matthew/depth/matrix/build_instructions.txt – many thanks to Manu for helping on this :)

Step 3: Decide how to encode the depth buffer. Now, the official WebRTC working group quite correctly insists that depth data should be treated as a first class citizen which is modelled and compressed in its own right. However, it looks like nobody has added first-class depth support to official WebRTC yet – and if we want to be able to easily display 3D calls on generic browsers capable of running WebVR+WebRTC+Matrix, we have no choice but do the ugly thing and encode the depth into a video signal which can be compressed with VP8/VP8/H.264 etc.

A quick search showed that some folks had already proposed a method for encoding depth data into a video signal, back in the days of the Kinect: https://reality.cs.ucl.ac.uk/projects/depth-streaming/depth-streaming.pdf. The paper outlines a fairly simple approach: you encode the 16-bit depth data into the three 8-bit colour channels; putting the coarse depth data into Blue, and then finer-grained depth data into Red and Green, encoding it as a periodic triangle wave:

In practice this means that as an object gets closer towards you, it gets gradually more blue – and meanwhile it pulses through a sequence of red and green so you can refine the precise depth more easily. So we went and implemented this, building a 16-bit lookup-table to encode the half-precision floating point 16-bit depth measurements the camera yields into video: https://github.com/matrix-org/webrtc/compare/c3044670d87c305d8f8ee72751939e281bf5223f…0258a4ef14c11a0161f078c970c64574629761c2.

Placing a video call through to another Matrix client then coughed up a video stream that looks like this:

As you can see, closer things (my head) are bluer than further things (the wall), and everything’s covered with trippy red & green stripes to refine the fine detail.  For the record, the iPhone TrueDepth camera emits 640×480 depth frames at around 24Hz.

Step 4: extend matrix-vr-demo to view a dot cloud, displaced using a WebGL vertex shader based on the encoded depth info.  Dave kindly did the honours: https://github.com/matrix-org/matrix-vr-demo/commit/b14cdda605d3807080049e84181b46706cec553e

Unfortunately, it showed that the depth encoding really wasn’t working very well… you can just about make out my head, but there are dots flying around all over the place, and when you view it in profile the 3D effect was almost entirely missing.

The main problems seem to be:

  • Whenever there’s a big jump in depth, the stripes get incredibly noisy and don’t compress at all well, generating completely corrupt data at edges of objects (e.g. the sides of my head)
  • The complexity of the pattern as a whole isn’t particularly compression-friendly
  • The contrast of the red/green stripes tends to dominate, causing the arguably more important blue to get overpowered during compression.
  • Converting from 4:4:4 RGB to 4:2:0 YUV (NV12) as required by WebRTC and then back to RGB inevitably entangles the colours – meaning that the extreme contrast of the red/green stripes is very visible on the blue channel after round-tripping due to sampling artefacts.
  • I probably made a mistake by bitwise casting the 16-bit half-precision floating point depth values directly onto the 16-bit unsigned int lookup index, rather than interpreting the float as a number and building a new index into the lookup table based on its numeric value.  As a result, depth values being encoded ended up having a much lower range than they should.
  • There are probably other bugs too.

Step 5: Give up on the fancy depth encoding (for now): https://github.com/matrix-org/webrtc/commit/2f5d29352ce5d80727639991b1480f610cbdd54c.  In practice, simply picking a range of the 16-bit half-precision floats to fit in the integer range [0,255] turns out to be good enough for a quick demo (i.e. 8-bit depth buffer, but over a small subset of the 16-bit depth space) – the dot cloud suddenly looked a lot more 3D and recognisable:

Step 6: Clearly this needs colour as well as depth.  This means asking WebRTC to add VideoTracks for both video and depth to your call’s MediaStream.  Firstly, we added a simple ‘matrixDepth’ constraint to WebRTC to tell a video source whether to capture depth or not.  (Yes, I know there’s a specced way to do this, but given nothing else here is on spec, we went for the simplest approach).  However, it turns out that only one WebRTC’s AVFoundationVideoCapturer can run at a time, because it manages its own AVCaptureSession and you can only have one of those at a time in a given app.  As a result, the two capturers (one per video track) collided, with the second session killing the first session.  As a quick fix, we modified RTCAVFoundationVideoSource to accept an existing AVCaptureSession (and AVCaptureDeviceInput) so that the application itself can handle the capture session and select the device, which can then be shared between multiple capturers: https://github.com/matrix-org/webrtc/commit/9c58465ada08018b1238fb8c5d784b5570f9246b.  Finally, just needed a few lines to matrix-ios-sdk to set the constraint and send the depth as well as video… https://github.com/matrix-org/matrix-ios-sdk/compare/fa9a24a6914b207389bacdd9ad08d5386fd0644a…5947d634ae8d722133ecdbde94cccf60bb88f11d, and adding playback of both channels to the vrdemo (https://github.com/matrix-org/matrix-vr-demo/commit/4059ab671d13bb4d4eb19dd2f534d9a387e47b81 and https://github.com/matrix-org/matrix-js-sdk/commit/f3f1524fcd46d2e772fd5cd022364018c8889364) …and it worked!

However, the dot cloud obviously has some limitations – especially when you zoom in like this.

Step 7: Replace the dot cloud with a displacement-mapped mesh so that it’s solid.  So as a final tweak for the demo, Dave switched out the dot cloud for a simple A-Frame plane with 640×480 vertices, keeping the same vertex shader.  Ironically this is where we hit some nasty problems, as for some reason the video texture started being applied to the depth texture (albeit flickering a bit) – eventually we realised that the flickering was the vertex shader inexplicably flapping between using the depth and the video texture for the displacement map.  At this point we compared it between laptops, and it turns out that for some reason the integrated Intel graphics on Dave’s Macbook Pro was choking on the two video textures, whereas a AMD Radeon R9 M370X got it right.  It’s unclear if this was actually a GPU bug or an A-Frame or Three.js or WebGL or Chrome bug.  Eitherway, on switching laptop to one with discrete graphics it started working perfectly!  Finally, we tweaked the shader to try to reduce smearing, by discarding vertices where there are big discontinuities in depth (through looking at the partial derivatives of the depth texture).  This isn’t perfect yet but it’s better than nothing.  https://github.com/matrix-org/matrix-vr-demo/compare/bbd460e81ff1336cd63468e707d858d47261ea42…06abe34957732ba8c728b99f198d987fe48d0420

And here’s the end result! (complete with trancey soundtrack as the audio we recorded at FOSDEM was unusable)

Conclusion:

Hopefully this gives a bit of a taste of what proper 3D video calling could be like in VR, and how (relatively) easy it was at the Matrix level to add it in.  If anyone wants to follow along at home, the various hacky branches are:

If you’d like to get involved with hacking on Matrix in VR, please come hang out at #vr:matrix.org.

Also, New Vector (where most of the core team work) is also hiring for VoIP/VR specialists right now, so if you’d like to work on this sort of thing fulltime, please contact us at [email protected] asap!

Matthew

Update: Slides from the FOSDEM talk (adapted from this blog post by Amandine) are available at https://matrix.org/~matthew/2018-02-04%20FOSDEM%20-%20VR.pdf

Update 2: The full FOSDEM talk recording is now up already at the RTC dev room at https://video.fosdem.org/2018/H.1309/!

Status partners up with New Vector, fueling decentralised comms and the Matrix ecosystem!

Hi all,

We’re delighted to announce that our friends at Status have made a major strategic investment ($5M) in New Vector: the company which currently employs most of the Matrix.org core team.  This means that we now have the financial backing to let us focus entirely on improving the Matrix ecosystem and getting the protocol out of beta… and beyond!!

First up – massive, massive thanks to everyone who has supported us over the last 6 months since our funding situation changed: as of the end of 2017 we had enough Patreon / Liberapay / IBAN / BTC / ETH donations and sponsorship (for Matrix.org) and enough paid consulting work (for New Vector) that we’ve been able to keep almost the whole core team working on Matrix as their day job.  Simply: the core Matrix team could not have continued in its current form without the support of the community – so we will be forever indebted to everyone who has supported us: especially all our donating supporters on Patreon/Liberapay/etc, our customers at New Vector, and our big $ sponsors, including UpCloud.com (who provide *incredible* hosting for Matrix.org), PrivateInternetAccess.com, INBlockchain.com, OmiseGO and Tendermint.

The investment from Status that we’re announcing today is a massive step change as it gives us the resources to grow the team and to focus fully on Matrix’s key problem areas without distractions (whilst still supporting paid New Vector work). Please note that donations are still very appreciated however: we are in the process of setting up the Matrix.org Foundation (at last!) as the non-profit target for all future donations, such that Matrix itself has a financial means to support pure Matrix work independently of any other companies (including New Vector).

Many folks will be familiar with Status already as one of the leading projects in the Ethereum ecosystem: building a beautiful usability-focused browser for decentralised apps (DApps) which run on the Ethereum Virtual Machine – as well as providing cryptocurrency payments and chat functionality (via the Whisper protocol).  It effectively lets users access Ethereum as a usable meaningful operating system – a bit like how Riot attempts to be a flagship ‘browser’ for the Matrix ecosystem.  The reason Status is investing in Matrix is primarily to accelerate decentralisation technology and open protocols in general – and also because there are some pretty obvious advantages to the collaboration, potentially including:

  • Bridging between Matrix and Whisper (Ethereum’s own real-time communication protocol) – exposing all of the Matrix ecosystem into Ethereum and vice versa
  • Bundling up Status DApps as Matrix Widgets
  • Exposing Matrix Widgets into Status
  • Supporting Olm/Megolm such that it could be used for E2E encryption in Status
  • Collaboration on the decentralised reputation systems needed to combat abuse in both Matrix & Ethereum
  • Utilize the Status Network token within Riot.im by enabling crypto assets.
  • …and more!

We’ve spent a lot of time working with Status over the last few months whilst arranging this partnership, and we’ve been really impressed by Jarrad and Carl and the team (they even have their own golang Double Ratchet Implementation!).  It’s fair to say that Status are very much aligned with Matrix’s vision, and the projects and can help each other a lot.

It’s also worth noting that Status and Matrix are really quite complementary: Whisper (as used by Status) is entirely p2p and focuses on protecting metadata and is tightly coupled to Ethereum, whereas Matrix is standalone and more feature rich but currently lacks metadata protection.  We both have fledgling app ecosystems; Matrix through Widgets and Status through Ethereum DApps. That said, Matrix and Status are going to continue on their own paths, and Matrix will of course remain controlled by Matrix.org – but we are looking forward to learning more about each other’s tech and driving decentralisation forward in general!

Meanwhile, on the core Matrix side, the investment lets us focus immediately on the following priorities:

  • Improving Riot’s usability. As of today we are urgently hiring for a Lead Designer to join the team fulltime to revamp and address Riot’s usability issues, as this is one of the single biggest things getting in the way of Matrix uptake today.  Hit up [email protected] if you’re interested!

    At the same time, we’re excited to ramp up our investment in Riot’s performance and overall polish (as well as achieving feature parity with Slack/Discord and friends) – that means we’re looking for React, Android & iOS folks to join the core team full-time asap to take the apps to the next level.  Again, [email protected] if this sounds like you!
  • Getting End-to-end Encryption out of beta. We know what we need to do to push E2E out of beta (incremental key backup; cross-signing devices; improved device verification) – Status’ investment means we can build the team to get it done! Decentralised end-to-end encryption is not for the faint-hearted, but if you’re up for the challenge please get in touch at [email protected].
  • Finishing Dendrite. Dendrite (our next-gen golang homeserver implementation) is a hugely ambitious project and right now the only folks working on it are Rich and Erik… who also happen to be supporting Synapse too.  The good news is that the community has been helping considerably with Dendrite, but it would be even better if we had more people supported to work on it full time.  If you love Go, and you love massively scalable decentralised systems, please hit up [email protected]!
  • Supporting Synapse.There is massive scope for performance improvements to Synapse, and there are thousands of deployments out there today, so we really want to improve support for Synapse.  If you love Python and Twisted, and interesting performance/profiling and efficiency work, please hit up [email protected] too!
  • Maintaining the Spec. If Matrix is anything it is the spec, and maintenance of the spec is key to the project’s success. In 2018 we intend to invest heavily in its maintenance and address outstanding API proposals, documenting APIs, not to mention updating the general technical documentation (guides, FAQ etc) on Matrix.org in general.  If you are a developer who loves spec work, we need you over at [email protected] immediately! :)

Beyond these immediate priorities, we have a long feature roadmap lined up too (highest priority first): Reactions, Message Editing, improved Widgets (e.g. Sticker Packs), Threading, Decentralised Accounts, Decentralised Identity, Decentralised Reputation, Peer-to-peer Matrix and more.  However, right now our focus has to be on improving the quality and stability of what we have today and getting it out of beta before we open yet more battlefronts.  In other words: we’re not adding more features (modulo emergencies) until the current features are polished!

So: exciting times ahead!  Never before has Matrix had the resources to fully realise its potential, and we’d like to say enormous thanks to Carl, Jarrad, Yessin and Nabil at Status for their patience and support while sorting out the investment.  We’d also like to say thanks to everyone else who offered us investment: in the end we had several viable offers on the table – and we owe sincere thanks to those who invested the time and faith to make an offer which we’ve ended up turning down.

For now, however, it’s back to work: making Riot slicker than Slack; making Synapse go faster and use less RAM; making Dendrite federate; making E2E encryption transparent and indestructible; making sure that it’s possible to implement Matrix purely by referring to the Spec.

2018 is going to be an interesting year indeed :)  Thank you all for supporting Matrix – and thanks, once again, to Status for helping to take us to the next level.

Matthew, Amandine & the whole team.

Update 1: VentureBeat is covering the news over at https://venturebeat.com/2018/01/29/status-invests-5-million-in-matrix-to-create-a-blockchain-messaging-superpower/

Update 2: IBTimes is also covering it at http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/matrix-status-ico-gains-support-non-blockchain-decentralisation-technology-1656183!

…and you can see Status’s side of the story over at https://blog.status.im/status-invests-5m-in-riot-im-4e3026a8bd50!

Synapse 0.26 released!

Hi folks,

Synapse 0.26 is here (with no changes since RC1 which we released just before Christmas).  It’s a general maintenance release, albeit with a few new features but mainly lots of bugfixes and general refinements.  Enjoy!

As always, you can get it from https://github.com/matrix-org/synapse/releases/tag/v0.26.0.

Changes in synapse v0.26.0 (2018-01-05)

No changes since v0.26.0-rc1

Changes in synapse v0.26.0-rc1 (2017-12-13)

Features:

  • Add ability for ASes to publicise groups for their users (PR #2686)
  • Add all local users to the user_directory and optionally search them (PR
    #2723)
  • Add support for custom login types for validating users (PR #2729)

Changes:

  • Update example Prometheus config to new format (PR #2648) Thanks to
    @krombel!
  • Rename redact_content option to include_content in Push API (PR #2650)
  • Declare support for r0.3.0 (PR #2677)
  • Improve upserts (PR #2684#2688#2689#2713)
  • Improve documentation of workers (PR #2700)
  • Improve tracebacks on exceptions (PR #2705)
  • Allow guest access to group APIs for reading (PR #2715)
  • Support for posting content in federation_client script (PR #2716)
  • Delete devices and pushers on logouts etc (PR #2722)

Bug fixes:

  • Fix database port script (PR #2673)
  • Fix internal server error on login with ldap_auth_provider (PR #2678) Thanks
    to @jkolo!
  • Fix error on sqlite 3.7 (PR #2697)
  • Fix OPTIONS on preview_url (PR #2707)
  • Fix error handling on dns lookup (PR #2711)
  • Fix wrong avatars when inviting multiple users when creating room (PR #2717)
  • Fix 500 when joining matrix-dev (PR #2719)

The Matrix Holiday Mini-Special (2017 edition)

Hi folks,

Since we began Matrix it’s been a sort of tradition to do a huge update on Christmas Eve to reflect on the past year and tease the future – you can check out the 2016 edition or the 2015 edition and a sort of proto-update for 2014 too if you’re feeling nostalgic.  This year I’m going to try to keep it short though, as I’m hoping to write a Very Big Update related to long-term-funding progress in the relatively near future.

2017 has been a weird year for us: progress in the core team has been relatively badly impacted by the mission to secure long-term funding, with myself (Matthew) & Amandine spending the vast majority of our time handling the meta-problem of keeping the core team secure rather than actually working on the project itself.  Meanwhile we’ve lost a few of the original team during the disruption, which has particularly impacted Spec, E2E and Dendrite progress (such are the risks of running a very lean team in the first place!).  However, against the odds, we have (hopefully) prevailed – and this is almost entirely due to the massive support we’ve seen through donations via Patreon, Liberapay, Ethereum, Bitcoin and PayPal, and some much-appreciated paid consulting work.

Simply put, without the donation support we would have not been able to pay the core team over the last 3 months, and we would not be able to pay for the legal costs of setting up the team as an independent company, and we would be completely screwed for securing large-scale long-term funding if we couldn’t point to the community’s support as evidence that Matrix is worthy of funding.  So: we sincerely owe our thanks to those who heeded the call to arms and are supporting us.  We’ve also been pretty lucky in benefiting from the skyrocketing value of Ethereum and Bitcoin donations.  And even if/when long-term funding is secured for New Vector (the company we formed in July to hire the core team), donations will continue to be vital to support the Matrix.org Foundation itself as an independent non-profit entity – as it’s obviously not in Matrix.org’s interests to be entirely financially dependent on New Vector.  Hopefully this whole episode will end up being a bit like a Save Star Trek scenario – where something fun and amazing almost gets almost wiped out when it’s only a few years old due to corporate factors… only for the community to band together to save it, and then for it to go from strength to strength for the next 50 years or more! :D

That said, we’ve made some major progress this year anyway: the addition of Widgets to Matrix; the addition of Communities (aka Groups) and Flair; major improvements to E2E encryption (even though it’s not out of beta yet); lots of progress on Dendrite (the minimum-viable phase 1 is now about 75% complete); switching everything over to Jitsi for group video conferencing; rewriting onboarding for Riot/Web; Antiscam/spam support for cryptocommunities; the whole VR proof-of-concept of Matrix+WebVR+WebRTC video and voip calling; Version 0.3 of the Matrix spec; and a whole lot more which I’m probably forgetting right now.  And meanwhile the community has been more active than ever, with major new clients like Nheko hitting the scene with a large and loyal community of open source contributors (over the last few weeks I’ve literally seen more nheko PRs fly past than Riot ones!) – and we’ve also been *incredibly* glad of community contributions towards Dendrite.  Dendrite is already way ahead of Synapse in terms of % community contributed code – we have hope that it will end up being a model FOSS project :)

So what lies ahead?  It’s hard to predict the level of progress we’re going to make in the core team, as it really depends on long-term funding.  Whatever happens, one of our top priorities is to improve our governance so that everyone can better contribute in places that have historically been more blocked on the core team (i.e. the spec; synapse)… whilst still maintaining coherency across the project.  Ideally we’ll end up with more folks pushing Matrix forwards from both the wider world and the core team however, and right now the main priorities are:

  • Phase 2 of Communities: letting users filter their current view of Matrix to rooms associated with a given subset of communities (if desired), for Slack/Discord-style semantics
  • Fixing the remaining end-to-end encryption failures (although the majority of them have now been solved)
  • Finalising proper UI/UX for end-to-end encryption (at last), including the option to transparently back up your room keys if desired.
  • Dendrite Phase 1
  • Performance in Riot (on all platforms)
  • Editable messages
  • Reactions
  • Making widgets much more useful
  • Paid integrations and hosting options to help avoid further funding nightmares.

Looking at the bigger picture, what we’d really love for 2018 would be to finally get to a 1.0 release of the Matrix Spec (i.e. catching up on our massive backlog of merging unstable spec drafts & proposals into the spec) – and for Dendrite to start to replace Synapse as the reference home server from Matrix.org and become really ubiquitous, and for E2E encryption be turned on by default in private rooms.  Beyond the above list, we don’t really have any other features urgently planned (threading, for instance, is on hold until we have the rest of the above sorted) – but we believe that if we stabilise everything we have today (plus that list), then there is no reason for Matrix to not fulfil its full potential as a true global open decentralised communications standard.  And then it’s on to threading, P2P matrix, decentralised reputation and all that good stuff!

It’s going to be a crazy year ahead, either way: so thank you, once again, for supporting Matrix – whether that’s financially, or by contributing code, or running a server, or just using the protocol as a user.  We literally wouldn’t be here without you!! :)

Matthew, Amandine & the whole core team.

Goto::Hack: Ver, Berlin, Jan 2-9: A week-long session on internet decentralization!

We’d like to share a guest post from Dmitriy Volkov (who’s been using Matrix almost since day 1!) – announcing the Goto::Hack event at the Tor Onionspace in Berlin in January.  The Onionspace will be on fire as folks attack the New Year by tackling the critical problem of internet decentralisation. A week long brainstorm and hack feels like the right way to go after the Christmas break! GNUnet, Tor, Matrix, pick your topic, or mix them all, and join the gang!  Hopefully we’ll have someone there from the Matrix core team too (although it depends on funding and timings).

— Amandine

We’d like to invite you to discuss and hack all things decentralized internet: from conceptual issues like identity and foundational tech like network stack to most practical questions, e.g. “What do I advise people at Cryptoparty in lieu of WhatsApp?” or “How do I make a GNUnet app?”.

Broadly, we’ll do networks, distributed systems, infosec and telecom – with GNUnet / secushare and Matrix developers, find out more here.

Time: 02-09 Jan 2018
Space: Onionspace, Gottschedstraße 4, Aufgang 4, 13357 Berlin

It’s well known Big Brother has been listening to our phone calls, reading texts and partnering with companies like Amazon or Google for a while now; more and more countries start censoring Internet – it’s not just China. Most “secure” communications solutions like Threema or Telegram suffer conceptual issues, like being unsecure-by-default or controlled by single commercial entity.
Decentralized systems – the proposed technical part of the solution – bring forth their own challenges: how do we conveniently identify an entity (considering revocation and squatting), and why do blockchains as innovative as Bitcoin and Ethereum churn through gigawatts of energy while handling miserable tens of transactions per second? What can serve as practical, scalable infrastructure for a decentralized network alternative to current Internet: on physical and channel levels, in terms of routing, etc.? How do we forge convenient XMPP, free Signal, a WhatsApp that can be both used universally and trusted?

How do we make the Internet less centralized and what can be done to make existing distributed technologies more popular? Why is Tor not enough and how long are we going to continue communicating in plaintext? How do we cook identity, and can we better consensus?

During the event we will discuss, hack, code, debug and develop – both systems (GNUnet, Tor, Matrix, etc.) and applications based on them, fix UX and write docs. The goal is to make a measurable contribution to solving some of the described problems through the course of the week, meet in person with the people tackling the issues you care about and return home with the desire to continue hacking.

Please register at our website if you’d like to come – also, if you’re not local, we are doing a group booking at a hostel and will be having some Berlin hacker community tours! (Use this if the first link didn’t work for you – that’s an IPNS issue and one thing in scope for the event.)

— Dmitriy