Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Random Thoughts on SL Viewer 2.0

If you've missed the news, iteration 2 of the Second Life viewer is in public Beta. I had a pretty long discussion via IM with noted SLebrity and all-round good guy Daniel Voyager while playing with the software and he has some great insights on his blog. Following are my disjointed observations after tweaking and adjusting the software to meet my tastes. Please keep in mind that some of my comments are biased by my heavy reliance on the fabulous Imprudence viewer by Jacek Antonelli.
  • The 2.0 viewer is faster and more memory-friendly than any other viewers I've tried, official or otherwise. When I task switch on my i7-powered 27" iMac the other programs have whatever access to the 4GB RAM they need. Start up and shut down are also faster and even my avie seems to fly faster.
  • Some changes will take a while to get used to due to extra steps needed for access or some new locations. File uploads are the 'worst' of these. Instead of using File > Upload one needs to open the Inventory pane then use the File menu there to upload. Next worse? Using About Land. No more simply clicking in the menu bar.
  • Related to About Land and sorely missed: Avie coordinates in the menu bar.
  • Chat is easier for me to see. Actually, the UI is generally easier on my eyes. I did bump the size up a bit, though, to compensate for what seems to be smaller fonts than in other viewers. The cute little profile pix in chat are ... well, cute. Handy, too. Not having the Inventory (and related windows) go translucent when not in focus makes them easier to use.
  • Everything takes up more screen real estate, particularly the Conversations (AKA Communications) window. I quickly searched for a way to bind all the individual windows into one tabbed unit to preserve my sanity.
  • I'm probably going to make a special folder for Favorites Bar LMs. Each will have an edited name for clarity.
  • There are some items in the Advanced menu that need to be accessible otherwise, such as Stop Animating Me, Set Window Size (formerly in graphics preferences), Rebake Textures, and the Lag Meter. These are not Power User tools and should be more easily found. Horizontal tabs in the Conversations window would be nice, too.
  • The 2.0 viewer needs to steal some items from Imprudence, such as double-click Inventory items to wear/take-off (including prim attachments). Every mini-map enhancement needs to be ported, pronto. Also, the quick access draw distance slider. Having fast access to the Sky Editor and presets is more for a Power Users, but it is sooooo handy.
  • Inventory sharing is a nuisance in 2.0 if you are not close to the other avie and I can only guess why a separate Conversation window needs to activate if an IM chat is not active.
  • As you see in the picture above, the Clothing folder from the standard Inventory is quickly available. I have yet to read about this, but I suspect it might have a relation to the "Link" function buried in the Inventory's advanced menus ("Select an original item, then choose this to highlight all linked items to it," says Help, whatever that means.). It does not increase your inventory size unless you wear an outfit. Then it is fully imported into the My Library's Clothing folder, just like before. "Clothing" is a misnomer as these are now and have always been complete avatars. I'm sort of excited, though, if this feature can be used for favorite outfits.
  • The media Play button uses the Pause ❙❙ symbol to show it is playing and the Play ❯ symbol to show it is paused, just like an older iPod I have. All other media players I use are just the opposite. The volume control is "hover to see" and clicking it mutes everything. Quick access to details is via the "configure" button if you hover to get the volume slider. If I mute my computer via the keyboard, the SL volume speaker shows the International NO sign.
  • And that brings us to Voice Chat, something I seldom use but had to hunt for to deactivate. It is in Preferences > Sound & Media as opposed to a conveniently named Voice Chat section.
  • The Color Picker has many issues. The standard colors are not there and saving a custom color usually fails. For example, I can make and save a custom color to change the URL color in chat but that same color is not available for other items. Probably a bug.
  • I like the Info buttons in the place tool bar and if the pointer is hovering over certain objects.
  • Texture sizes and aspect ratios in Profiles are now all different. Many folks spend money or spend extra time making Pick pictures and profile pictures extra nice. The new viewer does these no justice. There is plenty of room to make these bigger. Let's get some standardization going as well. Here are the current aspect ratios of some SL textures. If you look you'll see the sizes were chosen by committee or chance. Or both.
  • Also concerning the People tab: The Groups section of a person's profile needs a lot of work. The text is too small and the list is clumped together. Make the font bigger and set them all as bullet points, please. Blogger Hamlet Au has written about a controversy with the new Profile format's clumping of Second Life and Real World information on the same pane. As far as I'm concerned: Meh. I have fun with the RW section. As far as you should be concerned, this is my First Life.
  • Now and then a pose ball stays highlighted after sitting on it (Right-Click > Sit Here) or object that you've edited or inspected (via the Info button on the hover tip).
  • In the picture above the hover text in my hugger is off center. This happens with other HUDS that use hover text, too, but only in the 2.0 viewer.
  • Ban Lines are now translucent yellow on yellower "warning" stripes like a police line tape.
  • The top bar with Favorites and such needs to be collapsable to save screen space.
  • The My Appearance pane could be done away with if the Wearing tab is moved into the Inventory panel. Usra, my model in the pic, pointed out that obviousness to me.
  • I like the bottom tool bar. The new basic buttons can be hidden but the usual buttons are gone. Nope. No Build button. Mostly I used that to see if I could rez something on the parcel I was visiting. It will take some getting used to, but I like the tool bar in general.
  • Of course a transition period is needed, but I'm very excited about the new layers available in Appearance. A tattoo layer has long been needed and the alpha layer will make boots and attachment-intensive avies a lot nicer.
  • What?!? No more Inventory count? How many Whatsitz do I have?
  • [17:49] Angela Seale: mention taht your wife HATES the interface [17:49] Angela Seale: the whole thing, it's just inconvienent, it's not user configurable, adn it feels clumsy like 2-5 building blocks [17:52] Angela Seale: it feels like it's "playskool" interface
  • Conversely, I generally like the interface. If I hadn't seen v1.x first I'd probably be rather happy with this one.
On the whole I would have to say I like v2.0 and that most of the criticisms I've heard in-world and seen in print are mostly from folks who don't like change. Remember those who didn't like Windlight? There will be alternative viewers based on the Open Source Snowglobe and I'm sure these will have more appeal to Power Users and those with specialized needs. This viewer is aimed at new and casual users with many features that should still appeal to even more advanced users. It certainly meets that goal and then some.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I personally do not care for change, as many Second Life residents... we get comfortable and do not want the boat rocked. There are changes in the viewer that many including myself do not care for.
I have taken this "to the streets", and have gotten "patches" for the oldest versions of SL. I have personally dispensed the download links to SL v.1.22 & 1.23 to many hundreds of new SL residents. I am proud to say that I have even gotten those new residents that came in with Viewer 2 to delete the viewer and upload the viewer whose format that is better in my eyes.
Talking with LL support, they have admitted to me, that they cannot go only to the new type of viewer, as that would take many residents with older computers out of SL.
I have multiple Desktop style Imacs here at home, as we login to SL from here, and function in world 3- 5 friends at a time. The oldest Imac ( a G5 Tiger- only 4 years old) can't download the new type viewer.
My campaign against the Viewer 2 has extended to RL commentary and links to all of the viewers before Viewer 2, that LL has assured me will not be discontinued.
Residents of SL that came in with the new Viewer, and have taken my advice to try the original viewer type have thanked me, and agreed they are happier with older viewers. According to their feedback, they especially like using v. 1.22.11!
After I explain, to these new residents the reasons that older residents and I disagree with the new viewer formats, I watch as they wholeheartedly "take the bull by the horns", and actively assist in meeting new residents to moving them back into the SL viewer that we feel has the best "search" options, and features we approve of.
LL can try, but they can't move everyone to Viewer 2. Not when there are patches available, and approved 3rd party viewers, and not when there are passionate residents out there "spreading the word" and passing out links!