Getting Imprudent

imprudenceI started using Imprudence when I first started learning about building. If memory serves, back then it was ostensibly under the Electronic Sheep Company banner.

One of the things like liked about Imprudence even then was the more logical approach that was being taken towards functions and activities: build tools were better organised, etc. One of the things I was less keen on was the fact that for an age, nothing happened with Imprudence – something that eventually caused me to wander away from it.

That latter factor is itself fading into memory: while there were concerns over Imprudence’s slow revival due to Linden Lab’s Third Party Viewer Policy – the Imprudence team even announcing they were pulling out of SL. Fortunately, this never happened as, on the one side, Linden Lab actually demonstrated they were capable of listening to people, and so modified their stance somewhat; while on the other cooler heads prevailed in Imprudence’s thinking.

Since then, the Viewer has been in a steady state of development, with releases coming along on a (by-and-large) weekly basis – and it has now reached Release Candidate status. As I’ve mentioned Imprudence before, I thought that given it is now at RC, it would be worth a closer look.

For those who don’t want to make the jump to Viewer 2.x, there is much to recommend Imprudence, including:

  • It is built on Viewer 1.23.5 code
  • It can be installed itself, without the need to install the “official” 1.23.5 Viewer first and then install over it
  • It offers revised and improved menus
  • It incorporates many functions and options from popular TPVs such as Emerald (without the associated Drama people like to create around Emerald)
  • It is Restrained Love enabled – great for both D/s and non-D/s activities
  • It can be used across OS Grids, and includes excellent additional features for this.

Popular Features

Features-wise, Imprudence offers a lot.  I personally like:

  • Rationalised / improved pie menus
  • Viewer-side AO. Modelled on the Emerald system, this provides access to essential AOs- walks, sits, flies, etc., directly through the Viewer without relying on a HUD. While not as slick or comprehensive as something like HUDdles, it’s nevertheless a very good tool to have
  • Viewer-side “Radar” (or more correctly, Avatar List)
  • Area object search
  • Windlight toolbar
  • Vertical IM tabs
  • Temporary texture uploads
  • Inventory quick filter
  • Double-click Teleport capability
  • Teleport button included in IM windows (via a neat drop-down menu)
  • Autoresponses
  • Mu* poses and auto OOC closures.

Beyond this, Imprudence offers increasing support for Viewer 2 functionality such as Alpha Masks, tattoo layers, and so on.

Less Controversy, the same Fun!

In including “Emerald” features, Imprudence avoids the more controversial functions and additions – some of which, it has to be said, are a trifle intrusive in the former. In the some cases Imprudence actually improves on such functions.

Take the Avatar list / “radar”. Rather than having it open in a dedicated window, Imprudence combines it with the Mini-map, presenting the list as a drop-down from the latter. Clicking on a small button in the lower left corner of the Mini-map slides out the Avatar list; click it again and the list slides away.

As with the original Meerkat Avatar list first ported to Emerald, Imprudence offers a series of action buttons which can be used when a name on the list is highlighted – such as offering a Tp, initiating an IM conversation, etc., which stopping short of the so-called data-scraping activities such as grabbing an avatar’s key with a single click.

Mini-map/Avatar List (names blanked here to protect privacy)

If you have Estate Rights, the list now additionally includes a tab allowing you to access a set of Estate tools.

The Mini-map itself also includes the zoom feature that made its way from Meerkat to Emerald – and adds a couple of extra options.

However, there are a couple of issues I found personally annoying / frustrating with the mini-map zoom and the Avatar list.

The zoom options seem nowhere near as smooth as Emerald’s (at least for those of us without a mouse wheel  – I use a trackball), with both ZOOM CLOSE and ZOOM MEDIUM being a tad over-done, even with the Mini-map window resized. MEDIUM doesn’t appear to “reset” the mini-map as it does with Emerald, and this makes seeing things on the map a tad annoying unless one reverts to tinkering with debug settings.

Also, and speaking from an estate manager’s PoV, the limitation of 512m for detecting avatars is a trifle limiting. While I can understand why it has been limited – to help retain people’s privacy – I nevertheless miss the ability to rapidly locate an Avatar on-sim in times of mischief, particularly when they could be standing anywhere between ground level and 4096m above the ground.

Turning to the Friends / Contacts list, Imprudence avoids adding additional columns to the Friends / Contacts list, preferring to keep it clean and simple and in line with the official Viewer – which is to their credit; the additional columns can be a source for Drama.

The Viewer-side AO is pretty much as found in Emerald, and functions smoothly and efficiently, although I understand there were a few bumps with earlier releases. It took my existing AO card (used with Emerald) and activated immediately, as one would expect.

Area Search (credit: Imprudence Team)

The Imprudence team have been very wise in including the Area Object Search. As builders and Estate Managers who have used it will testify, this is a real boon when a prim / object zooms off to heaven knows where due to a careless co-ordinate input.

Pies and Menus

One of the major improvements (for me) in Imprudence is the overhauling of the pie menus. Not only have options be rationalised and re-ordered, they’ve been laid out in such a way that makes adapting to them and finding things pretty straightforward  – and infinitely less painful than getting to grips with the original Viewer 2.0, to be honest.

There are a few niggles – I miss CREATE when standing on a prim. As I build in the sky, this is particularly annoying, as right-clicking and selecting CREATE from a pie menu is a lot faster than opening the Build menu whether by clicking a button or using a hotkey combo. LL made this mistake in Viewer 2.0 and ultimately revised their decision – I hope the Imprudence team do as well.

Of course, not everyone likes change. Using the pie menus gets very ingrained over the years to the point where any change, no matter how small, causes irritation – which is again why the Imprudence team have been sensible and included an option in PREFERENCES to use the “legacy” pie menu system found in the official Viewer.

It is because SL users seem so resistance to change that Imprudence’s other menu changes – re-organising the drop-down menus, moving some options from Preferences to menu, etc., might bring them under fire from some users. Habits get ingrained, and unlike the pie menus, these options cannot be “switched back” to the “old” layouts / locations. I have to admit, I’ve had a couple of “argh!” moments myself looking for options that “aren’t where they should be”.

But, once one takes the time to get used to the changes, one cannot help but accept that for the most part, they do make sense. Whether it be simply moving the position of a menu option within the menu itself, or moving a function / option / check item to an different menu, the changes are logical and result in a smoother use of the browser.

An example of this is the positioning of the option to enable / disable Restrained Love functionality. Traditionally in TPVs, this has been located somewhere in PREFERENCES. Within Imprudence, however, it is located in the ADVANCED menu – a move that makes it far easier to access, although admittedly one has to remember to activate the Advanced menu first (CTRL-ALT-D on PCs) in order to find the option.

Those used to Emerald may also have a few problems finding things – the Advanced Build options, for example, have been moved from a tab in PREFERENCES -> EMERALD to being activated via a button on the BUILD pop-up itself. Again, this is entirely logical – and actually preferable; but that doesn’t unfortunately mean there will not be further grumble when people option to switch or “give Imprudence a go”.

Profiles

Another area of update is the Profile window. Some of the changes are very subtle and smile-inducing. The “2nd Life” tab is now “Avatar”, while the “1st Life” becomes “Real Life”.

Profile “Avatar” Tab (Groups blanked)

The biggest changes to Profile, however, are in the “Avatar” tab, which has had a complete make-over. The About and Groups windows have been reduced & swapped in their positions in the tab relative to one another, while the various buttons from the bottom of the tab have been moved alongside the Profile picture, and logically grouped.

In a nod to those concerned about key-scraping, the Avatar key is not displayed a-la Emerald, but there is still a button that allows the key to be copied to a computer’s clipboard. It will be interesting how many angst-ridden and accusatory posts are written about the “wrongness” of this feature should Imprudence gain in popularity.

Overall, the new Avatar tab layout is very logical and helps the information it presents “flow” more easily from screen to eye to brain. Even so, it risks getting some criticism in that many put time and effort into laying-out their About windows (as I have to a small degree) – and the reduced width of the window means this careful formatting is lost when a Profile is viewed in Imprudence, and any Profile formatted to the Imprudence About window will look odd in other 1.23.5 Viewers. However, this really is a minor niggle: people face the same problems when viewing  / creating Viewer 2.x Profiles.

Other Grids

Imprudence is very useful if you spend time on other grids. It is configured to work directly with the most popular OS Grids (as evidenced by the fact you can pick your primary grid from an additional pop-up the first time Imprudence is run after installation), and I’ve used it on a couple of European-based grids with no problems. Indeed, it now rivals Meerkat as my Viewer of choice for my OSGrid wanderings, and will likely become my defacto standard soon enough.

Imprudence includes options that make using it on OSGrids a joy. It includes Lightshare, for example, which allows regions on Grids that support it to broadcast Windlight settings to the Viewer, bringing a more SL-like look to the environment.

Summary

Imprudence has come a long way over the past few months, and the team deserve credit and congratulations on all they’ve achieved: not only in bringing in some of the most popular features from other TPVs, but also in steering clear of the more controversial elements, and gearing Imprudence towards supporting the more popular Viewer 2 options as well.

There is still much to be done, as the RC status of the Viewer indicates – but this is again to the team’s credit, demonstrating a willingness to develop and enhance in stages, take balanced steps and work towards a good, solid Viewer that deserves to have a popular uptake. Given the way things have been hurried and hashed with regards to Viewer 2, it is a lesson LL would do well to learn.

There are a few things I’d personally like to see – a spelling checker, for example (given I spend a fair amount of time writing and editing Notecards – and cutting / pasting between SL and a text editor for “quick” changes gets tiresome). I’d also like more in the way of skin options – however you look at them the “traditional” blue and silver skins are looking increasingly dated. But again, these are minor points; and given that only a few weeks ago I was lamenting the lack of a double-click Tp capability and lack of support for Mu* poses and auto OOC closure – and all of these are now present in Imprudence, I think it safe to say concerns on skins and things will be dealt with in the future.

As it stands, and even while still RC, Imprudence is worthy of consideration for those still dissatisfied with Viewer 2, and who a) don’t want to be saddled with the angst surrounding Emerald and b) don’t want to have to install the “official” 1.23.5 and then have to install additional files, but would rather do everything from a single installer.

ADDENDUM

Widdles. In being little-Miss-Blogaminute, I forgot two things:

  • If you’re a voice user, you may have to copy the relevant files across from your existing 1.23.5 folder
  • If you are confused about where everything is in Imprudence, look here.