User Experience Tools: initial roll-out to Magnum RC

Today sees the first phase in rolling-out the new User Experience tools to the Main grid. As noted in the official release notes, the tools have been rolled-out to the Magnum Release Channel.

The new tools were previewed back in March in a rare SL blog post, which I covered at the time it was released. Today’s Magnum release adds three new LSL functions for User Experience:

  • llAttachToAvatarTemp (integer attach_point) — Follows the same convention as llAttachToAvatar, with the exception that the object will not create inventory for the user, and will disappear on detach, or disconnect. It should be noted that when an object is attached temporarily, a user cannot ‘take’ or ‘drop’ the object that is attached to them. Additionally, if this function is used with experience permissions, the user is ‘automatically’ made the owner of the object. If you use this function without the experience permission, the target MUST be the owner of the object for it to attach properly
  • llTeleportAgent (key agent_uuid, string lm_name, vector landing_point, vector look_at_point) — Teleport Agent allows the script to teleport an agent to either a local coordinate in the current region or to a remote location specified by a landmark. If the destination is local, the lm_name argument is a blank string. The landing point and look at point are respected for this call. If the destination is remote, the object must have a landmark in its inventory with the teleport agent script. lm_name refers to the name of the landmark in inventory
  • llTeleportAgentGlobalCoords (key avatar, vector global_coordinates, vector region_coordinates, vector look_at) — Teleports an agent to region_coordinates within a region at the specified global_coordinates. The agent lands facing the position defined by look_at local coordinates. A region’s global coordinates can be retrieved using llRequestSimulatorData(region_name, DATA_SIM_POS).

This initial roll-out does not include the expanded Experience Permissions System, as Oskar Linden points out in a forum post on this week’s server releases. Instead, the new functions work with the current runtime permissions system (specifically PERMISSION_TELEPORT), although plans are in-hand to roll-out the new permissions systme at some point in the future.

No details have yet been released on the Professional Creators Programme that was mentioned in the original preview blog post, but if you are interested in learning more about the tools, the Advanced Creator Tools Notification Group is still open to membership, and you are encouraged to join the Group.

Oskar notes that LL will be actively monitoring the forum thread announcing the roll-out, and anyone encountering issues with the new functions is encouraged to post feedback in the thread, cross-referencing any relevant JIRA they raise.

Given the functions are now on the Magnum RC, and people are being encouraged to provide feedback, this roll-out would appear to move the User Experience tools outside of the associated Closed Beta programme.

For ease of reference, here’s the video LL released with the original preview announcement:

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Lumiya: take a seat and look at the map!

Alina has been beavering with Lumiya, the Android client for Second Life. Earlier this month I reported on the release of the 3D world view in the client; since then she’s been working on both extending the capabilities of the world view and making a couple of them more robust, as well as adding some additional new features. This has resulted in a couple of rapid-fire releases : 2.0.2 and 2.0.3, both of which are reviewed here.

My review system is a Samsung Galaxy S2 i9100 running Android Gingerbread. Draw Distance on Lumiya is set to 96m, sounds are enabled, but media is off.

“Long Touch”

In reviewing the 3D world view last time, I made mention of issues I experienced with the “long touch” feature: touching the screen over an in-world object & maintaining pressure for a second or two to display information on the object. This didn’t work well with my Galaxy S2 i9100, and Alina reported it was a little unstable on other ‘phones as well. She’s now improved the  functionality, and it should work on all devices.

Touch-to-sit

The biggest world-view addition with this release is the ability to sit on poseballs and chairs. This again uses a a long touch approach – press a finger over the item you wish to sit upon and hold for a second or two in order to display a menu.

Sit option

Simply tap the SIT ON button to sit. Note that if the item has an associated menu, you might get an additional TOUCH button, which will display the associated menu in the Chat window, if tapped.

Additional menu button

The camera angle can be a little awkward once seated, although you’ll appear perfectly seated through other people’s Viewers. As you’ll likely be chatting or IMing when seated, the Lumiya camera angle shouldn’t be too much of a problem, and you can still orbit the around yourself to see what is going on.

 

Seated view in Lumiya…
…and as seen in other Viewers

Standing once more is obviously a case of tapping the STAND button in the lower right corner of the screen.

Minimap Options

Lumiya now has Minimap / radar functionality. You can access the map by tapping the Menu button on your device from any Lumiya screen except the in-world view.  The results are impressive, with the local sim shown complete with any parcel boundaries. The display is split-screen, with (in portrait mode) the map displayed to the top, and a list of nearby people below. Rotating the screen (if your device supports it), displays the panels side-by-side – useful if there are a lot of people around you. In both views, the list of people is scrollable if it extends beyond the panel boundary.

Minimap and radar display (in landscape mode)

A nice touch with the map panel are two zoom buttons, allowing you to zoom in / out of the map (useful if there are a lot of people close to you). Tapping any of the familiar green avatar dots will highlight the avatar’s name in the radar list; conversely, tapping a name on the list will draw a circle around the appropriate avatar dot. Pressing on the name of someone in the radar list will display a pop-up menu, from which you can (with version 2.0.2):

  • Open an IM conversation with them
  • View their profile
  • Pay them Linden dollars.

Note that there is a slight limitation with the radar, in that avatars beyond 1024m metres distance from you will not have their range accurately reported. This is due to a protocol issue within the SL code rather than a bug within Lumiya (and is why you will sometimes see distances in Viewer radar displays given as “>XXX” (where XXX is a value) on entering a region before the radar settles down properly). Alina hopes to have a workaround for the issue in a future release.

People Search

A People Search option is now available from within the Contacts screen. This allows you – as the name suggests – to search for a specific avatar using all or part of their user name. Search results are displayed as a list, and tapping a name automatically opens an IM screen with the option to open their profile provided by a button in the top right corner.

Chat Logs

You can now opt to save all chat and IM conversations to an SD card. This option is available via the SETTINGS menu (tap your device’s Menu button and then tap settings – note that because of the additional features in some windows, you may have to additional tap MORE to see the SETTINGS option).

Other Nips and Tucks

These releases also see:

  • Offline IMs now include date and time when they were actually sent
  • Chat windows now scroll to last message when on-screen keyboard pops up
  • Issue with Group chat issue with messages not always being delivered is fixed
  • Issue with some regions failing to render in the 3D world view fixed
  • Numerous bug fixes and crash issue fixes.

Performance

Alina has been working on overall performance with the 3D rendering, which should benefit those using dual/quad-core systems. Certainly, when running on my Galaxy S2 over my local wifi connection, rendering did seem to be a lot faster – barely a 2-second wait from hitting the button to having prims and sculpts fully rendered. Running on 3G, there was still additional lag (unsurprisingly), but again, in terms of rendering, it was somewhat faster and smoother than version 2.0.0.  Avatar movement was still prone to some delay, although I didn’t find my Crash Test Avatar bouncing off walls when seen in a regular Viewer to anywhere near the same extent, as the overall response time from 2.0.3 encouraged quick, light taps of the arrow keys, rather than pressing and holding, which tended to be the case with 2.0.0.

Overall bandwidth use while on 3G worked out roughly the same between version 2.0.0 and 2.0.3: 5 minutes (with in-world rendering of my home and moving around) accounting for some 2 Mb of bandwidth (UK O2 network).

In-world view

Opinion

Lumiya continues to grow, and the new additions with these releases make it an even more attractive option for those on the go who have an Android device and need to access SL. With options such as inventory access and improved avatar rendering coming in future releases, as well as other goodies, Lumiya is fast becoming the mobile client of choice for those on Android.

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Dio: Linden Research register a trademark and put-up a beta site

Update 31st May: Tateru has provided the following update with feedback from Linden Lab on the new website: “The Dio staging/test server has now been closed off, and Linden Lab expresses thanks for the notice of the security issue. Linden Lab also adds that yes, it is not ready to talk about it in any detail other than that it will be something new and completely separate from and unrelated to Second Life and that it is not yet ready for public consumption.” As such, the links to the site given in this article no longer work. (With thanks to Tateru for permission to quote her update.)

Tateru has reported on a new trademark having been registered by Linden Research Inc. You can find the full details on her site, but the key point is that it is for an entirely new product – called Dio (which, among other things, Wikipedia points-out is the Italian name for “God”).

The name would appear to be connected to a new website, which has a rather interesting home-page:

New website

Any attempts to go further than this page leads to a log-in page with confidentiality statement (as identified initially by Miro Collas):

Log-in page

The metadata for the pages supplies a clue to their purpose: “Dio allows you to create and play user-created stories.” As such, it’s a reasonable to assume the website is connected to Linden Lab’s range of “new products”, first alluded to by Rod Humble at SLCC-2011. Details were vague then, but have become clearer thanks to various clues dropped by Humble himself and as a result of other goings-on, including:

Given the site links to a secure log-in, complete with confidentially statement also points towards it being connected to Linden Research’s call for product Beta Testers, initially made in March this year and which still appears to be open.

Call for Beta volunteers – opened March 2012

Speculation on the site is open to all – doubly so given, as Tateru points out, security is somewhat billoxed – allowing people to discern rather a lot, including URLs for image assets, one of which is rather novel to say the least, and another to what appears to be an Apple-related wallpaper. Others appear to be more “game / story” related.

One of the images gleaned via examination of the Dio site’s source-code

Commenting on Tateru’s article, Psyke Phaeton points out that site’s URL’s might be an oblique reference to Baron Bwimb of Ooze, the self-proclaimed baron of the Paraelemental Plane of Ooze, in the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game, and provides a link to  another webpage from the site, entitled “Baron’s Test Story”.

Speculation is bound to continue now the cat is out of the bag. Tateru is seeking further feedback from Linden Lab, and will update her article if / when any feedback is forthcoming. I’ll follow suit here, depending on the amount of information that is forthcoming. In the meantime, for more speculative analysis, keep an eye on her comments page.

With thanks to Tateru Nino, Miro Collas and Pyske Phaeton. Note that some of the image links given in this article may become unresolvable, depending on how the apparent security breaks in the Dio website are fixed.