CHUI: progressing towards mainstream release

I first took a look at the CHUI – the Communications Hub User Interface – project viewer on its announcement and release back in October. Since then, as noted in my SL project news updates it has gone through recent updates as it progresses towards readiness for mainstream release, quite possibly in the early part of 2013.

The past week has seen new updates to both the “release” version of the project viewer (December 22nd) and also to the “development” version of the viewer (December 24th). Both are available from the viewer download wiki page.

The “main” release – viewer, was announced via a forum post, which highlighted the updates as:

  • Addition of notifications and notification preferences
  • Smaller Conversations and People windows with increased resizability
  • Adding more ways to get to certain functions. For example, we added a speak button to the Conversations window toolbar
  • Improved performance
  • Bug fixes and polish
The new "Speak" button in the confersations floater - available for IMs and open chat
The new “Speak” button in the conversations floater – available for IMs and open chat

The resized floaters is a good step forward, as is the greater control now available in resizing windows. There are still some elements missing from the conversations floater people my find convenient (or at least annoying because of their absence), in particular:

  • An ability to range IMs horizontally rather than vertically: many people prefer to have their IMs ranged horizontally, possible as a holdover from the “old” integrated conversations floaters which stretched back in 1.23.5. The problem here is that any move to incorporate this into the design would break with ergonomics of the “collapsible” nature of the current floater using the right / left pointing chevron buttons
  • The inclusion of a teleport button for the IM windows: this is altogether more useful, and it is hard to see why this was dropped from the redesign, given it is part of the current IM floater layout, and most likely a button which sees frequent use. OK, so teleports can still be achieved via the right-click context menu, but if convenience is the name of the game, it is hard to see why the teleport button has been ignored
The three compact views of the Conversations floater: one reason horizon IM tabs may not be incorporated
The three compact views of the Conversations floater: one reason horizon IM tabs may not be incorporated

Whither the Survey?

One thing still very much missing from the CHUI project is the promised user survey. When the project viewer was first launched in October, the Lab specifically asked people to try it out and consider a number of questions relating to it, noting that, “We’ll ask you to complete a survey in approximately one week to gather your thoughts on these questions.”

The survey has yet to appear. Whether this is because the feedback coming through the CHUI JIRA has been sufficient for the project team (and the amazing Whirly Fizzle has been generating an incredible amount of detailed and informative feeback!) is unclear.

Current Status

The precise status of the project is unclear, but it appears to be reaching a “feature complete” status – which again raises the question as to whether we ill see a survey on the project or not. Merging the project viewer to the 3.4.3 code base would appear to move it one step closer towards a viewer development  / beta viewer merge (both are now 3.4.4 code), but there are wider issues within the viewer still be rectified. For example, nothing happens at all when right clicking on any object contents – the usual context menu fails to appear. It’s therefore unlikely that the CHUI code will make an appearance in a development or beta viewer until such time as it has been confirmed problems like this have been identified and resolved.

In the meantime, and if you haven’t already done so and would like to, the CHUI JIRA remains open for comment, and the project viewer can be obtained from the SL Alternate Viewers wiki page (links below).

Related Links

5 thoughts on “CHUI: progressing towards mainstream release

  1. I’m one of those people who prefer horizontal tabs. When I noticed CHUI didn’t have this option, I was all prepared to hate it. But once I realized I could collapse tabs to icons, I changed my mind. The reason I dislike vertical tabs is that I feel that they take up too much horizontal screen space. With mere icons tabs, this becomes a non-issue.

    Overall, I find CHUI to be very, very promising. Having communications spread all over multiple floaters really drove me nuts with V2, and I kept praying V3 would eventually correct this. CHUI not only does so, but goes even further than I had hoped for by integrating almost all communication tasks into a single floater. I’m hoping some TPVs that lacked Firestorms style of communications floater adopt CHUI as soon as it becomes stable.

    And yeah… being able to resize some floaters down even further than in V2 is a long overdue fix.


    1. I prefer vertical tabs as generally, it’s a lot harder to miss notifications if I’m AFK / using another window on the PC and a message comes in; being able to see the tabes instantly, and which are highlighted with a message is a boon compared to having to scroll right / left through a list when I have more the 2 or 3 active IM tabs + local chat. Needless to say, I love the collapsible nature of CHUI, and look forward to seeing it with some of the bells and whistles TPVs will hopefully be able to add.

      This viewer also appears a lot more responsive than recent beta / release viewers (even the latest 3.4.4 beta). I thought it was just me & a placebo effect with me, but it’s interesting noting others have been saying the same thing…


    1. Gah!

      I missed that in scanning the forum thread. Ta for pointing it out.

      The JIRA has had a lot of constructive feedback – Whirly has (as ever) been doing an amazing job!


  2. As Marcus, I too use horizontal tabs simply for the size. I am actually not wildly fond of the way the tabs quickly require scrolling, but it’s a tradeoff against losing a *lot* of screen estate to the vertical tabs. So the minimized/Iconified vertical tabs in CHUI is a good solution for me.
    I still stumble every now and then when using CHUI, but I am confident that it’s just a matter of getting used to the new layout.
    So while it’s still lacking some polish, I am quite positive about it.

    (It is, however, about time that v3 gets some sensibly configurable docking in general; not just of the IM windows. And they could reclaim a lot of border pixels while they are at it and return them to use for the inworld view).


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