CHUI reaches the SL beta viewer

CHUI, the Communications Hub User Interface has taken two major steps towards official release, having been integrated into both the SL development and beta viewers.

The release of the SL development viewer containing CHUI came on February 26th ( This was followed 24 hours later with a beta viewer release on the 27th February, again containing the CHUI code ( Both of these releases see the SL beta and development viewers move to the 3.5 code base.

As well as CHUI’s new conversational and chat log floaters, which I previewed a while back – although it has had a number of changes since then – the viewer brings a number of changes to the overall way in which user communications are handled by the viewer, including a new set of chat preference options for handling incoming messages and notifications.

The most immediate change with CHUI is the conversations floater, which may open automatically as the viewer is started if you have received offline IM or are receiving incoming messages from HUDs, etc., while logging in.

Conversations Floater

For those who have been using TPVs as their primary viewers, the updated CHUI Conversations floater will appear very familiar, as it gathers IM windows and Local Chat into the same panel. On the left is a vertical tab display which will list all open conversations, whether individual IMs or group chats, and which includes four buttons. On the right is the actual conversation window, which has six buttons associated with it, not all of which many be active at all times (the first three are automatically disabled in local chat, for example).

CHUI Conversations floater
CHUI Conversations floater

These buttons put all of the most common controls required for text / voice conversations within the floater itself, providing it with considerable power and ease-of-use. The chat window display options, of example, allow you to switch quickly between displaying chat headers (the little icon bars within the conversation) or removing them (so that just names and text are displayed) and whether or not to show the time, or even the name of the other person in one-to-one IM conversations.

As noted in my original preview of CHUI, the minimise buttons on the floater are particularly useful, as they offer a number of ways in which the amount of screen space is taken up by the floater. The buttons can be used individually or together, to radically reduce the amount of space the floater takes up.

CHUI: The new conversations floater in three display modes - open, collapsed, & minimised (image uses the CHUI project viewer)
CHUI: The new conversations floater in three display modes – open, collapsed, & minimised (image uses the CHUI project viewer)

A slight quibble with these buttons is that while the tab window has a corresponding maximise button if it is reduced, the chat window does not – you have to click on either the Local Chat tab or an IM tab in order to display your conversations once more.

What is likely to be the most popular button on this floater, however, is the “Add to Conversation” button in the chat window. Until now, IM conversations involving more than two people has been a matter of using the viewer’s Conference Call option, which launches a group chat style conversation all participants must join. This has always been flaky at best – invites don’t always work, the conversation suffers very bad lag, people get booted from it unexpectedly, etc. With CHUI adding someone to a conversation is simply a matter of clicking the button and typing-in a name or selecting it from your Friends list or the list of Nearby avatars. Simples.

Right-clicking on a tab in the left of the floater will bring-up a context-sensitive menu, allowing you to carry out a number of additional activities, depending on whether you are engaged in a one-to-one IM, a group chat, etc. These include: offering a teleport, making a payment to the person, viewing an individual’s or group’s profile, activate the groups, tag, leave the group, and so on.

Conversation Log

CHUI Conversation Log
CHUI Conversation Log

The Conversation Log is also likely to be a popular feature. It provides a list of all the conversations you’ve had in the last 30 days, whether with friends or non-friends, and offline IMs.

From it, you can open the complete history of your communications with another person, thus eliminating a lot of the need to search for conversation logs on your hard drive. You do, however, still need to enable the Preferences option to save chat logs on your computer in order for the Conversation Log to work.

Preferences Changes

A further notable change with CHUI is the loss of chiclets from the top (/bottom, on some TPVs) right of the viewer window. While notifications of incoming messages are still displayed if the Conversation floater is closed, when they fade from the screen, there is no corresponding chiclet. Instead, a number of options are offered by which you can be visually notified of incoming messages.

These options can be set individually for incoming IMs from friends, incoming IMs from non-friends, conference IMs, group chats and nearby chat, and can be found in Preferences > Chat.

CHUI: Chat Preferences
CHUI: Chat Preferences

However, it is worth noting these options only apply if the Conversations floater is closed. If the floater is open / minimised, the most that will happen with an incoming message is that the tab / icon will flash – and then only if it is not already the focus of the floater.

The Chat Preferences also contains the option for saving logs,which has been moved from the Privacy tab, and adds an option to delete conversation log files from your hard drive. A further change to Preferences see a button added to the Privacy tab, providing access to the Block (mute) list.


CHUI would appear to be a direct response to at least some of the criticism levelled at the SL viewer, and an attempt to capitalise on some of the popular communications options found in some third-party viewers. Certainly, the Conversations floater is, for me at least, a major step forward and incorporates some nice features, particularly in the button options and the ways it can be minimised.

In discussing the UI at various LL-lead meetings, a number of us raised the point that the floater does perhaps miss one button option – teleport. Having quick and easy access to the ability to offer a teleport to someone is popular within TPVs, and I’m a little surprised LL didn’t heed requests and incorporate a button as well – OK, so the option is still available via menu, but it does make accessing the option tedious.

I have to admit, I’m not so fond of the loss of chiclets – I actually find them a very useful and unobtrusive means of tracking conversations when I want everything else closed on my viewer because I’m building or taking snaps. Sure, CHUI provides alternative notification options, but I confess I don’t actually find them to be an improvement; potentially the reverse in fact.

For those familiar with something like Firestorm, with access to things like the Friends and Group lists also integrated into the Conversations floater, and the ability to change the layout of the floater tabs between vertical and horizontal, CHUI is unlikely to offer any significant benefits. In fact, it is fair to say that it will be interesting to see just which of the CHUI capabilities the various TPVs will opt to adopt going forward – once they’ve managed the monster task of merging-up the code (which apparently comprises in excess of 1,000 commits).

Those who use the SL viewer as their default however, are liable to find CHUI an interesting experience – and for those who have been around a while – a little bit of a hark back to the days of the v1.x UI in the integrated chat / IM approach. The aforementioned niggles aside, I’d venture to say that it is very much an improvement over the way in which conversations are handled in the official viewer at present and offers a flexible approach to managing conversations.

As it is, and if all goes according to LL’s plans, CHUI is currently set for, to quote Oz Linden, “A good long run” in beta. Therefore, if you are interested in trying it out for yourself, follow the link below.

Related Links


9 thoughts on “CHUI reaches the SL beta viewer

  1. I too find the removal of the Chiclets to be a major loss. They provided an unobtrusive way to monitor conversations and indeed ignore them without having to leave the floater open. A perfect solution for those with less screen real estate.

    That said. I have been using the CHUI project viewer for the past month fairly heavily and do like the new functions. I would love it if my TPV of choice could leave the Chiclets in, but I am not thinking he will. Glad to see this working its way towards release.


  2. you forgot to mention the fact that CHUI also regressed a lot of bugs that had already been fixed, namely all that shit about rotation of prims 0.o
    hooray the ivory tower method.


    1. I thought the prim rotation problem had returned prior to CHUI? It’s been the subject of a few recent LL user group meetings prior to the roll-out of CHUI to dev / beta.


  3. They fixed it so that CTRL+T doesn’t open/close the buttons menu….But now it opens/closes ALL chat windows, including chat history, ffs. They must seriously be trolling now. Friends aren’t even a part of the chat floater anymore, it’s now ONLY a completely separate floater.

    Why do they implement a decent feature, and then insist on completely screwing it up @_x


    1. As well: URL and Username colours are the same, which is mild but annoying.
      Forced-vertical tabbing is fairly annoying when it’s never been required nor a default before.
      And it doesn’t save your floater positions or sizes upon logging @_x
      And it doesn’t save any change you make to the floaters, except in the preference menu.
      There seems to be an issue with opening IM’s as well, there’s either a noticeable delay or it doesn’t open the IM at all occasionally – can’t find a trigger as to why though.
      You also can’t keep IM’s separate, so there’s nearly no point of allowing them to separate.
      The lack of chiclets in this way on this viewer is actually pointless as hell, because the implementation is all chat floaters open anyways.
      Sheeeesh, they weren’t kidding about “going to be in beta for a long time”. It’s almost all screwy.


    2. I’m not sure what version of CHUI you’re using, but on the latest dev / beta, CTRL-T only opens the Conversations floater – a single panel, rather than “ALL” (by which I assume you mean the Conversation Logs window as well).

      While the function of CTRL-T has changed with CHUI, it’s actually worth pointing out that in the majority of viewers, CTRL-T has always opened Conversations / IMs. It is only with the introduction of FUI that LL reassigned the shortcut (and caused annoyance in doing so) – but TPVs didn’t follow suit. As such, while some might find the switch back initially irritating, it’s hardly a major issue, and brings the LL viewer back into alignment with the majority of TPVs. Has the Friend list ever been directly accessible from the v3 Chat floater? Don’t think so – so actually, no change in CHUI functionality.

      I’ve found the beta release to be presistent in terms of window placement & sizing. I repositioned mine to to the top left corner of my screen, and it has always opened-up there following a log-in or when hitting CTRL-T / using the menu option to open it and when receiving incoming IMs. It has also correctly maintained any “default” size I have set by dragging the window out.

      Your points on undocking IMs and keeping them undocked is well-made; I confess to missing that from my commentary in the article – close the Conversations floater, and ALL undocked chat / IM windows close, which can be a tad annoying if people prefer to have multiple separate windows taking-up screen real estate. The flipside of this is that at least the Conversations floater can at least be minimised to a point where it is unobtrusive and allow one to work with open IM floaters.


      1. I used the one linked at the bottom of the article for my response, and relogged/clean-installed multiple times to assure me that what was happening, was in fact happening.

        Ctrl + T opened all conversation windows. IM’s, Local Chat/Chat History, Group Chats – Everything that involved live-communication with other people or ones’ self. Since the CHUI smooshes all of those things together into one window floater by default, it logically follows that the key-short cut opens and closes everything involved with CHUI – Though in real-time usage, this is a VERY stupid function if you choose to separate the floaters – Like the Chat History floater.

        In almost all official and unofficial viewers to date, that is true, but the significant difference that is not a part of any viewer I’m aware of other than this LL R/C viewer, is that if you separate a floater – It not only stays separate and to your preferred size/shape, but it is no longer included in the Ctrl+T function – Which makes sense, and is how it’s been.

        You should know by now I’m not much of a V3 user, so I haven’t exactly kept up with where the contact/friends list is (or isn’t) attached to, so if it’s not new that it’s a needlessly wholly separate floater, forgive me.

        I dunno how your system differs from mine, but every time I undock a floater and relog, it redocks and forgets its changed shape entirely.

        I haven’t tested manually minimising the Conversations floater, I prefer the key-shortcut, but that minimises all chat windows rather than only the main one.


  4. Again and again, no matter how you try to shine it, LL did not did a decent job!
    They can’t, cause they don’t go in world time enough to realize what is needed, what is working and what needs to be improved!
    And again, a big difference from LL and all other grids around!
    The other grid devs are in world!


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