Catch-up with Designing Worlds and the SSA / Materials special

If you missed the live premiere of the Designing Worlds special I blogged about as being shown on Monday May 13th at 14:00, you can now play catch-up here.

The show is also available on the Treet TV Designing Worlds channel.

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Firefox Helpers for searching Second Life

Earlier, I blogged about a number of Chrome browser extensions users have developed for use with Second Life, and which Daniel Voyager had spotted. As a result of that article, Lance Corrimal pointed-out he had a number of SL-related search helpers for Firefox, which he suggested he could make available on his Dolphin Viewer website.

Well, he did – so true to my word, here’s a look at them.

The helpers are designed to allow a user to use the Firefox search option to use for terms and items using the various Second Life search engines. In all, Lance provides five helpers:

  • JIRA search – locate any JIRA directly from Firefox search (now subject to JIRA access / viewing)
  • Second Life Search – search for anything directly related to Second Life
  • Second Life Marketplace Search – search for an item in the Marketplace
  • Second Life Marketplace Merchant Search – search for a given merchant in the Marketplace
  • Second Life Wiki search – search the SL wiki from Firefox search.

All of the options can be used without you having to be logged-in to Second Life (or the JIRA or the Marketplace or wiki).

Installation

You’ll need to download and install the helpers:

  • Go to the Dolphin viewer website and download the helpers ZIP file (direct download link)
  • Open the ZIP file and drag-and-drop the five .XML files it contain into the Firefox Searchplugins folder. For Windows this is located at either: C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\browser\Searchplugins or C:\Program Files (x86)\Mozilla Firefox\browser\Searchplugins (depending upon whether you’re running 32-bit or 64-bit Windows)
  • Restart Firefox if you are already running it.

Using the Helpers

The helper options when installed in Firefox
The helper options when installed in Firefox

One the helpers have been installed, they will be available directly from the Firefox search option. Simply click on the search engine selector in the search field to display a drop-down list of your installed search engines / options, and select the required SL helper.

When a helper has been selected, its name will base displayed in the search bar, and you can type-in your search term as you would for any other search engine.

The JIRA Search

  • Typing-in a JIRA number (such as “OPEN-173”) will display that JIRA,  assuming it is publicly viewable. If not, you’ll get the “permissions violation” warning if you do not have the requisite JIRA access permissions
  • Typing-in a descriptive text (e.g. “Music stutters”) will display a list of possible JIRA matches, as with the normal JIRA search.

Second Life Search

Typing in any term using this Helper will cause the normal SL search engine to run and will return results using the search engine’s default page display.

Using the SL search option will return results from the main SL search engine - whether or not you're logged-on to the SL website
Using the SL search option will return results from the main SL search engine – whether or not you’re logged-on to the SL website

Marketplace Searches

The two Marketplace searches work in much the same way as the SL Search option, except they invoke the Marketplace search engine. Using the general Marketplace search allows you to display a Marketplace page displaying all products which match the search string, while the Merchant search will display one or more Merchants  matching the search string, allowing you to click on the required name and view the store.

Wiki Search

The wiki search helper will search the English language version of the SL wiki, returning a list of topics which may match the given search text.

An SL wiki search directly from Firefox's search option
An SL wiki search directly from Firefox’s search option

Feedback

Installation is simple, the helpers all do exactly what they same in their names, and work – as mentioned above – regardless of whether you are logged-in to the SL website or not. As such, for any Firefox user who spends time searching SL, they form a most useful suite off add-ons to Firefox (the 2012 changes to the SL public JIRA notwithstanding). Kudos to Lance for developing them and for making them available for general use!

Related Links

With thanks to Lance Corrimal.

Chrome browser extensions: a quick look

Update: Lance Corrimal has produced a set of search helpers for Firefox, which I’ve reviewed as well.

Daniel Voyager brings word that the Chrome browser offers a number of user-made extensions for Second Life. In particular, he points to three which appear to have value. As a sometimes-Chrome user (I tend to switch between it and Firefox on Windows, depending on what each new release brings), I decided to take a bit of a closer look at them. All three were located by searching for “Second Life” in the Chrome extensions web store.

Second Life Friends

This is described as an extension which, “Shows a list of friends online when logged into the SL website” and that “Users can check if their friends are online from any web page, instead of having to go through the tricky Second Life dashboard.”

The extension adds a Second Life icon to the browser, and I assume clicking on it is intended to display a list of friends online when you are logged-in to the SL website (although not necessarily with the web dashboard page open). However, the last update for the extension is 2010, and I was unable to get it to work.

Second Life Marketplace Helper

aaa
The Marketplace helper showing the address bar icon, additional page link and (empty) “Favourite Shop” list

Apparently last updated in January 2013, this extension is supposed to make browsing your SL Marketplace favourites easier. Installing it does two things:

  • Adds a Second Life icon to the browser’s address bar when using the Marketplace
  • Add a new link to the right side of Marketplace product pages, “Add to Favourite Shop” (note this is not the same as the LL-supplied “Add to Favourites” link, which appears further down the product page).

I gather the idea is to click on the “Add to Favourite Shop” to add an item to a “Favourite Shop” list which can be opened using the icon in the address bar. However, I was (again) unable to get anything to work, although it did not, as the one review of the extension suggested, “make the Marketplace unavailable”.

Chrome Life

This is the one extension I did get to work. It adds a Second Life icon to the Chrome tool bar which, when you are logged-in to the SL website (regardless of whether you have your SL web dashboard page open in the browser or not) will display the number of your friends currently on-line. Additionally, as friends log-in to SL, a pop-up will briefly appear in the bottom right corner of your screen announcing the fact they have.

Clicking on the icon itself will display a list of all your friends currently on-line, and if any have given you permission to map them, hovering the mouse over the globe which appears alongside their name will display a hovertip of their location.

When clicked, the icon also displays a note of your current L$ balance and a list fo your Groups. The extension is also configurable in terms of what is displayed via the Options link in your browser Extensions page.

The Chrome Life options
The Chrome Life options

Feedback

I assume the reason why Second Life Friends isn’t working is because it has not been updated in a good while and may no longer be displayed. Quite why the Marketplace Helper doesn’t appear to work, I’ve no idea. Chrome Life appears handy if you need to keep tabs on specific friends and want to see when they go in-world without having to keep the SL web dashboard open in a browser tab. I’m not sure I’d want to use the extension all the time myself (I actually removed it after playing with it through my Crash Test Alt), but for the SL-addicted it could prove useful :).

Obviously, these are third-party extensions, so the usual warnings about them not in any way being associated with Linden Lab or Second Life and using at your own risk, etc., apply.

With thanks to Daniel Voyager

Materials Processing and SSA – a Designing Worlds special

designing-worldsOn Monday May 13th at 14:00 SLT, Designing Worlds will be premiering a special show in their current series which explores some of the new Second Life shiny which is coming out of Linden Lab at the moment.

The show, recorded earlier in the month, features Brooke, Oz, Troy and Nyx Linden as they discuss the upcoming deployments of Server Side Baking/Appearance and Materials Processing in SL.

Nyx, Troy, Oz and Brooke Linden during the recording of the Designing Worlds show (image courtesy of Wildstar Beaumont)
From left-to-right): Nyx, Troy, Oz and Brooke Linden during the recording of the Designing Worlds show (image courtesy of Wildstar Beaumont / Designing Worlds)

As regular readers here will know, Nyx Linden has very much been the public face / lead of Server-side Baking, and he’s joined in the show by Troy Linden to explain what is going on with the project, and why people need to understand the importance of ensuring they are running a viewer which supports SSB/A.

Following this, Oz and Brooke Linden will be explaining about Materials Processing and the use of normal and specular maps in Second Life. They’ll also be demonstrating some of the capabilities of Materials Processing, using samples of various items on display at Hippotopolis. Just remember that if you want to go and see them for yourself, you’ll need to download, install and run the Materials Processing project viewer until such time as the necessary code is made more widely available in the main SL viewer and TPVs.

With and without: how materials will look when running a viewer in differed mode (top) and in non-deiffered mode (bottom). The differences are clear, but the in-world experience in non-differred mode is not in any way "broken"
How materials processing can alter the appearance of objects: the top image shows a series of objects which use material properties (normal and specular maps) as seen through a viewer which can render them. The lower image shows the same objects in a viewer which is not using the materials processing capabilities

All of the Lindens attending the show took time to answer questions put to them by the Designing Worlds team on behalf of users.

Saffia Widdershins, who co-hosts the show with Elrik Merlin, said to me in discussing the premiere, “We were really pleased to have been able to do this show and discuss the issues with people from the Lab. Changes like this can worry a lot of users, and it was good to have the issues and benefits clearly explained.”

Watch the Show Live

If you would like to watch the show, you can do so in one of two ways:

If you missed either of these, catch up with the broadcast via my blog, or via the  Designing World’s channel on Treet TV.

Related Links

Viewer release summary 2013: week 19

This summary is published every Monday and is a list of SL viewer / client releases (official and TPV) made during the previous week. When reading it, please note:

  • It is based on my Viewer Round-up Page, a list of  all Second Life viewers and clients that are in popular use (and of which I am aware) and which are recognised as adhering to the TPV Policy
  • By its nature, this summary will always be in arrears
  • The Viewer Round-up Page is updated as soon as I’m aware of any releases / changes to viewers & clients, and should be referred to for more up-to-date information
  • The Viewer Round-up Page also includes comprehensive links to download pages, blog notes, release notes, etc., as well as links to any / all reviews of specific viewers / clients made within this blog.  

Updates for the week ending: May 12th, 2013

Depreciated / Discontinued Viewers

  • SL Development viewer – depreciated as of version 3.5.2.274629 April 24, 2013
  • Zen Viewer – discontinued by developer and no longer available, January 27th, 2013
  • Phoenix viewer – development and support ended on December 31st, 2012

Related Links