On Tuesday, March 14th, the new community platform for Second Life officially launched.
Powered by Invision Power Services, Inc, it had been hoped the platform would go live at the end of February 2017, but some teething problems coupled with the amount of data which needed to be transferred over from the older Lithium-powered slowed things down somewhat.
The new platform brings with it a new page layout, including a dedicated Community home page, and feeds blog posts to users’ dashboards at secondlife.com/ However, there are still some niggles to be sorted. At the time of writing, for example, going to the dashboard and selecting Community > Forums from the top menu can generate an error message. Clicking on blog links, however, will launch the new format blogs successfully.
The new home page, and the pages beneath it, offers all the familiar community elements: forums, blogs, knowledge base and answers, each with their own top-level page. The knowledge base was actually the first part of the new platform to open its doors, on Friday, March 10th, but at that time certain functionality – such as search – had been disabled on the platform, as it was impeding testing and performance.
In announcing the launch of the new platform, Xiola Linden notes a few things which should be kept in mind at present when using it:
One of the things that we were unfortunately unable to transfer to the new platform was background images on profile pics. If you were using a background image for your profile, you will need to upload a new profile pic. The good news is that uploading a profile image on the new platform is much simpler and more intuitive than before. Just select your profile from under your name, and you can upload an image from there.
We will continue to make improvements, but wanted to get the community platform out as soon as possible, so that the Knowledge Base was back on-line.
Here is a list of known issues, most of which we expect to fix in the coming days/weeks:
Some posts may have missing images. Where possible, we will be fixing and/or updating these.
- Some posts may have been slightly reformatted or have a slightly different layout
- Previously used emotes may no longer work.
- Some old Community URL redirects may be broken.
- Some users have lost their account profile images and will need to reset them.
- Second Life headers and footers are currently missing from community pages, and we are working to restore those.
- The window title needs to be updated.
- Clicking on a Help link from the viewer will load the page in mobile layout; this is not optimal, and we are working to correct that.
I’ve not explored the new platform in total, but here is a quick look at two of the more noticeable features.
In the top right corner of each page on the community platform is a set of options, comprising a Create button an Alerts button (warning you of & listing replies to your posts and comments, etc), a Messages button (for accessing direct messages), and your name with a drop-down menu.
The Create button pops-up a means to start a new post a one of the existing forums in the platform via an intermediary Topic item. When you have selected the forum you wish to post to and clicked Continue, you’ll be taken to the Create New Topic page where you can write your post and post it directly to the selected forum.
The drop down displayed when clicking your name presents a series of options specific to you. You can, for example, view your Community Platform profile, where you can edit your profile picture or profile information, and you can toggle between seeing your most recent activity in the forums or viewing a complete history of all your activity via the See My Activity / View Profile button. Note this toggle is publicly displayed on your profile, allowing anyone to review your recent and full history of activity on the forums, just as you can when viewing other people’s profiles.
There are two Settings options found within this drop-down menu. The first doesn’t currently appear to do anything; however, the Account Settings option will display your account settings, allowing you to change your forum signature and change the e-mail address / password associated with your account (so use the latter with care!).
The Account Settings option additionally has links to:
- Your Community Platform profile (see above)
- Your Community Platform notifications options
- Your list of Ignored Users.
Finally, this menu has three further options:
- The Manage Followed Content option: allows you to access content within the Community Platform by clicking the Follow button in things like blog posts, forum posts, other users (button on their public profile header)
- The Ignored User button: allows you to ignore other users, blocking some or all of their content from showing. Users are not notified that you are ignoring them
- Logs you out of the Community Platform (but not from secondlife.com).
Another feature is the Activity option, found in the main menu area. this presents a drop-down menu (shown on the right) offering further means by which you can view content on the Community Platform of particular interest to you.
The options here present multiple means by which you can get to the information you wish to view (for example, you can get to Content I Follow via Activity > Content I Follow and Activity > My Activity Streams > Content I Follow).
Several of the pages accessed through the Activity options – such as Unread Content, Content I Follow and Content I Started – include a series of filter options, allowing you to refine the information they display, making them a flexible means of accessing information you are particularly interested in.
I’ve not dug too deeply into Streams (when and how they are visible, creating a stream, etc. I leave that to you to play with. There are also other abilities to look at, including the marking options, the toggles for switching between condensed and enhanced views, etc. However, most of these should be pretty self-explanatory, and this isn’t intended as an in-depth review.
Keeping in mind I’ve only played with the new capabilities whilst writing this piece and so may have missed some thing, I have to say that overall I like it. When viewed on a PC, the pages are (other than when interrupted by ongoing work!) fast to load and the information cleanly presented. The ability to more tailor how information can be accessed / followed are all to the good, and I like the overall presentation. Viewing the pages on my Nexus HD 2013 revealed the Community Platform to be pretty mobile-friendly.
One aspect that did concern me was the main menu placement (Home, Forums, Knowledge Base, etc). Even this is set against a background banner image, I did find myself wondering if it might cause problems for users with visual impairments; certainly the orange colour for the currently selected menu header can be a little hard to see. Time will tell on this.
In the meantime, again do not that this is early days for the new platform and as Xiola notes, work is still in progress. If you do come across specific bugs or issues which are not listed in Xiola’s official blog post, and which can be clearly demonstrated / reproduced, please file a report through the JIRA system, using the System type Website and the related Community sub-category.