On Thursday, April 4th, 2019, a public Above the Book events was held at the VWBPE 2019 event featuring Grumpity and Patch Linden, who answered questions about the platform and Linden Lab. The following is a summary of the broader points raised during the session, with the full video also embedded at the end.
A general Q&A session from the audience was held
Grumpity Linden – Director of Product for Second Life
Grumpity originally came to Linden Lab while working for The Product Engine, a company providing end-to-end consulting and software development services, and which supports viewer development at the Lab, and she was initially involved in the development and viewer 2 (as designed by 80/20 Studio).
She became a “full-time Linden” in 2014. Her current position involves coordinating the various teams involved in bringing features and updates to Second Life (e.g. Engineering and QA), liaising with legal, financial and compliance to ensure features and capabilities meet any specific requirements in those areas, etc. This work can involve looking at specifics within various elements of the overall SL product, such as UI design and layout, etc.
Patch Linden – Senior Director of Product Operations at Linden Lab
Patch originally a Second Life resident, he joined linden Lab in 2007, after being invited to apply to the company as a result of his work as a community leader and mentor from 2004 through until the invitation was extended.
His role is the only one of the three here that also encompasses Sansar, as he manages the respective support teams for both platforms. In this regard, he recently established a support centre in Atlanta, Georgia. For Second Life, his work also involves overseeing the content development teams, the Mainland Land Team, the Linden Department of Public Works – LDPW, aka The Moles, and managing the account support team.
- A lot of focus is on infrastructure work; making SL more performant for those in-world, and on moving Second Life services to the cloud.
- The latter is especially time-consuming and difficult, as it requires moving services over without disturbing the way things are currently set-up.
- As has been previously stated in public forums, there are currently no projections on whether this will lead to any reduction in region costs.
- Currently, this work is taking a lot of resources in terms of staff, time and effort.
- Overall, it is hoped the move will result in LL being more operationally streamlined and cost-effective, however, this could take time (a few years?) to achieve.
- Feature work has obviously included:
- The recent release of Animesh.
- The continuing work to fully deploy the Environment Enhancement Project (EEP) that will replace the current windlight settings for controlling the appearance of the environment.
- The continuing work to deploy Bakes On Mesh (BoM), that will allow system layers (skins / clothing) to be directly applied to worn mesh items.
- The new Estate Access Management (EAM) capabilities (see the Alternate Viewers wiki page for the latest EAM RC viewer).
- See my Content Creation User Group summaries for information on Animesh, EEP and BoM.
- The work on a mobile solution (iOS) for accessing Second Life is continuing.
- This will initially be text-based.
- Should be able to take advantage of the naked accessibility options available in iOS.
- Won’t be available for some time yet.
- iOS was selected because there are already popular Android solutions (notably Lumiya and Mobile Grid Client – there is also MetaChat for iOS).
- An official Android client will follow, however.
- Linden Homes are progressing (there will likely be another preview at SL16B).
- Work is progressing on the new continent; this will be more organic and natural than the old Linden Homes mini-continents, and will be water / air navigable.
- There has been the re-vamp and re-launch of Linden Realms.
What Audience Does Linden Lab Try to Address with Features?
- Everyone who uses the platform.
- The roadmap is designed so the Lab spends time on features for home / land owners, features for content creators, features for new users, features for consumers, features for Premium members, etc.
- Communities in SL tend to use the platform in a wide variety of ways and continue to surprise LL in how they use the platform. Thus, the Lab try to plan development of SL with as many communities as possible in mind.
- For the education sector, a lot of work has been put into the RegAPI / Gateway programme to allow educational institutions to bring students directly into their in-world environments, and even brand user accounts specifically to their own institution.
- Accessibility is always foremost in the Lab’s thoughts.
- This can in part be addressed by communities themselves in how they take the RegAPI to build their registration process, and gear their gateways.
- Accessibility options within the viewer are harder to build, due to the nature of the viewer, although some capabilities are presented through third-party viewers – Radegast being the most obvious (although currently stalled in development).
- When considering features and updates, backwards compatibility is also foremost in the Lab’s thinking, both because of content available in-world that may be in use, but no longer actively maintained / updated, and because users have become reliant on specific capabilities / content.
- This isn’t always possible, simply due to the age of SL.
- SL Search: there is a project on the roadmap (yet to be started) to overhaul SL search. It’s too early to discuss specific changes, but Search is complex, and a similar project performed with Marketplace Search took far longer than anticipated, although it yielded positive results.
- Age Restrictions and Mobile: it is not anticipated that the arrival of an official mobile app for SL will change the current age range access restrictions (just as it hasn’t for the current mobile apps). Any changes in age related access will be a policy change, not the result of any specific technology change.
- LEA and Art: the LEA is on hiatus and being restructured, and LL are in conversation with the LEA committee and others for the arts community about ideas for moving things forward.