October 2019 Web User Group: Name Changes and new Premium option

© and ™ Linden Lab

The following notes are taken from my recording of the Web User Group (WUG) meeting, held on Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019. These meetings are held monthly. Dates and details of the meetings can be obtained through the Web User Group wiki page.

When reading these notes, please keep in mind:

  • The topics below are ordered in their likely interest to users / depth of discussion at the meeting, with some comments drawn together from different points in the meeting. This is not intended as a chronological set of meeting notes.
  • Audio extracts are taken from my recording of the meeting, but have again been grouped by topic. In addition, the audio relating to Premium and “Elite” subscriptions may sound fractured tin tone, as it is a grouping of verbal replies to questions asked in local chat at the meeting.

Summary

The TL;DR summary (items expanded upon in the sections below):

  • On Monday, September 30th, the Lab issued a blog post update on the web team’s work, and this was referenced during the meeting (see also my coverage of the blog post – Lab blogs on the SL Web Team’s work, including “last names”). Similar blog posts will likely be released ahead of each monthly WUG meeting, to both remind users of the meeting and to act as an informal agenda.
  • Web services have been a major focus of transitioning Second Life services to the cloud.
  • Name Changes: are getting closer to release but are not imminent. The feature will be Premium only, fees have not been finalised.
  • Premium options: work is progressing with the new “super Premium” option, but this will not be ready until after Name Changes have been deployed. The new level is – at present – likely to be called “Elite”. It will cost more than the current Premium subscriptions.
  • Search is being worked on across all of the SL web properties, including the Marketplace – but no time frames as to when improvements might be deployed.

Cloud Transition

  • As noted in the Monday Sept. 30th blog post, many of the Lab’s web services have been transitioned to running on Amazon AWS cloud services.
  • Other services previously operated on a third-party basis have (and are) being moved in-house or decoupled to standalone status, in readiness to be transitioned to the cloud where possible.
  • All of this work has been achieved without any significant disruption to services or – more particularly – without users actually being aware the services had been moved.
  • Specific benefits of the moves made to date are:
    • Future changes, updates and responses to issues can be handled a lot faster.
    • Due to the nature of AWS services, LL have been able to achieve almost 100% up time in running those services that have been transitioned.

Name Changes

  • As previously noted, Name Changes involve users being able to select any first name, and a last name via a list.
  • The capability will be Premium only.
  • Name changes will be subject to fee (still TBA) per change.
    • The fee charged will be less for “Elite” accounts than for Premium (see below for more on “Elite” and Premium).
  • The rough window for deployment is between 1 and 3 months, with a margin of error of around two months.
    • There is still more work to be done on the back-end systems.
    • The actual viewer UI in which name changes are made has yet to be implemented.
  • As an aside (not mentioned in the meeting, but indicated elsewhere): new users signing-up to Second Life will still be given the default name of “Resident” – they will be able to change names should they upgrade to Premium, as with all Basic account users.

New Premium Subscription

  • The idea of having additional levels of Premium subscription was first publicly mentioned in detail in 2018. See:
  • Since that time, it has been decided to just have a single additional Premium level, sitting “above” the current Premium level.
    • However, the new system is being structured such that if there is a need / opportunity for further subscription levels, they can be added in the future.
  • Currently the proposed name for the new subscription level is “Elite” – but this may still change.
    • There will be clear differentiators between Premium and “Elite”, including, as noted above, a lower fee applied to “Elite” users when changing their name.
    • There will be no requirement for merchants to have to upgrade to “Elite”, although some of the benefits of “Elite” might apply to Merchants.
  • Subscription rates:
    • Premium subscription rates will not change.
    • “Elite” upgrades will be offered on a monthly / annual basis.
    • As per my article Lab opts to temporarily continue Quarterly Premium plan for new sign-ups, relating to the Premium subscription fee changes announced earlier in 2019:
      • Quarterly subscriptions will be discontinued for those upgrading to Premium / Elite when the latter is launched.
      • However, quarterly payments will continue to be honoured for users already on the Premium quarterly payment plan.
    • Fees for “Elite” to be revealed when launched, but obviously, they will be higher than the current Premium rates.
    • Premium members upgrading to “Elite” will pay the difference between their current Premium fee and the “Elite” fee to which they decide to upgrade, and there may be a prorate option for qualifying users when upgrading.
  • “Elite” subscriptions will not be ready for introduction until at least a month after the deployment of Name Changes.

Profile Changes

  • The discontinuing of web profiles was first publicly raised in February 2019 (see: 2019 SL User Groups 7/3: TPV Developer Meeting), when it was indicated profile information would be moving back into the viewer.
  • One of the reasons for this change appears to be related to the transitioning services to the cloud as much as with the pain of provisioning the web-based profiles.
  • An initial Legacy Profile project viewer appeared in June (see: SL Legacy Profiles project viewer).
  • The Legacy Profile viewer will be updated over time, with one of the updates to come being a new tab to profile feeds, allowing users to see people’s feed updates through the viewer.
    • TPVs will still be able to use the option to point to profile feeds on the web, if they prefer.
  • It is hoped that the Legacy Profiles viewer will move to release candidate status Soon™ and promoted to release status “really soon after that”.
The new Legacy Profiles Project viewer replaces the current web-based profile panel (left), with an “old-style” profile floater panel (right)

In Brief

Web Services Release Notes

  • The web team is working “really hard” to implement formal release notes for updates to the various SL web services.
  • These will likely be in a similar format to the revamped server and viewer release notes, which can be reached via the recently implemented web-based Release Notes home page.
  • There is currently no date as to when this will be surfaced, but there are “a couple” web engineers working on this (when not working on more user-facing projects).

Marketplace, Search, Events

  • In-world purchase notifications for store owners:
    • As per my article on this, this system will be opt-in, initially on an entire store basis. It might be extended to individual items in the future, if feasible / if there is a demand for this.
    • The notification will provide details on item purchased, amount received and who made the purchase.
When released, the in-world purchase notifications option will appear in a re-named settings page (e-mail notifications)
  • Work is proceeding on Marketplace improvements beyond those mentioned, but LL is not yet in a position to state what the next updates for deployment might be.
  • Search is being worked on right across the SL web properties. This is liable to see improved filtering of searches and (particularly useful for Marketplace searches) the use of exclusions.
  • Work is proceeding with the overhaul of the events system. This comprises short-term updates that are being carried out alongside a much larger, long-term project to completely overhaul the events system.

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