Speedlight: access SL via a browser (incl. mobile devices)

via Speedlight

During the Open-Source development meeting on Wednesday, February 12th, my ears picked up at the mention of Speedlight, a browser-based means of accessing Second Life from different devices and with the need for any downloads. Curious, I trotted off to find out more.

Developed by long-term Second Life resident Glaznah Gassner, who is responsible for the SmartBot group / bot management application, SpeedLight potentially offer users an alternative means of accessing Second Life from the browser of their choice, and which has been optimised for both statics and mobile displays, making it an entirely OS agnostic means of accessing Second Life to carry out various tasks.

At the time of writing, the core functionality offered by Speedlight comprises:

  • View a map of your current location and list all nearby avatars.
  • Send and receive local chat and IMs (and view your IM history when off-line).
  • View your friends list, groups, and avatar profiles.
  • Search for other avatars.
  • Use group chat.
  • View your inventory, and carry out basic inventory tasks.
  • Send / L$ amounts amounts to others and view your recent transaction history.
  • Teleport via SLurls.

In addition, Speedlight offers two account types:

  • Free – all of the above capabilities, but:
    • Users are limited to 1 hour on-line, after which a re-log is required.
      • Note that this can be avoided, if preferred, by paying for additional hours at the rate of L$10 per hour from within the service.
    • Avatars are automatically logged out if the browser is closed.
      • Note that closing the active Speedlight browser tab will not log you out, only closing the browser as a whole.
  • Gold monthly subscription: all of the above capabilities plus:
    • Avatars can remain on-line for an unlimited time.
    • Avatar can remain on-line even if the browser is closed.
    • Send “mass” IMs.
    • Further Gold capabilities as they are added.

The application’s website also notes that capability availability for each account type may change any any time, and also lists planned enhancement to the service. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Group notices: regular and scheduled Status: alpha, the regular notices.
  • Group chat moderation.
  • 3D world view in a browser.

The ability to send regular group notices and the 3D world view are both defined as being in an “alpha” state, although the latter doesn’t render avatars at this point.

The rest of this article is designed to provide a general overview of Speedlight and its available functionality at the time this article was written.

Sign-up and Accessing Second Life

Sign-Up

Signing-up to use Speedlight  is a two-stage process:

  1. Create a Speedlight Account, requiring a user (avatar) name, e-mail address and acceptance of the Speedlight Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.
  2. Link an avatar to your Speedlight Account – a step that requires acceptance of the Speedlight Terms once more.
    • Note that you can link more that one avatar to your Speedlight account if you wish. Click or touch the +panel in the pre-log-in avatar list in order to do so.

Accessing Second Life

Once you have linked one or more avatars to Speedlight, and you have one or more avatars linked to your Speedlight account:

  1. Go to you Speedlight Account page (logging-in to the service if required).
  2. Click / touch on Avatars in the top left of the page to display the avatar panels for all of your linked avatars.
  3. Click /touch the log-in button associated with the avatar you wish to log-in.
  4. Supply you avatar log-in credentials (you can have Speedlight optionally save these).
  5. Confirm you are not a robot (one time only).
  6. Click / touch the Login Now button.
  7. You will be returned to the avatar panel – click / touch Open to access the Speedlight display for that avatar.
When you have linked one or more avatars to your Speedlight Account, you can log into SL using any of them by clicking /touching the Login button on the avatar’s panel (l), then entering your log-in credentials (c), then clicking the Open button when you are returned to the avatar button (r). Note that the button with the gear icon of the avatar panel (outlined in red on the left) accesses the SL settings you’ve set for Speedlight (e.g. your default log-in location, shown in the avatar log-in credentials panel (c)).

The Speedlight Display and Options

When you are logged-in to SL, the Speedlight display can be split into three sections:

  • The options menu on the left, providing:
    • Access to all of your available in-world options: avatar search, Friends list, Chat, IM, Groups, Inventory, L$ and transactions.
    • An option to purchase additional hours for Free account use or to sign-up for a Gold subscription.
    • An option to access or Speedlight account settings for the avatar (default log-in location, etc.).
    • An option to log-out of SL.
  • A central information display. By default this displays the Avatar Summary providing:
    • Your avatar’s name, account balance and location at the top,
    • A map of the region showing your avatar’s position and direction of view.
    • A list of nearby avatars and their distance from your avatar.
      • Note that clicking / touching an avatar name will open the avatar search display, with the avatar in question selected and their profile displayed.
  • Two options on the right:
    • A modal displaying the avatar’s name, on-line status and the current time in SL (closed by clicking / touching the X in the top right of the modal).
    • A Wish List tab:
      • When opened, displays a list of user-requested enhancements to Speedlight, which can be voted up or down, and the option to add further ideas for enhancements.
      • Includes two additional tab – IM and Inventory, which I admit to not experimenting with.
      • Click / touch the X in the top right of the Wish List panel to close it.
The Speedlight application window, as it should appear in any browser, and with the Avatar Summary option selected

Search

Search allows avatars to be searched via a full or partial name.

  • A full name search, if valid will display the avatar’s Profile.
  • A partial name search will return an unsorted scrollable list of potential matches. Clicking / touching a name in the list will open the corresponding profile.
Speedlight Avatar Search

Friends

Displays a list of your friends. Clicking / touching on a name displays their profile with the same options as for Search.

Note that when using Speedlight on a mobile device, your Friends list is displayed as an overlay to the main profile display, and is shown / hidden by clicking / touching the Friends>> link displayed at the top of the options menu.

Chat

The Chat opens a local chat window.

IM

Clicking / touching IM will both open the IM chat tab and display additional IM options. The latter comprise:

  • The Mass IM option:  only available to Gold subscribers, this allows you to send a single IM to multiple recipients.
  • Autoresponder: allows you to set auto response options for incoming IMs, in a similar manner to a viewer.

The IM option itself is slightly convoluted when using it for the first time, as it uses Avatar Search, and relies on using the IM button on an avatar’s profile to start an IM exchange. It’s therefore quicker to got via Avatar Search (or your Friends list) to launch an entirely new IM exchange.

If you have previously IM’d people and did not click the End Session X displayed in the top right of the IM panel to close your sessions with them, a list of all available IM sessions will be displayed when clicking / touching the IM menu option. Simply click / touch on the name of any listed session to resume IMing that person.

Groups

Displays a list of your group. Clicking / touching on a name displays the group profile, from which you can access group chat.

Note that when using Speedlight on a mobile device, your group list is displayed as an overlay to the main group information display, and is shown / hidden by clicking or touching the Groups>> link displayed at the top of the options menu.

Speedlight group information display

Inventory

Clicking  / tapping inventory will open a list of your inventory folders. This includes a search option at the top, allowing you to search for inventory items using a full or partial search parameter.

Note that for mobile device with limited screen space, the inventory folder list can be  hidden / shown by touching the Inventory>> link displayed at the top of the options menu..  Also:

  • Clicking  / touching a folder name will:
    • Expand the inventory list to display all sub-folders and items contained n that folder.
    • Display information on the folder in the main display, and use that to perform basic operations – delete the folder (and its contents), send the folder and its contents (subject to permissions and the usual 42-item limit) to another avatar.
    • Create a blank note card (which cannot, at the time of writing, be edited) in the folder.
  • Clicking on an individual item in the inventory list will:
  • Display information on the on in the main display
  • Allow you to delete the item from inventory or transfer it (subject to permissions) to another avatar.

L$ and Transactions

Use this option to view your transaction history / transfer L$ to another avatar (you will be required to confirm the transfer).

Settings Option

The Settings option towards the bottom of the menu column displays a set of options you can set for your avatar when using Speedlight, some of which are only available to Gold subscribers, and as shown in the image below.

Speedlight Settings

When changing any of these settings, obviously be sure to click / touch the Save Settings button to retain them.

Also, note that these options can also be accessed with being logged-in to Second Life by clicking on the gear icon in an avatar’s selection panel.

Feedback

Speedlight is an interesting new addition to the Second Life stable of viewers and applications. It’s been around for a few months now, and the development path looks to be moving forward – as noted, a 3D rendered world view is actively being worked on, and feedback is being taken on further features to add in addition to those already planned / being developed.

I’ve only spent around 6 or so hours playing with it over the last couple of days, but have found it to be robust, if subject to one or two foibles at the moment. Starting a brand new IM is slightly convoluted, for example, while it appears that deleting an item from inventory means just that – it’s gone, with no removal to Trash.

Otherwise, Speedlight does exactly what it says on the tin: it provides a fast, browser-based and operating system agnostic means of accessing Second Life. During my tests, I ran it on my Windows 10 PC and on my Nexus 2013 HD tablet, using Speedlight’s ability to access my Crash Test Avatar (Inara Breen, who get volunteered for all testing, poor thing!) simultaneously from both (allowing for the 1-hour auto log-out with Free use). I found it to be robust, easy-to-use, and more than adequate when to comes to providing a non-viewer means of communicating with others through SL, and keeping general tabs on SL-related things.

The supporting website provides a basic introduction to Speedlight and its current capabilities, as well as a look ahead, and provides information on the Gold subscription plan (which is priced at L$1900 in Speedlight, but listed as L$1990 on the website), as well as other information. In addition, there is a Speedlight Discord server, where news, announcements and general discussions about Speddlight can be found, and assistance obtained.

Finally, Speedlight has gone through self-certification for inclusion on the Third Party Video Directory, signifying compliance with the Lab’s Third Party Viewer Policy.

I hope to be able to keep abreast of Speedlight updates as the application continues to be developed and enhanced.

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