Update: August 16th: Merchants have been reporting a number of reported issues with the new search tool. The Lab has set-up a forum thread for general discussions on issues and problems. If you are experiencing issues with the new MP search, please join the discussion on the forum thread.
If you are noting specific issues which appear to be bugs, the Lab requests you add details to BUG-37670.When doing so, please provide the following: Affected Field: (Demo linking, Related Items, Quick Fill, etc.); Name of Product you are editing: (What is the name of, or link to, the item listing that you are trying to add a demo or related item); Search Term: (What is the exact search term you have entered to try to locate the Demo, Related, or Quick Fill Template); and if possible, provide a screenshot showing the empty search return showing the search text and the lack of results. The exception to this is “Adult rated items that contain profanity”.
First issued as a beta test in November 2015, the updated search has been undergoing refinement and improvement (and bug fixing!) since then, hence why it has taken some time to reach a release status.
The new search mechanism is designed to address some of the shortfalls inherent in searching for listings and products on the Marketplace, which can often by a frustrating and time-consuming, as anyone who has used it will be able to attest.
To achieve this, it is said to be a complete step away from the older infrastructure supporting Marketplace search, with the new system hopefully being faster and more robust. In particular, the Lab point to it having a learning algorithm intended to improve search results over time – essentially, the more search is used, the better it performs. The new search also supports the use of boolean operators – AND, OR, NOT – so users can hopefully set-up more focused search criteria.
During testing, the Lab took feedback from merchants and users into account, using it to further refine and improve the new system. This obviously doesn’t mean it is flawless, but the hope is the overall experience will be improved, and will continue to improve over time. Should anyone encounter significant bugs or issues, they are asked to file a bug report. There is also a pinned Commerce Forum thread where general discussions might be continued.
On Wednesday, November 11th, the Lab announced the trial of a new Marketplace search. In particular, the Lab states they’ve been working on infrastructure changes to improve the relevance of search results and have made changes for search to scale better as more content and categories are added to the Marketplace.
Search has always been one of the large issues with the Marketplace over the years, as likely most who have used it will be able to attest. There have been attempts to improve / tweak / amend search over the years, but none have really seemed to hit the nail on the head in terms of generating appreciable improvements, which has potentially been the biggest annoyance faced by anyone using the Marketplace.; so it will be interesting to see how the new updates fare.
The updates can be tested using a special beta search Marketplace – note they are not yet a part of the main Marketplace, so don’t expect to see changes there just yet -, with the Lab noting that further work is still in hand for boolean searches (or at least, excluding keywords from searches).
Users are invited to use the beta Marketplace “to perform all your regular Marketplace activities”, and to report and specific issues via a JIRA bug report with the SLM Beta Search component.
In addition, there is a forum thread available for general discussion on the new search capabilities, which currently offers some mixed feedback, with ChinRey in particular (at the time of writing) offering considered feedback on some of the pluses and minuses she has observed / can see. There is also an interesting note from Grumpity Linden on why the beta search might appear to be a lot slower than the “main” MP, which is worth keeping in mind when trying it, because it is currently very slow in responding.
Again, if you do give the search beta a good try, and want to leave feedback, make sure you use the Lab’s forum thread to do so. Comments left here aren’t likely to be read by the relevant staff at the Lab.
On Friday, December 12th, Brooke Linden chaired a meeting on the Aditi grid to discuss the upcoming Viewer-managed Marketplace (VMM) changes, which are currently undergoing beta testing on that grid. With her were core members of the Viewer-managed Marketplace development team, comprising:
Baker Linden has been working on the back-end of the web service for the project
Merov has been working on the viewer updates
Sklar Linden has been working on the updates to the SL marketplace itself
Steeltoe linden is one of the Lab’s user experience designers
Also in attendance from the Lab were Xiola Linden, lead community manager, Jeremy Linden, who is responsible for the VMM Knowledge Base documentation, and Kurt Linden from the Lab’s QA team.
The meeting was intended to gather feedback from TPV developers and merchants on the existing status of the VMM changes, as they are presented on Aditi and through the VMM project viewer. However, and for whatever reasons, attendance was somewhat low (and I plead guilty to this myself, being unable to attend), with the majority of non-Lab people attending being from TPV and viewer code development and support.
The meeting was recorded by Chakat Northspring, while Baker Linden produced an audio recording of the meeting as well.
I have embedded the video below for reference – my thanks as always to North for providing it. It is followed by a summary of the core areas of discussion as shown in the recording, with particular emphasis on the Q&A session. Time stamps are provided so that comments can be heard in full for those preferring to read rather than listen, but do keep in mind the first part of this article is a summary, not a transcript.
Also, please note that there was a region disconnect issue at around the 32:40 mark which lasted a number of minutes. during that time the video (and voice) kept running until people re-logged, after which there was a very brief discussion. As the meeting disbanded shortly after the required relog from the disconnect, with the exception of a brief note on accessing the Aditi test regions, coverage of the meeting in this article ends at the time the disconnect occurred.
The first half of the meeting [04:57 onwards] deals with how VMM will function from the user’s perspective. Most of what is discussed is covered in my overview of the VMM beta and the VMM project viewer. as well s the Lab’s VMM Knowledge Base article. However, as a very brief summary of key points:
VMM doesn’t replace the marketplace, but improves aspects of managing inventory and Marketplace listings
With it, items can be delivered to customers directly from a merchant’s inventory (including items which are No Copy to the merchant), eliminating the need to upload items to the Marketplace servers or use Magic Boxes in-world
VMM allows basic listing operations to be performed from within the viewer: creating a listing, assigning a new or updated item to a listing, amend listings, remove items from a listing, and unlist goods entirely
VMM does this by replacing the Merchant Outbox with a new panel, the Marketplace Listing Panel (a hidden system folder within inventory)
Merchants can easily “migrate” existing Marketplace listings with items to be delivered by VMM in a simple 3-step process.
Further to discussions at the TPV Developer meeting on Friday, December 5th, the Commerce Team have confirmed that there will be an in-world meeting at which the new Viewer-managed Marketplace (VMM) functionality will be discussed, and feedback sought.
The meeting has been scheduled for Friday, December 12, 2014, at 11:00 SLT, and will take place on the VMM test region of ACME F on Aditi. Content creators and merchants who use the SL Marketplace to sell their creations and goods are invited to attend the meeting, although (obviously) familiarity with using the Viewer-managed Marketplace functionality is required.
Friday, December 12, 2014, at 11am Pacific time, several Lindens will be inworld to get your feedback on the Viewer-Managed Marketplace (VMM). We’ll be meeting on Aditi in the “ACME F” region (secondlife://Aditi/secondlife/ACME%20F/128/128/24).
For those of you not yet familiar with VMM, it allows you to easily manage your inventory on the Second Life Marketplace using the Second Life Viewer. Items no longer need to be loaded into the Merchant Outbox or a Magic Box, and are instead sold directly from your inventory.
If you are interested in attending the session, please try out VMM* and bring your feedback to the meeting. If you are unable to attend, you can submit feedback through JIRA or by commenting on this post.
* If you are prompted in the viewer to sign up for Beta access, you must first log into Marketplace on Aditi and Create a Store before signing up.
The following notes are drawn from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, December 5th, as shown in the video below. Where relevant, timestamps are included in the article to allow for referencing to the video. My thanks as always to North for the recording.
[00:30] The Benchmark viewer RC, containing the fix for the crash-on-start-up issue (see BUG-7776, BUG-7783), version 188.8.131.527128, was promoted to the de factorelease viewer on Friday, December 5th – release notes.
[21:15] One change that has come from the move away from the GPU table to benchmarking is that GPUs that may have been previously blocked (e.g. because they simply aren’t supported) are no longer blocked. This is because the Lab is no longer attempting to spend time on identifying GPUs that don’t work with SL. Instead, best efforts are made on the basis of the data obtained from testing a system’s GPU and applying the Lab’s own heuristics, but if a card doesn’t work with SL, the view being taken is that – it doesn’t work. A suggestion has been made where this is the case to provide some kind of feedback to the user informing them that their GPU cannot support SL.
[01:10] Data from the HTTP Pipelining RC, version 184.108.40.2066736, is still being being studied; however, it may not progress to release status. Whether this means further updates may be made or not prior to the viewer progressing further, isn’t clear.
[01:30] The Attachments RC, version 220.127.116.116904, was withdrawn from the release channel on Wednesday, December 3rd, after being merged with the Maintenance release RC, 18.104.22.1687131. However, the repository for the viewer which contains just the attachment fixes is being kept open for the time being to allow those TPVDs who wish to cherry-pick the fixes and incorporate them into their viewers.
[02:15] It is anticipated the the Experience Tools project viewer (currently version 22.214.171.1243901) and the Viewer-managed Marketplace viewer (currently version 126.96.36.1996858) will both be moving to release candidate status “soon”.
Tool Chain Update
[13:24] The Lab is now “very close” to being able to build on both Mac (e.g. Xcode 6.1. with clang on Yosemite) and Windows (e.g. Visual Studio 2103) with the new Autobuild process “cleanly and with all the right stuff”.
[16:26] Linux is lagging well behind Windows and Mac in terms of the new tool chain, and the Lab welcomes any help TPV developers are willing to provide to help get it updated. In the meantime, it looks likely that the Windows and Mac versions of the viewer built using the new tools and process will start to be deployed once everything is ready, rather than being held-up while the Linux version of the viewer is brought up to speed.
[02:45] The Lab is continuing to “play with” how the CDN is working, making tweaks and changes, some of which have helped Highwinds make improvements to the service, and monitoring of the service is continuing. Thanks is again expressed to all those users who have helped the Lab pin-down issues.
[03:20] Testing of the new Viewer-managed Marketplace (VMM) functionality is continuing on Aditi.
Various issues have been logged against the project, and the Lab has been addressing them. The testing facilities on Aditi will remain available through the holiday season to January – although, as noted above, the viewer may move from project to RC status in that time.
Beta testing is still very open to anyone with an interest in trying VMM out for themselves – particularly content creators and merchants who use the SL Marketplace, obviously. If you haven’t already availed yourself of the opportunity, the Lab encourages you to do so over the holiday period. Note that you must have the VMM project viewer and be on the VMM regions on Aditi in order to do so – see my VMM beta test and viewer overview.
Also, merchants and content creators should note that the Commerce Team is liable to hold a meeting to discuss VMM in the near future. This will mostly likely be held on Aditi, and Brooke Linden is organising it. So please watch for notice of the meeting via the forums, blogs, etc.
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[11:11] No major news here, other than “work is continuing”.
[14:27] In October, the SL Wiki was made read-only (editable by LL staff only) while it underwent maintenance, and has remained that way since. However, updates are now being tested, and it is hoped that the wiki will be unlocked to allow users to edit (where applicable) soon.
Viewer Stats and GPU Frame Rates
[17:24] Some stats on viewers are being to be produced for TPVs once more, related to operating systems, and some have been produced (for the SL viewer) by GPU. This led to a request for the Lab to update an old Frame Rates by GPU table (bear in mind the table shown is very old, and doesn’t take into consideration a lot of more recent updates to SL which affect frame rates). This also came up at a recent Open-source development meeting, and Oz has passed a request onwards within the Lab to see if an updated for of the table could be produced.
The next Firestorm release is scheduled for 18:00 SLT on Wednesday, December 10th, 2014. This release will, among other things, include the group ban capability. I’ll have my usual review available when the viewer is issued.
The following notes are drawn from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, November 21st, as shown in the video below, and from the Server Beta Meeting held on Thursday November 20th. Where relevant, timestamps are included in the article to allow for referencing to the video. My thanks as always to North for the recording.
The HTTP Pipeline viewer appears to be performing better with the CDN than the current pipeline code for those encountering problems. However, further updates to the RC are likely before it reaches a release status.
[05:23] In general, texture and mesh fetching via the CDN continues to work well for most people, although the Lab are still investigating why it is not working so well for some. The hope is that further improvements will be forthcoming, but at the moment the work is still very much in progress.
Attachments RC Viewer
[07:55] Vir Linden has some further updates for the Attachments RC, which should help improve the predictability of getting the right appearance as you’re going through outfit changes. This work has been tested in a closed test viewer and the results are such that Vir hopes to pull them into the RC version of the viewer as soon as possible.
Benchmark Viewer RC
[02:33] A new Benchmark viewer (removal of the GPU table) should hopefully be released on Monday, November 24th (or shortly thereafter). This includes:
Further improvements to how the viewer initials sets graphics preferences for some GPU types
Those wishing to try a pre-RC release can do so by downloading from here.
Viewer Build Tools
[30:19] The Lab is making progress with compiling the viewer using the new build tool chains. The performance issues that resulted when building the Mac viewer (again, see my week 43 report), appear to have been resolved.
The work to build the windows version of the viewer using Visual Studio (VS) 2013 is going “really well”, with the Lab having almost all the packages ready to go – so much so that Oz believes that the Lab will have a version of the viewer built using VS2013 in week 48 (week commencing Monday, November 24th) – although this doesn’t necessarily mean said viewer will be publicly available.
As Microsoft have just issued Visual Studio Community 2013, which allows developers to create applications for free, so long as they are not intended for commercial gain (and TPVs aren’t built to be sold), it is hoped at TPV developers will in future be able to builder their viewers with exactly the same software as the Lab.
In addition, the Lab is working on an internal wiki page for building with VS2103, which will likely go public when finished to sit alongside the existing wiki page on the new autobuild process.