October 2020 WUG summary with SL Mobile news

The Web User Group meeting venue, Denby

The following notes are taken from my recording of the Web User Group (WUG) meeting, held on Wednesday, October 7th, 2020. These meetings are generally held on the first Wednesday of the month, with dates and venue details available via the Web User Group wiki page.

When reading these notes, please keep in mind:

  • This is not intended as a chronological transcript of the meeting. Items are drawn together by topic, although they may have been discussed at different points in the meeting.
  • Similarly, and if included, any audio extracts appearing in these summaries are presented by topic heading, rather than any chronological order in which they may have been raised during the meeting (e.g. if “topic X” is mentioned early in a meeting and then again half-way through a meeting, any audio comments related to that topic that might be included in these reports will be concatenated into a single audio extract.

Web Properties Updates

The primary focus remains on uplift work, and while there have been updates to some of the user-facing web properties and image updates for web pages to reflect the season, and some new pages for events such as the September Titmouse event (see: Second Life to have a smashing time with Titmouse) there was not much to report.

There should be more news on web updates available at the next WUG meeting in November.

General Uplift Notes

See also my recent TPV Developer meeting and CCUG meeting notes.

In general, the Lab’s aim is to have all uplift work completed by the year-end.

  • This is getting all services and properties running via cloud services without additional work on making improvements (unless it makes specific sense to make changes as a part of the uplift process, as we saw with region crossings recently).
  • Improvements will follow-on from the initial uplift work as the Lab gains greater familiarity with running services in the cloud.
  • Similarly, there are no plans to offer new land products or alter the capabilities of the existing region types on completion of the uplift (although it has been indicated elsewhere these may come over time in the future).
  • There will obviously be a resumption in region availability once the uplift work has been completed.
  • The end-of-year target is a fairly “hard” target, with the caveat that the unexpected can happen to delay things – although that doesn’t appear to have happened thus far.

Mobile Client

iOS

  • The iOS version of the mobile client was submitted to Apple for review – and was rejected. LL is currently working to address the issues as a part of Apple’s review.
  • Once this has been done, the app will again go through LL’s QA process and then be re-submitted to Apple for evaluation / App Store listing,
  • The version currently remains available to those on the closed Alpha only.
  • Interestingly, the Lab’s data suggests to them that the number of users with iOS is slightly greater than those with Android, although it’s not clear had this data is derived.

Android

  • The android version is still being developed, but remains “some way” behind the iOS version.
  • Currently it is not ready for any user-based testing.

General Points of Note

Please also refer to my periodic SL Mobile updates, which are made as and when there are significant updates in the status of the client.)

  • It is initially intended to be a communications app, aimed at allowing those who are away from their their usual means of access Second Life to communicate with friends via IM.
  • This means that the initial release will not have capabilities such as world rendering, support for making sales / purchases through it, etc.
  • However, the client will be enhanced over time.
    • Group and group chat functionally were specifically mentioned, so might be the first set of enhancements.
    • Inventory management was also mentioned, as is apparently being considered, but is described as having its own “own bucket or twelve of worms”, so no decision on if / when it may appear has as yet been made.

As an aside, for those who point to the likes of Lumiya and its capabilities and ask why the LL client isn’t offering the same right from launch, it’s worth remembering that Lumiya took several years to develop its capabilities  iteratively – it wasn’t launched with all of its features fully-fledged.  This is the route the Lab is trying to take with their mobile client.

Marketplace

Demos

  • In general, demo version of items on the Marketplace should be linked to the full version.
  • There are reports that since making demo items filterable in search, there has been an increase in unlinked demo items
  • It’s not clear if this is because people are trying to avoid the filter, or that incoming new merchants simply don’t understand they can link demos to full versions, or even if it is a functional limitation of the filter to pick-up all demo items.
  • The Lab will take a look at this, and ideas on how to improve the information given on creating listing are requested via feature request.

Suggestions

A number of suggestions for the MP were put forward at the meeting:

  • Add a feature similar to see on the old XStreetSL marketplace: a request for purchasers of items to provide a review.
  • Provide a means by which creators can enable a report their last log-in date on their stores / listings. The idea here is to increase the confidence of purchasers that they will receive after-sales support, etc., should it be required.
  • An option for a “Show Only # Star Reviews” (where # is the number of stars) and / or to show a summary of star reviews by #of stars (as with Amazon product listings).
  • LL have requested these all be submitted as feature requests.

Last Names

  • Last Names are still seeing a good response from Premium users.
  • LL might opt to offer a new selection of names to reflect the time of year – but again, this would be dependent upon the current volume of uplift work.
  • Currently, the Lab has around 10,277 names that could potentially be used over time.

Next Meeting

  • Wednesday, November 4th, 14:00 SLT.

September 2020 WUG summary: uplift and SL Mobile

The Web User Group meeting venue, Denby

The following notes are taken from my recording of the Web User Group (WUG) meeting, held on Wednesday, September 2nd, 2020. These meetings are held monthly, generally on the first Wednesdays of the month, with dates and details of the meetings available via the Web User Group wiki page.

When reading these notes, please keep in mind:

  • This is not intended as a chronological transcript of the meeting. Items are drawn together by topic, although they may have been discussed at different points in the meeting.
  • Similarly, and if included, any audio extracts appearing in these summaries are presented by topic heading, rather than any chronological order in which they may have been raised during the meeting (e.g. if “topic X” is mentioned early in a meeting and then again half-way through a meeting, any audio comments related to that topic that might be included in these reports will be concatenated into a single audio extract).

Web Properties Updates

The primary focus for the web teams remains the transitioning of services from the Lab’s own servers to AWS servers as a part of the Uplift project, although non-uplift web properties work is being carried out where possible, as noted below.

Uplift Work

  • Place Pages and the land store pages are all now running in the cloud.
  • Various support tools as used by the Lab have also been transitioned to running in the cloud.

Non-Uplift Web Properties Updates

  • The Second Life Jira has been updated, although this caused some issues for users who had not used  the Jira for some time, but who had used the Name Changes capability to change their avatar (user) name. This has now been fixed.
  • A  similar update is required for the SL wiki (for those able to edit pages). This will be implemented after the cloud uplift work has been completed.
  • The Marketplace has received a number of fixes / updates, including:
    • A fix for some users being unable to create stores on the MP.
    • A fix for some of the merchant reports hanging when run.
  • The SL web properties (including the viewer’s web search) now have a Cookies Acceptance banner, as required under Californian law.

Premium Plus

  • Currently “shelved” due to cloud uplift work,
  • It is still “on the [road] map, but just not a target right now.”
  • Will be looked at again some time after the uplift work has been completed.

Mobile Client

  • Issues arose during the QA testing of the last iOS update, these are currently being worked  on.
  • The current plan is now:
    • A further QA testing on the iOS version of the app.
    • If  this version passes QA successfully, make it available to the current closed alpha testers AND submit it to Apple for their testing / review.
  • While LL will *not* be offering the ability for using to purchase L$ or make transactions in the initial releases of the app, they are watching the escalating Epic (Fortnite) / Apple + Google situation (see: Epic suing Apple and Google over Fortnite bans: Everything you need to know) to see how this affects fees levied by both Apple and Google regarding L$ transactions, once they become available through the SL mobile app.
  • As per last month, the Android version of the apps remain some way behind the iOS version.
  • General reminder: in its initial iterations, the app will be primarily focused on communications. It will not have a full range of capabilities when initially made available to users, but will be iterated upon; this includes the app not having any world rendering capability, although this may be added in the future.
  • General updates on the app can be found in my periodic SL Mobile updates.

Next Meeting

Wednesday, October 7th, 14:00 SLT.

August 2020 Web User Group: updates & upcoming attractions

The Web User Group meeting venue, Denby

The following notes are taken from my recording of the Web User Group (WUG) meeting, held on Wednesday, August 5th, 2020. These meetings are held monthly, generally on the first Wednesdays of the month, with dates and details of the meetings available via the Web User Group wiki page.

When reading these notes, please keep in mind:

  • This is not intended as a chronological transcript of the meeting. Items are drawn together by topic, although they may have been discussed at different points in the meeting.
  • Similarly, and if included, any audio extracts appearing in these summaries are presented by topic heading, rather than any chronological order in which they may have been raised during the meeting (e.g. if “topic X” is mentioned early in a meeting and then again half-way through a meeting, any audio comments related to that topic that might be included in these reports will be concatenated into a single audio extract).

Web Properties Updates

The primary focus for the web teams remains the transitioning of services from the Lab’s own servers to AWS servers as a part of the Uplift project. However, other work is continuing as an when possible, and in the last month this has meant:

  • The new Second Life logo (see: Out with the green, in with the blue) continues to be rolled out across the various services – in this case, notably the Cashier pages – as the team get to them. This is a relatively low priority item so it will still be a while before the logo is consistent across all properties.
  • UTF-8 will now be accepted in response to security questions.
  • Additional back-end work on Name Changes was implemented, mainly tools used by the Lab but also some changes that may allow for some possible future features related to the capability.
  • The secondlife.com log-in page images received a refresh.
  • Fixes:
    • Marketplace: received a fix for images not showing correctly.
    • Events: fixes for images not showing with posted events; for multiple pages of hosted events not working and for the language picker drop-down not working on exiting events pages.
    • Place Pages received a number of fixes.
    • Land Auctions received a fix for beta lifetime users being unable to bid on auctions.
    • A back-end issue with Premium acquisition was fixed.
    • Viewer download page: now includes a link for Mac OS X Catalina (and later) users experiencing problems installing the Mac flavour of the viewer, and that takes them to the Troubleshooting Second Life Installation on Mac OS X page.
Viewer installation help for Mac OS X Catalina (or later) on the viewer download page

Mobile Client

  • The iOS version has been in a closed alpha for 2+ months. These is now a build destined to go to Apple’s App Store.
  • Work continues on the Android version, but is currently some way behind the iOS work.
  • See for more.

Post-Uplift Work

Note: the following is a general list of work LL are looking at, post-Uplift to the cloud, however, it is still subject to change, and none of it should be taken as a firm commitment for carrying out the work or any indication of the order in which it might be carried out:

  • Marketplace: variances for listings (e.g. one listing for an item offering it in different colours).
  • Events: bug fixes, category  and search refinements.
  • Names Changes: further tweaks.
  • Web properties in general: better optimisation for display on mobile properties.
  • Further work still to be added to the list.

Marketing Brief

  • Following the presence of Gen Con in Second Life (see: Coming to Second Life: Gen Con “the best four days in gaming”, Gen Con: sneaking a peek in Second Life and Gen Con in Second Life: let the games begin!), LL have had a debriefing with the VRazeTheBar team, and the hope is it will pave the way for further displaced conferences to be held within Second Life.
  • There are potential opportunities in the offing for a further media presence for Second Life which may be akin to the CSI:NY episode Down the Rabbit Hole (2007), or SL’s appearance in the US version of The Office. Details still TBA.
  • There is also an upcoming partnership with the Peale Museum in Baltimore, so the latter can bring their exhibits and events in-world with a reproduction of the museum building (itself a National Historic Landmark in the United States) and special virtual open house as part as the museum’s August 15rh Founder’s Day event.
  • These styles of events are seen as a way to broaden awareness of Scone Life and its potential.

Premium Plus

  • Still on hold.
  • May be revisited at some point.
  • May also be revised before being released.

Next Meeting

Wednesday, September 2nd, 14:00 SLT.

Second Life Mobile mini update, August 2020 with audio

As I’ve previously reported several times over the last year, starting with Linden Lab confirm Second Life iOS client in the making, Linden Lab is developing a companion app for Second Life.

Since that first article, I’ve provided a number of updates on the development work – please use the SL Mobile tag to catch up with all of them.

At the Web User Group on Wednesday, August 5th, Keira Linden gave a further update on the client’s status, as per the notes and audio below, which have been provided alongside my usual notes on the app.

August 5th Update

iOS Client

  • The iOS version has been in a closed alpha that includes a number of residents for some 2+ months, having started in May.
    • In keeping with the Lab’s plans, this version offers the ability to communicate via IM and view your Friends list.
  • As a result of this close alpha testing, the Lab now has a build that is “destined for [Apple’s] App Store”, which is currently “bouncing back and fort”h between the development team and LL’s QA team.
  • The hope is that this version can be submitted to Apple for review some time in August 2020.
  • This does not necessarily mean the iOS client will immediately appear within the App Store, as Apple can be exceptionally picky in their review process, which can result in requests for changes to an app to be made before listing is allowed.
  • LL obviously hopes the app will not encounter significant issues, but because of the review process, no time frame can be given on when the app will appear in the App Store – but there will presumably be an announcement once it is available.

Android Client

  • Having started much later than the iOS version, which remains the Lab’s focus, the Android version is still at a somewhat earlier stage of development.
  • However, it is under active development.
  • When it is ready, it will likely follow a similar Alpha / Beta test process to the iOS version.

In-world Presence

  • In a change to earlier statements, Mobile app users will have an in-world location.
  • This will be in one of several special “Mobile” regions. However:
    • As Mobile users have no 3D world view, these regions are not landscaped or populated in any way.
    • Access is restricted to those using the Mobile app, general access by users on the viewer or other clients is not allowed.
    • Currently, three Mobile regions have been set-up.

General Capabilities

Note: this is a reiteration of notes from earlier updates on the SL Mobile client.

  • It should initially be regarded as more of a communicator / companion app than a fully-rounded client. The initial intention for the client is to provide users with a means of maintaining basic contact with other users whilst away from their main means of accessing Second Life.
  • As such, it will support logging-in to Second Life services to support IM and group chat support.
  • Capabilities such as having an in-world rezzing location, the ability to chat locally, support for scene rendering will be added over time.
  • However, in terms of any in-world rendering, this will not be part of any initial released (in the meeting it was described as “not even Soon™”), as LL are focused in just trying to get the basic app available to users as soon as reasonably possible.

Reporting and Updates in this Blog

Again, all information I’m able to provide through this blog, including future updates can be found under the SL Mobile tag, and can be accessed directly from the top menu options:

  • SL → User Group & Viewer → Viewers → Android & iOS and then selecting either:
    • Android Clients → SL Mobile or
    • iOS Clients → SL Mobile.

Second Life Mobile mini update, May 2020 with audio

As I’ve previously reported several times over the last year, starting with Linden Lab confirm Second Life iOS client in the making, Linden Lab is developing a companion app for Second Life.

Since that first article, I’ve provided a number of updates on the development, including that the client will be for both Android as well as iOS, and speaking at the Web User Group meeting on Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020, Keira Linden – who is the Product lead for the client – provided and update on process, the core points of which are bullet-pointed below.

  • iOS Client:
    • The iOS version is now in a closed alpha featuring some residents.
    • In keeping with the Lab’s plans, this version offers the ability to communicate via IM, and has a basic Friends listing.
    • Further updates will follow  – the next being the addition of Abuse Reporting support and improved management for the Friends list.
    • Once the Lab believe the client has an initial set of functions to make it useful as a communications tool, it will will move to a beta phase and made available to a wider cohort of users for further testing.
  • Android Client:
    • Work is progressing, but it will take time for it to reach a point where it is ready for testing.
    • When it is ready, it will likely follow a similar Alpha / Beta test process to the iOS version.

General Capabilities

Note: this is a reiteration of notes from earlier updates on the SL Mobile client.

  • It should initially be regarded as more of a communicator / companion app than a fully-rounded client.
    • The initial intention for the client is to provide users with a means of maintaining basic contact with other users whilst away from their main means of accessing Second Life.
  • As such, it will support logging-in to Second Life services to support IM and group chat support. However:
    • It  will not initially present you with an in-world location, nor will your avatar rez in-world, it will not not support local chat nor any form of world rendering.
  • Capabilities such as having an in-world rezzing location, the ability to chat locally, support for scene rendering will be added over time.
    • However, in terms of any in-world rendering, this will not be part of any initial released (in the meeting it was described as “not even Soon™”), as LL are focused in just trying to get the basic app available to users as soon as reasonably possible.

All information I’m able to provide through this blog, including future updates can be found under the SL Mobile tag, and can be accessed directly from the top menu options:

  • SL → User Group & Viewer → Viewers → Android & iOS and then selecting either:
    • Android Clients → SL Mobile or
    • iOS Clients → SL Mobile.

Second Life companion app: mini update, March 2020

As I’ve previously reported (see: Linden Lab confirm Second Life iOS client in the making), Linden Lab is developing a companion app for Second Life.

As the last mini-update I gave for the product was in July 2019 and there is some further news to be had, I thought it time to provide a further update on where the client stands.

First and foremost, while the client was initially defined as an iOS client, speaking during the 19th episode of Lab Gab on March 27th, 2020, Ebbe Altberg confirmed the Lab has now started on an Android version as well, which they have to have up to parity with the iOS version at some point.

In addition, he indicated that the iOS version is currently close to being at an “alpha” testing status, which may only be for internal testing.

So, lot’s of activity there. We have a person who’s worked on a mobile – what do we call it? Companion client, because I want to make it clear that people understand that the mobile client will be primarily a communication client, where you can chat with people, and stay connected, but it’s not a 3D viewer. So you will not be running around with your avatar in the mobile client for quite some time. But you can at least, when you’re on the road, stay connected with your friends and customers, etc.

The iOS client is very close to what we call an “alpha”; I don’t know exactly how the alpha will then progress to a beta to like a full release that people can try…

I’m not sure if alpha is even just for internal people; we probably want to get the whole company using it first, but we might, umm, some pre-production grid, get some external users involved in the alpha as well, I don’t know the exact details. But it’s being worked on; hopefully most of us will be able to use the iOS client to stay connected with Second Life in, I don’t know, a month or two, I’m guessing.

And we also have added more resources, so we now have people working on an Android version as well. So hopefully that will catch-up and will get neck-and-neck or almost parallel with iOS here by the time we get to full release. So, actively being worked on.

– Ebbe Altberg, Lab Gab, March 27th, 2020
(video extract)

Summary of What is Known

The following notes are an amalgam of my July 2019 mini-update, and more recent comments from Third Party Viewer Developer Meetings, Simulator User Group meetings and the aforementioned Lab Gab session.

General Capabilities

  • As noted, the app should initially be regarded as more of a communicator / companion app than a fully-rounded client. The intention is to provide users with a means of maintaining basic contact with other users whilst away from their main means of accessing SL.
  • It will support logging-in to the Second Life service and initially provide IM and group chat support.
  • Initially it will not:
    • Present you with an in-world location, nor will your avatar rez in-world.
    • Support local chat (as your avatar does not have a defined in-world location)

A mobile user won’t actually be in an area … they can use p2p or group chat, but not local, because we’re not rendering the world (yet) in the mobile app [and] we didn’t want things to be unbalanced: you can see me but I can’t see you, I can “go” somewhere but can’t see anything [etc.]. [But] direct IM is supported (that’s what I meant by p2p).

– Oz Linden, VP of Engineering, Simulator User Group Meeting,
March 17th, 2020

  • In theory, the app should work with both mobile ‘phones and tablets / iPads, although there may be some configuration differences.
  • Over time it will be enhanced – but additional capabilities and their order of development is still TBD.

Availability

  • As noted above, the iOS client will likely be available to users ahead of the Android client.
  • The time frame for the iOS client appearing is not confirmed, but might be in a next 2-3 months.
    • The Lab had started the work on getting the initial test versions through Apple’s acceptance process some time ago.
    • It had been previously stated that iOS users will need to have TestFlight installed on their iPhone (or iPad), as the app will be made available though Apple’s beta testing environment for apps. I assume this is still the case.

 

There may be further news on the mobile client in the April 3rd Lab Gab session, in which case, I will update this article.