Lab issues Project UI viewer aimed at new users

via Linden Lab

As has been indicated in various discussions and statements from the Lab – such as the Above the Book sessions with Grumpity, Brett and Patch linden at this year’s VWBPE event, one element of Second Life that the Lab is focused on is the new user experience.

This work involves various projects, including the on-boarding process and changes to the viewer to help new users get to grip with things, and on Monday, May 3rd, Alexa Linden announced the release of the Project UI viewer which includes a range up updates specifically aimed at new users.

According the Alexa’s forum post, the new viewer includes three core areas of update:

  • A new menu option called Avatar, and streamlined / revised right-click avatar context menus.
  • Improvements to the Inventory panel.
  • An updated Places floater.

However, there’s actually more to this viewer than the forum post reveals, so here’s a run-down of some of the documented changes and some of those that are missed out from the forum post – but which could actually be of greater interest to established users.

The Avatar Menu and Right-Click Avatar Context Menus

This is perhaps the most significant update to in the viewer. To quote from Alexa’s post:

Making SL easier for newcomers to learn can improve the chances that they will become long-term Residents. Growing the Resident community benefits everyone — more people to meet, more participation in events, and more commerce. The changes described below are the first batch of what we hope will be an ongoing series of usability improvements.
Avatar menus
With this release we introduce the Avatar top-level menu which brings together all avatar tools in one place. One of SL’s most important features is now more visible to newcomers. You’ll notice the avatar right-click menu has been streamlined as well.
Have you ever struggled to select an avatar attachment?  It’s inside your avatar, it’s transparent, or it’s a mesh attachment that you just can’t grab. You can now touch, edit or remove an attachment using right-click from all Avatar windows and Inventory.

The Avatar menu and the revised right-click context menus are show below:

The new Avatar menu sits between the Me and Communicate menus brings together all of the frequently used avatar tools (l). Centre: the revised avatar right-click context menus seen when touching your avatar (top) or an attachment (bottom), and how they compare to the current versions of the menus (r)

Inventory and Places Updates

I’ve not a lot to say on the Inventory floater updates, so will leave that to Alexa’s forum post. The changes to Places and how landmarks are handled, again as specified in the blog post, are also straightforward, although there are a few additional points to note:

  • The new panel also sees the gear button moved to the top of the panel, and provides a new set of fairly self-explanatory options:
    • Teleport.
    • View.
    • Show on Map.
    • Copy SLurl.
  • The original Expand and Collapse options from the gear button have been moved to a separate drop-down menu button, with the delete option moved to a its own Trash button.
The Project UI viewer’s updated Places panel (l) and the release version

Other Menu Updates

The new Avatar Menus means there have been revisions to the Me and communicate menus as well, with avatar-related options (such as the Choose and Avatar option moving from Me to Avatar (and renamed Complete Avatars).

The revised Me and Communicate menus (with the blue bands) compared to the current release viewer – click for full size, if required

As well as these, there are other small tweaks  – World Menu now has a My Linden Home … option. Clicking this will open up the in-viewer browser and take the user to the Linden Homes page:

  • Premium members with a Linden Home will see the page relating to their home.
  • Premium members who do not have a Linden Home and Basic Members will see the Linden Home selection page (and Basic members will go forward to the Premium sign-up page).

Note also, that using this menu option (as with others in the viewer that use the built-in browser to access Second Life web pages) may trigger single sign-on, and require you log-in to the SL web properties.

EEP Updates

One of the biggest complaints with the Environment Enhancement Project (EEP) has been use use of trackball options to position the Sun and Moon, with many voicing their preference for “a slider like Windlight”. To address this, the UI Project viewer implements two sliders for positioning the Sun and two for the Moon across all of the EEP settings floaters. These are:

  • Azimuth  – which might be thought of as the east / west position of the Sun or Moon (technically, azimuth is more than this, but it’ll do for these notes).
  • Elevation – the position of the Sun or Moon over or under) the horizon, relative to azimuth.

These sliders are tied to the Sun / Moon movement using the trackball systems, allowing both to be used as preferred.

The Sun & Moon tabs on Fixed Sky and the Day Cycle floaters now include Azimuth and and Elevation sliders for positioning the Sun / Moon, and similar sliders can be found on Personal Lighting

Rapid-Fire Feedback

Overall, this is a reasonable set of changes; they do enough to streamline things in places without being a potential source of confusion for established users; the changes are for the most part logical – although I do have a couple of reservations.

On the plus side, bringing together the majority of avatar tools into a single menu makes a lot of sense. But I do wonder if having menus called “Me” and “Avatar” side-by-side might not be a little confusing for new users (e.g. “Huh? Wassa difference? Why two menus for my avatar?”). The use of the “avatar” menu name is liable to cause a small amount of consternation with Firestorm, as that viewer already use it in place of “me”, but c’est la vie.

I was also surprised to see that the Linden homes page has yet to be updated for Basic members – it still features photos and a video of the old 512 sq m Linden Homes. Given the newer Homes are more attractive (and have now been with us for a while), and the aim of this viewer is to help make engagement with SL more attractive to new users, linking to information that is pretty much out-of-date and doesn’t actually reflect the more common Premium offering seems a little disjointed.

Elsewhere, I like the ability to touch / select attachments – particularly worn mesh – made more accessible. Catznip introduced such a capability a few years ago, and I can’t help but wonder if seeing it now in the official viewer might be the result of a code contribution from that viewer.

It’s also good to see the Lab respond to requests with EEP, and hopefully the new sliders will help those who find the trackballs a little confusing – although I don’t doubt the labelling might cause a little confusion (“why not east and north?”).

I understand the updates to the learning / social islands will be coming along in summer – although I’ve no idea if these will see further tweaks to the viewer as well. as well. In the meantime, it’ll be interesting to see how this Project UI viewer develops over the coming months.

Related Links

* Note this link will become inlaid as the viewer is updated.

2020 Simulator User Group week #41 summary (w/uplift)

Broken, August 2020 – blog post

The following notes were taken from the October 6th Simulator User Group meeting.

Simulator Deployments

Please refer to the server deployment thread for news and updates.

  • There are currently no planned deployments for week #41. An RC update that had been planned had to be pulled after QA found an issue when attempting to uploading items that had been previously uploaded and edited.
  • This means that Some RC regions should be started during the Wednesday, October 7th deployment window, but they will not receive any updates.

SL Viewer

There have been no updates to the current list of official viewers, leaving the pipelines as follows:

  • Current release viewer :Love Me Render #4 (EEP fixes), version 6.4.9.549455, released September 24th, promoted September 28th – No Change.
  • Release channel cohorts (please see my notes on manually installing RC viewer versions if you wish to install any release candidate(s) yourself):
    • Cachaça Maintenance RC viewer, version 6.4.10.549752, issued October 1st.
    • Mesh uploader RC viewer, version 6.4.10.549686, October 1st.
  • Project viewers:
    • Project Jelly project viewer (Jellydoll updates), version 6.4.10.549690, October 1st.
    • Custom Key Mappings project viewer, version 6.4.5.544079, June 30th.
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version 6.3.5.533365, December 9th, 2019.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.532999, November 22nd, 2019.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.3.2.530836, September 17th, 2019. Covers the re-integration of Viewer Profiles.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, July 16th, 2019.

Cloud Uplift

More regions on the main (Agni) grid are being noted as being on AWS (see my previous TPV Developer meeting and CCUG meeting notes). As a result some are (prematurely) proclaiming this to be a sign that “the end of the uplift work is in sight”; however, Oz Linden sobered such statements, commenting:

I’m not sure that we’re at the beginning of the end … but we’re past the end of the beginning.

To which Mazidox Linden added:

We’re currently running some tests with production data on AWS regions, yep. … There are definitely some outstanding issues we’re aware of, and more we’re probably not (yet) that we’re trying to shake out.

One aspect of the current situation is that while there may be some regions with associated experiences running via AWS, the core data handling for experiences still lies within the Lab’s co-lo facility; this may affect the experience performance in those regions, but should be rectified as the uplift work continues.

In terms of when specific aspects of the uplift will be “completed” (remembering that LL is looking to have a majority of the work done by year-end), Oz Linden further commented:

We’re lifting as quickly as we can, consistent with checking for problems. So far it’s going better than expected, but making any prediction would jinx it.
For the curious – spotting a region hosted in the cloud via Help About. Top: a region hosted at the Lab’s co-location facility (note the agni.lindenlab.com in the address). Bottom: and a region running on a simulator in the cloud, using an AWS address.

As per K.T. Kingsley’s comment below, scripters confused about obtaining host names via scripted means should refer to this forum thread.

In Brief

  • The Jejina region (old-style Linden Homes) has been reported as having “weird” EEP settings that are out of sync with the surrounding regions, and also has a odd Map tile. The exact cause is unknown. Anyone seeing similar oddities in Mainland EEP settings / Map tiles should contact support.
  • A large swath of Satori suffered significant issues with regions staying up during a 24-hour period over the weekend. Exact cause is unknown, but the issue now appears resolved.

2020 Simulator User Group week #40 summary

Swan, July 2020 – blog post

The following notes were taken from the September 29th Simulator User Group meeting – although there is not a lot in practical terms to report, the meeting largely given over to another music event.

Simulator Deployments

Please refer to the server deployment thread for news and updates. However, there are currently no planned deployments for week #40.

SL Viewer

The Love Me Render #4 RC  viewer, version 6.4.9.549455, containing only fixes for EEP issues was issues on September 24th, and promoted to release status on Monday, September 28th.

In addition, the previous iteration of the Lover Me Render viewer, version 6.4.8.547427, was withdrawn. This leaves the remaining official viewer pipelines as:

  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Mesh uploader RC viewer, version 6.4.8.548061, September 8.
  • Project viewers:
    • Project Jelly project viewer (Jellydoll updates), version 6.4.8.547487, issued August 26.
    • Custom Key Mappings project viewer, version 6.4.5.544079, June 30.
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version 6.3.5.533365, December 9, 2019.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.532999, November 22, 2019.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.3.2.530836, September 17, 2019. Covers the re-integration of Viewer Profiles.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, July 16, 2019.

Region Performance

There have been a number of reports of region performance issues that appear to be coupled to simulator version 548903. These reportedly manifest as rubber banding when users walk around, viewer-based profiles being very slow to load, estate bans taking about 30 to 45 seconds to take effect, and experiences  not functioning correctly – such as repeatedly asking people who have already joined it to do so. Some have also reported HTTP communications issues. Restarting region apparently resolves these issues initially, but simulator performance starts to degrade once more.

It’s not clear if Jiras have been filed with specifics of the issue, but those Lindens at the meeting were interested in learning more. For my part, I had noticed an increase in the time taken to load viewer-based profiles of late, but as this has generally happened in “busy” regions, I’ve assumed it is the general load on resources, rather than indicative of a potential broader issue.

2020 Simulator User Group week #39 summary

Dim Sum Gardens, July 2020 – blog post

The following notes were taken from the September 22nd Simulator User Group meeting – although there is not a lot in practical terms to report.

Simulator Deployments

Please refer to the server deployment thread for news and updates.

  • On Tuesday, September 22nd, the grid’s main SLS channel was updated to simulator maintenance release 548903, containing updates related to the cloud uplift work which contain no user-visible changes.
  • There are no RC deployments planned for the week.

SL Viewer

The Bormotukha Maintenance RC viewer, version 6.4.8.548890 dated September 18th, was promoted to de facto release status on Tuesday, September 22nd.

The rest of the official viewer pipelines remain as follows:

  • Current release viewer version 6.4.7.546539, dated August 11, promoted August 17, formerly the Arrack Maintenance RC viewer – No Change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Mesh uploader RC viewer, version 6.4.8.548061, September 8.
    • Love Me Render RC viewer, version 6.4.8.547427, August 21.
  • Project viewers:
    • Project Jelly project viewer (Jellydoll updates), version 6.4.8.547487, issued August 26.
    • Custom Key Mappings project viewer, version 6.4.5.544079, June 30.
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version 6.3.5.533365, December 9, 2019.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.532999, November 22, 2019.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.3.2.530836, September 17, 2019. Covers the re-integration of Viewer Profiles.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, July 16, 2019.

Cloud Uplift

  • There is a known issue with Navmesh retrieval on cloud-hosted regions on Aditi.
  • The Lab believe they have a solution for the outward e-mail issue with cloud-based regions. However, due to the way in which Aditi regions are set-up, testing of the fix is being carried out elsewhere, but the hope is the fix will be usable once there are user-accessible regions on Agni that are running on AWS services.

In Brief

  • There is no update on the Group chat / IM failure issue (see BUG-229219).
  • The majority of the meeting focused on a general discussion on region crossings – notably with vehicles – and the assorted problems that can arise, including the inconsistencies in some things like object entry and group access are handled (the former can prevent vehicle and avatar entry, whereas the latter can allow a vehicle into a region / parcel, but then eject the driver / passenger, obviously resulting in problems).

2020 Simulator User Group week #38 summary

Mount Campion, July 2020 – blog post

The following notes were taken from the September 15th Simulator User Group meeting.

Simulator Deployments

Please refer to the server deployment thread for news and updates.

  • There was no deployment to the grid’s main SLS channel on Tuesday, September 15th, 2020, leaving the simulators running on release 547626.
  • On Wednesday, September 16th some – or all – of the simulator on the RCs channel should be updated to simulator maintenance release 548903, containing updates related to the cloud uplift work which contain no user-visible updates.

SL Viewer

There have been no viewer updates to mark the start of week #38. This leaves the current pipelines as follows:

  • Current release viewer version 6.4.7.546539, dated August 11, promoted August 17, formerly the Arrack Maintenance RC viewer – No Change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Bormotukha Maintenance RC viewer, version 6.4.8.548394, issued September 8.
    • Mesh uploader RC viewer, version 6.4.8.548061, September 8.
    • Love Me Render RC viewer, version 6.4.8.547427,August 21.
  • Project viewers:
    • Project Jelly project viewer (Jellydoll updates), version 6.4.8.547487, issued August 26.
    • Custom Key Mappings project viewer, version 6.4.5.544079, June 30.
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version 6.3.5.533365, December 9, 2019.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.532999, November 22, 2019.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.3.2.530836, September 17, 2019. Covers the re-integration of Viewer Profiles.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, July 16, 2019.

Cloud Uplift

Region Testing

As the Lab has announced, and I’ve reported – see Play Linden Realms in the cloud and help the Lab, the Linden Realms have been cloned to Aditi and are running on AWS  servers. Interested users are asked to help in testing the regions by logging-in to Aditi and spending time playing the game. Follow the links above to find out more.

LSL HTTP Changes

As a part of the move to AWS services, there will be changes to the use of HTTP once cloud-hosted simulator come into use. It is Linden Lab’s hope that these changes will not cause significant issues, however, in order to provide scripters with as much information as possible, Oz Linden posted a forum update providing an outline of the areas of impact: llHTTPRequest – Outbound HTTP and lRequestURL or llRequestSecureURL.

A number of regions on Aditi have been set-up to allow for testing, comprising:

  • Morris
  • Cloud Sandbox 1
  • Cloud Sandbox 2
  • Cloud Sandbox 3
  • Cloud Sandbox 4

Further information and the continuing discussion can be found within the forum thread.

Changes are coming to LSL HTTP calls – for details please refer to LSL HTTP Changes Coming

Group Chat

People continue to experience issues with group chat disconnecting / failing following a transition to a different region via vehicle or teleport (see BUG-229219). As per last week’s update, there is a potential fix for this issue in the works, but whether or not it solves all of the issues currently being experienced or not is an unknown until it is actually deployed.

2020 Simulator User Group week #37 summary

Eris Isle, July 2020 – blog post

The following notes were taken from the September 8th Simulator User Group meeting.

Simulator Deployments

Please refer to the server deployment thread for news and updates. However, there are no planned deployments for week #37.

SL Viewer

On Tuesday, September 8th, 2020, the following viewers were updated:

  • The Bormotukha  Maintenance RC viewer updated to version 6.4.8.548394.
  • The Mesh Uploader RC viewer updated to version 6.4.8.548061.

The rest of the viewer pipelines currently remain unchanged from the end of week #36:

  • Current release viewer version 6.4.7.546539, dated August 11, promoted August 17, formerly the Arrack Maintenance RC viewer – No Change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
  • Project viewers:
    • Project Jelly project viewer (Jellydoll updates), version 6.4.8.547487, issued August 26.
    • Custom Key Mappings project viewer, version 6.4.5.544079, June 30.
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version 6.3.5.533365, December 9, 2019.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.532999, November 22, 2019.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.3.2.530836, September 17, 2019. Covers the re-integration of Viewer Profiles.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, July 16, 2019.

Region Crossings

The recent updates to region crossings have generally improved things, but they’ve also led to a lot of “interesting” – to use Simon Linden’s term – side effects and some unpredictable behaviour.

  • Some are reporting a possible increase in avatar / vehicle collisions when crossing into regions with damage enabled.
  • Others are reporting issues of crossings “hanging” – the vehicle vanishes, the avatar is unable to move, communication, teleport, stand, etc., while the user is still able to cam around but is unable to to cleanly log-out.

This second issue apparently particularly noticeable when the region being entered is not visible at the time of the crossing (see BUG-229312), although this factor may be a separate issue to anything related to region crossings.

Group Chat

People continue to experience issues with group chat disconnecting / failing following a transition to a different region via vehicle or teleport (see BUG-229219).

There is a potential fix for this issue in the works, but whether or not it solves all of the issues currently being experienced or not is an unknown until it is actually deployed.

In the meantime, the group chat issue may be related to to issues being experienced with bots using group chat becoming unresponsive,sometimes after little more than an hour of running.

All of these issues appear to date from a period of back-end updates made in early August.

Cloud Uplift

Questions continue to be asked about changes that will / may be made to simulator services as a part of or immediately following the uplift work to get simulators transitioned to AWS services.

As has oft been stated by the Lab (and reported in these pages), the Lab’s focus is on successfully transitioning all of their services  – including simulators “as is”, without making substantive changes at this point in time. As  Oz Linden stated during the meeting:

Uplift is trying very hard not to make any changes we don’t _have_ to make … A big driver for getting simulators uplifted is that then we can start selling regions again … believe me, that’s pretty great motivation.  When and whether we’ll make other changes to optimize or exploit the cloud is later on.

–  Oz Linden, September 8th, 2020

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