SL Jira Tutorial part 2: feature requests

Introduction

This tutorial has been written as a guide to filing SL bug reports and feature requests using the Second Life Jira. It comprises two parts:

Bug Reports:

  • What is / is not a bug report.
  • Filing a bug report.
  • What a Security Exploit is.
  • Filing a Security Exploit report.
  • What happens to a report once filed.

Feature Requests (this section):

  • What a feature request should be.
  • Filing a feature request.
  • Using a proposal.
  • What happens to a feature request once filed.

Both sections are self-contained and can be bookmarked / referenced independently of one another for ease of use. However, to further assist in finding information, the table of contents on the right can be found in both part of the tutorial, and can be used to reference specific sections of either one.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements and Thanks

I would like to express my thanks to the following people for their input into this tutorial and for sanity checking the contents: Alexa Linden, Grumpity Linden, Kyle Linden, Soft Linden and Whirly Fizzle.

What is the Jira For?

As noted above, the Jira is primarily for:

  • Filing reports on bugs that impact Second Life (covering the viewer, the simulator and the web), and which in doing so adversely impact the user experience.
  • Putting forward suggestions on features and capabilities that might enhance Second Life for users.

The Jira can also be used by third-party viewer (TPV) developers to have their viewer added to the TPV Directory, or for reporting TPVs that may be violating the TPV Policy / Second Life Terms of Service. Both of these options fall outside the scope of either part of this tutorial.

When using the Jira, please keep in mind:

  • It should not be used to report problems which are specific to you or for general enquiries about things like log-in issues; tier payments; running Second Life on a specific hardware configuration, land issues, and so on.
  • If you believe the bug presents a security risk (such as allowing griefing or exposing sensitive information), you should use the SEC bug report, details of which can be found in Security Exploits.
  • When adding comments to a report / feature request (see Commenting on filed requests), these should focus on technical feedback / input pertinent to the issue/ request being made. Personal opinion or general discussions on a bug / feature request can be held through the Second Life forums.

Feature Request Overview

Feature requests are ideas for the technical improvement of Second Life that are submitted to Linden Lab by users. While not all are accepted / actioned, many enhancements have come about as a direct result of submitted feature requests. However, when considering filing a feature request, some basic points need to be considered:

  • The chances of how and when a feature request being adopted depends on a number of factors, including:
    • How well the case is written up:  the more informed a feature request is, the more likely it is to be considered by Linden Lab. Think of a feature request as a mini project proposal.
    • Scope: requests that are focused on achieving a single, clearly defined goal are more likely to be viewed positively than requests that call for sweeping (and potentially vague) changes to SL.
      • It is better to file multiple feature requests on ideas / suggestions than to try to cram multiple ideas into a single request.
      • Remember, the Lab need to be able to digest your idea(s) and be able to see how they might fit with current work being carried out, or might fit with future work being planned. Keeping to one idea per feature request helps with this.
    • How the idea fits with the current roadmap of improvements: the Lab is constantly working to improve Second Life, and look at feature requests in terms of what is on their current roadmap of improvements. Requests that match what is planned many be implemented sooner than others.
    • How well it benefits the entire Second Life community: LL is especially interested in ideas that improve everybody’s experience. It is rare that resources are available for very special case needs.
    • Offer of code (viewer feature requests only): if a request for a new viewer feature includes code supplied under a contribution agreement, the feature might be adopted ahead of others / alongside of the Lab’s own work in enhancing the viewer, again allowing for the above points.
  • Use images and attachments.
    • Providing a mock-up image of how you’d like a new panel in the viewer to appear, or a diagram showing the flow of how a new feature would be used, etc., can be a lot clearer than a wall of text.
    • If the idea warrants it, don’t be afraid to provide an outline in the Feature Request form and then provide a more comprehensive project proposal as an attachment (see Using a Proposal, below).

Before You File a Feature Request

It is possible that the idea you have may already be the focus of a feature request, so please consider using the Jira search capability to look for similar ideas before submitting a request.

If you find that a feature request already exists for the idea, you can opt to click the Watch option (top tight of a feature request, under People) to receive updates to the Jira via e-mail (you can uncheck Watch should you no longer wish to receive these updates).

You can receive e-mail updates on a Jira by clicking the Start Watching… (l) option (under People in the top right of a displayed Jira). The option will update to Stop Watching… (r), indicating you’re receiving updates. Click the option again to stop receiving updates; the option will revert to Start Watching.

Filing A Feature Request

Setting the Project and Issue Type

  • Log-in to the Second Life Jira using your Second Life log-in credentials.
  • Click on the blue Create button in the top menu bar.
  • Check the top of the form and make sure:
    • Project is set to 1. BUG Project (BUG).
    • Issue Type is set to New Feature Request.
    • Use the drop-downs to set either, if required.
When filing a feature request, make sure Project is set to 1. BUG Project (BUG), and Issue Type to New Feature Request.

Completing the Form

  • Summary (required field): provide a concise summary of the feature request (also forms the request title).
    • If the request is related to a specific project (e.g. EEP), please include the project name at the start of the summary in square braces (e.g. [EEP]).
  • How Would You Like This Feature To Work (required field): provide an outline of how your proposed feature should work.
    • Be as clear and concise as possible.
    • Try to provide a step-by-step guide to how the feature would work.
    • If the feature is viewer-related and requires a new or updated UI panel, offer image mock-ups of how it should look using the Attachments option, and reference them here.
  • Why Is This Feature Important To You? How Would It Benefit The Community? (required field): describe why the feature would be useful to you / to Second Life users in general.
    • Be as clear as possible.
    • If the request is intended to overcome a specific shortfall in SL, outline what that shortfall is.
    • If there are a number of potential benefits, list them in turn.
    • If possible, include a use case on how the featured would be used, if implemented.
    • Include any relevant images that may help explain things, and reference them here.
  • Attachment: use this option to add any suitable attachments to the request (e.g. mock-ups of new / updated viewer panels).
    • Multiple images can be submitted, but ensure each is clearly labelled / annotated and properly referenced in the relevant text fields in the first part of the feature request form.
    • Keep in mind that individual images can be no larger than 10 Mb in size.

Note that feature requests do not have to be long or complicated. The image below illustrates a simple, straightforward request that has been accepted by the Lab.

Sample feature request, showing that they need not necessarily all be long and complex – click to enlarge, if required

Using a Proposal

If you are offering a significant feature request – such as a new user interface option for users, a new viewer or simulator capability, etc., – consider offering a complete proposal to the Lab, submitted as an attachment to a feature request.

A proposal can:

  • Let you summarise your idea in the Feature Request form, and then go into greater detail in your proposal.
  • Allow you to structure your idea clearly, and present it logically and together with related images (UI mock-ups, etc.).

Keep your proposal to a single idea, and don’t forget to explain how it should work and why it would be of benefit. It doesn’t have to be a treatise, just so long as it explains the idea, why you believe it is important and how it would benefit the SL community.

A proposal can be attached to a feature request as a .PDF file or included as a link to a publicly viewable Google Docs file.

For a good example of a feature request see the Hover Height proposal submitted to Linden Lab in 2015, and which led to the inclusion of the “on the fly” hover height adjustment capability in the viewer.

Submitting Your Feature Request

When you have confirmed the information is correct and as clear as possible, and any images / files you wish to include are attached, click the Create button at the bottom right of the form to file your bug report.

Refer to What Happens Next?, below, for information on what happens to a filed bug report.

Commenting on Filed Requests

Sometimes after filing a feature request, there may be additional information you wish to add. You can generally do this via the Comment button at the bottom of a feature request page.

  • Who can comment on a feature request depends on a variety of factors, including general permissions, the security level for the report (Public or Triagers and Reporters), together with the current status of the report (Open, Needs More info, Accepted).
  • If the Comment button is unavailable, you will need to request permission to make Jira comments. Send  an e-mail to letmein-at-lindenlab.com, giving your avatar name and a clear reason for requesting access.
  • Note that you do not need comment rights in order to file bug reports or feature requests.

What Happens Next?

The Jira Workflow

A submitted feature request follows a set workflow, as shown in the diagram below.

The Jira workflow – simplified
  • Awaiting Review: when you submit a feature request, it enters a queue for review (triage) by the Lab’s QA and Product teams.
  • Triage: incoming requests are triaged on a weekly basis. The outcome is generally one of the following, as indicated in the status area of the report:
    • Needs More Information: if the report is vague or not easy to understand or doesn’t contain sufficient information needed to understand the request, it will be flagged by the Lab as requiring more information from the reporter.
      • This sets the Needs More Info flag on the feature request, and in addition a comment is generally provided by the Lab as to what is required.
      • The reporter should review the request and any comment(s) recorded by the Lab and attempt to provide the missing information.
    • Information Provided: when additional information has been added to a request, it is essential the Info Provided button is clicked. This will update the bug report to inform the Lab that the information has been supplied. Note that a failure to click the button could result in a delay in a request being further actioned.
The Needs More Info flag (arrowed) and the Info Provided button
  • Accepted: the feature request is accepted by the Lab and cloned into their internal JIRA system for tracking.
    • However, Accepted does not mean a feature request will acted upon immediately. Rather, it may mean the Lab are sufficiently interested in the idea to keep track of it, but implementation may be held until such time as it fits / can be slotted into the SL development road map.
    • Sometimes, on further reviewing a bug report / feature request, Linden Lab may request even more additional information, and will re-open the original (see Needs More Information, above).
    • Once an accepted report / feature request has been implemented, the originating Jira will be Closed with a status of Resolved.
  • Closed: the request is not to be taken any further. Typically, a feature request will be closed and annotated with one of the following reasons:
    • Duplicate: there’s another feature request covering the same idea.
    • Unactionable: the described feature has been declined by the Linden Lab feature request review team.
    • Not Applicable: the reporter has decided to close the issue.
    • Resolved: the request has been implemented.

Where Next?

SL Jira Tutorial part 1: bug reports

Introduction

This tutorial has been written as a guide to filing SL bug reports and feature requests using the Second Life Jira. It comprises two parts:

Bug Reports (this section):

  • What is / is not a bug report.
  • Filing a bug report.
  • What a Security Exploit is.
  • Filing a Security Exploit report.
  • What happens to a report once filed.

Feature Requests:

  • What a feature request should be.
  • Filing a feature request.
  • Using a proposal.
  • What happens to a feature request once filed.

Both sections are self-contained and can be bookmarked / referenced independently of one another for ease of use. However, to further assist in finding information, the table of contents on the right can be found in both part of the tutorial, and can be used to reference specific sections of either one.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements and Thanks

I would like to express my thanks to the following people for their input into this tutorial and for sanity checking the contents: Alexa Linden, Grumpity Linden, Kyle Linden, Soft Linden and Whirly Fizzle.

What is the Jira For?

As noted above, the Jira is primarily for:

  • Filing reports on bugs that impact Second Life (covering the viewer, the simulator and the web), and which in doing so adversely impact the user experience.
  • Putting forward suggestions on features and capabilities that might enhance Second Life for users.

The Jira can also be used by third-party viewer (TPV) developers to have their viewer added to the TPV Directory, or for reporting TPVs that may be violating the TPV Policy / Second Life Terms of Service. Both of these options fall outside the scope of either part of this tutorial.

When using the Jira, please keep in mind:

  • It should not be used to report problems which are specific to you or for general enquiries about things like log-in issues; tier payments; running Second Life on a specific hardware configuration, land issues, and so on.
  • If you believe the bug presents a security risk (such as allowing griefing or exposing sensitive information), you should use the SEC bug report, details of which can be found in Security Exploits.
  • When adding comments to a report / feature request (see Commenting on filed reports), these should focus on technical feedback / input pertinent to the issue/ request being made. Personal opinion or general discussions on a bug / feature request can be held through the Second Life forums.

What Makes a Good Bug Report?

Ideally, a good bug report should:

  • Focus on a single issue.
    • Even if problems appear to be related, resist the urge to incorporate multiple issues on a single report, as this can confuse matters when trying to triage a report.
    • Instead, file multiple bug reports and cross-reference them. Those with authority to do so can then formally cross-link the reports as related issues.
  • Be a set of directions, providing:
    • A summary of the issue encountered that can form the title of the bug report.
    • A clear description of what happened when the issue occurred.
    • A set of step-by-step instructions on what you were doing when the issue occurred that allow someone else to follow them and (hopefully) encounter your issue, helping them understand it.
    • A description of what you were expecting to happen had you not encountered the issue.
    • Information on the viewer you were using, your location in Second Life at the time the problem was encountered, etc., all of which can easily be obtained from the viewer, as described in the instructions, below.
    • Relevant supporting information. This might comprise one or more of: any error message which may have been displayed; a screen shot of the problem; the inclusion of relevant log files, if appropriate.

As a reminder: when filing a bug report please keep in mind that if the problem you’ve encountered doesn’t require Linden Lab to make a change that can affect all users, then it probably isn’t appropriate to file a bug report against it.

Before You File a Bug Report

Known Bugs

It is possible the issue you are encountering is already known, or the subject of an existing bug report. So before you file a new bug report please consider:

  • Checking the viewer release notes to see if the bug is listed as a Known Issue. This can be done in one of two ways:
    • From within the viewer you’re using via Help → About, and then clicking on the Release Notes link at the top of the panel.
    • By checking the release notes for viewers listed on the Alternative Viewers pages to see if the issue is recorded among them.
  • Using the Jira Search option to see if the issue has already been reported.

If you find that a bug report already exists for the issue, you can opt to click the Watch option (top right of a bug report, under People) to receive e-mail updates on the Jira (you can also uncheck Watch at any time to stop receiving updates).

You can receive e-mail updates on a Jira by clicking the Start Watching This Issue (l) option (under People in the top right of a displayed Jira). The option will update to Stop Watching This Issue (r), indicating you’re receiving updates. Click the option again to stop receiving updates; the option will revert to Start Watching This Issue

A Note to Users of Third-Party Viewers

Third-party viewers (TPVs) surface options / include capabilities that may not be visible / available in the official viewer. Because of this:

  • If you encounter a problem with a TPV that you think might affect users on other viewers, please check to see if it can be reproduced on the official SL viewer.
  • If you can reproduce the bug on the official viewer, please file a bug report through the Second Life Jira using / referencing the official viewer, not your preferred TPV.
  • If the bug only occurs with the TPV you are using, please file a bug report with the developers of the TPV through whatever means they provide. Bug reports filed on the Second Life Jira that only reference a TPV are subject to being closed without action.

Official SL Bug Report Information

Official information on the SL bug reporting is available at :

Filing A Bug Report

Setting the Project and Issue Type

  • Log-in to the Second Life Jira using your Second Life log-in credentials.
  • Click on the blue Create button in the top menu bar.
  • Check the top of the form and make sure:
    • Project is set to 1. BUG Project (BUG).
    • Issue Type is set to Bug.
    • Use the drop-downs to set either, if required.
When filing a bug report, make sure Project is set to 1. BUG Project (BUG), and Issue Type to Bug.

Providing Details of the Bug

Required Fields

The following fields of a bug report are mandatory:

  • Summary: provide a concise summary of the issue (also forms the report title).
    • If the bug is related to a specific project (e.g. Animesh), please include the project name at the start of the summary in square braces (e.g. [Animesh]).
  • What Just Happened?: provide a description of the actual behaviour you saw as a result of the bug.
    • Be as clear and concise as possible – the more information of a clear nature you can give, the better the issue can be understood and the bug investigated.
    • If you received an error message as a result of the bug, you can type or copy/paste it here.
  • What Were You Doing When It Happened?: give step-by-step instructions on how to reproduce the problem.
    • Treat this section of the form as if you are explaining the bug to someone who has never encountered it and / or has never used the function / capability being used when the issued occurred.
    • Make sure you list all the necessary steps that are needed to reproduce the issue as you encountered it, no matter how obvious these steps might appear to be.
    • Use the Attachment button (see below) to include any images of the issue as you saw it and which help to explain things. Make sure they are clearly annotated and cross-referenced in this section.
  • What Were You Expecting To Happen Instead?: give a clear and concise description of what you were expecting to happen instead of the bug.
    • If it helps, use step-by-step instructions here as well.
    • Use the Attachment button (see below) to include any images of what you expected to happen, if required / possible. Make sure they are clearly annotated and cross-referenced in this section.
  • Environment: use this section to provide information on the environment – viewer and simulator – in which you encountered the problem. This information can be obtained directly from the viewer as follows:
    • Make sure you are in the region were you encountered the issue (this must be done when reporting possible simulator bugs).
    • In the viewer, go to Help → About Second Life → Info tab.
    • Click on the Copy to Clipboard button at the bottom of the tab.
    • Paste the information into this field of your bug report.
Obtaining environment information through your viewer
Optional Fields

The following fields are optional, and can be used to provide any additional information you may feel is useful is helping to understand / reproduce / resolve a bug.

  • Is There Anything You’d Like To Add? use this section to add any further information you think might be of value in assessing the bug – or leave blank if not required.
  • Where: an additional field for entering the SLurl for the region where the issue was encountered (a Map link can also be used).
  • System: two fields to help refine the nature of the issue.
    • The first allows you to select the affected area of Second Life: viewer, simulator, SL website, Linden-made content in SL.
    • The second offers a series of further options based on the first section.
  • Attachment: use this option to add any suitable attachments to the report, such as images of the issue and / or of error messages or your viewer’s log files (see Log Files for more).
    • Multiple images can be submitted, but ensure each is clearly labelled / annotated and properly referenced in the relevant text fields in the first part of the bug report form.
    • Note that individual attachments can be no larger than 10 Mb.
  • Security Level: a drop-down to select the security level to be assigned to the report. These are:
    • Public – viewable to anyone logged-in to the Second Life Jira.
    • Triagers and Reporter: only viewable by those with specific Jira access and the person raising the report – anyone else trying to view it once filed will receive a “permission violation” message.
    • If you are unsure of which to set, leave this option as Public.

Log Files

One of the most useful aids for helping to deal with bug reports are Second Life log files. All viewer log files can generally be found in the following locations:

  • Windows log files location: C:\Users\[user name]\AppData\Roaming\SecondLife\logs.
  • Mac OS log files location: /Users/[user name]/Library/Application Support/SecondLife/logs.

The relevant log files you should include with your bug report are:

  • SecondLife.log: stores status and debugging output from the Viewer during the current logged-in session.
    • This file grows while the viewer is active. If it gets too large, it is trimmed by the crash logging application.
  • SecondLife.old: when the viewer re-starts, it renames the existing SecondLife.log to SecondLife.old. SecondLife.old is used when the Viewer reports a freeze in the previous execution.
  • SL_Launcher.log: stores status and debugging output of the launch and update processes that start the viewer or update it. This file is appended to, not overwritten, but will be trimmed over time.
  • SL_Launcher.old: back up copy of SL_launcher.log created from the prior launch.
  • SecondLife.start_marker: a marker file that should only live as long as the Viewer is running.

You can combine these log files into a compressed (ZIP) file for easier attachment to your bug report.

Submitting Your Bug Report

When you have confirmed the information is correct and as clear as possible, and any images / files you wish to include are attached, click the Create button at the bottom right of the form to file your bug report.

Refer to What Happens Next?, below, for information on what happens to a filed bug report.

Security Exploits (SEC)

A Security Exploit report is a special kind of bug report designed to deal with threats to Second Life, its Residents or content. Examples of Security Exploits include:

  • Exposure of real life Resident identity without consent.
  • Risk of destruction of content.
  • Permitting unauthorised access to Second Life/Linden Lab resources.
  • Compromising a client or server host, subjecting it to remote control, potential griefing vectors, etc.

There are two ways to file security exploits:

  • Via a Second Life Security Exploit report, as described here. This is the preferred method of raising such issues.
  • Via email to security-at-lindenlab.com.

Notes:

  • By their very nature, SEC bug reports are not available for public viewing.
  • SEC issues should be reported as soon as they are identified, together with all relevant viewer / simulator environment information.
  • The SEC project (and security mailing list) is only for reporting security exploits that might compromise a Residents identity or the Second Life Grid. All other requests including account issues and account security will not be addressed – these should be reported directly via the Second Life Support Portal.

SEC Bounties

Linden Lab offer a L$10,000 (approx US $40) bounty for each previously unknown exploit that can be verified. These bounties are generally awarded after the reporter helps confirm that an issue has been fixed, and are contingent on not disclosing the issue prior to Linden Lab resolving the issue.

Filing A Security Exploit Report (SEC)

  • Log-in to the Second Life Jira using your Second Life log-in credentials.
  • Click on the blue Create button in the top menu bar.
  • Check the top of the form an make sure Project is set to 2. Second Life Security Exploit (SEC). Use the drop-down to set it, if required.
  • Note that Issue Type will automatically default to Bug.
When filing a SEC report, make sure the Project drop-down is set to 2. Second Life Security Exploit
Basic Tab
  • Summary (required field): provide a concise summary of the exploit (also forms the report title).
  • Environment (required field): use this section to provide information on the environment – viewer and simulator – in which you encountered the problem. This information can be obtained directly from the viewer as follows:
    • Make sure you are in the region were you encountered the issue (this must be done when reporting possible simulator exploits).
    • In the viewer, go to Help → About Second Life → Info tab.
    • Click on the Copy to Clipboard button at the bottom of the tab.
    • Paste this information into this report.
  • Description (required field): provide a clear and unambiguous description of the exploit.
    • Provide step-by-step instructions on how the exploit can be revealed / leveraged and to ensure a “solid reproduction” of the issue.
    • Include information on all notable uses, events, indicators, outcomes, information exposed, etc., related to the exploit (and as relevant to the exploit).
    • If the exploit is specific to a location in Second Life, supply a SLurl or map reference to that location.
  • Attachment (optional): use this option to add any suitable attachments to the report, such as images showing how the exploit works and / or its outcome.
    • Multiple images can be submitted, but ensure each is clearly labelled / annotated and properly referenced in the relevant sections described above.
    • Note that individual attachments can be no larger than 10 Mb.
Advanced Tab
  • Priority (optional): set your considered priority for the issue. Note that this may be adjusted when the SEC report is triaged.
You can use the Advanced tab to set the severity of the exploit (This can also be done by the Lab when the issue is triaged)
  • Please do not complete any other parts of the Advanced tab of the form.

Submitting Your SEC Report

When you have confirmed the information is correct and as clear as possible, and any images / files are attached, click the Create button at the bottom right of the form to submit your bug report.

Refer to What Happens Next?, below, for information on what happens to a filed SEC report.

Commenting on Filed Reports

Sometimes after filing a bug report, there may be additional information you wish to add. You can generally do this via the Comment button at the bottom of a bug report page.

  • Who can comment on a bug report depends on a variety of factors, including general permissions, the security level for the report (Public or Triagers and Reporters), together with the current status of the report (Open, Needs More info, Accepted).
  • If the Comment button is unavailable, you will need to request permission to make JIRA comments. Send  an e-mail to letmein-at-lindenlab.com, giving your avatar name and a clear reason for requesting access.
  • Note that you do not need comment rights in order to file bug reports or feature requests.

What Happens Next?

The Jira Workflow

A submitted bug report follows a set workflow, as shown in the diagram below.

The Jira workflow – simplified
  • Awaiting Review: when you submit a bug report, it enters a queue for review (triage) by the Lab’s QA and Product teams.
  • Triage: incoming bug reports are triaged on a daily weekday basis. The outcome is generally one of the following, as indicated in the status area of the report:
    • Needs More Information: if the report is vague or not easy to understand or doesn’t contain sufficient information needed to reproduce a bug, it will be flagged by the Lab as Needs More Information from the reporter.
      • This sets the Needs More Info flag on the report. In addition, a comment is generally provided by the Lab as to what is required.
      • The reporter should review the report and any comment(s) recorded by the Lab, and attempt to provide the missing information.
    • Information provided: when additional information has been added to a report, it is essential the Info Provided button is clicked. This will update the bug report to inform the Lab that the information has been supplied. Note that a failure to click the button could result in a delay in the report being further actioned.
The Needs More Info flag (arrowed) and the Info Provided button (highlighted in red)
  • Accepted: the report is accepted by the Lab and cloned into their internal Jira system for tracking. However:
    • Accepted does not mean a bug report will acted upon immediately. There are a number of factors which may influence if / when it may be actioned, including things like the severity of a bug and work in progress which may help resolve a bug. As such, a bug report can remain as Accepted for an extended period of time. before any action is taken.
    • Sometimes, on further reviewing a bug report internally, Linden Lab may request even more additional information, and will re-open the original report to comment / update to allow users to do so. Therefore, you should always maintain a watch on the bug reports you have filed.
    • Once an accepted bug report has been actioned and the issue resolved, the originating report will be Closed with a status of Resolved.
  • Closed: typically, a bug report will be closed and annotated with one of the following reasons:
    • Contact Support: the issue is not a bug and should be handled through the Support Portal or Second Life Answers.
    • Expected Behaviour: what has been reported is seen as “normal behaviour”, and so no further action will be taken.
    • Duplicate: there’s another issue about the same problem.
    • Cannot be reproduced: the bug, as described, cannot be reproduced, and therefore cannot be investigated / resolved.
    • Unactionable: the described issue is not in a form that allows action to be taken (e.g. the report doesn’t define a bug / problem, etc.).
    • Not Applicable: the reporter has decided to close the issue.
    • Resolved: it is believed the issue has been fixed / resolved.

Where Next?

Projectors as mirrors in Second Life

Using a projector and “reflective” surface in SL to creator a mirror in our living room at home. Note how the “reflection” changes as the viewing perspective moves

Second Life lighting projectors are an extremely useful capability that can be put to a wide variety of uses. I first covered their basics far back in 2011. Since then they’ve been notably easier to use (and that original article was subsequently updated to reflect this).

In 2016, for his art display, Mirrored Garden, at Holly Kai Garden (see here for details), Silas Merlin demonstrated a means to create mirror-like effects in Second Life, with a number of “mirrors” mounted around his sculptures “reflecting” them and the garden in which they were being displayed. I’ve since seen a number of SL artists use a similar approach to add depth to their work, and in April 2018, Adeon Writer offered a video tutorial on using projectors to create “portal-like” effects.

One of the “mirrors” Silas Merlin created for his Mirrored Garden art exhibition at Holly Kai Park in April 2016

Given the latter, I thought it high time a revisited a draft of an article about Silas’ approach I started in 2016, but never quite finished (my apologies to him), gave it a polish and present it as a tutorial for those interested in using projector-based “mirrors” in SL.

Prerequisites

  • For this time of “mirror” to work, those looking at it must have viewer’s Advanced Lighting Model (ALM) enabled via Preferences > Graphics. Anyone who does not have ALM enabled will just see a blank surface instead of any reflections.
  • The “mirror” itself is made up of a number of elements: the “reflective” surface itself (which can be a mesh or prim face), and one or more lighting projectors – the exact number and their placement will be subject to the effect you are trying to achieve.

For this tutorial, I’m producing a single “mirror” using a single projector to create a finished item – a simple household room mirror. Adeon’s video provides an outline on how to use multiple projectors to achieve a result.

Create the “Mirror”

The “mirror” is simple flat surface (face) of a prim or mesh. When done, it can be made part of a more ornate item – so you could add a frame around it, etc.).

  1. Create a prim and size it.
  2. Right-click the prim and click the Select Face radio button, then click on the face of the prim you want to make “reflective”.
  3. In the Edit > Texture tab:
    • Use the texture picker to set the texture to Blank.
    • Set the colour of the face you have selected to black and leave Transparency at 0
    • Enable Full Bright to reduce unwanted reflection of nearby lights.
Setting the texture options for a reflective “mirror” surface.
  1. Click Shininess (specular) radio button and:
    • Use the picker to set the map to blank (white).
    • Set Glossiness to 255 (highest).
    • Set Environment to a value that works best for your overall lighting conditions – generally speaking, higher is better.
    • Set the specular colour swatch to black to further reduce unwanted light reflection.
Setting the specular options for your reflective “mirror” surface

Create Your “Reflections”

This can sound complicated, but it’s actually relatively straightforward, requiring two main steps: create an image that will form the “reflection”; create the projector that will use the image.

Create the “Mirror” Image

  1. Position your “mirror” in the location you intend to hang it. Position your camera “in” the “mirror”, and facing out – so you are looking from the “mirror’s” point-of-view (e.g. from the wall on which it hangs looking out into the room it which it is hanging).
  2. Take a snapshot at a reasonably high resolution.
  3. Use an image editing tool to crop the image to give the desired look for the “reflection” – and flip it horizontally before saving.
  4. Repeat for any addition projectors you are using, taking your snapshots from the perspective of each projector.
  5. Don’t upload the texture(s) as yet.

Create the Projector(s)

Repeat the following steps for each of the projectors you’ll be using.

  1. Create a prim.
  2. Edit the prim and select the Features tab.
  3. Check the Light option to enable it and then:
    • Click the second box alongside the Light option to open the texture picker.
    • Click the Local radio button.
    • Use the ADD button to allow you to select the projector texture from your hard drive (note: only you will be able to see the results when using the Local option, but it allows you to experiment without having to upload textures multiple times).
    • When you have selected the require texture it will appear in the texture list on the right of the picker.
    • Click on the texture name to select it; the texture will be applied to the bottom face of the prim.
Applying a texture to a projector

Continue reading “Projectors as mirrors in Second Life”

Tutorial: creating Second Life Place Pages

The Holly Kai Park Place Page banner
Introduced in 2017, Place Pages are a means to allow region and parcel owners to create a web browsable page (hosted by the Lab) for their location(s) in-world. These pages can then be shared through blogs, websites, Twitter, Facebook, etc., offering a means to promote those places to a broader audience, advertise events, etc so on. Table of Contents

In addition, all published Place Pages can be searched via the Place Page home page, or browsed as thumbnails.

There is an official Knowledge Base article providing information on creating and using Place Pages, but I thought I’d offer a step-by-step guide to setting-up one or more Place Pages.

Place Page Features

A Place Page showing the use of images, descriptive text and the inclusion of an events calendar. Click for full size

By default, every region and parcel in Second Life has a Place Page associated with it, derived from information in the parcel’s existing profile. These are provided in a default format, complete with place holder image. Each page comprises a number of features:

A banner “hero” image, together with additional images which can rotate as the page is refreshed or as a slide show; descriptive text; options for:

  • Listing a calendar of events.
  • Showing a region’s covenant – useful for residential rental regions).
  • Showing items for sale.
  • Adding a YouTube video.

Buttons to allow visitors to the page to launch their viewer and teleport directly to the location (assuming they are Second Life users – if not, they’ll be taken to the SL sign-up page).

In addition, a region’s Place Page can include a list of surfaced parcel Place Pages, and parcel Place Pages will include a link back to their “parent” region’s Place Page.

Prerequisites for Managing Place Pages

In order for you to be able to use the Place Pages to promote your in-world locations, certain criteria must be met:

  • You must own the parcel / region in question OR you must be assigned a the group ability to Toggle ‘Show Place in Search’ And Set Category within the group owning the land
  • For a parcel’s Place Page to be public, About Land > Show Place in Search for the parcel must be checked (incurring a weekly fee of L$30).

Managing Your Place Pages

Setting-Up a Place Page

  • Visit the Place Pages dashboard and log in using your Second Life credentials.
  • Access your available place pages either by clicking your name in the top right corner of the page and selecting My Places, or by clicking on My Places just below the banner.
Accessing your available Place Pages
  • Depending on your land holdings (e.g. the number of regions, the number of parcels on those regions), your list of available Place Pages might be short or long. Each Place Page item provides a summary and a default image.
  • Note:the Is Viewable? column in the list determines whether or not a Place Page is viewable or not.
    • True indicates the page is publicly viewable.
    • Not Viewable indicates the Place Page cannot be publicly viewed, either because you as the owner have set it that way, or because it relates to a parcel which does not have Show Place in Search checked within its About Land floater.
Sample Place Pages listing – note the region / parcel differentiator

When you have located the Place Page you wish to edit, click Edit on the right of the listing to open the Page in default / edit view. This comprises a number of easy-to-understand sections, complete with explanatory text.

  • Details: this section allows you to determine if the Place Page is publicly viewable, and define the information it displays.
    • Disable This Place Page: prevents the page being publicly displayed.
    • Show Covenant: displays the covenant associated with the land (if provided).
    • Items for Sale: item must be set to Show in Search on the General tab of the object editor window, and will be listed with price, description and a teleport button. Note that items not for sale will also be listed, but will appear at the end of the list with Not Available in the price column.
    • Show Calendar: displays a calendar of events for the region / parcel. Event must be created via the  Events section of your Second Life dashboard at secondlife.com.
    • Title: the title for the Place Page – shown overlaying the banner image.
    • Tag line: 150-charcter tagline for the Place Page, shown overlaying the banner image.
    • Description Editor: for entering formatted descriptive text to be displayed on the Place Page.
  • Optional: this section provides you with the ability to set the page, font, and link colours used on the page. There is also a space to provide a YouTube URL.
    • Note that at the time of writing the link colour only applies to the links in the Parcel Information section of your page; it does not apply to any links you may include in the description section of your page or any events listed with a calendar (if present). That can create visibility problems with these links, depending on the page background colour selected.
  • Images: Section for uploading at banner / Hero image and additional images that are displayed in rotation on the finished page.
  • Stats: general information on the region / parcel automatically displayed on the finished page as Parcel Information.

At the foot of the page are buttons to Update the page with any changes you have made, or Cancel them. Note that clicking Update will refresh the page and display your changes.

Including Parcels in a Region Place Page

If you have more than one parcel in a region, you can automatically include all of your visible parcel Place Pages in the region’s Place Page. Note, again, parcels must have how Place in Search set within their About Land floater (incurring a weekly L$30 fee) in order for them to appear on their “parent” region’s Place Page.

Parcels in a region can be listed in the region’s Place Page

Continue reading “Tutorial: creating Second Life Place Pages”

Clouds and windlight skies by Stevie Davros

Saturn over Holly Kai Park, via the Cosmic Skies clouds set by Stevie Davros

During the Friday, January 26th TPV Developer meeting, mentioned was made of cloud texture sets produced by Australian photographer Stevie Davros, which he offers for sale through the Marketplace. Curious, I decided to go and take a look and have a play.

In all, Stevie is offering five sets of cloud textures at prices ranging from L$99 through to L$599. These are essentially collections of .TGA files designed to replace the cloud texture found in the viewer, and a selection of associated windlight sky .XML files specifically designed to work with the cloud textures, together with comprehensive set of installations instructions and links to his installation videos. To help people understand how they work, Stevie provides a sixth demonstration set for free.

As delivered from the marketplace, each set comprises a note card providing a general introduction to the sets, and a set of links, as follows:

  • A link to a Dropbox file location where the actual files for installation can be downloaded.
  • A link to a YouTube slide show of the various cloud textures.
  • A link to his set of Flickr albums showings the cloud images.
  • Assorted links to windlight tutorials.
The JuilaSet clouds and ~Clouds_JulietSet_Blue_Day windlight .XML by Stevie Davros (Sci-Fi and Fantasy clouds)

On receipt of a note card (delivered to your Received Items in its own folder), simply copy / paste the Dropbox link into your web browser to display a preview of the download ZIP contents (thumbnails of the folders and instruction files), and click the Download button, top right of the web page – don’t download the individual files.

I’m not going to run through the installation process here, as Stevie provides a comprehensive guide in both .PDF and .RTF formats, and links to his installation videos. Some file manipulation is required, but providing you are comfortable navigating a folder / directory hierarchy via your computer’s file manager / explorer, and with renaming files and copy / pasting files, you shouldn’t find the installation that taxing. Suffice it to say that the downloaded ZIP contains:

  • A choice of folders with the cloud .TGA files – one for PC, one for Mac OSX. These are intended to replace the default cloud texture provided in the viewer.
  • A folder of .XML windlight files that can be used with the cloud textures. Copy the contents of this folder to your viewer’s user windlight skies folder, rather than the viewer’s main windlight skies folder.
  • Installation instructions in .PDF and .RTF.
  • Two images used in the installation instructions.
The JuilaSet clouds used with Annan Adored’s Morning Dream windlight

For most viewers, using the different cloud textures requires renaming the texture you wish to use via your computer’s file manager, and restarting their viewer. Again, Stevie’s installation instructions explain what is required.

If you use Firestorm, you can simply copy all of the cloud textures to the viewer’s windlight\cloud folder and select your required cloud texture from the Preferences > Windlight > Cloud Texture drop-down, although a viewer restart will still generally be required to apply the change.

Note: when re-logging after selecting a custom cloud TGA, you may see no change in your sky if you are in a region using the default sky settings, or things might look initially messy. If this happens simply switch to a suitable windlight setting – see below.

There are a wide variety of ways to access windlight .XML files depending on the viewer you are using. Within the official viewer, windlights are access via the World menu > Environment Editor and then using either the Environment Settings panel or Sky Presets > Edit Preset floater, using the drop-down on each to select your preferred windlight setting (see below).

Selecting windlight pre-sets from the World menu in the official viewer – click for full size, if required

When applying the cloud textures and windlights supplied by Stevie, it’s worth keeping the following in mind:

  • Some of the cloud textures have recommended or specific sky .XML presets for use with them. For example, in the Cosmic Skies set:
    • The JuliaSet clouds have set of associated .XML files with the prefix ~Clouds_JuilaSet_[name]).
    • The Saturn cloud texture requires the ~Clouds_Saturn windlight sky in order to display correctly (the planet will display with some other windlights, but generally appears distorted)
  • Some of the cloud textures can look rough – faint rings may appear in the sky, the texture repeats might have a definable edge, etc. These issues can generally be corrected by adjusting the amount of cloud cover using the appropriate slider (e.g.  World menu > Environment Editor > Sky Presets > Edit Preset … > Cloud tab) and use the coverage slider to adjust as required.

FCirrus v2 Windlight: Pinky Yellow, by Stevie Davros, on FlickrCirrus v2 Windlight: Pinky Yellow, by Stevie Davros on Flickr

Feedback

Given there are a lot of windlight .XML sets freely available to users, charging for them might at first seem odd – but remember, with these sets, it is not the .XMLs you are paying for, but the .TGA cloud files. How useful then might be to the individual depend on your Second Life use. Photographers will potentially find the sets to be of the most use; however, there are some points to be noted:

  • The cloud .TGA files are copyrighted by Stevie Davros. As such, although they are supplied outside of Second Life, they should be regarded as supplied under the following permissions: Copy, Modify, No Transfer, and so should not be passed to other users.
  • These sets are intended to be applied on the viewer side only (the cloud .TGA files can only be applied on the viewer-side), so only you will see them in operation when applied (those with their own region / with EM rights, might apply the windlight .XML files to their region).

It is perhaps also worthwhile pointing out that Rider Linden is working on the Environment Enhancement Project (EEP) – read this overview about the project for more. The point of this is that some might prefer to see how this project is implemented – testing is due to start on Aditi very soon – before purchasing sets of clouds.

Tutorial: raising Abuse Reports in Second Life

Griefing, be it through word, action, noise, or object (as seen here), etc., is one of the items covered by the Abuse Report
The following notes are drawn from a presentation Governance Team manager Tommy Linden and team member Corky Linden are making to various communities within Second Life as part of an initiative to better disseminate information about the Governance Team, and on filing Abuse Reports (ARs). The hope is that the information provided will give users a better understanding of what the Governance Team hope to see provided in an Abuse Report in order to fully investigate it.

Note that  official information on Abuse Reports can also be found in the Knowledge Base.

Table of Contents

 

Governance Team: Quick Facts

  • The team is relatively small – under a dozen in size – but handles an average of 400-500 Abuse Reports per day
  • All Abuse Reports get reviewed as the first stage of an investigation, with priority given to those seen as critical (such as an in-progress griefing attack).
  • All ARs that can be investigated are investigated. However:
    • How far the investigation goes largely depends on whether the AR is filed against something Governance is empowered to investigate, and how much meaningful information is supplied in it.
    • The Governance Team intentionally does not report back on the outcome of their investigations for a number of reasons. Just because the outcome might not be visible to the reporter / match their expectations when filing an AR, does not mean the report was ignored.
  • One of the biggest issues with incoming Abuse Reports is that they often lack the basic information required in order for an investigation to be properly carried out.

What is an Abuse Report?

The Abuse Report (AR) is for reporting any individual or group of avatars or any in-world object engaged in an activity deemed inappropriate under the Second Life Terms of Service  / Community Standards and/or is in contraction to the maturity rating for a region.

ARs apply to: griefing, spamming, age play, assault / pushing / disturbing the peace, disclosure of personal information, fraud, harassment, indecency and Skill Gaming violations. In addition, there are Welcome Area Guidelines governing places like Infohubs, which contain restrictions on what should not be done in those areas with any violations also subject to ARs. Report.

There are also certain things that do not apply to ARs. For example, being banned from a particular group or region or parcel, or a dispute over rental payment between residents are not actionable via AR.

ARs can be filed by anyone suffering abuse, or by those directly witnessing an abusive act. However, this does not mean teleporting multiple people into a location and having them file reports as well. Rather than “speeding up” any investigation, it can actually slow down the entire process by forcing Governance to spend time reviewing dozens of additional (and possibly contradictory) reports.

What Is The Governance Team Looking for in a Report?

The Governance Team is looking for clear, concise and consistent information in an Abuse Report, as summaries in the image below and expanded upon in the following sections.

A “good” Abuse Report, presenting all the information and making good use of a screen shot – click to open the slide in a separate tab for easier reading. With thanks to Corky Linden

Accessing the Abuse Report Floater

The AR floater can be accessed via:

  • Menu bar > Help > Report Abuse.
  • By right-clicking on an avatar or object and locating / selecting Report Abuse from the context menu / pie menu.
    • Make sure you have the right avatar / object selected when doing this.
    • Launching the AR floater using either of these two options will auto-complete parts of the form.

The following guidelines are intended to help with filing an AR.

Screen Shots

Where possible, try to include a screen shot of the situation you are reporting. It can be the most effective means of illustrating what is going on, and gives the Governance Team clear visual proof / evidence of what has happened. It can also make up for information missed from the rest of the report.

The slide below outlines some of the key points to remember when using the AR floater to capture a snapshot – click to enlarge it in a separate browser tab for ease of reading.

Abuse Report snapshots: click on the slide to open it in a separate browser tab for easier reading

Note that most viewers do not have a refresh button for the snapshot preview, so try to make sure all the information you wish to capture is on your screen. If you are unable to get a screen shot for whatever reason, it is important you provide clear, accurate information in the Summary and Details section of the report (see below).

Object Picker

The Object Picker allows you to identify an abusive object (e.g. a particle / noise spammer, a weapon, etc.), and include its name and owner in the body of your Abuse Report. Instructions on how to use it are included in the AR floater, and this section will be auto-completed if you launch an AR by right-clicking on an abusive object. Remember you can further verify the item by including it in a snapshot with the Edit floater open to show the object name & owner.

Report Categories

The Abuse Report floater includes a pre-defined, drop-down list of categories which should be used when filing a report. Notes on the *valid* categories can be found here. Note that filing under the wrong category doesn’t prevent a report from being investigated, but it can slow things down, particularly if there is insufficient information provided elsewhere in the report.

Abuser Name

This allows you to grab the name of someone causing abuse from those around you. If you launch an Abuse Report by right-clicking on an object or avatar, this section will auto-complete (make sure you have selected the right avatar), otherwise click the Choose button and follow the on-screen instructions.

Continue reading “Tutorial: raising Abuse Reports in Second Life”