First Impressions of the Second Life Viewer 2.0 Beta

The following are pretty much notes. I need to eventually work this out into a clear thought process, but you can see my observations forming here. I’ve been up pretty late trying this thing out, and I must say, it’s impressive. Night.

The login screen looks pretty standard, except that the color scheme is a flat grey color with a hint of brown. It is complimented with a dull green color. Two menu items exist – “Me” and “Help”. Each menu item is very limited. “Me” allows you to quit or edit your preferences. “Help” leads you to Second Life Help (F1) or the About screen. Take a look at the preferences and you’ll notice more of the slick grey color scheme. Buttons, checkboxes, sliders and radio buttons have soft gradients. One thing that is missing is the ability to change the skin. For those of us using the pale blue skin, it may feel like we are returning to the days of dull grey.

Many of the options have been reworked to be easier to access and find. Take the chat settings for example. The colors are easier to see all at once. Even a few of the advanced settings have made it to the preferences, such as the ability to disable typing animations when chatting.

Logging in, one of the first things I noticed was that hyperlinks were underlined and colored in the message of the day (MOTD). Logging in, a sidebar appeared on the right with lots of content. The “Home” panel is displayed with the basics – Destination Guide, World Map, My Appearance, My Dashboard, Quickstart Guide, Viewer 2 Overview and a Viewer 2 feedback survey. Clicking on any item shows it in the panel with more details, with a back arrow to go back to the previous panel. A question mark appears at the top which does the same as hitting F1.

A bar is at the top of the window and gives the impression of a web browser. It shows current location name and rating. A star appears at the far right, similar to how “favorites” work in web browsers. You can also drag landmarks to the are just under the web address bar for the places that you like to go to the most. I would have imagined that the “Picks” in a profile would appear here as they are often the same thing. However, the favorites bar will probably play into what people use for themselves most (private) compared to what they want others to see on their own picks (public). I’m curious as to if the favorites bar may play a role into the Google search appliance. The favorites are tied to a parcel rather than a specific location. That is, if you leave the parcel, the star becomes hollow, but as soon as you cross the border back into the parcel, the star is filled in again.

Sound and media settings are in the far upper right corner. I had actually missed them for a few hours. I couldn’t find them and ended up changing the parcel media stream to temporarily turn off the sound on one of my parcels. It’s odd that they are obscure like that. This is one of the features that I had used pretty often in the past.

The destination guide leads to the “Find” window, and its tab is located between the “Search” and “Classifieds” tabs. The overall layout has a feeling of being a cross between a web page, and part of the viewer. Each location has a small picture, name, category, and truncated description. Clicking on the entry has a “web 2.0” feel to it as the details open up in-line. The area is a bit buggy, as I was able to click the search tab and found a blank screen. Clicking the “destination guide” tab (where i came from) also resulted in a blank screen. Classifieds seems to be the only working tab. The destination guide panel has a button to submit locations for review, but leads to a long wiki page explaining the destination guide, and then has submission instructions half way through. It seems this could use more streamlining.

The world map looks similar with a new skin. One of the main differences that I saw was that the location ratings have changed and have different colored icons with a letter in each one. PG is General, Mature is Moderate, and Adult is still adult. I tried checking off all event boxes, but the Adult box was disabled (no visual indication that it is disabled other than inability to select it). There appeared to be no general or moderate events shown on the map, even when I zoomed out at the maximum. I couldn’t deselect the General/Moderate events. Furthermore, it seems that all checkboxes are disabled in the map dialog. Icons for Me/Home are present. “Me” will show your current location, and “Home” will teleport rather than show you your home. The two buttons seem to be inconsistent in their behavior. A new button appears, “Show Selection” that is pretty wide. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it turned into an icon as well and coupled with the “Me” button since they operate in much the same way. Copying a SLurl operates much like the original client, but now has a link to the location within the text. Clicking on it shows a landmark in the side panel.

The Appearance panel is a bit interesting. It opens an appearance editor, which really isn’t an editor at all. It’s more of a closet. It is a list of outfits in your inventory. Another tab allows you to see what you are wearing. This “wearing” feature is something that many third party viewers introduced on their own. The outfits are pretty interesting. By default, you’ll have all the default avatars that people can choose from when creating a new Second Life account. They appear as new type of folder with a hanger. I tried going to my inventory and attempted to create a new folder, but it wasn’t apparent in how this was done at first. I did find a “My Outfits” folder in my inventory, but creating a new folder under it only resulted in a plain manila folder. The trick was to edit your appearance and then click the button, “Make Outfit”. Rather than being asked what I wanted to make as the outfit, and if I wanted to rename everything, I was only asked what the name of the outfit would be. Permissions did not become an issue when it came to no-copy items, and all attachments came through just fine. Looking at the contents of the outfit folder, everything appeared with (link) after the name with the option to remove the link. I went to my inventory and located the same information and found that I had an additional option to “Find Original” which took me to the original item. Some things that I found were that you can’t drag links into the contents of objects, but you can copy items from your inventory into an outfit folder once it is created.

The internal browser is now called “Media Browser”. If you are on land where you can edit the parcels media, a button appears to send the page to the parcel. However, there is a lot of white space between the address bar and the button. The main feature of the new media browser is that it is able to play YouTube videos. Resizing the media browser seems to have some odd issues when it is over the side bar. When resizing, the window keeps flashing a blank screen before it repaints itself.

Snapshots are taken in much the same way. As always, you are limited to 700 characters for the message when sending snapshots by email. A quick edit to the floater files (details in my guide to blogging from within Second Life) solved the limitation.

Profiles are much different now. Once people switch to the 2.0 viewer, you’ll notice your pictures are squished. The aspect ratio of the pictures (first life and second life) have changed to perfect squares. I imagine a few people will be upset that they have to spend 10 L$ to upload a new image that is adjusted to fit the new aspect ratio. I ponder if the lab would consider crediting everyone with 10 L$ who needs to replace existing images. These pictures are used everywhere now. When talking to people in-world, the profile picture appears next to your name. The picture is very small. I suspect that some people will change their pictures to show a close up of their face. The home page tab is gone. In fact, most tabs have been consolidated into a single profile page. You have the profile, picks, and notes. Real-world information is displayed just below second life information. The home page is no more and just shows a link. Links that are too long are truncated with trailing ellipses. Text that is too long for second life and real world is truncated as well, but have “More” links to toggle showing the additional information. An interesting note is that the profile shows the number of years and months in addition to the rez-date. I am 4 years and 2 months old. Groups are listed as a bunch of links delimited by commas rather than separate lines. Any link within your description is converted into a hyper link. Email addresses are not.

When chatting with people in-world, it has a feeling that you are talking through twitter. The profile icons of people appear next to each thing they say. This is helpful for me because i’m a visual person. I’m bad with names, but pictures help go a long way. Objects speaking appear as boxes and a different color. Looking at the info for objects revealed that it was being sold for L$ 300,000 (which it was not really). Hovering over the name of the person speaking, you see a little circle icon. Clicking it leads to some quick info with some options. IM, Profile, or a tool icon. This icon is handy for large crowded rooms for one specific feature: Zoom In. I don’t know how many times I’ve been in places where I see the chat, but I have no idea where the person is or what they look like.

When you click the (i) info icon for people, a small panel is displayed with a brief summary of the avatar. It shows the name, picture, account age, and a small portion of your second life info. I moved my blogs url to the top of my information so that people could see the link and click it. Others may try to adjust the first few words on their details to adjust for this smaller window (about 88 characters).

Offline IM’s were not apparent at first, and I believe I missed a few the first time around. However, it seems to be something that I’ll grow used to. There are two icons for offline messages. The icon that looks like a chat bubble is for chat from people and objects, and another that looks like an mailing envelope is for messages such as group notices. A number is placed over them to indicate how many messages/notices you have. When you start to talk to people through chat, you’ll start to notice profile icons lining up at the bottom of your screen even after you’ve stopped talking to them. Clicking them shows your chat history.

The people manager is a work of art. “Nearby” used to only be used to aid in muting people, and to see who was talking. It’s now been brought into the level of conversations in text-based chat. It would be nice if the distance was also listed. “My friends” is nothing new other than we now have pictures. You can turn off the people icons here. Editing what they can do (online visibility, map visibility, edit objects) is now done on their profile under “Notes & Privacy”. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find an area to get a global picture of who does and does not have these options setup other than visiting each friend individually. The “Near Me” feature also shows up when adding friends. Their is even a block list that is accessible through the gear icon at the bottom of the friends list.

4 Responses to First Impressions of the Second Life Viewer 2.0 Beta

  1. […] First Impressions of the Second Life Viewer 2.0 Beta […]

  2. Not bad, for a five-minute impression! I took rather longer than that to figure things out — more like a couple of hours 🙂 Oh, and I cheated: I read the manual first

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