February 24, 2010
SL 2.0 Beta Viewer some quick tricks and a few impressions
So, by now, lots of people have grabbed the Second Life 2.0 beta and begun playing. My work keeps me safely away from the client, so I didn’t end up playing with any of the closed betas. This means that when the client went live, I got the same dizzying sensation of opening up the client and seeing something very different that so many people are getting. After about 10 minutes of flipping settings and a couple of restarts, I was much happier. Let me share what I set, and why..
But first.. a word from someone who develops software for a living. (That would be me) This is a BETA the code is not fully baked. This is “Try it out and make sure it’s close to right” Don’t expect wholesale changes, but do provide feedback. (See bottom of the post for links)
Removing the clutter and grouping stuff
I did two things almost in the first breath. In preferences, under Chat, I ticked “Show IMs in tabs” this requires a restart, but it instantly corralled the cloud of IM windows back into a manageable tabbed pane. I also ticked “enable plain text chat history” This, combined with “ctrl-h” or tapping the little arrrow next to the chat bar, corralled the local chat stream into a single, text dense pane, very much closer to the old chat history.
With those two done, the last major thing to find out how to manages sound. I, like many people logged on to the random stream in my parcel. The master wasn’t hard to spot on the top right. You may see a little subtle “>” or “II” up there (play and pause) they do what you expect. The master volume is also there. If there are multiple streams and you hover there, you get a “more” option to manage them, and finally, a little “*” like “cog/gear” control. Get used to looking for those and “+” signs in the UI, they tend to open up additional controls.
With those tasks sorted out, the client suddenly looked a lot less cluttered. A little exploring shows you can get rid of even more clutter. The client uses the “right” mouse button to pull up some cute little context selections. (try CMD-click if you’re a one button apple person, I’m told) If you right click the top bar, you can un click the navigation and favorites bar, freeing up the top. Likewise you can un-select “gesture” “move” “snapshot” and “view” on the bottom bar. (You don’t alas, get back the input area space those eat up) At that point, if you tap the “>>” chevron on the dock to the right side of the screen, the UI is pretty well hidden. Excellent for exploring, when you’re not chatting away.
Things to play with
After the basics made sense. I dug about some more. Here are is a list of random settings and oddities
- Setting graphics, is 99% the same, but.. unlike the “custom” clicky, you “depress” the “advanced” button and it stays down. This one baffles me. Its not a gear or a plus sign which would have been much more consistent with the rest of the UI. I’m fond of pretty, so I dialed it all the way up.
- Context clicking is turned on in a lot of the gui. Try right clicking, lots of stuff is lurking
- If you want the old inventory “floater” ctrl-shift-I will bring it up. Floating, resizsable.
- The old advanced menu has been broken into two parts and reorganized. “rebake” is prominent, and there is now “develoepr” which can be enabled off of advanced
- On Developer, you can go to “rendering” and play with shadows. If your graphics card is up to it, and you’re lucky. Turn on “Framebuffer Objects” then turn on “Deffered Rendering” You should see a sudden drop in frame rate, and shadows. I saw a *lot* of odd visual effects at first then it got more stable. Worth exploring
- Play with “outfits” Finally a way to organize whole looks without copying inventory all over the place.
- The “nearby” and “recently” tabs on the people lists are very useful. Look at how you can pop up context menus from them.
- The teleport history is sane, and should remind you of browser history. Nuff said. Likewise the favorite’s bar. You can drag landmarks into it, or like Chrome you can tap the little star to add a favorite. You’ll also find a favorite folder in your inventory. These ought to make it a lot easier for people to move around second life.
- The search is a mixed blessing. If you are looking for specific things, put in your search term, then refine by topic. Its not quite elegent, but it works. For general, quick searches, the little input box on the navigation bar seems more than sufficient.
A bunch of these are “fit and finish” some are just odd
- When your inventory is loading, the sidebar will show (loading) the floater “ctrl-shift-i” will show you actual progress. I want progress in the sidebar. (Actually, I think the inventory UI could use some more loving in general)
- The audio controls are hard to spot, and while the default task is *sort* of easy to do, I think the top bar has room for a little more visual distinction, and a little more to cue you.
- The text input area is a mess. Its tiny, it doesn’t tear off, and it’s not resizable. I end up with acres of un used gray menu bar on the bottom, begging to be used as a text input area, or torn off.
- I haven’t been able to figure out how to get the login/logout messages in history. I like those, and like being able to scroll back and spot them.
- The text in the right hand “docked” area is not affected by the “text size” controls, and some of it is a real eye test for my Cuban Missile Crises vintage eyes. The links for “groups” in people’s profiles is way too much of an eye test.
- How to “apply” changes is in obvious in a bunch of the sidebar
All of the above said, this is a beta. It needs refinement. It also needs feedback. If you see something you don’t like, or can’t figure out, telling the developers increases the odds of it being fixed a LOT.
Don’t simply complain. Explain why it’s not working for you, and what might work better. It may not help, but failing to engage the developers will ensure your concerns won’t get addressed.
Personally? I’m really impressed. The new viewer cleans up a lot of stuff, but doesn’t simply remove function. Mostly, its been pushed away from the first glance, but isn’t hard to get at. If you know, or learn the shortcut keys, almost all the function from the 1.23 client is pretty easily found.