Second Life 2.0: safe choices

Sl-viewer-version2 It’s safe to say that Tateru Nino has quite a scoop over at Massively. She’s had the chance, like I have, to check out a rough version of the next-generation Second Life browser. As you’ll see below, on a superficial level, there’s not a lot that’s different.

In the short time I’ve had a play, the real changes appear to be in the menu structure, menu titles, three little widgets on the right-hand side (which slide out commonly used windows like Places). I have to say that overall, the changes are very safe. Sure, this is probably a pre-release version well before one ready for release, but given the anticipation around the next-generation browser, it’s hard to imagine that there won’t be a real sense of anti-climax if Viewer 2.0 looks essentially the same as 1.23. Who knows, this one may be a decoy version to ensure we’re all surprised as hell when the ground-breaking one is released.

sl-viewer-2.0-sml

(Full-size version can be viewed here)

My initial pet peeve? When right-clicking on an avatar, the pie-shaped menu is gone and replaced with the same menu text as the rest of the interface. It doesn’t seem like much of an enhancement to me although I suppose it will help newer users with a more uniform menu context.

To be fair, Linden Lab do have a hell of a job balancing the need for a more intuitive interface versus the risks of radical change frustrating current Second Life residents. For me, version 2.0 seems to be too far down the conservative change end of the spectrum,

More on the browser in coming days, but in the meantime, what do you think?

Update: Linden Lab have made some comments on the issue, stating this browser version is an early version of what will be the final product.

Comments

  1. Riven Homewood says:

    Those 3 little widgets are seriously annoying! I hope it will be possible to hide them.

  2. When I saw Tateru's post, I had a very similar reaction and frankly couldn't believe it. So I actually ASKED the Lab whether this is anything like what the final release will look like, and the response was a firm no.

    So the whole coverage is, I'd say, quite misleading.

  3. Lowell Cremorne says:

    Hi Dusan,

    Not sure what's misleading? It's obviously a new version and as I said it may not be the touted new one we're waiting for.

    And like any company I'd expect LL to deny it's the next large version change and that indeed may be the case. All that said, it's still a noteworthy browser which is badged with a 2, hence the story title.

  4. Lowell – in what way is this a new version? In what way is it “probably a pre-release version”? And how can you call this Version 2.0?

    These screen shots are from early prototype tests created during the development process of Version 2.0. Neither here nor on Massively has the Lab itself been asked: what was the purpose of this particular test? Was it menu functionality or hierarchy? Is it a design test? Was it one of hundreds of 'sketches' or prototypes? One of a dozen? The only one?

    To even imply that a viewer that looks like this is what will be released under the SL 2.0 banner is misleading, or to imply that it's even a pre-release is misleading.

    As the Lab clarified when I asked a member of the senior management team, this particular prototype happened very early in the design process, significant work has happened since, and there is significant work left to do.

    A handful, all, or none of the features from this early test build may find their way into the final viewer….but for all we know, this was a test build to see whether command groupings made sense in the usability lab.

    So no, I'm sorry, this is not necessarily a “new version”…just as a pencil sketch of a Web site on a napkin isn't necessarily a new Web site, which also doesn't make it a rough version, a next generation version, or a pre-release. It makes it an early prototype, and that's it.

  5. Lowell Cremorne says:

    Dusan, the obvious response to that is in the small pic on the story showing the VERSION number – 2.0.0 build 123963. It is of course a new browser version and a 2.0 one at that, but a pre-release one. And yes, that version numbering may change before release but to claim it's an early prototype is probably stretching things a little.

    Either way, are you suggesting that if you'd got a hold of a copy you wouldn't have reported on it? Seriously? There are noteworthy new features well worth discussing. The title of the story is 100% accurate: it is a version 2.0 SL browser with some safe changes.

  6. Lowell – of course I would have. And I would have started with some context from the Lab: “I have this copy, tell me about it, will anything closely resembling it ever be released?” The response I received was “No, it was an early prototype in the early stages of the redesign process.”

    Against that backdrop, I would have reported that this early prototype gave a sense of some of the things they were exploring: better teleport histories and “web-style” URLs, better use of tear-off menus, different user-friendly naming conventions, and new thought on the menu hierarchies.

    I then would have reported that as part of a design process, these thoughts would help to clarify and be a test bed for different use cases. That the particular client was likely a way of testing dozens or hundreds of use cases, to map out the number of clicks and friction points between a user wanting to do something, and actually doing it.

    Then, I would have speculated that the results of this type of testing creates a sort of map: what is EASY, what is HARD, and that very likely, they would then have the kind of robust usability data with which to do the REAL brainstorming – the kind that leads to those “AHA” moments, the ones where you arrive at new usability and design metaphors that tie together the data from these early tests, and the creativity of the folks at Big Spaceship (about whom I'll reserve judgement, on the other hand, I have some faith in the guy who invented the Tivo interface, who is heading the project up).

    I would conclude by saying that this type of process, which starts from what you have, builds usability models and insights, can often result in an end product that is similar, but can also result in something that is radically different.

    Again, however, to call this a pre-release is erroneous. I'm wondering – can you confirm that someone at Linden Lab has informed you that this is a pre-release?

    I was told that it was an early build during the initial phases of development.

    If this really IS a pre-release, then heaven help us all.

  7. Lowell Cremorne says:

    Dusan, you raise a very valid point on 'pre-release' – I've used it in terms of a version not ready for release rather than the developer definition of one imminently prior to release. I'll update the language to reflect that.

    On your other points, I did say in my article that there'd be more on the browser in coming days 😉

  8. Awesome – then I look forward to it. 🙂

    Frankly, Lowell, I hope I don't sound upset with you – I'm still shuddering in horror if this is anything like what the final release will look like. I suppose I am pleading or begging, in a way, to make this picture I now have of “SL 2.0” go AWAY.

    I've placed faith that Howard and M will help to solve some of the major riddles of the interface, the first hour, and other things… and if this is as far as they've gotten, my faith would frankly sink like a lead balloon.

  9. Lowell Cremorne says:

    No issue re you sounding upset – always happy to be corrected on factual errors and couldn't agree more: if that's close to release then I'm building my own browser 😉

  10. Riven Homewood says:

    Those 3 little widgets are seriously annoying! I hope it will be possible to hide them.

  11. When I saw Tateru's post, I had a very similar reaction and frankly couldn't believe it. So I actually ASKED the Lab whether this is anything like what the final release will look like, and the response was a firm no.

    So the whole coverage is, I'd say, quite misleading.

  12. Lowell Cremorne says:

    Hi Dusan,

    Not sure what's misleading? It's obviously a new version and as I said it may not be the touted new one we're waiting for.

    And like any company I'd expect LL to deny it's the next large version change and that indeed may be the case. All that said, it's still a noteworthy browser which is badged with a 2, hence the story title.

  13. Lowell – in what way is this a new version? In what way is it “probably a pre-release version”? And how can you call this Version 2.0?

    These screen shots are from early prototype tests created during the development process of Version 2.0. Neither here nor on Massively has the Lab itself been asked: what was the purpose of this particular test? Was it menu functionality or hierarchy? Is it a design test? Was it one of hundreds of 'sketches' or prototypes? One of a dozen? The only one?

    To even imply that a viewer that looks like this is what will be released under the SL 2.0 banner is misleading, or to imply that it's even a pre-release is misleading.

    As the Lab clarified when I asked a member of the senior management team, this particular prototype happened very early in the design process, significant work has happened since, and there is significant work left to do.

    A handful, all, or none of the features from this early test build may find their way into the final viewer….but for all we know, this was a test build to see whether command groupings made sense in the usability lab.

    So no, I'm sorry, this is not necessarily a “new version”…just as a pencil sketch of a Web site on a napkin isn't necessarily a new Web site, which also doesn't make it a rough version, a next generation version, or a pre-release. It makes it an early prototype, and that's it.

  14. Lowell Cremorne says:

    Dusan, the obvious response to that is in the small pic on the story showing the VERSION number – 2.0.0 build 123963. It is of course a new browser version and a 2.0 one at that, but most likely a pre-release one. And yes, that version numbering may change before release but to claim it's an early prototype is probably stretching things a little.

    Either way, are you suggesting that if you'd got a hold of a copy you wouldn't have reported on it? Seriously? There are noteworthy new features well worth discussing. The title of the story is 100% accurate: it is a version 2.0 SL browser with some safe changes.

  15. Lowell – of course I would have. And I would have started with some context from the Lab: “I have this copy, tell me about it, will anything closely resembling it ever be released?” The response I received was “No, it was an early prototype in the early stages of the redesign process.”

    Against that backdrop, I would have reported that this early prototype gave a sense of some of the things they were exploring: better teleport histories and “web-style” URLs, better use of tear-off menus, different user-friendly naming conventions, and new thought on the menu hierarchies.

    I then would have reported that as part of a design process, these thoughts would help to clarify and be a test bed for different use cases. That the particular client was likely a way of testing dozens or hundreds of use cases, to map out the number of clicks and friction points between a user wanting to do something, and actually doing it.

    Then, I would have speculated that the results of this type of testing creates a sort of map: what is EASY, what is HARD, and that very likely, they would then have the kind of robust usability data with which to do the REAL brainstorming – the kind that leads to those “AHA” moments, the ones where you arrive at new usability and design metaphors that tie together the data from these early tests, and the creativity of the folks at Big Spaceship (about whom I'll reserve judgement, on the other hand, I have some faith in the guy who invented the Tivo interface, who is heading the project up).

    I would conclude by saying that this type of process, which starts from what you have, builds usability models and insights, can often result in an end product that is similar, but can also result in something that is radically different.

    Again, however, to call this a pre-release is erroneous. I'm wondering – can you confirm that someone at Linden Lab has informed you that this is a pre-release?

    I was told that it was an early build during the initial phases of development.

    If this really IS a pre-release, then heaven help us all.

  16. Lowell Cremorne says:

    Dusan, you raise a very valid point on 'pre-release' – I've used it in terms of a version not ready for release rather than the developer definition of one imminently prior to release. I'll update the language to reflect that.

    On your other points, I did say in my article that there'd be more on the browser in coming days 😉

  17. Awesome – then I look forward to it. 🙂

    Frankly, Lowell, I hope I don't sound upset with you – I'm still shuddering in horror if this is anything like what the final release will look like. I suppose I am pleading or begging, in a way, to make this picture I now have of “SL 2.0” go AWAY.

    I've placed faith that Howard and M will help to solve some of the major riddles of the interface, the first hour, and other things… and if this is as far as they've gotten, my faith would frankly sink like a lead balloon.

  18. Lowell Cremorne says:

    No issue re you sounding upset – always happy to be corrected on factual errors and couldn't agree more: if that's close to release then I'm building my own browser 😉

Your comments

Previous Posts