The Fall and Rise of Viewer 2

fall and rise of viewer 2 I share here a successful project using Viewer 2

I’ve been using the Second Life Viewer 2 since it came out. Despite the hubbub, I concluded early on that I could live with it. This is now confirmed for me by recent experience. I share here a successful project using Viewer 2, with details and conclusions.

Viewer 2 Successful Project Experience – DIT in DVL

For the last two months, I’ve had a real world / virtual world project that has allowed me to give Viewer 2 my own serious “shake out” cruise. The project is Dublin Institute of Technology in Dublin Virtually Live. For this initiative the Dublin team has had to build and operate a brand new working facility on the Dublin 3 Sim.

I’ll be the first to admit that many on the Dublin team, while they SUPPORT Viewer 2 as the de facto new visitor viewer, do not USE it. As experienced users, they are not alone in this choice.

I, however, as in-world course registrar for the Is One Life Enough three-month class, am responsible for working with lecturers and students to ensure a successful in-world learning experience. This class is our first major operations enterprise in the new DIT in DVL facility – 10 weekly classes in a row with new users.

I knew that I needed to stick entirely with Viewer 2. My conclusion? Viewer 2 has been a success for us.

. Virtual Environments: Is one life enough – award-winning, university-level module taught entirely within Second Life

. About twenty (20) art and design students, 
  Mostly ranging in age from about early 20’s to late 30’s; 
  Mostly ZERO experience with Second Life
. Two (2) lecturers; 
  Strong experience with Second Life (several years) 
  Little experience with Viewer 2

Class / Second Life Capability Observations
. Chaos To Start – You can just write off half to two-thirds of any opening 90 minute class for anything but sheer fumbling around and getting students into place
  Fortunately, the lecturers anticipated this – after all, they’ve taught this module three times before.
  But this class is three times bigger than any they’ve taught before – hey, digital virtual environments may be catching on!
  Fortunately, there are also two experienced Dublin staffers acting as in-world teaching assistants helping sort things out
  There’s just enough time left at the end for the lecturers to review course objectives and timeline
. Texture On A Prim To Start – the first classes keep things simple; click the BLUE sign to teleport to the Skybox!
. SL Chat To Start – inevitably only SOME of the students have SL Voice working for them
  Fortunately, the lecturers anticipated this – as one speaks, the other transcribes
. Continued Chaos – naturally, several NEW students are added by the time Class #2 starts a week later
  Fortunately, only about half of the 90 minutes is chaos this time
  The lecturers get down to business on material and first assignments
. Chaos To Light – by the end of Class #3 things are down to a routine
. SL Voice For Intermediate – In Class #4, most of the students can now HEAR the lecturer; Most can SPEAK; the others still read the transcript, or type their comments
. The Class Proceeds – discussion is now on class content rather than fumbling around in SL; At Class #5 we have our first expert panel presentation at a whole another location without losing students in the teleport process
. SL Streaming Audio For Intermediate – with relatively little fumbling, at Class #6 we have our first guest speaker presentation streamed entirely in audio
. SL Build for Advanced – for Class #9 selected students are working on Rez A Prim, Stretch A Prim, Texture A Prim, Move A Prim as part of team projects on information presentation. Some students pick up how to work the build menus quickly. However I’d not try this with the bulk of the class, which is, after all, NOT about SL.

Viewer 2 Observations
. New users had no particular difficulty with Viewer 2 other than the normal, “what do I click, where, again?” as they became accustomed to it
. As the classes advanced in use of SL Capabilities (Chat, Texture, Voice, Streaming Audio, Build) the teaching assistants were able to tell students what to click
  Ironically, the lecturers could not help because, as experienced residents, they were on other viewers.
. In no way did the class need or depend on the advanced, distinguishing features of Viewer 2 (such as Media On A Prim)
. In every way, the class DID depend on all new users using one common viewer – and this they were able to do, easily, with Viewer 2

. Viewer 2 IS easier to use for new users, in this project

Detail – The Fall and Rise of Viewer 2

As aficionados know, there has been continuing controversy about Viewer 2 because of:
. How it was brought out (“abruptly” would be an excellent characterization),
. Major changes in interface look and feel (the infamous “in your face” sidebar in particular), and 
. Short-sighted user testing prior to introduction (while adding things for new users it dropped things for experienced users).

Adding to this mix was the major shakeout in Linden Lab ranks. Not until the Second Life Community Convention, in August, was further word heard about viewer plans. Since then, Viewer 2 has consistently gotten better, thanks to the Esbee Linden et. al. “SCRUM” team. In a word, they’ve been keeping their promise to continuously tweak (improve) the viewer, bit by bit. Much better than waiting months and months for big dramatic announcements. And the third-party viewers have been keeping up as well, per Esbee’s promise to keep sharing the open source code base.

As an experienced (five years and counting) user who works with new and experienced users both, I have concluded I can live with Viewer 2, whether I am building, filming, event producing, meeting, shopping, or just hanging out. I am fine with experienced friends using the third-party viewers and occasionally use them myself. With friends who are new users, I recommend they stay on Viewer 2 until they are fluent in getting around in SL, then they can explore other viewers.

Biggest Viewer 2 Plus for New Users

. One Viewer For All

Biggest Viewer 2 Plus for Experienced Users

. Outfits

Biggest Viewer 2 “We’ll See”

. Media On A Prim
  Media on a prim – off off off! (lag)
  Improve with user bandwidth growth over time

General Viewer 2 Comments

. Necessary evil to move all browsers to a new code base
  Can’t wait for the SL In A Browser experiences to roll in!
. Yes, easier for new users
. With latest improvements, OK for experienced users
  Side, top, bottom menus – now OK, more customizable
  Still need and have debug menu – pictures options, advanced camera range, interface hide
. Graphics settings 
  For filming, can still go beyond “High” to “Ultra” with my 5 yr. laptop w. NVidea; 7 yr. desktop w. Radeon, if I keep all sound and media off



6 Responses to “The Fall and Rise of Viewer 2”

  1. Eloise Says:

    Glad to read your comments about viewer 2 with new users. It’s what I expected and my continuing beef with viewer 2 is not that new users won’t appreciate it but that it takes away a lot of muscle memory and tools that as an experienced user I have and consider myself to need. I probably could adapt, it’s just not clear to me that I gain anything from doing so. That’s with the proviso that I don’t teach RL classes in SL and don’t usually teach people how to use the UI so for this I really am thinking first person singular.

    Interesting to read that you didn’t depend on viewer 2 functionality. Was that because your lecturers etc don’t user viewer 2 yet or other issues? You mention lag and bandwidth.

    How much time did it take you to adapt? Would you recommend experienced users who don’t have to use MOAP and don’t have to be teaching new users in viewer 2 to make the transition, or wait for the TPVs based on viewer 2’s code to come along. I know at least Phoenix, Imprudence and Cool Viewer are actively working on this.

    • sitearm Says:

      Eloise; Hi! I don’t think I’d dare to recommend ANYthing to experienced users in a public forum like this *humor but serious*. Experienced user viewer choice seems to be such an emotional area, as in “You’ll have to pry Viewer 1 from my cold, dead Avatar hands” etc.

      But just between you and me *shhh!* I think we and TPV’s all know that Viewer 2 is here to stay. So finding any graceful way to make the switch is a good thing.

      Re Third Party Viewers, Kirstens already has a customizable sidebar similar-but-different to 2.3. However, irony of ironies: I find the Kirstens sidebar quirky now that I know how to use the 2.3 sidebar. I have Phoenix *love that Breast Physics* but each time I go back to it I find the old Viewer 1 interface looking more and more foreign to me. Plus I can’t use my Outfit settings aieee. (I think Outfits is a sneak killer app feature for V2 – no more fumbling around trying to do Quick Changes; no more agonizing whether to buy extra copies of no-copy accessories.)

      Re Media On a Prim, I think it will come into its own as average user internet bandwidth goes up. We use it, but you pretty much have to lock your Avatar down in a nice place to sit and just watch and listen. So currently I think it’s best for one-to-many, from-outside-world-to-in-world events such as SLCC and the like.

  2. Josain Zsun Says:

    Glad to see a well documented V2 success story.

  3. claudia Says:

    Hi, concise documentation of both viewer 2 and the module.
    One small point, As one of the lecturers, I do use both viewers1 and 2, sometimes in the same session although this has tapered out, and I now mostly use viewer2 for class. At the beginning, it was the nuisance of it not being familiar more than functionality. As we emphasize that this is not a class to learn how to use SL, it was important not to dwell on that kind of stuff too much and having Site, and the Dublin Team involved has certainly made that work easier. Working with viewer2 in a separate filming project has meant I could get to grips with it and then make the transition relatively smoothly.
    I do hope that the web browser addresses the lag issue but I doubt it, and for now, I try to figure out ways to “embrace the lag” and work with it.

    • sitearm Says:

      Claudia; Hi! Correction duly noted (sorry about that, Chief!). Re lag you’ll get your hands around it I’m sure *resists urge to diagram The Many Elements Of A Lag Chain And What We Can Do About Each One* You rock! Thanks! : ) Site

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