How I learned to stop worrying and love SLV3

For the longest time, I avoided the official Second Life viewers like the plague.

There was always some update they wanted me to do when I had the least time to do it.

There was no grid selection at startup, and, compared to Hippo, everything was in the wrong place and the wrong color.

So I used Hippo for both, and then switched to Imprudence when that become the standard OpenSim browser.

Then Viewer 2 came out and I was forced to use it for some Second Life events, because they required media-on-a-prim. With media-on-a-prim – aka MOAP or Web media — you can show a slideshow in Second Life without having to upload every single slide individually as an image. You can pull up a spreadsheet and people can make edits to it — right there, inside Second Life. You could collaborate on Google documents and drawings.

For some business applications, media-on-a-prim was a savior.

So, for a while, I went back and forth. Each time I had to use Viewer 2, I would grumble — all the tool bars were in a different places. I could never find anything I needed. I couldn’t figure out how my clothes worked. And so on and so forth.

Viewer 2 was pretty much unusable for OpenSim because of the lack of grid selector at startup. Sure, you could edit the viewer shortcut to pull up the grid, but each time you went to a new grid you’d have to create a new shortcut, and that was a pain in the butt.

Especially since it usually took me three or four tries each time to get the shortcut to work… Is there a space after the hyphen? Is the loginURI in quotation marks? Is it a single or double hyphen?

Some of my confusion may have had to do with the fact that in my house we have Windows XP, Windows 7 and Linux computers, and the rules change depending on the machine.

But slowly, things started to change.

I was using the grid selector less and less because I was making hypergrid teleports to other grids, instead of logging in directly.

And the official Second Life viewer became more usable — the sidebars more logical, smaller, less obtrusive, and customizable. Once I finally rearranged everything to suit me, going back to Imprudence felt like stepping back in time.

So … I created a new shortcut pointing to my company grid, put it on my Taskbar and started using it every day. The media-on-a-prim was the big draw, of course, but if I ever came across any mesh, I’d be able to see it — OpenSim had compatible mesh the day after Second Life released it into beta. (It had another version of mesh for years prior.)

Sure, I have to be careful not to hit the search button, since that takes me into Second Life search and I haven’t figure out how to turn it off yet.

But other than that, Second Life Viewer 3 makes me happy. There you go. I’ve admitted it. I’m out and I’m proud.

Closeup of a hypergate on the Lani region of OSGrid. You can walk through it just as well with the official Second Life viewer as with Hippo or Imprudence.

It turns out that everything I love about OpenSim — hypergrid teleports, hypergrid landmarks, hypergrid friends and hypergrid instant messages, megaregions, free texture uploads — all those work just as well with the official viewer as with Imprudence.

And I’m not enough of a builder to tell the difference when it comes to the building tools. It’s ironic that OpenSim server code, which was built from scratch and is completely different from Second Life’s back end server code, is able to match Second Life’s latest and greatest features — mesh, media-on-a-prim, NPCs — faster than the third-party viewers developers can, even though they’ve got the Second Life viewer source code to work with.

But then, OpenSim is a huge project, with major corporations behind it as well as entrepreneurs, academics, and volunteer coders. Many companies are already making money from OpenSim. Meanwhile, viewer teams tend to be small, all-volunteer, and have little hope of turning their viewer development skills into viable businesses.

Maybe once the third-party viewers get away from the Second Life source code and make viewers from scratch, they’ll be able to commercialize those projects — and, in the process, make the viewers user friendly, accessible to newbies, and able to play well with the whole metaverse.

Meanwhile, I’m going to be clicking on that green hand with the weird eye for a while, instead of the purple hand making the sign of the devil horns.

There was one more straw still left to fall, though. You see, I’ve been using the grid selector to check grid statuses and look up grid welcome screens — where grid statistics are usually displayed.

But it turns out you don’t have to pull up a viewer to do that. You can just add “/get_grid_info” to the loginURI.

For example, CloneLife’s loginURI is So you’d go to — and you’d get a little XML list with the grid’s information. Plus, if you didn’t get any information back, you’d know the grid was down.

Note to developer gods — I’d also love to be able to pull grid stats the same way — total regions, total registered users, active 30-day users, and currently logged in. Since 140 out of 141 grids already release these numbers — SpotON3D is the lone exception — it wouldn’t hurt to make it a little easier for people like me to gather them.

(And no, not everybody automatically looks at the biggest grids, or the most active grids — though yes, that is a draw. Some people prefer smaller, cozier grids. Others are looking for fast-growing grids, with more opportunity to make an impact.)

Want all the loginURIs for all 140-odd public OpenSim grids, by the way? I just created a handy export page from my database, which will be updated monthly when I do the stats, or whenever I hit the update button: Active OpenSim Grids.


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Maria Korolov

Maria Korolov is editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business. She has been a journalist for more than twenty years and has worked for the Chicago Tribune, Reuters, and Computerworld and has reported from over a dozen countries, including Russia and China. Follow me on Twitter @MariaKorolov.

8 Responses

  1.' Timothy Rogers says:

    The only sad thing I see with V3 is I want to see support for webprofiles in my viewer. But that is server side, but if they could create what firestorm has making profiles work the old fashion way in v3. That is my only issue.

    •' BlueWall Slade says:

      Old-Style profiles are a limitation. I’m pretty happy to see the web-profiles in V3, as well as all the other web-based dialogs. We will be able to make good use of them.

  2. Gaga says:

    Whatever floats your boat *laughs* Personally, I still don’t use v3 and I spend half my time in SL. But then I use virtual worlds for building and entertainment so I don’t have any use for Moap since it merely offers a rather slow 2d experience inside a 3d world. I prefer to open a web browser to access 2d pages. For schools and business I guess it works for their needs but for me, a role player into historical recreations where media on a prim would be totally out of place,  my view of the virtual world is all I care about. All the added bits, dressed up windows, icons, multiple menus is just a heavy weight lag on my viewer. To be honest, in all my years in SL and OS I still don’t use or even know what a large portion of the menus do which has more to do with not seeing any use for stuff I can manage without. I certainly know where to find what is useful to me. For me, the Facebookish social networking add on stuff is waste of space. As for Mesh, well, when they make it deform properly and cause less lag on the viewer I will be impressed.

    • One thing I like MOAP for — besides the in-world collaboration — is for control rooms.

      I teleport into my Hyperica control tower, and I’ve got spread out in front me screens showing the views from four different spreadsheets with stats on all the gates — plus buttons to push to reset any of them. And I can do it while looking down at the terminal, seeing the gates themselves, so I can see whether the buttons did what they were supposed to. 

      I could do that with text-on-a-prim (yeay, OpenSim!) but it’s slower, and I’d have to program each board individually. With MOAP, I just cut-and-paste the link to the spreadsheet. 

      Yesterday, I saw a cool message board at the reception of the OSGazet on OSGrid. You tell it a message, and it saves it for you. I’m thinking of creating something similar, but it would send the message to a spreadsheet — which would be instantly reflected in a screen at a desk at my virtual office — or in my browser in my real office. 

      Except that my virtual office has more screens, LOL! I can only fit two on my physical desk! 

      For role playing games…. you can use MOAP to hand letters to people — written in old-style cursive handwriting — without having to create images for each one. 

      Like this one here:

      (You’d scale the page a bit to leave out the parts at the top and bottom.)

      You can change the text in Google, and it would automatically be updated in the player’s hand — without the use of custom databases and days of programming. Each player could have his own quest log that he could take out and look at at any time. 

      For me, MOAP increases immersion — it allows me to have the data I need, at my fingertips, without having to pull up an outside browser (or, worse, an internal browser). 

  3. Ener Hax says:

    the Zen viewer is supposed to get sim-on-a-stick added to its grid list  =)

  4.' LordSir says:

    In light of LL’s recent movement towards closing its viewer(see new Havok AI), maybe its time to give RealXtend’s Naali and Web Naali viewer some love ?

    It’s seems an opportune time to contribute some plugin code to their viewer so that it can become a true alternative to the SL Viewer.