How I copied my shape across grids

I’ve read on Ener Hax’s blog that you can use Imprudence to copy shapes from Second Life.

This month, I redid my skin — using my much-improved GIMP skills to combine an actual picture of myself with a Linda Kellie skin template. And then used that same photograph to try to my shape into as close an approximation of my actual face as I could.

I feel more comfortable with an avatar that resembles me, at least a little bit!

Importing the skin to every grid where I have an avatar was simple — I just uploaded the textures.

Close up of my avatar face. I can't get it exactly right, but I'm getting close. And it's guaranteed unique.

Close up of my avatar face. I can’t get it exactly right, but I’m getting close. And it’s guaranteed unique.

And here's a quick grab of my actual face from my webcam.

And here’s a quick grab of my actual face from my webcam, unretouched. And, it seems, uncombed. I work from home. What can I say?

But getting the shape to match was trickier. I didn’t want to copy down all the settings and set them manually. After all, I have avatars that I use regularly on Second Life, OSgrid, Kitely, my grid at home, and on Hyperica. I’m not going to count all the grids that I’ve created an avatar on once in order to visit them and then never went back again. I’m not going to bother keeping 100 avatars up to date!

My new shape and face in Second Life.

How, oh how, will I ever export my shape to other grids?

I had an old copy of Imprudence lying around, logged in with it, but was unable to export my shape — the option was grayed out. I couldn’t figure out why. I’d created it completely from scratch by moving the sliders around.

None of the modern viewers I loaded up had this option. If I missed one — please note in the comments! Neither did Hippo.

I racked my brain for another viewer and remembered Meerkat. And it worked!

Go into Edit Appearance > Shape and the “Import” and “Export” buttons are right there at the bottom of the screen.

The Meerkat appearance editing window.

The Meerkat appearance editing window.

Remember to use the same viewer to both export and import the shape. So it’s probably a good idea to put “Meerkat Export” into the filename, so you won’t forget which viewer you used.

I was able to use Meerkat to log into all the grids, including Second Life, and import and export my shapes very easily and quickly.

Now if I could only get the same hair on all the grids, life would be complete!

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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.

21 Responses

    •' hack13 says:

      I extremely discurage the use of these older viewers as singularity and replex both support the exporting these do. However the issue with these older viewers are, they don’t display multiple clothing layers, multiple attachment layers, mesh, and various other new REQUIRED features for interacting in virtual worlds.

    •' Ilan Tochner says:

      I agree with Timothy that old viewers should be avoided. In addition to the reasons he gave, old viewers also don’t include many network optimizations that can make a big difference in the amount of load your avatar places on the sim it is connecting to. In layperson’s terms this means that less people will be able to connect to the sim because you are connecting to it with an old viewer.

      In other words, if at all possible don’t use old viewers.

      • Firestorm actually blocks the use of older versions by blockings versions 3 builds back or something like that.
        Also why should people still use old viewers? Most new viewers like FS still have the old V1 GUI style as a option.

        • I prefer to use Firestorm whenever I can. But sometimes there’s a problem of some kind. For example, it sometimes crashes when I take snapshots. Or it doesn’t have exactly the particular function I need — or, if it does, I just can’t find it, and its easier to pull up an older viewer that I know will work.

          •' lmpierce says:

            Yes, as you imply, just when you need it. Which answers the concerns of others about using an older viewer. In other words, using an older viewer for a limited unique task seems as legitimate to me as using older ‘dated’ software for that one thing the new applications do not do as well, or as easily. And then it’s back to the latest and greatest for regular ongoing activities.

        •' Han Held says:

          Taking the decision out of the hands of the users and putting it into the hands of the developers is all kinds of messed up. People have their reasons for what they want to run on their computers and software needs to back off and respect that.

          •' lmpierce says:

            However, it seems to me it’s not an either-or situation. Since the viewers need to work in technical coordination with the servers, it makes sense that requirements and constraints and blocks occur. I think the issue is also intent. The developers aren’t trying to control what we do for the sake of control, nor do they benefit from a profit motive that might occur if profit seeking based on new sales was involved. In fact, they are trying to ensure that we have good experiences with the software.

          •' Han Held says:

            This case is either-or. They assume that the user doesn’t know or is accidently running old software. I’m deliberately avoiding giving examples because I think that side-steps the entire point.

            The main point is that the user should always have primary control of what runs on their computer -period. Software should present information so that the user can make an informed choice, but the choice has to always remain with the user. In the case of client-server software, the server has the right *and the ability* to restrict who connects, but the client software should never make the decision for the the user.

            What’s being described is very much a condescending mindset which should be resisted, imo.

          •' Han Held says:

            I started a conversation on my G+ profile ( ) which wound up giving me a chance to describe the crux of the matter:


            “Opensim gives us the opportunity to prevent user control from becoming
            mere nostolgia -that’s the exact reason that I am making a stink about

            With opensim we have the chance to control everything from
            top to bottom -that’s a choice we don’t have with facebook, google, etc.

            That’s the reason that I feel so strongly that user choice has to be stood up for.”

      •' Han Held says:

        I disagree as a blanket statment.

        It’s a matter of using the right tool for the right job -use older viewers for the task they are good for; namely backing up open source content such as Linda Kellie and Aracadia Asylum, and backing up and restoring shapes.

        Good god no you wouldn’t want to use Meerkat or even Imprudence as your day-to-day viewer -simple things such as loading inventory is a nightmare compared to modern viewers; but they’re still good tools to keep in the tool box.

  1.' Geir Nøklebye says:

    Singularity and Replex viewers can both export and import shapes you are the creator of.

  2.' Cinder Biscuits says:

    Singularity, Replex, and Firestorm all support shape import/export. Firestorm’s support is a little less obvious. (You have to “Dump Appearance XML” from the Advanced menu and use that.)

  3.' Wordfromthe Wise says:

    good old Meerkat ; i use it if i need to upload soundfiles longer than 10 seconds .. !

  4. Thank you — Singularity, in particular, was perfect!

    And I was finally able to find Develop>Avatar>Character Tests>Appearance to XML on Firestorm, but I had to download and install a new version before there was an “Upload” option in Appearance Edit Shape.

    I have to say, though, that there’s no way I’m going to be able to remember that “Develop>Avatar>Character Tests>Appearance to XML” is the way to export a shape in Firestorm without looking it up. I think I’ll stick with Singularity if I need to export shapes again!

    • Sorry, I take it back about Singularity. It was perfect when I tried it again on my grid, but not when I tried it with the original shape I was trying to export. The “Export” button was there, but grayed out — so the same problem as I had with Imprudence.

      The new version of Firestorm DID allow me to save my shape.

      So there’s basically no rhyme or reason here. LOL

      I’m not fully clear on why developers chose to move the “export shape” option out of the Appearance window into the “Develop” menu — why would someone think that would be a better place for it?

  5.' Olive Tor says:

    I think I have to disagree with the gentlemen in this discussion LOL ;). Even though I never use Imprudence on a daily basis, it has his uses. And Phoenix viewers are kind of my favorite. I’ve never been able to use the later versions of Firestorm. It’s slow at best and mostly it crashes on me. Singularity is good. And I use a couple of others when I have trouble with an upload. Radegast used to be perfect when I needed a really lightweight viewer, but I’ve not been able to start the later version.

    What’s Replex? Never heard of it. Does it have a Mac version?

    • Olive — Exactly! If I didn’t have Meerkat around yesterday, I would have had to spend the whole evening copying and typing numbers for the shape sliders. Like I did yesterday, I’ll try the modern viewers first, of course. But sometimes you just have to pull a really old tool out of the old toolbox.

  6.' Ener Hax says:

    fab job on your avatar Maria! =) for my hair, i ended up making my own so that’s I’d have full tights BUT my avatar is also “quirky” and having crazy Raggedy Ann hair fits my online look (i’d secretly love to have out of control hair like that irl) =)