#SL Viewer Shock Wave

I saw today that Linden Lab has announced revisions to their Third Party Viewer policy. The Firestorm/Phoenix tema has already posted a reaction. They are also planning to discuss the changes at their next Phoenix Hour, planned for Feb. 28 at 2 PM SLT/PST.

I think Jessica phrases their take on the meaning of the changes in a pessimistic take. However, she may well be right. It is hard to know. You can read her take on the changes on the Firestorm/Phoenix blog. See: New additions to the Third Party Viewer Policy.

You can see the policy change announcement here: Third Party Viewer Policy Changes.

These changes, if intended as Jessica takes them, will be explosive. I see the changes impacting Firestorm and other viewer negatively. Exodus and Nirans viewers may become ineligible to connect to the grid. If so, I’m sure this will create a massive amount of blow back.

Change 1

2.a.iii : You must not provide any feature that circumvents any privacy protection option made available through a Linden Lab viewer or any Second Life service.

This sounds good but could have some unintended consequences. The Phoenix Team believes this means they will have to remove their feature that allows one to check another’s online status. I’m not so sure of that, but they have more access to the Lindens on this topic than I do.

If I say I don’t want someone to know I’m online, I don’t want them to know. Having viewers that can circumvent my setting is just annoying. So, from what I understand now, this does not seem to be a problem for me.

Change 2

2.i : You must not display any information regarding the computer system, software, or network connection of any other Second Life user.

Change 3

2.j : You must not include any information regarding the computer system, software, or network connection of the user in any messages sent to other viewers, except when explicitly elected by the user of your viewer.

Jessica takes these changes to mean that information about the viewer another user is using cannot be related to you. So, in Firestorm and other viewers those nifty tags that show which viewer a person is using would have to go. I’m not sure that is what the Lab means. But, it could be and again Jessica may have more information than I do.

If Jessica is right that is a bummer. We have very little information from the Lab as to which viewers are popular. These tags are one of the few ways we have to know what is happening.

Jessica says the Lab will break the viewer name tags with this coming Tuesday or Wednesday server upgrades. I find this a bit hard to believe. I can see the next roll breaking the feature in the next release channel roll. But, the feature is not currently broken on any of the release channels now. However, it is possible. I just think it unlikely. But, we’ll soon know.

Change 4

2.k : You must not provide any feature that alters the shared experience of the virtual world in any way not provided by or accessible to users of the latest released Linden Lab viewer.

This item is a bomb. That says if a third party viewer shows you anything not in a Linden Lab viewer, it is a violation of the policy. What it does not say is whether such a viewer would be blocked by the Lab.

So, if you wondered why the Exodus Viewer Team chose not to join the Viewer Certification thing and be in the Third Party Viewer Directory, now you may see an excellent reason.

This would mean viewers like Kirstens, Nirans, and Exodus that provide different features and enhancements to the rendering of the Second Life Worlds that improve or change the appearance of Second Life would violate the policy. Violating the policy would mean they have to be removed from the Directory/List.

This single item seems to totally void the advantage and reason for the existence of third party viewers.

Summary

We won’t know for certain what these changes mean or how the Lab will interpret and enforce the changes.

The says:

We encourage Third Party Developers to continue innovating with unique user interfaces, niche features, and ways of interacting with the virtual world, and we look forward to working in partnership with developers on ideas they have for new or improved shared experiences for all of Second Life. We want to incorporate more innovative new features into Second Life to improve the experience for all users, and we encourage TPV developers to submit proposals through our standard process.

I see this as a VERY negative development.

UPDATE: The viewer tags will break next week. Confirmed by Simon Linden and 3rd Party Devs at the Server Scripting group meeting (4PM).

UPDATE 2: I am told by a Linden these changes to NOT affect RLV.

UPDATE 3: Talking with Simon Linden in the user group, it seems things won’t be as bad as it sounds. The shared experience is better explained. What one sees in their viewer can change. It just cannot change what others see. That will save the visual enhancement being made by Exodus and Nirans.

16 thoughts on “#SL Viewer Shock Wave

  1. I don’t think Change 4 means what you think it means, Nalates. It refers to “shared experience,” and what I see in my viewer and how it looks can’t possibly be shared with anyone who isn’t sitting next to me at my computer.

    According to Kadah Coba, one of the Firestorm devs who was at the meeting, commenting over at SLU, “This one sounds bad, but its not and Oz has clearly stated that no changes to any TPVD viewer is needed as a result of this. “

    • I’m in the Server UG now and Simon is saying very much the same thing as you point out. The shared experience has nothing to do with what one sees on their screen, only what you can MAKE others see on their screens.

      So, I have taken it in an even more negative way than Jessica seems to.

      More on this tomorrow. Almost party time RL.

    • Oz cited both parcel windlight settings and avatar physics as being no no’s under this policy, I generally use the official viewer and can remember people on phoenix talking of jiggly boobs I couldn’t see, but I wouldn’t consider that ruining the shared experience, but it seems LL do.

      • I didn’t hear Simon echo that… and Tankmaster that was at OZ’s meeting had a different take.

        I missed the meeting. So, I don’t know what Oz said.

        • The meeting was recorded by Oz and uploaded here:

          http://lecs.opensource.secondlife.com/tpvd/meeting/2012-02-24.mp3

          Oz says “If Parcel Windlight didn’t already exist, this parcel windlight that you guys are doing and have been doing for a while now would be a good example of violating this rule.”

          He’s given it a free pass for now and said it’s ok until LL implement their version, at which point they need to switch over to the LL version, but were someone developing this now, the rule would be considered violated, the same with avatar physics and the same with Qarl’s mesh deformer.

          • Don’t take it to mean that TPV Dev’s CAN’T develop it. What it means is such things have to be developed in cooperation with the Lab. While it is the same for Qarl’s Mesh Deformer Project and Alignment Tool, we see those moving ahead. But, putting something like the Emerald Attachment points on the grid and messing up the view for non-Emerald users is not going to be acceptable.

  2. i dont think Kirstens nor my Viewer would get hit by any of those changes , i dont display infos any LL Viewer cant display

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  4. Nalates
    With comments that RLV is safe seen, on the face of it to be reassuring, nevertheless I am concerned that certain features that are implemented by RLV, such as blindfolds which alter what the RLV user sees on their screen and other similar restrictions would be effectively banned under the terms of the revisions to the TPV policy.
    This once again smacks of changes introduced by some(one)folk with absolutely no understanding of how a substatial portion of SL works.

    • How is what I see or (or don’t see) on my screen because of RLV in any way part of a shared experience any more than is what I see, or don’t, if I’m using a blindfold hud? It’s part of my experience of SL, but with whom am I sharing it? I’m going to look exactly the same to you, no matter what viewer you’re using.

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  7. 2.i and 2.j look contradictory.

    An untested code change? Oh Bad Words!

    And all announced on a Friday. I think us Europeans were generally fast asleep, and all we have is second-hand news.

    And they want us to trust them?

  8. Frankly, I see change #3 as a means of discouraging the use of other viewers by denying their existence. Simply put, SL wants you to use THEIR viewer, not some competing viewer, so they don’t want anyone marketing such viewers by having the ability to display them in their av tags. That’s my take on change #3.

    • I can understand your opinion. But, there is more information to consider and I disagree.

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