Perhaps Emerald have been listening…

I don’t mean listening to *me*! I’m under no illusion about my importance in the metaverse, and have no doubt that I would not even appear on their radar. But to be fair, after my last post, I feel bound to say that Emerald have improved two things, while they are consistently making other things less useful. Here are the good points:

(1) The grid manager is restored in Emerald Beta. It is now clear that they only removed it temporarily because they had to re-factor their code and re-apply it to the new Linden code base. The breakage of the old, simpler “grid combo” was probably accidental and I doubt that they even realise that it won’t work for entering free text URIs when the grid manager is not applied to the code. It may even be fixed in the new code base, but the matter is now inconsequential anyway.

(I should say that I have raised the issue of the short character limit for URIs with Kirsten Lee Cinquetti but have not yet received any direct communication, though I haven’t checked if my blog comment has received a reply. It’s a shame because Kirsten’s Viewer is probably the most lag free of all, in addition to having the best graphics. There is no reason to exclude OpenSim users when the now standard code could so easily be ported. It is worse because there is no XML method to add your own grid, as there is in other viewers without the grid manager: see my latest comments in the previous post for instructions and details of how to do it yourself in a viewer without a grid manager. Even the lesser of the two methods would make this excellent viewer just operable in OpenSim, at least for those able to edit some simple XML, though not for everybody.)

(Update: short character limit in Kirsten’s Viewer S20 has been removed, at least in late August 2010 when I checked.)

(2) FINALLY, the longstanding failure of Emerald to rezz avatars in OpenSim grids has been fixed. It is a problem that was, and probably still is, shared with the Linden Viewer 2.0 code base. But don’t check this out, kids! Viewer 2.0 has been reported to do damage to OpenSim inventories, and may continue to do so until the OpenSim developers fix Linden Lab’s breakage of the code and report that it’s safe. Don’t wait up for LL to do it themselves! So Emerald has NOT abandoned the metaverse. But I feel bound to ask why it took nearly a year to fix such a small problem that they recognised aeons ago? Do they value OpenSim?

BUT why do Emerald keep giving their users and then, without any full explanation, then take them away again?

(1) The latest to go is the script pre-processor that was meant to radically decrease load on sims by moving script handling partly over to the client side when a script is first run. That would be helping LL and clearly in no way in breach of the TPV policy, since it actually increases other users’ enjoyment of their grid by reducing lag. So was it broken? Why is it removed “temporarily, maybe?” as they put it. Is there a dispute with LL? Why, as usual, are users kept in the dark? It doesn’t engender trust.

(2) IRC is removed. (I may add that the Greenlife Utility Stream is also removed, but I doubt many people used it.)

(3) The export function has been crippled for all grids, not just SL. Imprudence, in contrast, had to prevent their version of the code from handling textures when in SL (compatible with Meerkat and Hippo but not Emerald’s version, as it happens) in order to comply with the TPV. This is understandable, as is the helpful fact that it still works in OpenSim grids. Before anyone bleats about IPR breaches, remember please that not all OpenSim grids are commercial grids in the first place, and the vast majority of reputable grid operators like myself do not allow or condone IPR breaches in any case. (I don’t call it theft here because I’m being technically correct, as it is a civil not criminal offence, but that does not mean that I support it in any way.)

(4) The Emerald splash screen (including the brand new one in this new beta) is enforced even when connecting to OpenSim grids, giving only LL and Modular Systems news and thus making it impossible for users to see grid status and news for where they actually want to connect. No other viewer does this. Why make it difficult for people?

(5) The Emerald Viewer allows people to see whether somebody has allowed you to see whether or not you are online, which goes against the spirit of the function, whereby you were supposed to be able to appear offline at will. Admittedly this was publicly available information anyway, as you could find it in three ways (a) check someone’s profile, where it will show you if they are online (all viewers? I forget…); (b) check a group that shows members and that you know the person to be a member of, which you can find in their profile; (c) send them an IM. If offline, it will give a message warning you that they are offline and the message is saved, but otherwise it will remain silent. Nonetheless, no other viewer makes it so blatant, totally removing the point of the function and reducing it to meaning only “I don’t want to talk to you” rather than the gentler “I might not be at home”.

Overall, some brownie points to Emerald for not *completely* abandoning the metaverse, but there are some usability problems of their own making, some unexplained and pointless withdrawals of useful features that have taken effort and code to create, and generally very poor communication with users. I won’t make the accusations that some have made about Emerald’s alleged covert monitoring activities and deliberate posting of broken code so nobody else can compile it, as I have no information. But some of their faults are plain for all to see and are, for such an otherwise excellent viewer, entirely avoidable problems.

But to end on a positive note, kudos once again for fixing the grid manager and the rezzing – thanks!