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Ergonomics, logistics, and convenience of a viewer interface.


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I work at a post-secondary institute in Canada and we are developing an educational application using a 3D virtual environment. For copyright and proprietary reasons, we cannot use existing viewers and we are in the process of creating an interface design from scratch that will act as an effective viewer but with the functionality required for our courses.

 

One thing I have noticed though, is that many of the viewers - both from SL as well as 3rd party - seem to have many commonalities such as tabs along the top and bottom, inventory tab on the bottom right, left click on the mouse for some interactions, right click for others....roll forward for mouseview etc...

 

Can anyone here describe the reasoning and logic behind their viewer decisions and whether there is any type of research that explains why certain tabs and functions are the way they are?

 

Thanks

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Viewers are designed the way they are for multiple reasons. Firsty and foremost the UI requires buttons to function properly. These are not "tabs" but rather buttons that lead to specific functionality. These viewers can have these buttons laid out any which way (it is user customizable after all) You need to make things that function properly with the proper protocols in place from either Linden Labs Second Life server or the OpenSim/OpenGrid based servers (they use the same protocols for most everything)

 

If you look into the viewers you will see you can design them specific ways. Firestorm has multiple skins to it. As you may be able to put an overlay using a different coding language on top of the viewer for some rather specific fucntionality that falls outside the realm of second life or open sim in world you are limited to protocols that the server code supports primarily. if you are using Second Life or an OpenSim based viewer do realize that for the most part you are limited with respect in many areas unless you pull openSim/open grid things apart (open source) and tinker with it and the viewer code far more in the manner that realxtend ended up working the viewer with Ogre3d and rebuilt the entire backend server based off opensim to do what they wanted both viewer and server wise.

 

With the limits in place you could maybe design a limited viewer for your courses, but functionality wise they'd still be limited to the protocols of the server directly. Varying on what you are doing building a web interface that interacts directly with a HUD (heads up display) in world meaning shared media on a prim or http requests from SL may be the best overall bet other than tinkering with the server (would require A LOT of time and investment)

 

There isn't a big copyright or propietary worry as unless you want to include havok or potentially vivox (for voice i'm not 100% sure you cant while keeping it open) the client and it's derivitives are open source. There should be little reason you cannot use a stock viewer or build off an open source project that already exists. It would help to know exactly what you are doing.

 

Also if you want to break down a lot of why people set their UI up that way. Familiarity to them and ease of use for what they do. You can set your viewer up many different ways including some side docked buttons etc. The UI has been user customizable as far as placement now for awhile (otehr than the top menus)

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Ratz Dratman wrote:

I work at a post-secondary institute in Canada and we are developing an educational application using a 3D virtual environment. For copyright and proprietary reasons, we cannot use existing viewers and we are in the process of creating an interface design from scratch that will act as an effective viewer but with the functionality required for our courses.

 

One thing I have noticed though, is that many of the viewers - both from SL as well as 3rd party - seem to have many commonalities such as tabs along the top and bottom, inventory tab on the bottom right, left click on the mouse for some interactions, right click for others....roll forward for mouseview etc...

 

Can anyone here describe the reasoning and logic behind their viewer decisions and whether there is any type of research that explains why certain tabs and functions are the way they are?

 

Thanks

One thing to note is that the Official Viewer as provided by the Lab is designed in the opinion of many users by people who don't actually use the platform.  It is my opinion that design decisions are made bt people who don't have a "Second Life."  Over the years there have been many issues pointed out concerning the Official GUI that have gone ignored.  What remains is a cludge.

It appears that LL is only interested in getting the functions into the viewer and have now left it to the Third Party's to sort it out.  People will use what works best for them to a certain extant determined by either what works best for them based on work flow or which one has the least amount of "lag" for them.

 

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you being a teacher then I think that a good place to start is with the works of people like Peter Polson etc
 
Cognitive Walkthrough
 
basically is a design evaluation method that provides feedback from exploration of a new/novel/previous infrequent performed procedure
 
more basically: does the UI lead the person to perform and complete the task. like can the user deduce from the UI what it is they are supposed to do
 
+
 
when get into this then will find that the LL viewer dont do this. Not today anyways. It did actual used to way back in the beginning days. bc all you could do back then pretty much was move (walk/run/fly) and build. Build/mod your avatar. And build/make stuff out of prims
 
which was all functional stuff to do. So could work it (the UI) out pretty quickly to do that. To build
 
then as others came who didnt want to build but to socialise then LL start to add functionality into the viewer to do that. But...
 
they (LL) never done any Cognitive Walkthrough eval on this new capabilities. They just kept adding new functions/capabililties as if these new people were builders. Who even if they didnt want to build, then maybe they should bc that was the whole point. To make content for the world
 
but anyways and sighs. Heres some social functions bc you guys insist, but we see these functions as a adjunct to the main purpose. Which is to build content for our world. Content is good for you the world users, and good for us the world owners 
 
and then a bigger but happened ...
 
they (LL) stopped adding new builder capabilities. But (the more bigger but) they kept adding new functions to the UI as if they were still building a viewer for builders. When they werent
 
oo end up with this highly technical UI made for builders/technical people, who dont use it for this anymore. A UI that is struggled to be used by socialisers. They struggle bc the UI is not cognitive of social procedures and processes. And never has been
 
+
 
for a example of what is about then can start here:
 
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