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Viewer user group?


Luc Starsider
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Only Open Development items (i.e. viewer issues that may be addressed by the open source community) may be discussed in the Open Development User Group.  When some Viewer issues were added to the agenda nearly all were deleted with the following comment:


They are out of scope because this meeting is about ongoing open source contributions, and only one issue from your list fit that criteria (and I left that one on the page, though there is no immediate news on it). Should a developer contribute something that addresses one of the issues you copied, it would be in scope for my open development meetings.
10:04, 26 September 2011 (PDT) 


There used to be a Viewer Evolution User Group, which many people found very useful.  Ownership of this group was passed to Esbee Linden (User Experience lead)  in the summer but no further meetings were held, and the group was officially dissolved by Linden Lab last month.

Oz abd Esbee refuse to answer any questions about why the group was dissolved or if it, or a similar one, will ever be re-instated.  A blog post about this saga is at http://blog.nalates.net/2011/09/28/viewer-evolution-user-group-closed/

 

 

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Thanks Hitomi. That explains why there is no mention whatsoever of the viewer on the wiki page.

So, basically, there is no place to discuss viewer issues where we know there are Lindens present. What then when they bring out the new tools and options Rodvik mentioned in his blog post? Are the forums the only place left where we can give feedback? (Unless it is feedback on the open source parts of it)

- Luc -

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I will now admit to directing you to open dev as a roundabout way to find the best source, as they are more likely to know, depending on which issues you want to bring to the table...

for instance, there was still some daily scrum meeting related to viewer evolution, but it was the sort of thing you had to find out about from other people (and not an appropriate place to direct anyone with general questions even if I could remember the when and where).... other such meetings may exist that I'm not aware of, but I bet the folks at open dev might

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It did occur to me that open dev could be the group for viewer issues, but nothing was mentioned on the wiki page and the description for the user grup didn't support it. Also, I would probably have forgotten that I wondered about this by the time of the meeting.

I have no specific issue in mind atm. I did a couple of weeks ago, but I have forgotten what issue that was. I'm sure it did not have anything to do with viewer development as such so I probably wouldn't have brought it up in any meeting focused on viewer development. It wouldn't have been the right place.

- Luc -

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The daily scrum meeting does not welcome questions from people outside the issues that are being discussed - but you are welcome to observe (fair enough).  As Void says the people (especially the open source devs who provide a lot of useful input to the viewer) at the Open Development Meeting may be able to help you if you have particular issues, but it is not the same as having a Viewer-specific group.

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It would appear that the Lab has once again gone into "heads down" mode with regards to development of the viewer. They'll still happily take patches and bug fixes from OS devs but, as far as input from us non-programmer types, it seems our contributions are no longer welcome.

They've learned nothing from the original v2 fiasco it seems.

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It seems, from what you guys say and my understanding of it, that the issues non developers have do not really belong in the scrum meetings or in the open developer user group. We really need a user group in which the regular users can provide feedback from their perspective, and get answers to our questions.

 

- Luc -

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scrum meeting is really just a check in report in pure techspeak... like I said, not an appropriate place for general information (in fact ,even if you are a techie, you probably won't follow much of what's going on unless you've been diving into viewer code).

but some of those same people do often know where unofficial meetings take place and when, or good sources for specific info... but the open dev group is probably safer to scout people for info =)

to my knowledge the main focus in viewer dev is bugs n features right now, not interface, though there's a rumor that interface work is coming up (unconfirmed, grapevine, I can't remember the source). if that happens, I hope and pray that they get a few people from each area of SL use in on it, to build a profile of what actions they normally take so they can smooth out user experience across the board (and someone with a mind to minor disabilities too, contrast people contrast!)

 

the thing that might help people understand what's going on with user groups in general was a (seeming) policy change internally that limits who can talk to residents and about what topics. It appears that only project leads can do that now (with few exceptions) which has limited the pool of information sources, with the goal of not exposing information that is either detrimental, or not yet in the pipeline (still subject to indefinite shelving), and prevent problems with legal.

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The last scrum I attended there was just Oz  Linden, one of the ProductEngine's (LL contractors) and me there - though usually there may be one or two more.

There is major work being done on the UI at the moment (this has been confirmed by Rodvik Linden in a few places - see below).

This work (which is called the FUI - really it is) will probably start to be seen in the next week or so.  As far as I am aware no customers or TPV developers are involved in this work, and they have tried to be pretty secretive about what it involves, but there will be substantial UI changes - though these are unlikely to affect viewer performance.


Rodvik Linden wrote on SLUniverse:

For the UI changes. First you will see a merge of the modes. (basically click to move + new camera coming into advanced which you can turn to old way if you like). That should be End of this month.

Next a large GUI change for all our users. Yup we are taking another crack at UI design again...


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Void Singer wrote:

but some of those same people do often know where unofficial meetings take place and when, or good sources for specific info... but the open dev group is probably safer to scout people for info =) 

See, this is the problem - it's unofficial. We have often been told that LL value and welcome feedback, also about the viewer, and ideas from the residents. From the info you guys have given, it seems that they have taken away the only official venue where the residents to actually provide feedback directly to the Lindens, and know it would be received. The forums are, I suppose, another 'official' venue, but there are no guaranties that LL will read or receive what is being said in the forums. That being said, there are a lot of Lindens posting frequently on the forums, which is appreciated. Removing the viewer user group is not a good signal to send, however.


Void Singer wrote:

the thing that might help people understand what's going on with user groups in general was a (seeming) policy change internally that limits who can talk to residents and about what topics. It appears that only project leads can do that now (with few exceptions) which has limited the pool of information sources, with the goal of not exposing information that is either detrimental, or not yet in the pipeline (still subject to indefinite shelving), and prevent problems with legal.

This I actually support - I think it is a smart move. LL have to know that the info going out is correct and official. The only way to be certain this is the case is to channel info through only a few people. It shouldn't prevent LL from keeping up the viewer user group, though. Unless nobody is responsible for the viewer...

 

@Hitomi


Hitomi Tiponi wrote:

This work (which is called the FUI - really it is) will probably start to be seen in the next week or so. As far as I am aware no customers or TPV developers are involved in this work, and they have tried to be pretty secretive about what it involves, but there will be substantial UI changes - though these are unlikely to affect viewer performance.

I really look forward to a new UI for the viewer, but what you say here worry me no end. Like Void, I too hope and pray that they include both residents and TPV devs in this process. Did they learn nothing from the development of viewer 2? I mean, they kept the UI a secret then too, and were flooded with negative feedback which could have been avoided in the first place. They are, by the sound of it, about to make the same mistake again. The viewer user group meetings would have been the place to deal with this sort of thing, no?

- Luc -

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I knew about the combining modes... to me that isn't really a major change (flip a few presets, ditch basic, at least from what I understand)

the second part is the one I wasn't aware of (I'm not following close like I used to), but I notice it's labeled next with no timeline... dunno if that means they haven't actually started (could be a reason for the silence), or it's been out of house and near completion (and they want to integrate the mode change work first).... I'll hope for the first case

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The first changes are planned to be in by the end of the month with more changes in by the end of the year - LL have been working on it for a few months, and I believe it is all being done in-house (or with in-house contractors).  I have a few ideas of what some of the changes are, but prefer to wait until I know more.  I do believe that the changes will generally be seen as improvements by most of the user community, but the lack of user involvement in any aspect of the design is worrying.

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Some of the Open Source developers for the LL viewer may possibly have been involved but I  think that when only 'techies' are involved there is a danger of the obvious being overlooked.  When Mesh was being integrated into SL there was an extended period of testing which creators and other interested users were involved in.  It should be said that some of the Lindens involved with this work do appear to have a good understanding of what the problems are with the Viewer - and I do not feel we will be looking at the same sort of disaster that we had with the launch of Viewer 2.0.

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I'm replying both to you and to Hitomi's last post here.

Since I joined SL, I have frequently thought that we seem like beta testers for supposedly production ready software. I don't really mind that we are beta testers as long as we get the feeling we are taken seriously - that the feedback we give are taken in, and issues are dealt with. I don't always have that feeling...

Mesh, as Hitomi points out, is one of the areas where the residents was invited in and given the chance to be a part of the beta stage. I am sure a lot of issues were brought up and fixed because of this participation, which is great! The group meetings for mesh was also quite busy during the beta period. The mesh beta is a prime example that it works getting the residents involved before release, and getting feedback from them.

However. Even if the developers know what went wrong when they released viewer 2, and what to avoid this time, does not mean they know what will be right when they release... what... viewer 4? (What went wrong was in fact that they didn't include the residents beforehand and gathered information on what was important to them.) They might release a viewer that works, and that can be used by people, but will they know what people actually need usability wise? Not sure I got across what I really mean. An example is the fact that LL was surprised when people wanted to be able to resize mesh attachments based on sliders not controlled by bones even if it was brought up and discussed frequently in the group meetings throughout the beta period (and even after release).

I hope the changes to the viewer are actual improvements, and that the feedback will be positive. I'm looking forward to the new viewer - it sounds good, but I think it would have been a good idea to include the residents, and to keep up the user group. 

- Luc -

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