Monday, March 10, 2008

New HOAP for Second Life

I had lost a little faith in Second Life, but there's new hope coming about when it comes to Second Life being a serious tool for business: Html-On-A-Prim.

Gwynneth Llewelyn wrote an excellent article on this new feature and its implications, here's a short extract:

"A few months ago - not many in terms of “real life”
hours, but an eternity in Second Life® - a brief discussion with Linden Lab exposed the rumour that they were planning to integrate an HTML browser inside the Second Life application client. This is not a revolutionary breakthrough - things like ActiveWorlds or OpenCroquet have done it ages ago, and the world did not shatter and end at that time.

Some eager residents of SL were happy about the idea. At the very least, you would be able to exchange notecards with “rich text”. Perhaps even have a way to browse a bit while in-world - no more need to open up your browser to check the Help pages, do some forum posting, or even insert events directly from in-world.

On a second stage (according to Linden Lab®), HTML may be directly drawn on top of a prim face. This would mean, for starters, a way to get outside information on top of a 3D world. Older platforms already allow for this usage of HTML. Things like proper text management on top of a prim are finally possible - books, slide-show presenters, coreboards, even clothes vendors, will be able to get away with textures for writing text, and use HTML-rendered text instead.

The third stage is full integration. Prims with HTML pages (and LL is still thinking on how this will happen) will be point-and-click browseable. Neither we nor Linden Lab have yet figured out how exactly this will be implemented..."

HTML on a Prim boosts options for virtual workspace

Although the features at this time are pretty basic, it has brought Second Life back into focus for me as a possible platform for serious collaboration. My frustration with SL was mainly caused by lack of real collaboration possibilities.

What it all boils down to is that you rez a prim and put a webpage on it. Now you can look at a webpage with others. Nothing spectacular, but it gets more serious when you can look at secure webpages. I've done some tests with a colleague displaying secure content. Through the built-in media browser you can access and log into secure sites, then use the option to 'send current URL to parcel' and it will display set itself at the parcel media URL and display at the screen. Your fellow observer won't see the webpage unless he's logged in as well. Today we started working through some of our project tools (like JIRA) in which we can monitor our projects.

It works. We could both look at 'classified content' and discuss the status of a project, manage service calls and have a look at the time budgets for the project at hand. At the end there was one question nagging me: Security? Anyone?

The thing is, Second Life doesn't have the reputation of being a safe and sound business environment (remember ABN is partly moving to Active Worlds because they need a secure environment). What happens with my username and password when I enter this info in the built in browser?

A Quick HOWTO:

Maybe it's me, but it took me some time to fiddle out how it worked. And because there's a little bug (it can crash your sim) I thought I'd do you the favour of a quick 'howto'.

The feature only works with the new Release Candidate 1.19.1 client (March 6th) and there are a few new features that are obvious - such as the extra media tab next to the talk settings - and some little settings to tweak in the 'Preferences' bit.

The basic element for displaying web content is in the estate management settings, the 'About Land' configuration where you have the option to set the media url for the parcel. The downside is that you can only set one URL per parcel. Remember to select the texture that will be used on the prims to display the content as well. If you're working behind a firewall or proxy, you now have the option to set proxy stuff as well in the preferences bit (pic right)

Then build the prim, select the desired texture (in this case the new *default media texture) corresponding with the texture set at the media options in the previous step. Then go to the general tab and select prim properties. Where you used to have buy, open and sit options, there are now two extra's: Open Media Content and Play Media Content.

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Blogger Gwyneth Llewelyn said...

That's a great tutorial at the end of your article! I liked Torley's videos, but, somehow, a few words and some pictures were quite easier (and quicker!) to read and understand.

You're so right that HTML-on-a-prim facilitates collaboration. Actually, it seems such an obvious use for SL's HTML-on-a-prim that I keep forgetting to use it in my own meetings :) (then again, not all the participants are using the RC viewer or even know about it — but this RC should become the "standard" version pretty quickly, I hope)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008 11:14:00 AM  

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