03 April 2010

SL Viewer 2: the menus

Second LifeOk, so SL Viewer 2 is now the official viewer. So I suppose they've put a lot of thought and work into it, making sure the most obvious (and easily fixed) bugs are gone and it's more user-friendly than any viewer ever could be. Let's have a look.
This is part 3

Hey, now I closed the Address bar, I don't see my current location anymore. Let's just look in the menus to see if there's anything that can be done about it.

SL Viewer 2

Ok, 'Me' menu, what's that supposed to be? Where's the File menu? How the heck do I upload stuff now? Every other app has a File menu. It is common sense. Users expect a File menu. Why is it gone?! Well, we've had our chances, no more uploads, we're stuck with everything that's ever uploaded now, we'll have to deal with it, I suppose.
Yeah I know, this menu is now in some illogical location, it makes no sense whatsoever not to have it at the default place.

Seriously, a 'Me' menu? Isn't it more intuitive to simply right-click my avatar? I remember being a new user once and that stuff never confused me. What makes you think current new users are going to have a problem with right-clicking their avatars?

Then, the Edit menu is gone too. Again, every other app has an Edit menu right next to File, why - is - it - gone?! What do have in its place? Communicate. What? What's that doing up there. I have two communication-related buttons on the bottom bar. Why can't I use them instead? I'm clicking on it, but nothing happens. Why not? Why have an extra Communicate menu that could have been integrated in the Communicate buttons on the bottom right, which now most of the time do nothing and are completely useless and a waste of space!

Ok, next. World menu. Ah, something sensible. Hey look! The minimap! I was missing that! Let's quickly open it. Hmm... It's rather big. And dark. Why isn't it half transparent anymore, like it used to be? I just came to the conclusion that inworld content is what I'm here for and that UI elements should not get in the way. Then WHY make a totally black, ugly minimap?! Oh, and it's on the wrong side of the screen, I want it in the upper right corner, where it used to be the last three years, ever since I joined SL. Ok, I can scale it down a bit and snap it to the upper right. Where it now blocks half the buttons for the sidebar. I will get to that later. Let's just say we're happy now having the minimap back in its normal position.

Ok next. Hmm, what does Show do in the World menu? AH! Show coordinates. That sounds lovely, let's turn it on. Hm... Nothing. Is it really on? Yes, it says it's on. Where are my coordinates then? I don't see it. I see a large black waste of space in the menubar where the region + coordinates used to be. But it's not working. I suppose it's a BUG in an OFFICIAL release. They FORGOT to add the coordinates!
Yeah, I know, this stuff shows up in the Address bar, but since I've hidden that hideous thing, I have no way of seeing my coordinates anymore. And there's a lot of wasted space on the menu bar, why, WHY couldn't the location and coordinates be on there, LIKE IT WAS?!

Speaking of bugs, I try to close the menu by clicking it again. It does not close. Luckily, there's a JIRA for that: VWR-18382.

Build menu, ok, good. Help menu, sure, fine. Advanced menu (if toggled on), that's good.

Then there's that whole bunch of wasted space, especially if the Advanced menu is off (which I imagine most users have). This space would be PERFECT to put, let's say, my current location and coordinates. Oh wait, that used to be on there. Now it's GONE! WHY?!

Anyway, then there's my L$ balance. Somewhere in the middle where you can't easily find it. And it's in inconspicuous grey. Hey, this is important info I need all the time. Why is it in a location where I can't find it FAST? Why is it grey? If you too want this back how it used to be: VWR-18777.
To make things worse, right next to the L$ balance is a completely unnecessary text/button 'Buy L$'. And that IS in green! Hang on, if I click my balance, I get a window where I can buy more L$. So why then is there an extra button that does exactly the same thing, but also takes up precious space. I could have used that space to see, oh let's say, my inworld coordinates. Get rid of that annoying text.

Then there's the time, that's fine. But hey, try this out. The time is clickable. That is, you can click it and it makes that clickity sound. So it is clickable. But what does it do? Allow me to change the time? Does it allow me to change from PDT to GMT or whatever time zone I want it to display (which could actually be very useful). No. It does absolutely - nothing. Ok, the few hairs I had left are now officially ripped out my head.

Then, there is, what? A Media play button and a speaker icon. What is that doing there? If it absolutely had to be on the menu bar, copying from OS X, it could be to the left of the time. Not where it is right now. And then that space which it is now wasting (since I hardly ever use it) could be occupied by either a Search icon (magnifying glass) or the good old bandwidth meter. I suppose it's time to reopen VWR-3156 for this.

Now, all this crap like 'this should be there and that should be here' wouldn't be so bad if Viewer 2 allowed customization. I remember talking about customization back in the days I could still attend triages, so surely the Lindens know it's what people want. In fact, my browser, Opera, is fully customizable. I can put the tabs to the left or to the right or at the top, whichever I like best. I can take off the Next and Previous buttons if I want, I don't use them anyway, I have keyboard and mouse gestures for that. And there are a lot of skins available if I don't like the default one, so I can easily make the browser, which I use a lot, look and feel exactly how I like it. But there is none of it in SL Viewer 2.0. No customization. Oh sure, you can hide the address bar and the favourites bar and some of the buttons at the bottom bar. But that also takes away much needed functionality. Camera Presets are really cool, but they're worthless if I hide the View button from the bottom bar, simply because I don't like it.

Anyway, we're not done with the Viewer yet, I still have to take a look at the sidebar and of course I'll need to try the Viewer in practical situations. I will try to be social, be creative with photography, building and scripting. How does the Viewer feel when just trying to live your average Second Life?

Stay tuned and read on. I will go over the sidebar next...

...in part 4.
(Be prepared)

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