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Second Life: The Frustrating Viewer

These are some of my personal observations after using Second Life for 15 years and building up a backlog of things that annoy me and I want to see improved. Today focusing on the inventory management experience of our beloved viewer. Both the official Second Life Viewer, and Firestorm.

Inventory: Straight outta 2003.

Did you ever try searching for something in your inventory? Of course you did, there is a huge search bar up there – unless you decided you’d rather jump out of a window than rely on the unwinding chaos that the search unleashes, sending your inventory spinning up and down, listing thousand of items like a roller-coaster.

How do you even find a specific item?

Your options are memorizing all your items, doing a really good inventory management for a few years up to nearly two decades, or utilizing search bar and hoping the creator has named the item something sensible.

Unfortunately, a lot of the time they don’t.

Inventory management

Second Life is getting old, an infinity of items is piling up, and without organizational tools chaos reigns.

Inventory management is absolutely lackluster in Second Life. Searching for pants or jeans doesn’t always find what you need because naming is not standardized by the community, and we don’t have any implemented inventory management systems. Or rather, we don’t have any currently useful ones. There are system clothing layers that come in several different types and have different icons, but you cannot search or filter for a specific subtype.

So you have to take inventory management into your own hands. Do you pull all items out of folders and put them in dedicated categories for each body. Or do you have folders for clothing categories, but when you open something you realize it does not support the body you are currently wearing? And if you don’t remember what that item looks like from the name alone, are you even sure it even is the item you want? Putting on five different folders on yourself while trying to find that one item, losing precious time.

Searching is tough.

We can do multiple search strings in the search bar, such as ‘jacket+maitreya’ but not everyone knows that this feature even exists, and even I don’t know if LL made it or did they take it from a third party viewer. In last update Firestorm got search perimeters for permissions Copy, Mod, Trans. Yet the official viewer still doesn’t support that.

  • Make it clearer to users that you can, in fact, utilize the plus sign in the inventory search bar (try typing, for example, “Lelutka+lipstick” in search). I don’t remember LL making this feature clear anywhere, but learning it makes this entire mess a bit easier to handle – only if the item is well named, of course. Perhaps give us a tooltip when we hover over the search bar, listing the searching features?

There is too much repetition.

Why can’t I hide Library? Why is my Inventory in an Inventory folder? If I want to close inventory, I close the Inventory window. If I close the Inventory folder then what? I still have a giant window showing absolutely nothing covering a portion of my screen, total redundancy. If I reset my inventory preview it closes that folder, so I have to go open it every time.

  • Allow us to hide the Library, please. We are never going to use it and it clutters search results.
  • Remove the parent Inventory folder which contains the whole inventory. It is redundant.

Suggestion for creators

Item names have gotten worse, same things are called five different names or are given completely unrelated name, and everything has different compatibility naming scheme.

  • Instead of naming your item “Storename – Laura” where “Laura” can be anything ranging from a hairstyle to a shoe, try including the item type as well. “Laura harness” will make things a lot clearer and easier to search for.
  • Consider using full names of bodies in their respective object names. I have clothes in my inventory for Maitreya called “MT”, “ML”, “M”, “MP” and so forth. If you write a standard full name like “Maitreya” or “Lara” people will have a much easier time navigating clothes for their favorite body without having to think of different abbreviations creators have come up with, to put in the search bar.

The “Current Outfit”

Ever attached something and your whole inventory shifted up a space? Tried to wear different items and misclicked because it keeps moving? That is often because of Current Outfit folder showing up, popping up, moving your entire inventory when something gets changed. This is one of my most frustrating daily experiences in Second Life.

And why do we have Current Outfit in every tab and window? Inventory tab has it. Recent Tab has it, Worn tab is Current Outfit! And another Current Outfit when you open up Outfit Gallery? Why is there so much redundancy?

  • Make it so the “Current Outfit” entry doesn’t keep popping up whenever we attach an item, because it shifts the entire inventory down and makes us misclick things. Keep it static.
  • Reduce how many of Current Outfit views exist.

The dot in Newer/Older

Inventories can reach over hundreds of thousands items, there isn’t much that can help cleaning it besides setting in an ‘Older than’ and going to town on old items. And why does the Newer/Older filter have decimals? Are we going to search for items Older than 51.685 of a day? I know this is due to coding, but it looks plain ugly.

  • Remove the decimals in Newer/Older section.

Expanding management options:

How about a tag system?

Tags have potential, though if LL can think of some better alternative I will happily take it. With current marketplace integration all this time items could’ve had tags that are just their marketplace categories. Simple but useful. From that we can go and expand it into a tag larger system, where creators would be limited in how many tags they can attach in order to keep some balance.

  • Give us a tag system for items or folders! Make them searchable – and most importantly, searchable in combination. It will require some work on the users’ part as well, if we want to go back and tag everything, but once complete it can help us immensely – do a search for “jacket+legacy+petite” – and there they all are!! Finally!
  • You can even dedicate a portion of search bar exclusively for Compatibility, allowing us to search inventory for them exclusively.

Item subtypes?

We have different system clothing icon types, but we barely use any of them after mesh fashion has completely replaced system clothing. And we never had the actual option to filter out subtypes or search through them, it only helped us visually when going through folders but these days all our items are just the generic object icon.

  • Expand inventory clothing icons and allow them to be assigned to mesh objects.
  • Break down types into subtypes, so we can do a more narrow search. Such as the ‘pile of objects’ icon from Objects – how is this not even in the filter already is beyond me. Clothing into Alpha, Shirt, Jacket, and so on.
  • Allow subtypes be filtered out for search use instead of only showing their differences visually.

The outfit gallery

You can snapshot your Outfits and keep them in a gallery. Something not everyone knows either! Of course, it completely ignores your folder structure in Inventory>Outfits so instead of seeing your nicely sorted outfits, you get 700 outfits sorted alphabetically.

  • A lot of us utilize subfolders in our Outfits folder to organize them by year, etc. The Outfit Gallery feature grabs all outfits regardless of subfolder and sorts them alphabetically – please make it possible to keep the outfit snapshots sorted in the same subfolders, and maybe add different sorting features such as “date created” and “date modified”.
  • Likely too difficult to implement, but having a button to go through all outfits automatically and getting a somewhat generic photo of it would help kickstart the visual gallery.

A second look at alpha

Alphas are in a strange place, our inventories are cluttered with thousands of alphas that will never get used again. Most mesh bodies have alpha slices that increase their complexity but remove the need for them altogether, but the more optimized mesh bodies without slices still require alpha layers. Those can be quite difficult to fit well and even worse to find the right match for your shape.

There is room for LL to help with an integrated tool inside the viewer instead of reading a static alpha texture. How about creating it based on user input? That way it could be far more precise and made in a similar way current HUD bodies use the alpha slices but doing it locally first. We can’t really do actual 3d painting inside the viewer so this would have to be somewhat simple.

  • There is potential for LL to do some revamping regarding alphas, as right now they are in a strange place.

Quick previews

Seeing what is actually in a folder takes time, finding and opening the texture, and then waiting for it to load. How about reading the first full perm texture in a folder to show it as a preview on mouseover? But stored locally in the cache so it is instant! Instant preview of folders would truly be amazing, I am sure there are some technical difficulties but this would be great.

  • Cache 1 full-perm texture in each folder, and instantly show it on mouse-over.

That’s all from me!

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