[opensource-dev] Plugins/Modular architecture

Talia Tokugawa talia.tokugawa at googlemail.com
Thu Sep 2 08:13:24 PDT 2010

Hi, first post on this mailing list.
So I wake up this morning and I Login to SL using Snowstorm and I am
instantly annoyed it's not Emerald. I got to thinking on the subject of
viewers, secondlife and the general usage thereof. There are many different
user types, new residents, power users, lindens, developers etc. Yet there
are only a limited number of Viewers and TPV that you can pick from. X
number of holes for a potentially unlimited number of blocks to fit into.

I know this has been suggested before as friends have suggested it. Why not
make the viewer more Modular? Introduce a plugin architecture. Allow any
user to "build" their own client that fits their needs and requirements.

If you look at the lists of features that are currently available to people
and then try fit them to the different user stories how do you justify that?

So for example. We take a look at the "New Resident" profile. They arrive in
Second Life. No community gateway and only wiki/kb to assist them. They have
this big program to learn.. How much of this could be stripped out to
plugins to reduce the UI cliff that they have just ran into. Very simple
starting example here. LSL editor. How many users (not just new users)
actually code? This "program" could be taken out and made into a plugin.
Likewise with the edit windows. New users could quite happily do without
having a full edit window. Maybe just reduce that to a "fitting" window for
attachments. Have a basic window with Pos/Rot/Scale. Both these examples are
something that different user stories would need, but just confuse things
for the new user, then as the user becomes familiar with what they want they
can get plugins to enable them to take on different roles. Say then want to
start making attachments. They would goto the plugin repository and get the
"advanced edit" window. Later down the line they decide they want to get
themselves some land and do some landscaping they'd go back to the
repository and get themselves the "land tools" plugin.

This is just a very simple case study for how this system would appear to
the users. I guess it wouldn't be to hard to supply clients with plugin
bundles. Different user profiles could get the basic stripped down vanilla
client with a specific set of plugins tailored to their requirements, going
right through to a full official client with all the plugins to have a
client that is as capable as the current clients.

I think given this structure, third party plugins over third party viewers
would become far more common place. If you look through the feature requests
list for snowstorm. Half the items on that list are features that come
direct from Emerald.

In terms of keeping an eye on things it would be a lot easier for LL too. If
a system were set in place where the source of the plugins were uploaded to
LL for addition into the plugin repository the Labs could check through the
code before compiling and getting the LL seal of approval. As opposed to the
current system of TPV where a new viewer is compiled by one person from a
team and the whole system relies on trust of that one person (ref. emerald).

Anyways, my two pence on the whole viewer thing ;)
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