Monday 9 April 2012

Teapot Viewer: Developer Working to build New Grid List

  I was please to learn Armin Weatherwax - an Imprudence/Kokua developer - has been working on the grid list. I was given a first look at the experimental grid list functions which Armin has added to his personal Teapot viewer which is based on Second Life 3.3 viewer code. The grid list in the viewer has been replaced with a list populated from the list maintained at Hypergrid Business. Armin said, "The list is converted from the list at hypergrid business. Initially I had the plan to make it more fancy by adding thumbnail pics of the login screens and some css magic. However that's rather not my domain of coding, and the plain list as it is now is a start."

I downloaded the viewer and on the footer is a familiar drop-menu of grids and also a "New Grids" button which I clicked and a small window opened with the full grid list and a note at the top stating 141 grids were found and a warning notice "Note: some of these grids, especially smaller ones, might be not online all day, or, at all." Anyway, I proceeded to click on the grid names from the popup window and the splash screens appeared in the main window displaying each active grid in turn as usual. Some failed with a popup saying address was wrong or the site could not be found. I found a few of those so Hypergrid Business list needs updating or some of the grids were off line. However, OSgrid failed too and I knew it was online so I guess the address on HB is out of date.

It was great to have so many grids to choose from without finding and entering every one myself. I still could add to the list for personal use anyway by entering an address on the footer drop-menu. I entered the correct address for OSgrid and it came up fine but this is just a start and entering addresses wont update the database so if HB list is going to be used in the future grid owners will have to make sure they get listed on that site by contacting Maria.

The list will get longer as more grids come on line and the owners add them to the database. Eventually, the list could get so long it becomes a chore to wade through trying to find a grid of interest. In fact, if the Metaverse keeps growing the list could get impossibly long! There is also the problem that grids are listed by their name which may or may not give any indication what kind of grid it is. Some are obvious like Universities or small clubs and games but commercial grids just use an interesting name as branding like InWorldz, Kitely and Avination. But what does the name say? This is where a Search option could be developed where users can enter keywords to get a shortened list of grids that fit their search words. For example; entering "roleplay" in a search box will filter out grids that don't have roleplay. I would suggest limiting the number of keywords anyway to a maximum of five that describes a particular grid. It would be up to the owners to state those five keywords. If Maria's list continues to be used then it will probably need further development. It does already carry active users stats so the search function could use those to place the most active grids to the top of the list in the menu.

However, Armin has said he would like to develop the login screen something like hgdirectory but a little less playful. Currently it's a static html page and to develop a search function he would need hosting with cgi. Well, that is something I would be willing to talk to him about since I already have a number of servers in use.

I have campaigned for a grid search function for several years so I am more than pleased there is some movement. I think here we have a good start thanks to Armin and I hope others will contribute to the development. I wrote about this issue recently here and I was pleased ZitZat of the Imp/Kokua team took up the matter and has got it on the work bench. Opensim and the open Metaverse needs it's own viewer or at least a greater focus on it's needs. Many are agreed on that and I am convinced the grid search will benefit users and grid owners alike.

Armin's Teapot viewer can be downloaded from here but please be aware that it is not listed by Linden Labs on their authorized TPV site although Armin says it complies with Linden Policy as far as he knows.