Who, What, Why?
Tuesday, August 18
by neilC on Tue 18 Aug 2009 13:36 BST
Mark Kingdon has announced a new Media Plugin API for the SL viewer. I know it's controlled for just this reaction, but I do like the sense of progress that this gives - only yesterday I was reading about the promised land of support for viewing documents, proper web browsing and new media formats in the presentations from SLCC, and thinking it'd be late next year, then the very next day this. Predictably the comments section of the post is a mass of 'Yay, awesome' and 'Boo this sucks'.
I think the plugin idea will advance media support much more rapidly - I can see plugins for remote desktop viewing using VNC, and displaying PDFs both coming quickly. For education and enterprise uses, this makes a lot of sense. For a social, open to all platform it makes less sense - now you can't be sure that everyone can see your content - what will they see if they don't have the plugin? But we'll get over that - we did on the web, Flash and Java being the obvious examples. The mechanism for downloading the plugins and keeping them up to date must be transparent and flawless. How this will work for large estates with tight policies on software rollout, like university campuses and corporations is another matter.
But where it gets interesting is to look at the details on the wiki. The announcement seems to be focusing on 'viewing' various sorts of media, as identified by it's MIME type. But looking closely at the messages that can be sent between viewer and plugin you'll find mouse, keyboard and scroll events as well as cursor and focus - so clearly the infrastructure is being put in place for properly interactive media surfaces. This is hugely exciting, and raises tons of questions - the concept of a surface having focus simply doesn't exist in the viewer right now to my knowledge, how will this be indicated and managed? How will I swap to chatting from entering text in my Google Doc? I suspect it will be quite a while before those things are implemented in the main SL viewer. Until then there is the Roobaab clickable, scrollable browser, of course :-)
Update 24th August...
Well it didn't take long - Aimee Trescothick has created a media plugin for SL based on the new llMedia API for viewing the VNC desktop sharing protocol.
Now we just need a release of the viewer that supports it, and we can view shared desktops in SL. Of course it is already possible with high quality video streaming, but you need a huge bandwidth and an expensive hosting account to do a desktop at reasonable resolution. So this is a big step forward for SL, and will bring it in line with realXtend that I believe already supports VNC, along with Wonderland and Qwaq Forums. Nice one Aimee.
Sunday, August 16
by neilC on Sun 16 Aug 2009 11:21 BST
Roobaab is a new collaboration tool to bring a team together without bringing the team together. Work collaboratively with a powerful, easy to use community collaboration and publishing tool, then when you need to meet your collaborators, launch a fully integrated 3D immersive meeting space, in either Second Life or a private OpenSim instance. The content to be discussed is immediately visible to all attendees on a clickable, scrollable browser. Participants can converse using built in VoIP and text chat is logged as meeting minutes back to the community site. Other tools include 3D pointers and an interactive notecard board. Read on for high quality video and detailed description more »
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