24 February 2012

LL's Third Party Viewer Policy changes: Screw you, developers!

LL today announced, in a very contentious meeting, four new sections for the Third Party Viewer Policy. From the posting on the SL blog/forum:
Here are the new sections of the policy:
2.a.iii : You must not provide any feature that circumvents any privacy protection option made available through a Linden Lab viewer or any Second Life service.
2.i : You must not display any information regarding the computer system, software, or network connection of any other Second Life user.
2.j : You must not include any information regarding the computer system, software, or network connection of the user in any messages sent to other viewers, except when explicitly elected by the user of your viewer.
2.k : You must not provide any feature that alters the shared experience of the virtual world in any way not provided by or accessible to users of the latest released Linden Lab viewer.
Taken together, these changes are a big fat "screw you!" to TPV developers, with one exception.

The first outlaws true online status as shown by Phoenix. In the process, LL will break function used for other reasons then being eeeeevil: the llRequestAgentData() LSL function I used in this post to show a user's true online status will now only work for the owner of the scripted item and the creator of the script - or so we were told. Since the creator of a script is lost when the script is placed in a prim, that doesn't make much sense. If the Lab provides a way for legitimate users of the data to deal with their needs some other way, that's great; on balance, it's a win, though it's going to break thousands of items inworld.

The other three are simply LL telling TPVDs how the cow eats the cabbage.

The second bans the viewer tag system used by every TPV except for CoolVL. The stated reason is to protect the user's privacy, with an aside about people being bullied into switching. The politest term I can use to comment on that reasoning is that it's bullshit. What it's really about is LL not wanting people to know that their viewer is used by a minority of the user base, and that there are other viewers out there that are much more popular because they fail to suck.

The third is similar. There was some question as to whether turning on RLV was sufficient opt in to enable the @version reply message, which includes the name and version of the viewer; Oz said it would be. It also permits the use of the feature that shows whether a user is using Phoenix or Firestorm in the support groups, if they opt in (currently, that setting is opt-out). So yeah, they threw us a bone. Even so, the effect of these two is to greatly diminish the effects of the overwhelming majority of users running something other than the official viewer - which is exactly what LL wants. Their thinking, which they won't admit to but is blindingly obvious to anyone who looks, is that they hope to keep people from migrating away from their viewer.

The last is the worst. It prohibits TPVs from developing features for Second Life that won't instantly appear the same on the official viewer. Many of the features that users have requested most - multi-attach, avatar physics, parcel Windlight to name three - started out as features that TPVs introduced. They were all proposed to LL before they were introduced, and got shot down in flames; LL's use of the first two features came two years after they were introduced. The third doesn't exist yet in the official viewer, even though LL asked us not to introduce it before they did - and that was fifteen months ago.

Now they want us to submit proposals to them through the official process, then work with them to develop them in the official viewer, and only when the official viewer can show them can we roll them out in the TPV. Let's see...they can squash the feature entirely, after taking however long they damned well please to even look at the proposal; if they do accept it, you can't develop it in your own viewer, but only in the craptacular official viewer; and they can roll the feature out in the official viewer immediately when it's done, but we have to wait for that before rolling out our own.

This puts LL completely in control of our development cycle if we do have a new feature that's somehow survived the gauntlet. Worse, it's not symmetrical: the Lab can develop new things in secret, and spring them on an unsuspecting grid, leaving TPVs to catch up as best we can - and Oz said today they would continue doing that.

This limits TPVs to working in the UI, leaving actual improvements to the SL platform entirely at the mercy of LL. Tell me why we're supposed to be other than thoroughly pissed off at this?

The last paragraph is ripe with possibility for unintended consequences. Oz said that RLV would not be banned under that policy, and that parcel Windlight was getting a free pass - but only until LL got off its ass and released their version. I'm not holding my breath for that one. Look how long we've been waiting already. I'll also not believe that they'll do other than develop it in secret, without our participation, and then demand we remove it immediately, without giving us time to adapt the feature for our viewers, until it actually happens - and then only when it's a fait accompli. Oz also swears up and down that the process will be different. I'll believe that only when I see it, preferably several times.

No, we're not happy with the changes in the TPVP. We're stuck with them anyway. Fuck you too, LL.


  1. and how does this surprise you/us ? LL will keep doing BS like this, why? Cos their history proves it, is why.
    I strongly urge you (Phoenix) to look into other grids now, IMO you should have done so long ago as Phoenix is the one viewer that has the biggest user base and even if its developed for SL only lots of users jump through hoops to make it work in other grids. That should indicate how popular it is.
    Oz said that reason that new implemencation of new features was turned down a lot in the past was due to old management and that he sint there .. no I wont go into a debate about the current management (but bleugh) that said where is the guarantee that the current management will stay (i.e Rodvik) and ditto for Oz. Thing might change down the line and then what ? Whats next ? I wouldnt trust LL (or Oz for that matter) af far as I can throw them, and if you knew me I throw like a girl ..and a weak girl at that.

  2. And i second all that is said about developing Phoenix/firestorm to other grids!
    It's time to say to the Lab, THERE IS MORE THEN SL!