Some Second Life users have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of “HTML on a prim” for years now.
Linden Lab is making progress on this front with the new “web content as parcel media” in a test version of Second Life.
The test version is called Release Candidate 1.19.1. Being a release candidate means the changes are not too far from being moved into the normal client, the one everyone that joins Second Life gets when they start.
The new web content on a parcel is not the more complex and powerful “HTML on a prim” but it is a major step along that path.
This picture shows my profile on the Mashable.com social networking news site.
Second Life has been using a Firefox variant to display various web pages and other parts of the interface for a while now. Release Candidate 1.19.1 promotes that Firefox based browser to first class citizen status, allowing SL users to view web pages in the Second Life interface in that browser.
Once this catches on web designers should begin making pages that are smaller than normal pages, possibly sized like pages made for display on mobile devices like the iPhone or Google phone. The small size is critical to make these pages pleasant to use without scrolling while blocking as little of the Second Life world as possible. One would expect SLExchange and OnRez to make such pages. I’m hoping that other businesses will do so.
I am also hoping that groups like the Second Life Mentors, New Citizens Inc., Hobos, and individuals like Prokofy Neva and Gwendolyn Llewellyn might make some good web pages designed to fit in a small space, somewhat like the old abandoned F1 Help pages were designed, but the new ones need to designed to be even smaller – half the height of the old F1 Help pages, maybe half the width as well. New users and those who help the new users need to be able to leave the help screen displayed a lot of the time without blocking too much of the world view.
The web browser panel itself could stand to be put on a diet – it has a bunch of wasted space in the frame that hold the window titel and buttons – for an abnormal use like the web browser in a virtual world viewer, conventions about having a separate window title line, and putting a few button on this line, and a few more on that line, and some blank space for esthetics, and some padding on the sides, should be tossed out and just cram those controls into as small a space as workable.
Here’s an url for some guidelines on designing pages for mobile devices that people designing pages for use in the in-client SL web browser might want to take to heart: Usability guidelines for websites on mobile devices
I am wanting social networks to get hooked up in the virtual worlds, along with collaboration software like Zoho.com’s offering, Google Docs, the upcoming online Microsoft office products, and the Adobe 3D graphics collaboration .
Second Life Release Candidate 1.19.1 also includes the much talked aboutchanges to the weather, sky, lighting and shading system known as Windlight .
I think the introduction of the web into Second Life will be more of a change than Windlight. Windlight just changes some fairly superficial aspects of how things look. Getting the web into Second Life, not in the limited form in the 1.19.1 version, but the full featured form it will have a few more versions from now, will change the way that people interact, the way they connect to each other.