We’ve been doing a tremendous amount of testing and bug fixing this week. I would like to extend a special thanks to those of you in the community who have helped with the testing! We had hoped to get the Preview release out earlier in the week, but there were a few show-stopper bugs that appeared late in the game. The release is certainly not bug-free yet, but Jon is doing the build this weekend and the release should be out on Monday, barring any major disasters over the weekend.
In what seems to have become a tradition, I’d like to share some of our testing experience and point out some of the new features in this release. In yesterday’s final test of the Preview build, we had up to 12 people in world for part of the time, and 6 who stayed to run through the entire test. The first thing we all tried was to configure our avatars. You now have a choice between two different low-poly avatars, including the two cartoon avatars shown below and two toy avatars. These are designed to improve performance while testing or when using a computer without a good graphics card. You can experiment with these by selecting "Configure Avatar" from the Edit menu.
To create an avatar that will walk, run, or perform gestures, click on the "New…" button in the Configure Avatar dialog. Jon and I found fairly normal looking clothes, but we have no idea what Mike was thinking!
Once we were happy with our avatars, we ran a shared X11 application. You now configure these using the Server Administration console. Once configured, users can add instances of the application into the world either by selecting "Component…" from the Insert menu or by opening up the Shortcuts panel (notice a "firefox" icon in the right-most position).
The next part of the test involved importing a variety of different sized Google Earth (kmz) formatted models into the world using both drag-and-drop and the "Model…" command from the Insert menu. After struggling with some bugs in this area at the beginning of the week, model importing is now working quite well. Although it’s not ideal, models that are over a certain size will appear on top of your avatar when you drag them into the world. This was preferable to the alternate behavior of them appearing so far away that you couldn’t see them. Smaller models will appear directly in front of you. If the model is very small, you may need to step aside (use the Q or E keys) to see it. Here are some nice large models, as well as a small seat.
One extremely handy new feature in this release is the ability to edit an object’s exact coordinates without having to open the property sheet. To do this, right click on a model and select "Edit…" from the context menu. This will bring up the Edit Component pane shown in the illustration above. If you want to position the object more precisely than you can with the graphical tools, click on the "Details…" button to open the position Details pane. This is a huge help if you are trying to align objects or move objects to another part of the world. One nice feature is that you can click on objects that you are not currently editing to check their coordinate numbers. Be a little careful – you need to click back on the model you want to move before editing the numbers, otherwise you’ll move the wrong one.
The Sticky Note module, contributed by a community member, is a great example of an interactive 2D Java application. In the standard Wonderland bundle, you will see two new items in the Components list: Sticky Note and Task Sticky Note, both illustrated below. After inserting one of these, right click on the new note to "Take Control." Now you can type in some text. Use the new "Release App Control" button that appears in the upper right corner of your Wonderland window when you are finished. You can use the "Edit…" context menu command to move the note, or use the "Change Color" context menu command to recolor your note.
Lastly, I would like to highlight Capabilities. These are generally useful features that can be applied to any object. To apply a capability to an object, right click on the object and select "Properties…" from the context menu. Then click on the "+" sign underneath the Capabilities pane. This will bring up the list of all capabilities that are installed on your system which can be applied to the selected object.
The Audio Capabilities are documented in the Adding Sound section of the "Creating and Importing Artwork for Non-Artists" tutorial. You can turn any enclosed space into a sound-proof area by applying the Cone of Silence capability, and you can make any object into a teleporter by adding the Portal capability. The Container capability allows you to group objects together. During the test, we dropped in an amphitheater and added the Container capability. Any objects we dropped in while standing inside the amphitheater were automatically grouped with the amphitheater, allowing us to reposition the amphitheater and have all the containing models move with it.
You can also manually add objects to a container by using the World Hierarchy editor that appears when you select "Properties…" from an object’s context menu. You may need to click on the arrow in front of "World Root" to see the details of the hierarchy.
Just drag and drop objects displayed in this list to nest them. Note that it if you plan to do this, you should use the Basic Properties pane to name each object, known as a "cell," otherwise your list of objects will be a jumble of numbers and you will have no way to tell what is what.
Another important use of the Container capability is to add the same security properties – another capability – to a set of objects. This way you can create a private meeting room, for example, and have all objects created within that space be viewable only by members of a particular group.
Testing wouldn’t be any fun without the bloopers. When we were testing adding objects to the world, Deron added a lunar lander model and placed it at the origin using the Details pane to set X, Y, and Z to zero. While testing something else, his client hung, so he had to quit and come back in. When he got back, his avatar came into the world inside the model. Deron said, "I was stuck in the lunar module! I moved it above my head and then I was okay." Good thing there weren’t too many people around to hear that conversation!
At one point, I had a tragic teleportation accident. I walked through a portal, but I didn’t quite come out whole on the other end. On top of that, I was tumbling around. Later, when I logged out and back in again, I came in with two avatars at the same time.
Real double trouble!