Archive for March, 2010

An Important Announcement Regarding the Third-Party Viewer Policy

One month ago, Linden Lab announced its Third-Party Viewer Policy, which sets the rules for connecting to Second Life via third-party viewers such as the Imprudence Viewer.

Although we, the Imprudence developers, agree with the stated goals of the policy, we believe the policy document itself was poorly crafted and had a number of serious problems. However, Linden Lab soon assured the developer community that the policy would be revised, so we waited to see the final version before deciding what to do about it.

This past weekend, it was revealed that the policy had been silently updated sometime in the past two weeks, and that Linden Lab has no plans to further revise it. Unfortunately, the revised Third-Party Viewer policy still has most of the problems of the original. But, because this is apparently the final version, the Imprudence team met earlier this week to discuss the matter and decide how to proceed.

Let me state clearly that we believe the policy was well-intentioned, and that its stated goals are laudable. However, as a consequence of how the policy is currently written, certain parts of it would place the Imprudence project and its developers under unacceptable constraints, obligations, and legal risks. Specifically:

  • Section 2(b) requires that all content export features must verify that the creator name for all exported content is the same as the name of the user exporting it. Although that restriction is well-intentioned, it would prohibit exporting even when the user has a legitimate right or license to export the content. The content export tools in Imprudence already perform creator checks similar to those described in the policy, but we do not want to discard the possibility of finding a better way to discourage illegal copying in the future.
  • Several sections require that we agree in advance to comply with various requests from Linden Lab:
    • Section 4(a)(i) requires that we agree to update or delete any data received from Second Life, at Linden Lab’s request.
    • Section 4(b)(iii) requires that we agree to modify our privacy practices at Linden Lab’s request.
    • Section 8(c) requires that we agree to stop using or distributing the viewer at Linden Lab’s request.
    • Section 8(d) requires that we agree to add, modify, or remove parts of the viewer at Linden Lab’s request, within a time frame dictated by Linden Lab.

    In effect, those four sections require us to promise to obey Linden Lab’s every future whim. We are unwilling to make such broad promises, not knowing what they may request. If and when Linden Lab makes any request of us, we will use our own judgement to decide how best to handle that particular request.

  • Sections 7(a) and 7(d) require that we assume all responsibility (i.e. legal liability) for everything in the viewer. That would make us responsible not only for our own work, but even for bugs that were created by Linden Lab and that are also found in the official viewer. Furthermore, agreeing to those sections would potentially nullify the legal protection granted to us under section 12 of the GNU GPL, and thus place an unacceptable amount of legal risk over our heads. [Update April 22: The policy has been amended recently, and our concerns described in this paragraph no longer apply.]

Because the parts of the policy described above are unacceptable, we cannot agree to the policy as a whole. This has several consequences for our users, ourselves, and the future of the project:

  • Effective immediately, we no longer officially support using the Imprudence Viewer to connect to Second Life. The viewer is now intended to be used only with OpenSim-based services, such as OSGrid, ReactionGrid, and the 3rd Rock Grid.
  • Accordingly, we will remove the Second Life main and beta grids from the viewer’s default grid list. Any individual who chooses to use the viewer to connect to Second Life anyway, does so without our knowledge or encouragement.
  • Because we have not agreed to the policy, we are not allowed to connect to Second Life with any third-party viewer. Therefore, we are relocating our weekly developer meetings to a grid that does not have this restriction. The new location will be announced on the developer mailing list once arrangements have been made.
  • Even though we do not agree to the policy as a whole, we will honor the parts of the policy that we consider to be reasonable and fair to our users and ourselves. To that end, we are drafting a privacy policy to describe our practices regarding user data, and we are making several minor changes to the viewer to address potential issues.

This was not an easy decision to make, nor one made lightly. We realize, and sincerely regret, that this will cause a considerable amount of inconvenience for our users, as well as ourselves. However, we believe that these steps are necessary to preserve the project’s integrity and our ability to continue developing the viewer.

We hope that Linden Lab might some day revise the policy so that we can once again support using the Imprudence Viewer to connect to Second Life. But, we must proceed now under the assumption that the policy will stand as it is currently written. We therefore encourage our users to take any steps necessary to adjust to this new state of affairs.

[April 24 update: Looking to the Future]

Imprudence 1.3.0 beta 2 Released

Imprudence 1.3.0 beta 2 is now available for your beta testing pleasure! We’re still far from done with Imprudence 1.3, but some users encountered major issues with beta 1, so we wanted to make the fixes available quickly.

This beta version adds a handful of new features that have been making their way down the pipeline: Temporary Texture Uploads, Breast Physics, “SpeedRez”, and more! There are also a many bug fixes, both big and small. As usual, check out the release notes for the full details. Users of 64-bit Ubuntu Karmic should be aware that there is a severe known issue related to your platform, with a simple work-around.

If you try out this beta release, please take a few minutes to give us feedback about your experience, good or bad. We want to hear from you!

Enjoy!

Imprudence 1.3 beta 1 Released

Oh look, Imprudence 1.3 beta 1 is now available! And just as I happened to be writing up this blog post to announce it, too. What a fortuitous coincidence!

There’s still a sizable chunk of work to be done before the final 1.3 release, but we’ve made a lot of progress, and we wanted to give you all something fresh to play with. :D

One of the major focuses of Imprudence 1.3 has been to bring Imprudence up to date with SL 1.23. In addition to gaining the features and improvements from that feature, updating makes it considerably easier to port features and changes from other viewers. The update has been a big effort, and there are still some issues left to fix, but the dust is finally settling. My sincere thanks to everyone who has given us feedback about the 1.3 merge test build. You guys rock!

The other big news with this release is that we have incorporated the texture and object engine improvements from Snowglobe. You should notice significantly faster rezzing of textures and objects than in Imprudence 1.2!

Also in 1.3, you can now choose a legacy pie menu layout that’s quite similar to the layout used in SL 1.22 and earlier. Just turn on “Preferences > General > Use legacy pie menus” and off you go! This should be a big help to users who have the old layout ingrained from years and years of use.

Beta 1 also includes client identification and clothing layer protection, several smaller improvements, plus plenty of bug fixes, so be sure to check out the release notes for the full details. (If you used the test build, you’ll notice a great many bugs have been fixed from that as well, although we didn’t list them in the release notes.)

There’s still plenty of work left before we’re done with 1.3, but we hope you’ll enjoy the current progress! :)

Remember: We rely on your feedback to help improve Imprudence, so please post in the forums or leave a comment here on the blog. We want to hear from you, no matter whether your experience is positive or negative!

Enjoy!