On object export and Third-Party Viewers

About two weeks ago (on the 14th of August), Exotix (Inara Pey) reported that Singularity 1.8.1 had improved its content import/export capabilities. Gwyneth Llewelyn welcomed this development and, about a week ago, Exotix (Inara Pey) also reported that Kokua 3.6.2 had adopted Singularity’s object export functionality as well.

This functionality allows people to export the objects they created as COLLADA .DAE and Wavefront .OBJ files, which gives them the ability to process them with external applications and re-import them to Second Life and other mesh-capable virtual worlds, taking advantage of the reduced LI that mesh can provideif done right.

Unfortunately, due  to the paranoia/prokanoia that has surrounded every attempt to give portability to content created in-world ever since the Copybot scare, there has been the typical (and predictable) misinformation. The purveyors of this misinformation claimed that Singularity  and Kokua have become “copybot viewers” and that they are in violation of Linden Lab’s Third-Party Viewer Policy for Second Life (which, for brevity’s sake, will be called TPVP from now on in this blog)  and most notably paragraph 2.b:

You must not use or provide any functionality that Linden Lab’s viewers do not have for exporting content from Second Life unless the functionality verifies that the content to be exported was created by the Second Life user who is using the Third-Party Viewer. Specifically, before allowing the user to export the content, the Third-Party Viewer must verify that the Second Life creator name for each and every content component to be exported, including each and every primitive or other content type, is the same as the Second Life name of the Third-Party Viewer user. This must be done for all content in Second Life, including content that may be set to “full permissions.”

I really don’t want to add emphases to the TPV paragraph quoted above, as I believe and hope my readers’ typical IQ is higher than their shoe size, but let me re-quote it, with added emphases, for those who still insist on reading blogs and forums whose authors can’t (be bothered to) get a single thing right:

You must not use or provide any functionality that Linden Lab’s viewers do not have for exporting content from Second Life unless the functionality verifies that the content to be exported was created by the Second Life user who is using the Third-Party Viewer. Specifically, before allowing the user to export the content, the Third-Party Viewer must verify that the Second Life creator name for each and every content component to be exported, including each and every primitive or other content type, is the same as the Second Life name of the Third-Party Viewer user. This must be done for all content in Second Life, including content that may be set to “full permissions.”

To cut a long story short: The TPVP allows TPV developers to give their viewers content export capabilities, but only if these capabilities ensure that the user exporting the content is the content’s creator. If that’s not simple enough, I’ll simplify it even more. The Lab says: “if you didn’t create it, you can’t export it”, and this also applies to full-permissions items, because a great deal of full-perms content is licenced only  for use within SL. Paragraph 2.b encompasses prims, sculpt maps, textures, scripts, the works.

As Tonya Souther of the Firestorm team explains, exporters for SL content have been around since well before the days of the once-popular and now-disgraced Emerald viewer. Even before Copybot, actually. And it actually makes sense to be able to export content created within SL. You see, it’s a given that the textures you’ve created or modified from textures you purchased are not only in your inventory, but also on your hard drives and any other local or cloud storage facility you care to mention; the same goes for animations, sounds and sculpt maps – you just can’t create this sort of content in-world.

You can create scripts both in-world and out of SL, although you really can test them only in-world. As for exporting scripts, if they are modifiable, or full-perm, or created by you, exporting them is just a matter of something as simple as “Select All/Copy/Paste”. But what about prims? They only exist in-world. You can’t create them outside of SL. Yeah, yeah, I know: prims are outdated, ugly and inefficient, and no one should care about them anyway. The truth is that I’ve seen many prim-only builds that look simply fantastic. Also, as Gwyneth Llewelyn pointed out in her own article, despite its tremendous limitations, the in-world prim-based build tools provided by LL (and incorporated in every viewer – official and TPV) is simple and understandable for people who have not made 3D graphics their full-time profession; something that simply cannot be said for the vast majority of 3D graphics applications out there.

Not to mention that the Lab’s choice for the gratis inclusion of an in-world, understandable and simple 3D content creation tool was wise, as it democratised SL’s economy and gave users a chance to become creators and merchants, without needing to spend money; many actually cut their teeth on prim-based builds, made a living and, when sculpts and, later, mesh came, they were able to invest time and money to learn the necessary skills and/or hire properly-trained staff. LL could very well have thrown its residents ahuge book of specifications at their users, telling them “Here; these are the supported forms of objects, now you go out and buy whatever the hell 3D graphics software you can, learn to use it, and then import the stuff here.” How many would have been impressed by that? Not many. Certainly not me. But LL commendably took an entirely different route: they took a page from the gift economy book and told us “here, you can create stuff using this floater.” Of course, the prokanoids despise the gift economy, but, for all their anti-gift economy, anti-open source rhetoric and their TL;DR rants about “techno-communism”, they take full advantage of any piece of benefit the gift economy and the Free/Open Source world gives them. Talk about hypocrisy and bullshit.

Both Emerald and Phoenix had exporters, and the loss of these viewers left in-world content creators with one tool less in their, ahem, toolkit. The Singularity and Kokua teams now offer content creators the tools to export the content they created; prim-based linksets, sculpts, meshes (without rigging information, though; copybotters will have to learn how to rig meshes, and this is way beyond both the intellectual capacity and the mentality of any copybotter) – and that’s a good thing, because it will not only allow someone to keep backup copies of the things they create, but also it allows them to make prototypes and “rough sketches” in-world and then refine them with external applications. Tonya’s post also points to an incorporation of these capabilities in release 4.5.1. of Firestorm, with some further improvements.

Of course, conspiracy theories are always bound to rear their ugly head; ever since LL’s viewer was open sourced, it has been claimed that it’s easy to make it capable of “stealing” content. It’s possible, and it’s happened; in fact, it’s still happening, and no amount of “alt detection/anti-copybot” malware/scamware will do a thing to stop it, especially given that these fraudulent applications are also quite easy to bypass (not to mention that a determined copybotter won’t even need to go to their shop at all; they can easily target someone who wears the content they want to copy). As we speak, some people have already started claiming that both Singularity and Kokua are “copybot” viewers and Firestorm will become one too, even though their exporters follow LL’s TPVP to the letter and the spirit; I wouldn’t be surprised if they went and asked the developers of their favourite “alt detection” scamware/malware to include these viewers in the “naughty” viewer list.

But really, the exporters that are in Singularity and Kokua, and the one that will be incorporated in Firestorm later on, do not violate the TPVP in any way; instead, they empower legitimate content creators.

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Mona

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See also:

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Shortlink: http://wp.me/p2pUmX-iJ

https://modemworld.wordpress.com/2013/08/24/kokua-offers-dae-exports/

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