Two Steps Forward for Mesh … but can there be any more?

Froukje Hoorenbeek of Dutchie released her first Mesh furniture set on Friday – a kitchen table arrangement – and she sent me a copy to have a look at.

Dutchie's new kitchen table set
Dutchie's new kitchen table set

I think Froukje should be very proud of this – the design is great – as one would expect from her – and the texturing is lovely – I particularly oooh’ed over the folds of the tablecloth (which, by the way, you can colour-adjust).  It weighs in with a prim equivalent cost of 20 – well, I’d certainly expect something like that to gobble up twenty prims (not even counting the beautiful tulip (a very nice Dutch touch!) so it seems fair enough.

To view it, I had to abandon my usual Imprudence and Phoenix and come in on the latest SL client.  Not a huge hardship – I like the new viewer and see it as an enormous advance over the clunky and counter-intuitive Viewer 2.  There are still a few things I haven’t figured out – when Music AND Media are set on a parcel, how do you listen/watch one and not both at once?  Is it possible to do it without going in to Preferences (clunky)?

And I wish that I could still keep Conversations and my Friends List open in the same window (maybe I can – tell me, gurus!) but I do like the increased functionality of the Friends list which brings it closer to the best of the Third Party Viewers. I am finding it much more stable, but I know that it is causing difficulty for people who have medical conditions that find flashing alerts a problem. I get the feeling there are still things that will be ironed out or improved … but essentially THIS should have been the much-heralded Viewer 2 rather than the morass we were given originally.

That viewer fed directly into the huge explosion in Third Party Viewers and, eventually, to the debacle of the Emerald Viewer when, in effect, the majority of users chose a viewer that had some very dodgy provenance. Phoenix arose from the ashes of that and is has proved itself highly popular, dedicated to meeting user needs, and far more careful of its reputation.

It also allowed a graceful retreat from those who fulminated that they would leave Second Life if Linden Lab banned the Emerald viewer. The fact that Linden Lab DID ban the Emerald viewer and people adapted does rather suggest that – far from being the hidebound Luddites that some see them as – the Second Life denizens will make necessary transitions when given reasonable options.  And the new mesh-enabled viewer is, to my mind, one such reasonable option.

So, now I am equipped with my mesh-enabled viewer, do I see Mesh as the Next Big Thing?  Well, there are a couple of things holding it back.

Many people are still wedded to the Phoenix viewer, or other non-Mesh enabled viewers, and this means that instead of seeing me elegantly seated at my new kitchen table …

Sitting at the kitchen table (in the latest Linden viewer)
Sitting at the kitchen table (in the latest Linden viewer)

they would only see this …

Setting at the kitchen table (Phoenix viewer)
Setting at the kitchen table (Phoenix viewer)

The Phoenix team is making sterling efforts to bring their mesh-enabled Firestorm viewer at least up to non-buggy, stable-as-possible standards (and there’s a little cul-de-sac working on doing the same for Phoenix itself).  Other Third Party viewers such as Cool VL and Dolphin (to mention but two) are also mesh-enabled.  And it’s all the more impressive for Cool VL and Henri Beauchamp has back-ported the mesh code from Viewer 2 into Viewer 1.23 for those who really love that version (one of whom is, not surprisingly, Henri himself).

So, soon most people will be able to view mesh without needing to desert their favourite viewers (with all their favourite add-ons).  But is Mesh still a good thing?

Firstly, I think Mesh is proving a little slow to be adopted. There are mesh homes and mesh furniture out there – early adopters like Maxwell Graf and Abel Dreamscape have been building in mesh for a while – as you can see from this Designer Challenge.  But many of the well-known designers are coming on board quite slowly; the designers are reluctant to build until they are sure they can sell; the buyers are reluctant to buy something that they are not sure their friends will be able to see.

And, for the fashion industry, mesh clothing remains a problem.  Some people bravely turn up to parties wearing what to them looks like a gorgeous dress and super slinky hair – and many people see – or rather don’t see – an invisible body and a flat round torus hovering over a bald head.  But getting mesh clothing / hair to fit until the mesh deformer has been created will be an ongoing problem – if you want to know how that’s going, you can follow the Jira that’s been created here (but don’t derail it by starting discussions, Oz Linden asks).

In the furniture business, there may also be problems for people who are used to more flexibility.  Froukje has built in some great scripts to the kitchen table and chairs so that you can subtly adjust your seating position (something that wasn’t standard in most furniture until relatively recently).  But the nature of mesh means that you can’t change the overall positioning of the chairs – the set forms a single unit, and that may be a problem for some people.  And the need for scripts to adjust is going to raise the usual problems about the number of scripts in a region … but then, let’s be honest, non-mesh products is usually pretty script intensive.

I think it’s still early days.  It’s good to see high quality work, such as Froukje’s, coming on the market, and I hope it will tempt more people into making sure they can view mesh.

Newcomers, of course, will come in seeing mesh and will probably wonder what all the fuss is about. Once, of course, they recover from the painful realisation that as far as many people are concerned, they will always be known as WhatthehellshallIcallmyself2009 Resident.  It would be really nice to see some movement on that Jira issue – the last message from the Lab (the only message from the Lab) was on 1st November.


  1. Apparently I don’t have a medical condition that finds flashing alerts a problem–since I’ve not noticed that there are any alerts that flash in viewer 3. In fact, I have the opposite problem of overlooking alerts. What are the flashing ones that are causing problems?

    I look forward to wider adoption of mesh-capable viewers. I’ve put off doing any shopping (or buying) since most of my friends in SL seem to be spurning newer viewers.

  2. Excellent article, it sums up all the problems I encountered as a furnituremaker perfectly! The scripts, the linking of the set and the phoenix lovers. A small particle script for smoke added to a cup of coffee makes the primcount double for instance. Two things about mesh make all of it worth it though: way better shapes and way better texturing. I am never going back.

  3. we can blame the slow adoptions of mesh on the fact that too many people still use 1.23 viewers. Back porting mesh into 1.23 viewers isn’t helping. People need to be encouraged to move to at the very least a 2.0x viewer (if they are running a computer that can handle 2.0.) A 5 year old computer can run 2.0. If you can’t run 2.0 you certainly won’t be able to run 1.23 with mesh shoved into it.
    I am the most excited about what mesh will bring to building. There is so much potential there, its just sad its all being held back because most people are resistant to change.

  4. People will change – some, admittedly, more reluctantly than others – if you offer them something better to change to. Viewer 2 was so horrible that people didn’t widely adopt it – and turned in increasingly large numbers to TPVs. Mesh could be a compelling reason to switch – but it may be hard to convince people of that until they become more aware that they’re missing out on pretties.

    And mesh is not without problems. Who wants to upgrade only to be informed that to wear these wonderful new clothes, you’ll need to buy the plump size?

    I do think there’s a difference between being resistant to change and being wary. Second Life users have been burned with viewers in the past (and by Linden Lab initiatives) – so they’re wary of being told this is the Next Big Thing.

    What builders enthusiastic about mesh need to do is provide compelling reasons for people to want to change.

  5. On the top right of the screen where the play icon is, there’s a media icon near there that opens up a choice of things to turn on: music, media, or whatever else might be in range.

    You can pick just one and play it.

    Thought I had a screenshot of that on my newbie blog, but it looks like I don’t.

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