How’s This New Search Feature?

I’ve had a day or so now to play with the new release of the Second Life viewer, and I think I can safely give an opinion.

For the basic functionality of the software — providing a stable, usable interface for the Resident with the world of the Grid — Build 1.18.5 does its job quite well. This is based on experience with only the two preceding builds, but I’m tempted to say this new client is more stable in the long run than those others. What makes it difficult, besides my relative lack of experience with earlier clients, is that my DSL line tends to blink for about a minute at a time at irregular intervals. Of course, it usually chooses to cut out at the most inopportune times….

Leaving that aside, I have no complaints at all. In fact, in a session this morning, the movements of my avatar made were smoother than I’ve seen before — though this could be attributed to a low sign-in rate and nobody else in my sim (grin). However, dropping in to Franks Place for some music and chat while I took a break from this article, I found the lag rate still acceptable. Franks is usually pretty busy; if this is a result of the new client, it’s nothing to sneeze over!

But what about the much ballyhooed Search function? Well….

The surface of the Any tab in the new Search is interesting, and many might find it easier to use. It’s become larger, filling the entire panel, and it appears to be powered by Google, or at least to use Google-style operators for (at last!) truly effective searching. When you first use Search in a session, you will find the new Any tab, which has a big, resizable screen. It will tell you briefly about the search, and have a group of paid ads for stores and services as well. You can do all your searching from this tab; if you wish to restrict yourself to, say, places, just use the drop-down beside the text box. And the drop-down includes searching the Second Life Wiki as well, which comes in very handy when looking for support.

It’s those Google operators, though, that are the most handy. You can now search on a phrase like you would in RL Google, and your results will be shaped by that phrase instead of bringing up every entry that has at least one of the terms in your keyword phrase. For instance, I’ve been wanting to commission a designer to create a reproduction of a costume from TOS Star Trek. Advertising in the classifieds have produced no results, and searching in the old Search tabs was, shall we say, minimally productive. Searching on “custom gowns” in the new All tab brought in a good-sized list of possible candidates, with little problem over false drops.

Even nicer — when you search for places, you get on each result a list of what that store or place has for sale, with prices quoted. Great for the terminal shoppers (which most of us on the Grid are…).

Of course, if you wish to be a troglodyte about it, the old search tabs are still supported to the right of the new All tab, including the old All tab at the end of the line (grin). Some of the tabs are still potentially useful, such as in Land Sales, when you’re looking for a plot of ground within a price range. Most of that functionality, though, is now migrated to the new Search.

Incidentally, you don’t need to open Search to do a search. You now have the ability right from the main viewer window. Look where the mini lag/bandwidth meter used to be in the upper right — you now have a Search box, which pops up the Search window with your results. I do, however, bemoan the loss of the mini lag meter, and wish I could at least call it up from the menu. Something to consider re-inserting for the next build? Perhaps the option of having the meter, or the miniSearch box.

I’d really encourage you to stick with the new Search, and send constructive feedback on your experiences with it to Linden Lab. Let’s praise and encourage good work and listening to customer requests! A tip article with video from Torley Linden is available for watching, and will probably give more details; watching this is a must.

Posted December 3, 2007 by Harper Ganesvoort in Software

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