perjantai 19. helmikuuta 2010

Using Facebook chat with Naali

Since Facebook opened its chat to Jabber/XMPP clients, it has been available to be used with Naali. Now you already can have your Facebook friends list in Naali and chat with people with it. Voice chat, however, doesn't work, because the Facebook chat doesn't support it. You can view your jabber id and server settings from the Facebook guide.

torstai 11. helmikuuta 2010

New UI in development

The new Naali platform is still some way behind the original realXtend viewer when it comes to feature completeness. It seems that our original predictions were correct, however, and the new technology enables us to create new features and fix issues at a high rate. One of the aspects we will be looking into a lot more in the near future is the user interface.

Until now UI design has been driven by the need to have some kind of a way to access the functionalities mostly for testing purposes. After the release of the 0.1 version (Don't forget to pick yours here) we will be concentrating a bit more on the UI side. Here's a brief explanation on the new approach by Jonne Nauha (typos are all mine):

Ether concept

We have had some actual UI design meetings now and decided on some high level consepts. One of them is "ether space" versus "inworld space". Th e aim is to have "ether" as the view where you land in when you launch Naali. It will be the place to make logins, create new avatars, create new worlds and possibly access tools/settings for the viewer. We would like to get rid of the "write your information to these text fields" approach. Of course this is somewhat necessary when creating avatars /worlds, but in basic use the workflow should be "I'll pick this avatar, I'll pick this world, ok lets go" -type of thing.

We tried to think of a simple and at the same time nice looking and inviting thing, so we started prototyping a "flip book" type of thing that resembles iTunes cover flow, but for virtual worlds. Me and Mikko Alaluusua have worked on this for a few days now and have got something together already. We did this out of Naali codebase with QtCreator and used pure Qt, namely the Qt animation framework is used heavily. The cards get loaded into a scene that is shown in a full screen graphics view, so it will be easy to port into Naali.

The fps in my capture software was too low to show the animations fluently and somehow it altered the colors too, but you should be able to get the idea. The navigation is WASD or arrow keys, and we'll add mouse selection functionality to the "cards" too. The background image and other graphics are only for prototyping, not what will eventually be included in Naali. For now the avatars have the basic image of the naali (arctic fox) and worlds all share the globe image. The idea with the images is that your avatar's screenshot will be inserted there and it is updated when you change your appearance or logout (not really decided yet) and for the world images a screenshot is taken from the position you last left the world in question.

Inworld widget interaction

The inworld widgets will probably stay with the slim frame or maybe some styling will be done there with proper graphics. The main thing inworld would be to get rid of the age old toolbar at the top of the screen. We are now close to 10 widgets and they will only increase in numbers when we go forward. We were thinking of giving each corner inworld a certain type like widgets on the top left, notifications / status things on the top right, messaging on the lower left etc. Of course the positions or the final look are not firmly decided yet. But at least I would like to remake the "widget toolbar" into something icon based and add some snappy animations like some kind of a layered menu that has sub groups for widgets like interacting, world building etc.

Also some kind of workspaces would be nice to make. So you could make different UI views and swap between them fast to get to your tools. A little bit like operating systems have multiple desktop views that have their own set of applications and you can move apps between them.

UI for interacting with objects and people

We also need something similar to pie menu we all know and love/hate :) There hasn't been any decisions about this yet, but some kind of a hovering "info card" for things you want to interact is the goal. This infocard could follow the avatar / object that you have interest in or it could be pinned to a position. The idea for these cards would be that there would be a viewport (camera) to the item, for example the avatars face that you clicked or movable view of a object you are interacting with. Also this card would have quick selections for sending messages to a user etc. This will also be the most challenging thing if we do it purely on Qt that needs an ogre viewport rendered to it. Right now all info that is showed of people is a static 2D overlay that has the avatars name. And if this is the best we can do with ogre then we probably go with Qt on these infocards.


The aim is to get most of this done by the march release. It may be that "ether space" will have 70% of the defined features, inworld "info cards" 50% etc. as its hard to know what obstacles there will be ahead. Especially when our Ogre+Qt is a special thing without paint events that there always can be something unsuspected outcomes of this, good example is that we had fully working video calls in Naali IM before we moved them inside the scene and now gstreamer doesent render the video to the window handle.