libsecondlife, the reverse-engineering effort by a group of talented Second Life residents (which has caused no small consternation among some users of the virtual world) got a welcome imprimatur from Linden Lab chief technology officer Cory Ondrejka in his closing talk at Saturday’s sessions of the Second Life Community Convention in San Francisco. Ondrejka also gave a look at changes being made to the code-base, changes that should make building Web-based SL mashups easier for everyone, whether or not you know enough to pick apart the platform to build something like libsecondlife.
“The official position of Linden Lab on libsecondlife is, we like libSL, you guys rock,” Ondrejka said. “We are blown away by what you’ve accomplished, and we’re very excited to see you do more, so do not stop. But everything you’ve reverse engineered is changing, and for that I do apologize.” libsecondlife hackers that 3pointD spoke with at the convention remained unconcerned, however, as the changes Cory described will no doubt be slow in coming.
Among the upcoming changes:
â€¢ the internal messaging system over which various parts of the SL platform communicate is being moved to well defined XML
â€¢ the user interface is being refactored (more or less a fancy word for cleaned up), and also moved to XML
â€¢ the system will move to a “capabilities-based permissions structure”
â€¢ as much data as possible is going to be exposed in representational-state transfer (REST) interfaces, which will allow it to be much more easily accessed from Web-based applications.
“You’ll be able to hit things with browsers and with RSS,” Ondrejka said. “We want you guys to be able to get at the data, to be able to do things like build own Web-based parcel manager for parcels. Long-term, our goal is open, discoverable APIs for as much of the sytem as we possibly can. You guys are doing incredible things, we want you to be able to do more.”
Some Second Life residents had become concerned about the libSL effort after it was revealed that proprietary textures could be stolen using the tool, and a crude version of “god mode” could be entered that might give users access to data that normally wouldn’t be available. But the presence of the tool has not caused any widespread problems for SL residents. And Linden Lab itself clearly has no problem with the effort.
The changes Cory described may make libsecondlife obsolete, but they will open up broad new potential for SL residents to write Web-based apps that interact more closely with the virtual world. It will no doubt be some time, however, before the company can accomplish such a deep overhaul of its code. For now, look to the hackers.