Linden Lab, creator of 3D virtual world Second Life, is releasing the code of its Viewer application to the open source software development community.
Developers can now access the source code to the Second Life end-user software in order to make modifications, enhancements and to add new features. The move marks Linden Lab’s continued commitment to building the Second Life Grid as an open, extensible platform for development, rather than a closed proprietary system.
The Second Life Viewer is used by subscribers or ‘Residents’ to access the virtual world’s Grid. Freely-downloadable from the Second Life website, the Viewer software enables Residents to control their in-world avatars, interact with each other via Instant Message, create content, buy and sell objects, access multimedia content and to navigate around the virtual environment.
The source code for the sophisticated client software will now be made available to developers who wish to extend and enhance its functionality.
“We feel we have a responsibility to improve and to grow Second Life as rapidly as possible,” said Philip Rosedale, CEO and founder of Linden Lab. “We were the first virtual world to enable content creators to own the rights to the Intellectual Property they create. That sparked exponential growth in the richness of the Second Life environment.
Now we’re placing the Viewer’s development into the hands of Residents and developers as well. This extends the control Residents can have over the Second Life experience and allows a worldwide community to examine, validate and improve the software’s sophistication and capabilities.”
“Open sourcing is the most important decision we’ve made in seven years of Second Life development. While it is clearly a bold step for us to proactively decide to open source our code, it is entirely in keeping with the community-creation approach of Second Life,” said Cory Ondrejka, CTO of Linden Lab.
“Second Life has the most creative and talented group of users ever assembled and it is time to allow them to contribute to the Viewer’s development.
We will still continue Viewer development ourselves, but now the community can add its contributions, insights, and experiences as well. We don’t know exactly which projects will emerge - but this is part of the vibrancy that makes Second Life so compelling.”
Linden Lab intends to incorporate certain code changes and enhancements into the official version of the Second Life Viewer, which will only be available from the Second Life website.
All code developed outside Linden Lab’s in-house engineering team will be thoroughly reviewed to ensure quality standards, stability and security. Support will continue to be given for the official version of the Viewer only, with third party projects unsupported by Linden Lab.
Initial projects may include: bug fixes; improvements to compatibility with less common hardware configurations; support for additional multimedia types; User Interface changes; and potentially new look and feel ‘skins’ for the Viewer itself. Timeframes for these enhancements will vary depending on the scale of the project and project team.
The source code and additional information will be available from Second Life’s website at http://secondlife.com/developers/opensource.