The curious case of when Apple copied Linden Lab

Last year Apple released an update to their OSX that added a notifications system.

Basically notifications would pop up top right for a moment then disappear. These notifications could then be accessed by clicking a button that slid the desktop to the left to reveal a bar of your most recent notifications. I remember thinking, ‘Hang On, this is the same system that Linden Lab uses for notifications in SL, it even has the sliding effect the majority of established SL users cried about and had removed’.

I’ve been quiet about Second Lifes notifications system for a while. I wanted to see wether Linden Lab would do anything to improve the situation when implementing the Communications Hub User Interface (CHUI).

I kinda like the new way the chat UI works although I’m finding that I’m posting messages into the wrong chat window more these days due to… well I’m not quite sure why. Some sort of behavioural issue that isn’t accounted for by CHUI.


Anyways, back to the notifications side of things Linden Lab did a slight tweak allowing you to specify how notifications appear and sound. Nice but does not fix the issue i hate about Second Life Notifications. I feel the way it heaps notifications together in a small box is dreadful and trying to read through notifications from multiple transactions, inventory offers, permissions requests and group notices is an awful experience. Sometimes they dont even seem to have any sort of order to how they are listed.

What makes it all the more irritating from a designers point of view is that it looks like just a few tweaks would vastly improve it. Tweaks like having the different types of notifications clearly defined, showing which have been read, which are active requests waiting for a response … well like what apple added in OSX Mountain Lion.



Extra note: With the Lab finally developing a Cocoa version of the SL viewer, the option maybe there for the lab to integrate SL with OSX’s own notifications system which would be pointless since i get all SL notifications via email already in OSX notifications…. what a mess notifications is.

2 thoughts on “The curious case of when Apple copied Linden Lab

  1. I’ve always disliked the notifications system. It took me a long while to figure out why or how to present my case. I had high hopes for CHUI, and although improved, as you state, beside a few tweaks in IM it changed little. What SL needs is a calendaring system or a way to file notifications for future reading. Notification timeliness is different for everyone, and it would be nice to integrate notifications into an information space that was easier to navigate. If I briefly read a notification and then remove it, I have to dig into a specific group, and then notices within that group to see recent notices. It would be nice to have a button or method of looking at recent notices within a week or several days.

  2. Instead of reinventing the wheel, wouldn’t it make more sense to look at incoming IMs and notifications as merely the equivalent of an email inbox, and have an email-like interface instead? Well, technically, it would be an email box with several threads — one for each user that ever IMed us — but we have seen similar interfaces before… USENET readers come to mind 🙂

    Notifications, like public chat, would just be another thread. Same as with Group IM chat.

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