For you fellow SecondLifers that follow in the same SL forums, twitter and anywhere else I love to vent about all things SecondLife, you know that this upcoming SecondLife Marketplace (SLM) overhaul of the long-standing legacy delivery system called MagicBoxes to the recently named service called Direct Delivery (DD) has had major concerns for me. 

What has frustrated me even more is how completely secretive the LL Commerce Team has been regarding any details about the new DD.  Even though myself and fellow Merchants have had open SL Forum thread discussions and expressed / debated our concern about the secretive DD based on the crumb of information Brooke Linden or any of her team have provided us, there is been near zero communications from Brooke’s team to respond to our concerns or even acknowledge our discussions on legit fears we have had about the up-coming DD.  Brooke even promised a Blog that would provide details on DD by the end of April when never happened.

Well, I guess because of a pressure by me in the forums calling her out on the not delivering on her promises, this week we finally got a SMALL FAQ on how DD might work.  IT surely was nothing close to the details that myself and many other fellow Merchants were hoping for and it generated more questions than it answered.  But, here is the actual link to Brooke’s brief DD FAQ.

Well fellow SLM Merchants, after reading and analyzing every one of the FEW FAQ HINTS that Brooke finally released SLM DD, those of us that are not in the LL inner circle of knowing all the details of LL's development effort can now start making some further educated guesses. 

The great part for me and others like Darrius that did not take part in the SLM DD Beta (where we would have had to sign an NDA that would have muzzled us publically), luckily we are free to speculate and post our predictions on how DD will work and what this might mean to both SLM Merchants and even SL Residents as a whole.

When reading Brooke’s brief FAQ, there are TWO critically key statements she made that we all should potentially get quite excited about if we extrapolate what it means.  Following are the two key points from Brooke Linden:

"Outgoing Items Folder: Items you list on the Marketplace will be retrieved from a special outgoing folder in your inventory and copied to your Marketplace Inventory. Note that outgoing items will be COPIED from your inventory except in the case of no-copy items.”

2)      "If Third-Party Viewers choose to support listing items on the Marketplace, they may use the API that will be provided to allow this."

So why do I think these two points are extremely revealing information from Brooke?  What they tell me is that this newly created "Special SLM-OUTGOING folder” that LL will be creating in all Merchant’s Inventory will be part of some form of a potentially real cool new and revolutionary Inventory Feature/Service for SL Residents.  I will convert this to a technical label for this new service called:  PROXIED / FEDERATED INVENTORIES.

Knowing LL's history, they might be deploying this design simply to address a very tactical problem with SLM delivery to replace their perception of the evil MagicBoxes.  BUT, this design could / would have some HUGE potential new capabilities in the future of SL Inventory Management.

So Toy – What the hell are you so excited about this?  I don’t see the big deal!

Let me theorize what I think LL Development is introducing as part of the up-coming SLM DD.  I wish I could say this with less GEEK TALK.  I will try to keep it somewhat at ground level.

First of all, the fact that Brooke said all the supporting 3PV Viewers that want to offer SLM Item Listing delivery via DD for their Users must incorporate this new API, this tells me that the DD design is adding a new and yet not available inventory management function.  This set of new functions I am predicting allows for any SL Avatar's current inventory to include new "SPECIAL FOLDERS" that’s content is not actually part of the main Avatar's inventory.  In other words, this new type of folder is not like the other folders which are just sub-folders of the main folder (i.e. your “Clothing”, “Notecards”, “Objects”, etc.).

I predict the LL Development Team is introducing the concept of a FEDERATED INVENTORY.  What is that Toy?  Well basically it means that your Avatar's personal inventory could now actually be made up of multiple smaller and independent inventories BUT it will look to you as if it is only ONE inventory with more folders.  This new type of "Federated" folder in your inventory would simply be a form of a portal that allows for the convenient transfer of content between other inventories you have rights to. 

So for example, whatever content you drop into this “federated” folder in your inventory would be automatically transferred to this other inventory that you obviously have permissions or affinity to access.  How does this transfer happen?  Well that easy! This new API Brooke mentioned handles all the logistics on this transfer of content either TO and/or FROM this federated folder to its corresponding folder in the other inventory. 

This transfer could happen in many ways, like: A blind 1-way transfer, or a full 2-way synch between the related federated folder in each inventory.  This should be transparent to you if LL does it right. If should happen in the form of LL Server based SQL Calls and transfer of content between ASSET Server DBs.  This is BIG if this is true folks.

Brooke’s hints could also imply that LL would eventually have the ability to provide a new concept of PROXIED INVENTORIES.  This is a little different slant on what I just explained above where content is copied/synchronized to each other’s inventories. With a PROXIED Folder, this Special Folder in your personal inventory would only present you with a VIEW of the contents that are actually in the folder of the other inventory!  Best analogy is like your PC has a Network Drive and your PC see files in this drive that are actually on a remote server.  If you drag any item from this special folder to another folder in your own inventory or to even rez inworld, the item would actually come from the other inventory thru this Proxied special folder.

Now... although this new API might have been or will eventually be designed to offer both capabilities, I suspect the new DD will actually be deploying the first function of a FEDERATED Synched multi-inventory system.  Why do I suspect this?  Because Brooke said the items placed in this new outgoing special folder will be “COPIED” to the "MARKETPLACE INVENTORY".  That suggests that if you place a new or changed SLM Item into this special SLM outgoing folder, the API will COPY it from your inventory to the new independent MARKETPLACE inventory.  In other words, there will be a copy of this item in both inventories. 

I suspect it will be what is called a "ONE WAY SYNCH".  This is where the master folder is the one in your main inventory and the SLAVE folder is the corresponding folder in this newly created MARKETPLACE INVENTORY.  There would be no transfer items back toward your main inventory from the SLM Marketplace Inventory. 

So how would the DD Synch work?  Well, if you add an item to your folder, it will be copied over to the Marketplace inventory.  If you change the item's permission or content in any way, the API should see the change of the item in your folder and copy it once again to update the Marketplace inventory. If you delete an item from your folder, the corresponding item will be deleted in the Marketplace inventory.

To further confirm my theory, Brooke has even let it slip what the name of this new independent federated inventory would be.  LL will be calling it the MARKETPLACE INVENTORY.  This new inventory could be inside the same Asset DB or even possibly created inside a completely different and new ASSET DB (and server) dedicated for the SLM.  That would be nice!

BUT FOLKS...  lets do a bit of dreaming here - much further then I suspect LL has even thought of with this concept of Multiple Federated / Proxied Inventories.  Some addition and really cool  new capabilities could now be done in SL that were never possible before:

1)      Several new and independent inventories could be created and attached to your current single inventory!  You could now have an actual and effective BACKUP Folder which would be attached to a BACKUP INVENTORY (on a different Asset Server).  You could create several other special purpose inventories.

2)      Imagine a federated or proxied folder in your inventory that actually links to an inworld rezzed prim like a MagicBox or your several inworld vendors, etc.  With this feature, as long as you are logged into SL, you could transfer / manage the contents inside any rezzed object inworld from anywhere in SL.  You don’t need to TP to your store’s Vendor to update content in the Vendor.  This special folder is a view into this vendor!

3)      Lets dream on even further now!  Lets say LL some day wants to partner with another grid and even grids from other competing worlds like IW.  With a Federated folder, you could actually create a live portal to other grid inventories... allowing content transfers between grids to be as easy as dropping the content into this folder in your SL inventory.

4)      Lets dream more... FEDERATED Folder to SHARED INVENTORIES.  So now your special folder is linked and synchronized with a SL business partner's inventory.  You can share content with these trusted partners in SL.  Or you both could rez a special inworld prim that many of you avatars could all link to and share content with.

I could keep going, but you can continue dreaming on the possibilities with FEDERATED PROXIED INVENTORIES.  This could be a huge next generation of the largely outdated inventories that SL now has available.

BUT from what Brooke has hinted in her little brief DD FAQ spoke huge volumes!  Welcome to the new SLM DD that will be using the first edition of FEDERATED INVENTORIES.

If this is true... the risks and concerns I initially brought up about how DD would be deployed are largely dismissed.  There are likely a whole new set of technical issues with this new approach (i.e. illegal transfer of content, permission rights, etc.), BUT this is a huge and powerful new feature for SL... if they are doing this.

What do you all think?  It would be nice if a Linden would be brave enough to post that I was pretty close with my educated guesses using very little knowledge that LL has provided us so far.

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