VLMVW™ - Virtual Landmarks for Virtual Worlds™

How To Use Virtual Landmarks In-World and the VLMVW Web Site

Want to see an example of the web-based VLM List? Here is the current list of VLMs for the DGP4SL In-World Stores. All of these are live and immediately accessible with a single click.


What Are Landmarks (LMs)?

If you have used Second Life® for any amount of time then you are most likely familiar with Landmarks. In Second Life, every place where you can go can also be used to create a Landmark or "LM". The standard LM contains the name of the Region and the X, Y and Z coordinates of the location. When you double-click an LM, you are teleported to that location. They are not only handy things to help you remember a specific location that you enjoyed, but they are easy to give to friends, family and customers.

But they have a very nasty problem; they are "locked" to a specific location. This means that if the original location moves for any reason, the Landmark you created is invalid.

If there is anything constant in Second Life, it's the fact that things change all the time. Store owners move their products around, re-arrange their layout ... they may even move their store to a totally new Region or simply change its location on the same Region. However even a small change is enough to make every Landmark created completely invalid. Anyone attempting to use the old Landmark will wind up landing in the wrong place.

What Are Virtual Landmarks (VLMs)?

An idea first presented on the Second Life Forums described a way to enhance LMs so that they would be immune to these changes. Instead of referring to a specific Region and X/Y/Z location, Virtual Landmarks use a unique name (called a "Hash") that refers to a record in a database. Before teleporting with a Virtual Landmark, the Hash is used to look up the current Region and Location and then teleports you there.

What Information Is Stored In A VLM?

Every VLM has a 6-character ID Code called a "Hash" and a Description that may be up to 60 characters in length. Each VLM also contains up to 8 separate Locations. Each Location contains a Title, Message and Image. Even though the Title, Message and Image are optional, it is recommended that you assign at least a Title to every Location so that people know where it will take them. The Message may contain any descriptive text that will help people better understand how the Location differs from the others in the same VLM. The Image is any Texture uploaded to Second Life


Information contained in a Virtual Landmark

The Locations within a VLM do not necessarily need to be on the same Region. For example, you can create a VLM for your In-World Store locations, and each Location would refer to each store. Even though the stores are on different Regions, you can still put them all in the same VLM.

Can I Share VLMs I've Created?

Yes, absolutely. The VLMVW Management HUD includes a "Make VLM" function. You simply select the VLM desired and a new VLM Object will appear floating in front of you. You may edit its Name then "Take" it into your Inventory. VLMs created in this way have Copy/Transfer permissions so that you may give them away to anyone you wish, however they cannot be modified by anyone else.

Note: Do not change the VLM's Description as this contains the VLM Hash used to look up and Teleport you to the proper location.

How Do I Remember What VLMs I've Created?

Because every VLM is contained in the VLMVW database, you can easily display a complete list of every one you've created using the VLMVW Management HUD (more on this below). The URL for your specific list of VLMs is unique to you but does not contain any private information, so it can be safely shared with anyone you wish. The list displays the "Description" or name of the VLM and all of its Locations.

The URL to the VLM List page is fixed and will not change, so you can also use a "URL Shortening" Service (such as bit.ly) to create a shortened version. This makes it easier to use on web sites, in your Blog or your Personal Profile.

You can view an Example List of VLMs here.

If you only wish to display just a few of your VLMs then you can include the VLM Hashes as part of the URL. For example, the following URL will display only two VLMs with Hashes 'P6N5Av' and 'hws7zf': (note the '&h=...' on the end of the URL)

http://vlmvw.com/?oid=a71769d4-4c5c-44ea-b232-73031fbc9830&h=P6N5Av,hws7zf

What Happens If I Have To Move My Store?

The VLMVW Management HUD provides various functions to Add, Change and Remove a VLM's Locations. You may add up to 8 Locations per VLM, change the destination for any of the Locations, or remove Locations as desired. Every change you make will take effect instantly; anyone using a VLM you have given them previously will automatically go to the new destination. If you have added or removed Locations from the VLM, the Location Menu will also immediately reflect those changes as well.

What If I Delete A VLM?

Once a VLM is deleted from the database, all the VLMs given to others will no longer work. You should be very sure that this is what you want to do before deleting a VLM. Deleting a VLM is instant and permanent; it cannot be recovered.

Can I Use VLMs On A Web Page Or In My Marketplace Product Listings?

In a word, yes. Every VLM and Location includes a "VLMurl" that can be used as a hyperlink from a web page or in a Marketplace Product Listing. The VLM List mentioned above includes a VLMurl link for every Location. You can easily copy and paste it into the Product Listing, add it to a Forum Post or insert it into a Web Page. The format of the VLMurl is very simple, all you need to know is the Location's "Hash" and "LocationID".

For example, if the Location's Hash is "Abc123" and its LocationID is 1041 then its VLMurl is http://vlmvw.com/vlm/Abc123/1041. When the VLMurl is clicked on a web page, the Location's current destination is displayed using the maps.secondlife.com web site. If you include only the Hash in the VLMurl then the VLM's "Default" Location will be used. The Default Location for a VLM is the first one listed on the VLM List page which is also the first Location you created when you initially created the VLM. (See the topic "How Do I Remember What VLMs I've Created?" for more about the VLM List page.)

Note: The VLM's Hash is case-sensitive. This means that "ABC123" is NOT the same as "abc123". So make sure that you correctly note the case of each letter in the VLM's Hash.

Important Note about using VLMurls on the SL Marketplace®

The SL Marketplace® will only accept links to slurl.com, maps.secondlife.com and a few of the popular "URL Shortening" services. Thus you must use one of those services (such as bit.ly) to "Shorten" the VLMurl first. You can then paste the shortened URL into the "SLurl" field in your Product Listings. The "SLurl" field in the Product Listing form is shown on the Product display page as the "See Item in Second Life®" link.


SLurl field in an SL Marketplace Product Listing

Before an SLM-compatible SLurl has been generated, a "Make SLurl for SLM" button is displayed below the Location's Title. When you click the button, a new "Bitmark" is generated and displayed. You may then copy and paste the Bitmark into the SLurl field of your SLM Product Listings. After you have created an SLM-compatible Bitmark, it will be displayed below the Location's Title instead of the button.


"Make SLurl for SLM" Button

A complete description of URL Shortening services, along with references to the more popular ones, is available on Wikipedia.org at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/URL_shortening

Can I See How Many People Use My VLMs?

VLMVW keeps very detailed usage statistics about each VLM and Location. A "Use Counter" is incremented every time someone uses a VLM that you've created and given out. The same thing happens when someone clicks on one of the VLMurls that you have placed in your Marketplace Product Listings or on your Blog or Web Site. The VLM Statistics Report shows the number of User TP and VLMurl uses summarized for today, for the past 7 days and for the past 30 days. This gives you complete information as to how popular your VLMs are.

The VLM Statistics Report is displayed by opening a special web page on the VLMVW web site. You can obtain the URL by using the "List & Stats" function of the VLMVW Management HUD. Every time you use that function to obtain the URL, a new unique "Key" is created. The Key is part of the URL and "Unlocks" the Statistics report. Thus you can use the function once to obtain the URL of the Statistics Report then continue to use that URL until the next time you use the "List & Stats" function.

Note: Do not share the URL with anyone else. It provides access to your Private Usage Data. If you suspect that someone has discovered the URL to the Statistics Report web page, simply use the "List & Stats" function of the Management HUD and a new Key will be generated, thus invalidating the previous Key and URL.

How Do I Purchase Virtual Landmarks for Virtual Worlds?

Virtual Landmarks for Virtual Worlds is available for purchase from the SL Marketplace® in two different versions:

  • Freebie Promo Version - Designed to let you try out Virtual Landmarks free of charge. The Freebie Promo Version provides creation of up to 5 VLMs and includes an account subscription of 30 days. If you decide that VLMs are the right tool for you, simply purchase the Unlimited version and all your VLMs will be automatically transferred to your new account.
  • Unlimited Version - Designed for the largest needs possible. The Unlimited version allows the creation of an unlimited number of VLMs with each one containing up to 8 Locations. It also includes the VLMVW Store Kiosk and has a lifetime Subscription.

What happens when my Promo Subscription expires?

A few days prior to your subscription expiring, we will send you an In-World Instant Message reminding you of the impending expiration. The IM will be repeated once per day until your subscription expires. We will then send you one more IM telling you that your subscription has expired. You have an additional seven days after expiration to renew your subscription by purchasing the Lifetime Unlimited version of the VLMVW package.

When your subscription has expired, you will not be able to use the VLMVW Management HUD to manage your VLMs and you will not be able to access your VLM Statistics report. However the VLMs you have already created will remain active as long as we are able to keep them running. We may choose though to remove VLMs for expired accounts if we learn that they are "Dead" and point to non-existent locations. Otherwise we will do our best to keep them live. We hope that if you are still depending on VLMs to direct traffic to your stores that you will "play nice" and contribute to the ongoing expenses of keeping the VLMVW Service running.

How Do VLMs Work?

Virtual Landmarks are provided as a simple wearable object. When you double-click or wear a VLM from your Inventory, it looks up the current Region and Location information from the database then teleports you there.

Virtual Landmarks also have a feature not available with standard Landmarks: Multiple Destinations. A VLM can have up to 8 destinations called "Locations". If a VLM has more than one Location, it will list each of them in Nearby Chat then present you with a simple menu. Once you select the desired Location by clicking on the corresponding menu button, you will be instantly teleported there. Each time you wear a VLM, you can choose any of the available Locations.

What Happens When I Wear A VLM?

Because of the way Second Life works, the very first time you use a VLM you must allow it to have two specific "Permissions"; Teleport permission and Attach permission. After you have granted these permissions they will persist in the VLM, thus you only need to grant them the very first time you wear the VLM.

Teleport permission is needed so that the VLM can teleport your Avatar to the destination you selected. When you wear the VLM for the very first time, it will prompt you to Allow it to teleport you. If you decline this permission, it will not be able to teleport you. The only time Teleport Permission is used is when you wear the VLM; it cannot randomly teleport you or take control of your Avatar while it remains in your Inventory.

Attach permission is needed so that the VLM can detach itself after it has teleported you. The only time Attach Permission is used is after the VLM has teleported you and is no longer needed. It cannot randomly attach other objects to your Avatar; it will only use the permission to detach itself once it has done its job.

What happens if I don't allow Teleport Permission?

Without Teleport Permission, the VLM cannot automatically teleport you to the destination you selected. However once it looks up the current information, it will also display a clickable-link in Nearby Chat that opens a Location Information floater in your Viewer. You can then click the link and use the "Teleport" button on the floater to teleport there if desired.

What happens if I don't allow Attach Permission?

Without Attach Permission, the VLM cannot automatically detach itself after it has teleported you to the destination. However you can still manually Detach it whenever you wish.

Where Can I Attach The VLM?

You may Wear (or "Attach") the VLM to any unused Avatar Attachment Point or to any unused HUD Location. The VLM will usually attach itself to the "Avatar Center" attachment point the first time you wear it, however you can right-click the VLM in your Inventory and choose a different attachment point. The next time you wear the VLM, it will attach itself to the last attachment point you selected.

When you Wear the VLM, it turns itself invisible. However when you rez it on the ground, it turns visible so you can easily see it. Rezzing it also "Resets" the VLM. This can be used if the VLM stops working or has some other malfunction.

Do I have to Attach the VLM to make it work?

No, the VLM may be rezzed on the ground In-World and it will still perform the Location lookup function exactly as if you had attached it. However it will not be able to automatically teleport you, so instead it will simply display the selected Location as a clickable link in Nearby Chat. You can click the link to open a standard Location Information window then use the "Teleport" button if desired.

The VLM doesn't work when I attach it or rez it!

The VLM is a scripted device. This means that you must be someplace that allows you to run Scripts. If you own a Linden Home then you are allowed to run Scripts there. There are also many places In-World that allow running of Scripts. If the VLM doesn't seem to work when you attach it, try teleporting to another location and then attach it again. If it still will not operate then you can rez it on the ground to "Reset" it. Once it has rezzed and reset, it should operate properly.

Note that the VLM will operate whether rezzed or attached as described above. However after you have rezzed it, the VLM will "Lose" the Teleport and Attach permissions previously granted to it. The next time you wear the VLM, it will request those permissions again. (See the section above titled "What Happens When I Wear A VLM?")

Questions, comments, problems?
Send mail to VLMVW Account Manager

Last modified: 2015-09-01
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