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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Objectivity, Part II - The General Tab

Shug Maitland's comment on my last post almost talked me into talking about textures this time, but I decided it would be best to take things in order.  So let's take a look at the settings in the General tab of the Build tools window.  Here's a picture from the last post to remind you of what it looks like.

At the top left is a column of round radio buttons.  I don't use most of them very often, except for Select Face, which is very useful when texturing things.  Click this button, then click on a face of your object.  It becomes highlighted, with a circle in the middle of that face's texture.  You can select more than one face (even on multiple prims) by holding Shift and clicking each face you want to select.

I also use Edit Linked a lot.  Once you have linked several prims into an object (or, as we say, a "linkset"), selecting that object selects ALL of the prims.  When this button is checked, you can click on an individual prim in the linkset to tweak it without disturbing the others.

To the right of the round buttons, there are several square check boxes.  Stretch Both Sides means that when you stretch one face of a prim, the opposite face will move equally, in the opposite direction.  If Stretch Textures is checked, any textures you have applied to the object will stretch along with the object.  Otherwise, the texture will remain the same size, but begin to repeat itself if necessary.  Snap makes the object move and re-size in increments, using the scaling of the "building grid".  I never use this one myself, but it can be useful for positioning things exactly.  I don't generally worry about the other boxes, either.

Moving down, there is a Link and Unlink button.  To Link a number of prims, first select one.  You can then select others, by holding Shift while you click them, or by dragging a selection rectangle around all the prims you want to select, like lassoing them.  If you select one you don't mean to, continue holding Shift and click it again to de-select it.  The important thing to remember is that the LAST prim you select will become the "root prim" of the linkset.  Choosing the right prim to be the root can be important, as the object will rotate about the center of the root prim.  I hate wearing hair and jewelry that doesn't have a root prim positioned at the center...it's much more difficult to edit its position on your avatar correctly.  Besides the Link/Unlink buttons, you can also link or unlink prims with the Build menu at the top of your main SL window, or use the shortcuts CTRL+L and CTRL+SHIFT+L.

The button you see to the right, that says "World", is where you can choose the coordinate set you want to use.  The two important ones are World and Local.  TIP:  When building, always keep things aligned to the World axes as much as possible.  This makes it MUCH easier to align things.  Sometimes, when working with things on an angle, like pitched roofs and stairs, it's very handy to switch to Local coordinates.  When you do this, the movement axes line up with the prim instead of with the world's X,Y, and Z axes.  Further tip:  The X axis is red, and runs east and west in world.  The Y axis is green, and runs north and south.  The Z axis is blue, and points up and down.

Directly below these buttons, there is some text.  In the picture above, it shows "1 object selected, Land Impact 1".  What this means is that I have one object selected (the cube from our previous discussion), and it consists of a single prim.  "Land Impact" has recently replaced a straight prim count, because Mesh objects (and now, objects with certain other properties) are counted differently than just adding up their actual prims, in determining how they affect the region's computing resources.  But for most purposes, you can think of "land impact" as being "number of prims in this object."

We'll skip the next row, which is where you select the tab of the build window you want to look at

Next, there is a box for your object's name.  PLEASE take a couple of seconds and put something besides "Object" in here.  Naming your prims and your objects properly is the builder's equivalent to documenting source code.  It helps you determine just what that thing is that showed up in your Lost and Found folder, and it helps future owners understand just what this thing is they have.  You'll also notice that I am both the Creator and the Owner of this object.  When you buy, or are given, an object, the creator does not change, but your name will now appear as the Owner. 

What about the Groups information?  If you are on group owned land, objects you create there will be set to that group (if they aren't, then you probably need to switch your group tag to that land's group.  Otherwise, the land's auto return feature may send your creation to your Lost and Found folder.)  You can allow other group members to move or use your object by clicking Share.  Only a very few objects need to be Deeded to a group.  Scripted items such as radios and TVs, for example, must be Deeded to the land group to let them control the land's audio and media settings.

The remainder of the General tab deals with setting your object for sale, and establishing what permissions you will permit future owners to have.  We'll pass over that for now; you're still making plywood cubes, young padawan...you are not a Jedi Merchant yet!

Next time:  The Object tab!

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