Updating Marketplace with VMM

August 11, 2015 by
Filed under: Linden Lab and Second Life, SL Marketplace 

Article on using VMM

Viewer Managed Marketplace has been pushed into operation a bit faster than most people would have liked. But even so, it has also begun to rack up early successes at a far higher rate than either Direct Delivery or the SL Marketplace itself. Now that support for VMM is just about to be available in Firestorm, it has just as quickly become important to know how to manage your Marketplace store.

Updating Products on the SL Marketplace

For many people, the most confusing part of managing a store on the SL Marketplace comes when they have to update an existing product. Back in the day, when we all used Magic Boxes, things were pretty simple. All you had to do was create a new Product Delivery Box then put the updated product with all its parts inside. Once the new delivery box was assembled, you just replaced the old one with the new one inside the Magic Box.

Direct Delivery was a bit more difficult. You still went through the process of assembling a complete new copy of the product, but since DD was based on folders, you assembled everything into a folder instead of a Product Delivery Box. When it came to my own habits, I still followed the method of creating an old-style delivery box then copying it to a new folder in my Inventory. But that was more a personal preference than a requirement.

Updating with VMM

VMM is a lot different, and a lot easier, than either Magic Boxes or Direct Delivery ever were. Because it is based on using your own Inventory as the source of delivered products, the Inventory Management techniques are very similar between the two. There is one little wrinkle that was added by the Commerce Development Team. Understanding that wrinkle and how it works will make the task of updating a product even easier.

VMM Version Folders

Using an Object as a Sub-FolderOne restriction common to two of the delivery systems (Magic Boxes and now Viewer Managed Marketplace) is the rule against sub-folders. Because a product delivery box is nothing more than an in-world object with the product’s parts in the Contents, and since you cannot have folders inside an Object, the earliest method of delivery did not support sub-folders within a product. In those cases where it was necessary to have sub-folders, the most common solution was to put the desired contents of the sub-folder into another Object then put that new Object into the contents of the delivery box Object.

Direct Delivery opened this limitation up a bit, allowing the creation of sub-folders. Many Merchants used this new feature to organize large products into multiple sub-products, each within its own sub-folder. Unfortunately the ability to create sub-folders was removed with VMM. Those Merchants that depended on them were shocked to discover that their sub-products were now considered different “Versions” of the main product.

This problem is fully documented in the JIRA Issue “Subfolders in inventory create a new version folder in VMM”.

Benefits of Version Folders

Even though this change caused some very unpleasant problems for a lot of Merchants, it turns out that the choice to implement Version Folders was beneficial in another way. Specifically the benefit is seen when it comes time to update an existing product. Because Version Folders work just like an in-world Object’s Contents, the process of updating a product “feels” almost exactly like it did with Magic Boxes and Product Delivery Boxes.

The Nuts ‘n Bolts of Updating

It’s time to explain the full process of updating a product. Let’s start with a simple outline of the steps to follow:

  • Step 1 – Create a copy of the current Marketplace Listings product folder in normal Inventory
  • Step 2 – Replace the old parts with updated versions; add new parts; remove parts no longer included
  • Step 3 – Verify, double-check, check again … then once more for good measure
  • Step 4 – Move the updated folder into the Marketplace Listings product folder
  • Step 5 – Activate the new updated Version Folder

Step 1 – Make a Copy of the Current Version Folder

VMM Product in Marketplace ListingsThe image to the right shows my free DG Flyer HUD product in the Marketplace Listings floater. It shows two folders, both named “DG Flyer FREE HUD BOX”. Looking closer you will see that the first one is followed by a number and the word “(listed)”. The second folder is followed by the word “(active)”, but it also has a different icon. That new icon indicates that it is a VMM Version Folder.

Important: It is easiest to think of a VMM Version Folder just like a Product Delivery Box. It contains all the parts that make up the full product, it can have its own name, and it cannot contain sub-folders.

You can easily copy the current Version Folder by right-clicking on it then choosing “Copy” from the menu. Next move to your normal Inventory and “Paste” it into the top “Inventory” folder. This will create a brand new folder with the same name as the copied Version Folder and containing all the parts of the current product.

IMPORTANT: If there are No-Copy items in the product folder then you will NOT be able to copy it. You will be forced to move it instead.

Step 2 – Update the New Product Folder

New Product Folder In InventoryThe new product folder you just created in the previous step now becomes your focus. Any parts that need updating should be replaced, any old parts that are now longer needed should be deleted, and any new parts should be added. But make sure you only make changes in the newly copied product folder.

Important: Remember that you may not create sub-folders within this new product folder. Even though you can create them in your normal Inventory, they will cause product part and listing errors when the folder is moved back to the Marketplace Listings floater.

Step 3 – Verify and Double-check

This step is just because, like many others before me, I have learned that being extra careful pays off. Even though it’s easy to fix tiny mistakes, the time saved giving things one or two more careful checks is much more than the time spent actually checking. So just do it, you’ll thank me later.

Step 4 – Move the Product Folder Back to Marketplace Listings

Once you have fully updated the new Product Folder in your Inventory, you are ready to move or copy it back to the product entry in the Marketplace Listings Floater. Your choice of moving or copying depends on your own level of caution; I personally go for moving it even though copying is much safer. (I also have many other copies of the parts in my Inventory, so even if the new product folder gets “lost”, I can still rebuild or recover it easily.)

IMPORTANT: If there are No-Copy items in the product folder then you will NOT be able to copy it. You will be forced to move it instead.

The easiest method is to click-n-drag the new product folder from your Inventory, then drop it directly onto the Product Folder within the Marketplace Listings Floater. Be careful that you do not drop it onto the wrong product, but as long as you get it over the right product, you can drop it almost anywhere you wish. When you use this method, the product folder will be moved. This means it will be deleted from your Inventory, converted into a new Version Folder then placed within the Product Folder in Marketplace Listings..

Alternately you can use the more manual “Copy and Paste” method. Simply right-click on the new product folder you created in your Inventory then choose “Copy” from the menu. Next open the Marketplace Listings Floater and position to the proper Product Folder. Right-click on the Product Folder and choose “Paste”. A new Version Folder will be created under the Product Folder then filled with the contents copied from your normal Inventory.

IMPORTANT: If there are No-Copy items in the product folder then you will NOT be able to copy it. You will be forced to move it instead. (Do I need to say it again?)

New Version Folder

Double-check the New Version Folder

No matter which method you follow, when done properly you should wind up with something similar to that shown to the right. The important things to notice about the new Version Folder are:

  • It has the proper icon
  • It has the same name as the product folder in your Inventory had
  • It has the same parts as the product folder
  • It is listed before the previous Version Folder
  • It does not have the word “(active)” after its name

The last two details are extra important because they show you that your product is still set to deliver the old parts, and that the new parts are not yet being delivered. The word “(active)” after the name of a Version Folder shows you which one is delivered to the customer. The new Version Folder you just created is not yet active, so its contents will not be delivered.

Step 5 – Activate the New Version Folder

The last step is to switch from the current (and now outdated) Version Folder to the newly updated one. Simply right-click on the new Version Folder and choose “Activate” from the menu. The new Version Folder will then be marked as active, and the old Version Folder will be unmarked.

Activate New Version Folder After Activating the New Version Folder

Tidying Up Afterwards

Of course no job is really complete until all the paperwork is done. Now that we’ve updated the product with a new Version Folder, we need to do something with the old Version Folder. I do two things to it that will help me keep track of what happened and when:

  1. Rename the old Version Folder and add explanatory text. For example, I might add “old 2015-08-11” to indicate that this is an old version that was retired on August 11th, 2015.
  2. Move the old Version Folder into my development folder in Inventory. I always have a primary development folder that holds everything that goes into the product. I stash the old Version Folder there too, just in case I need to pull back an old version at some later date.

Do not leave the old Version Folder in the Marketplace Listings Floater. It shouldn’t impact delivery to customers, but it’s one of those things that doesn’t need to be there, so shouldn’t be there.

Check For VMM ErrorsThe one last item worth mentioning is that little button shown to the right. It’s called “Check for Errors” and it means what it says. It’s always a good idea to click that button if you’ve made some major changes. It’s probably a good idea to click it when you reach the end of any level changes. Just sayin’ …

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