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Saturday, 3 August 2013

Adding Multiple SLURLs to a Second Life Map

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If you have an area of land or a sim in Second Life that has more than one area of interest to visitors, it can be limiting to present them with just one SLURL at a time. However, there is a way to create a map of your land and include an SLURL for each landing point you want people to know about. This page will explain the steps you need to take to add multiple SLURLs to a Second Life map in Gimp, which can then be included on your website. Hover your mouse over the map above and click on the icons to see how it works.

Creating Images for the Map

Producing images for the map is probably the most time consuming aspect of creating your map. First you will need an image of the SLURL map from Second Life. On its wiki Linden Lab explains how to directly access a map of your sim or parcel, although this may seem a little fiddly for beginners.

A simpler way is to add the SLURL of your sim or parcel into your browser which will direct you the map of your land. Now you can take an image of the map by taking a screenshot, or using software to capture a region of the screen, therefore only saving an image of your land. A good open source screenshot  tool is Greenshot.

After getting an image of your land, go to the sim and take some snapshots of the landing points you want to add to the map. They will need to be cropped and resized to around 200 X 200. Upload these images to your favourite image storage website, along with the image of the SL map.

200dzia.jpg

The last image you need is a pointer to indicate the position of each landing point on the map. You can create your own or use the standard SL pointer. Just save the image to the right to your hardrive.

Building SLURLs for each Landing Point

Now we are going to use the SLURL Builder tool provided by Second Life. Follow the link and add the name of the sim, then the co-ordinates of the first landing point, then in the space provided add the Url of the 200 X 200 snapshot. You can also add a title and message to the SLURL.

After you have added all the information for the SLURL click the 'Generate SLURL' button, and if you want to test it out, click the 'Go!' button. You can now copy the SLURL either from the 'Your SLURL' window or from the browser address bar if you clicked the 'Go!' button.

Repeat these steps for each landing point you want to create for your map and copy and paste each SLURL to somewhere like Notepad.

You may find when you first view the SLURL in the map, the image doesn't fit properly in the background square. This seems to be a quirk of SLURL maps, and if you refresh your browser, you should find the image is positioned correctly.

Building the Map

Creating the map in Gimp is quick and easy.

1/ Start Gimp and open the map image of your land. Crop and autocrop the image if necassary.

2/ Go to File > Open as new layer and load your pointer image, and position it at the first landing point.

3/ Create a duplicate of the pointer layer and position it at the second landing point on the map. Repeat this for all your landing points, then merge all the layers into one.

2v1qjok.jpg

4/ Go to Filters > Web > Image map, and a new window should open showing your map (see image above- click to enlarge).

5/ Click the square icon to the left of your map image then whilst holding down the left mouse button, drag the cursor to form a square around the first landing point. When you are finished click the left mouse button. Another window will open.

6ru8gp.jpg

6/ From Notepad, copy the first SLURL and paste it in the space below 'Url to activate when this area is clicked'. Add some alt text if you want then click 'OK'

7/ Repeat steps 5 and 6 for each SLURL you want to add to the map.

rll2s4.jpg

8/ When you have added all the SLURLs to the map, click File > save on the image map window then name your map. Don't forget to give it a html extension:
MySLURLMap.html
Gimp can now be closed.

Completing the Map

r7rdy1.jpg

Navigate to the place you saved your map, which will probably be displayed with an icon of your default browser (see above). Right click on it and open with Wordpad or similar (see below)

2461h7r.jpg

The top most line (highlighted in red) is where you need to place the Url of the map image from where you uploaded it earlier. Only replace the Url, not the entire line of text.

The text highlighted below this is just notes which can be deleted if you wish.

Now all you need to do is copy all the text in the Wordpad document and paste it into your html document where you want your map to be displayed on your website. Now you have a map of your land with multiple SLURLS.

If you are using Blogger then add the code to a webpage using the HTML page editing option. If you are not comfortable using the HTML editor to create a blog post, you can return to using the 'Compose' option afterwards.

Your map is now complete, although there are a few more steps you can take to improve it.

Improving the Functionality of the Map

The SURL map will work perfectly well as described, but there are a few HTML code snippets that can make the map more useful to you and your page visitors. The time to add these snippets is when you the open  map code in Wordpad.You will see each link to the SLURL map as something like this:
  <area shape="rect" coords="61,142,232,166" href="http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Wikked%20Island/100/51/22"/>
The place to add each snippet is after the last set of quotation marks but before the closing brackets [/>]. This will need to be done for each link. Add whichever bits of HTML that suits you:
target="_blank"
This will open the SLURL link in another browser window, so visitors won't be forced to leave your webpage.
rel="no follow"
Adding this will prevent Google's search bots from following the link. From an SEO point of view I see no reason to have the SLURLs as do follow links, but this is a personal choice for each website owner.
title="name of the landing location goes here"
This snippet will allow visitors to your webpage to see the name of the location  when their cursor hovers over that part of the map. You can see how this works from the map at the top of this page.

After all this has been added to a link, the entire code for that link will look something like this:
 <area shape="rect" coords="61,142,232,166" href="http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Wikked%20Island/100/51/22"  target="_blank" rel="no follow"  title="SL-Inspiration" />

 Making the Map Your Own

Clearly you don't have to restrict yourself to using an SLURL map for the basic image here. Also, since what you are effectively creating is an image map either some or all of the SLURLs can be replaced by web links. Its up to you to create the kind of map you want and to be as imaginative as you like.

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