hippoRENT - Using the Web Plugin System
The hippoRENT web plugin allows you to configure, monitor and control your rental boxes from a web browser as well as inworld, host landmarks, pictures and notecards on a central server and rez vendors that can each show up to one hundred of your properties and advertise them to potential customers. All of this can be managed from any web browser. If you’ve used our hippoVEND Web-Enabled Vending System, you’ll find using the hippoRENT web functions a breeze; they are built using the same technologies.
|NEW: hippoGROUPS Compatibility |
Easily communicate with your tenants, en masse, by using our new "hippoGROUPS" product, support for which is built into hippoRENT. Boxes can automatically add tenants to a hippoGROUP on rental and remove them when they leave. Great for mass-tenant communication.
1. CREATING A WEBSITE ACCOUNT
If you don’t already have a Hippo Technologies website password (e.g. you don’t use one of our other web-enabled products), begin by rezzing the HippoTech Website Registration Pass. Click it and it will connect to our website, create you an account and speak the password to you (via OwnerSay so only you hear it). You can later change this password for something more meaningful, via the ’My Account’ link near the top of pages on the website users’ area. Please don’t ever use your Second Life password, pick a password unique to the Hippo Technologies website.
TIP: If you’re a new user then after creating an account you should re-rez the product carton and touch it again to unpack (you can ignore (don’t mute!) the folder it gives) ... this is because during unpacking it registers you as a hippoRENT user to unlock that part of the website.
Once you’ve got a password, you can later login to users.hippo-technologies.co.uk to make use of the website. Don’t do this quite yet, as there’s nothing to see until you’ve read (2) or (3) below.
2. THE RENTAL SERVER
The rental server is used to hold notecards (e.g. tenant information notecards), textures/pictures (if you’re using vendors you’ll want to show potential tenants a nice picture of a rental location) and landmarks (if you want to give them out to enquirers). It replaces the (remote) tag that you may have played with if you ever used the non-web-enabled version of hippoRENT.
Loading pictures, notecard and landmarks is really easy. In fact, if you’ve used the hippoVEND system, the instructions that now follow will be very familiar indeed. If you don’t plan to load notecards, landmarks or textures remotely, you can skip straight to part 3 below.
Each server can potentially hold hundreds of items. Please note that the maximum number of servers you may have running at any one time is 20.
- Begin by rezzing a hippoRENT Web Server. Wait while it quickly loads its configuration notecard.
- Right-click it, choose "Edit" (then More>>> if the build dialog box is not fully expanded).
- Pick the "Contents" tab and double-click on the ’_config’ notecard to edit it.
- Change the SERVER NAME and PASSWORD to something meaningful in the first case and secure in the second case, for example ...
SERVER NAME: Brownfield Site Rentals Ltd Server 1
You’ll never need to actually remember your password, it’s simply used to protect communications to-and-from the server.
Now close the notecard (you can ignore the other options for now) and save it. Close the Second Life build window, then click the server and choose “Reset” to reload the configuration.
- Add any notecards, landmarks or textures you will want to use to the server by holding down the CTRL key and dragging them to it (make sure you drag to the server, not the tiny round prim on its front).
- Once you’re done, click the server, choose "Go Online" and then click it again and choose "Load Inv". The details of each item will get loaded to the website. Later, when editing rental box configurations, you can use the inventory you’ve loaded in here and quickly pick it.
Important Note: You must have full permissions on items you want to give out from a hippoRENT server. (The permissions you set for the *next owner* can be anything you wish).
- If you now log into the website (visit http://users.hippo-technologies.co.uk/) with your name and password. Click on the hippoRENT icon (the large rental box) and click on "Rental Servers" (under the large hippoRENT title at the top of the page). You should now find yourself on the "Servers and Inventory" page. Each server is listed at the top of the page and inventory items in the table beneath. You can, should you wish, do a number of things here:
- Examine just one server’s contents (if you have more than one) by clicking on its name.
- Click a server’s location to open an slURL to that map position.
- Turn a server online or offline by clicking its status.
- Delete a server by clicking the icon to the right of its name.
- Reload a server’s inventory by clicking the icon next to the delete icon.
- Deliver an item of inventory to somebody by clicking the icon to the right of that inventory item, then entering the name (exactly as it appears in Second Life) of the recipient and clicking ‘Deliver’.
3. THE RENTAL BOX
A web-enabled rental box behaves in much the same way as regular rental box that you’ll already be familiar with, except that:
- It can be configured from a configuration card (the old-fashioned way and, if you wish, plugged into an old style server), or from the website, or via voice commands.
- The website will track the status of each rental box. A rental box polls the website every 2 hours (or whenever a "change" happens, e.g. a payment). This is important to bear in mind: the time left displayed on the website is not calculated "live" but is reported to the website at two-hourly intervals to avoid lag. Rental boxes do not need the website in order to work (just as before they didn’t need the server) ... so if the connection between Second Life and the wider web breaks for any reason, the rental box will happily carry on doing its thing and will update the website when it next makes contact. All the ”mission-critical” timing of rentals happens inworld, using the rock-solid scripts that our rental system has used for the past 18 months.
3.1 Getting Started
If you've bought the "hippoRENT Complete" package, then that has the web plugin already installed and you can simply rez a rental box and skip to step (c) below.
- Rez a hippoRENT Rental Box and then, next to it, rez the Web Plugin Installer disc and follow the instructions to add the web plugin module to the box. Once you’ve done this, you could take the box into inventory and use it as your master copy for future rental boxes (you might like to rename it something like “Web Enabled Rental Box” in your inventory). Note that the rental box must be the same version as the web plugin. So, for example, if you’ve bought version 5.65 of the web plugin and your boxes are version 5.0, you’d need to upgrade them first. Visit the Updater Machines on the top floor of the main Hippo Technologies Store to get free upgrades for any of your existing Hippo products.
- Once a rental box has had the plugin installed, or you’ve rezzed a new rental box with the web plugin already installed, It will register with the website and download its default configuration from the web.
USEFUL TIP: If you want to load an existing configuration notecard to the web, drop one into the box, click it, choose ’Voice Cmd’ from the menu and type UPLOAD.
IMPORTANT NOTE: A web-enabled rental box, when asked to load its configuration, begins by looking in its contents for a notecard called “Configuration Notecard”. If that exists, it loads that and ignores any data on the web. This allows you to configure boxes inworld but track them online. If you want full web-blown configuration, ensure no “Configuration Notecard” exists inside the rental box.
ANOTHER USEFUL TIP: Web-enabled rental boxes can also load a configuration notecard as well as their web configuration, allowing you to mix-and-match where you configure them. The main use of this, we foresee, will be connecting web-enabled rental boxes to inworld servers as well as the web. To use this feature, add a notecard to your rental box called "Configuration Extra" and use any of the usual configuration commands you wish. Your rental box will load it after downloading from the web, so any changes you make in "Configuration Extra" will overwrite what the box loads from the web.
- Visit the website (see the notes above) and click on the "Rental Boxes" link (under the hippoRENT title) within the hippoRENT part of the website. You’ll see your new box listed along with its location (click this to open an slURL to the location), price, tenant (if any) and time left. There are also three "action" icons which, from left to right, allow you to ...
- Configure a box (the spanner/wrench icon )
- Reload its configuration (click )
- Delete it (click ).
3.2 Configuring a Rental Box on the Web
- Click the spanner/wrench icon and you’ll open the rental box configuration page. This looks a little daunting at first, with lots of options, but basically its a web version of the configuration notecard you’ve used before, with each set of options grouped together. As with the old style configuration notecards, most can be ignored at first. For now, to get a feel of how things work, try changing the price to L$200 per week and the Prim Allowance to 500. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click OK (or hit enter after entering a text value).
- You’ll now see that the circular arrow icon is lit up, to the right of the rental box. This is telling you that the box inworld needs its configuration downloading to match the one on the website. So click the icon and the box inworld will shortly reload its configuration.
- It’s now worth mentioning some useful hints and tips for the configuration screen ...
- Rental boxes can be grouped together for easier management. See our Guide to Using Rental Box Groups.
- Pictures are stored by key (you can right-click a picture/texture in your inventory and choose "Copy Asset UUID" to get this. Or you can let the box inworld convert a picture name to a key by using the voice command PICTURE: <name of picture held in the box>, e.g. PICTURE: My New House. Or, if a rental server you have online has a picture in it, you can pick a picture to use from that.
- Notecards and landmarks can also be chosen from a server, provided you have uploaded some inventory of that type into a rental server (see section 2 above).
- Rent sharing and alternative IMs work by group (not Second Life group!) to define a group, click on the “Groups” icon in the left hand tool bar that appears on each page. Create a new group and add people to it by following the onscreen instructions. Note, if you’re only using a group for communications, not for sharing, you can set the Share% for each person to any value you choose --- its only used when rent sharing.
- If you’re unsure what any option/field does, hover your mouse pointer over it to get a useful tooltip. You can also look it up in the Rental Box Guide, as all the web configuration options mirror the equivalent Configuration Card option.
- You can copy the configuration of a rental box from another very easily. If you have more than one box rezzed, scroll to the bottom of the configuration page. You’ll see the option to "copy this rental box’s configuration from ..." and a pick list of your other rental boxes. Pick the box you wish to use as a source and click “Go”.
- Note: If you’re applying a configuration to more than one rental box, or copying a configuration, only the fields you have changed will be copied (and when you make changes, the field will often turn yellow). Nor will the rental box name won’t be copied this is to avoid you ending up with 50 boxes all called “Rental Box 1” for example!
3.3 Commanding and Controlling Rental Boxes from the Web
If you return to the main rental box screen you will see, at the bottom of the list of rental boxes, a number of controls. The "Refresh List" button does exactly, refreshes the view; useful if you’ve just rezzed a new rental box inworld, for example. To move to the right, "Configure Selected" allows you to configure *multiple rental boxes at once*. Tick the boxes you wish to configure (or use the tick box at the top of the right-hand column to toggle between all and none selected). Then click "Configure Selected", make any changes and they’ll be applied to each selected box. Similarly, "Update Selected" tells the selected rental boxes inworld to update themselves.
The middle control is more interesting ...
... you’ll see if you click the drop down menu that there are a range of functions. Each is applied to the currently selected rental box or boxes, so select at least one before trying a function. From top to bottom in the list you can:
- Edit Tenancy -> this allows you to change the name of the tenant, the length (days and of those how many are "free" (non-refundable)) and any partner name.
- Remove Tenant -> boot (silently or with a message) the tenant or refund them.
- Remove Partner -> remove the partner listed on a rental box.
- Reserve -> reserve a rental box or boxes for a specific person (and for a specific length of time if you wish).
- Unreserve -> clears a reservation.
- Lock - > locks a rental box so it cannot be paid.
- Unlock -> unlocks a box so it can receive payments once again.
- Lock on End -> tells a box to lock itself once the current tenancy finishes.
- Configuration Option -> you can send a single configuration option to a box or boxes. This works like the old style voice commands, when sent from the server. So, for example, HOVERTEXT COLOUR: Blue.
- Request Latest Status -> tells a rental box to ping the website with its latest status (useful if you’d like the very latest tenancy timings, rather than wait for the next two-hourly update).
4. THE RENTAL VENDOR
Rental vendors are simplicity itself to use. Once you’ve got at least one box set up with a picture, rez a vendor.
Once you’ve rezzed a vendor you can see it listed by clicking on “Rental Vendors” under the hippoRENT banner on the main website. Each vendor is listed with its name, location (click for an slURL link), the properties it will show, its status (offline or online; click the status to flip it online or offline) and a set of action icons which you should already by now be familiar with.
Configure your vendor by clicking the spanner icon (). You’ll see options for how hovertext looks (on, off, or smart (it appears when the vendor is used and then vanishes)) and whether the vendor speaks the property details in chat. Beneath this, you can filter which properties appear in this vendor by status or by using some filter text. If you use the latter, the vendor will only show properties whose name or location contains the text you enter here. Finally, the ‘Behaviour When Inactive’ section lets you setup slideshow mode (the vendor will cycle through properties when not used).
Click OK to save the vendor configuration then click the circular arrow button to download the configuration to the vendor inworld (it will automatically turn online at this point).
5. PAYMENT LOGS
The final part of the website are the payment logs (click “Payment Logs” under the hippoRENT title at the top of a page). You’ll see each payment made to one of your rental boxes, listed with the date, time, name of the rental location, the inworld location, the tenant name and the amount paid (negative if it was a refund). Any proxy payments (friends paying for a tenant) have a little [P] icon next to the name of the tenant -- hold the mouse over this to see a tooltip with the payee’s name.
You can do a number of useful things on this page:
- Sort information (use the arrows on the column tops).
- Filter just the information you want (click the ’Filter’ button, enter some criteria, click ’OK’).
- Use the grouping tools in the right hand column to group payments by date, rental name, location, tenant etc.
- Export to CSV will produce a text-only version of the data that can, if you know about these things, be easily dumped into a programme like Microsoft Excel for more sophisticated analysis.
6. PREFERENCES PAGE
The final page within the hippoRENT website allows you to control several aspects of how your rental system looks and behaves. Simply tick any options you wish to turn on, untick those you wish to disable and click OK to save your changes.
- Show Land Parcel Names
Boxes report the name of the land parcel they’re sitting on and, if you wish, you can choose to display this in your box list (and if you export the box list to CSV).
- Show Rental Box Version
Turn this on and each box will now displays its software version underneath its name in the box list.
- Deleting Items Also Deletes Them Inworld (v5.0 and above)
hippoRENT offers you the ability to also have items delete themselves inworld when you delete them online (e.g. if you delete a box from your box list). Be careful using this feature ... items you now delete will be deleted inworld (not returned to your inventory, but deleted).
- Show Prim Count Results Even When No Tenant
- By default, prim counts are only shown when there is a tenant. However, you can choose to show them at all times by ticking this option.
- Show "Custom" Field in Box Configuration Page
- Show "Custom" Field in Box List Page
- Show "Custom" Field in Box List CSV Export
See this page for more about custom fields and how they work.
7. A NOTE ABOUT ACCOUNT SIZES
The web plugin module allows you, by default, to manage up to 100 rental boxes at any one time. If you are a larger business and wish to control more than this, there is an additional one-off charge of L$500 for each additional block of 100 (rezzed at any one time). To update your account limit, simply visit the main Hippo Technologies Store, head upstairs to Customer Services and click on the blue Account Updater sign on the window behind the desk. Follow the instructions to update your limit.