I’m starting to see those creating third party viewers dividing into separate groups. One group is those developing primarily for Second Life (SL) and supporting OpenSim grids as a secondary consideration. Another group is the developers primarily supporting OpenSim grids with SL as a secondary consideration.
I think the Imprudence Viewer Team is leading the way in the second group. Jacek Antonelli posted about their decision to begin having in world meetings in the 3rd Rock Grid (3RG) rather than in SL. So, this isn’t war of the worlds. It is reported to be about finding a ‘viewer’ developer friendly grid.
The Imprudence Viewer is also now listed on SL’s list of Third Party Viewers.
The team’s frustration with Linden Lab is obvious. But, who isn’t frustrated with LL in some way? That is unlikely to change any time soon.
The Hippo Viewer team seems oriented primarily on use in OSGrid. Imprudence is looking at multiple OpenSim grids. Kirsten focuses on SL and OpenLife. Emerald is primarily focused on SL. Other viewers are not obviously developing for any specific grid.
Supporting all the grids is not simple. For instance, the alpha texture layer for avatars in SL 2.0 viewer is not available in most OpenSim worlds. The changeover to HTTP protocol for texture download has not been added to all the OpenSim grids. Through into the mix the coming addition of freeform meshes. RealXtend already has freeform meshes. Will RealXtend and SL meshes be compatible? Who knows?
I consider RealXtend at the limit of what is considered OpenSim. It is open source so it does fit the technical if not the lay usage of the term OpenSim. However, they do have the Naali viewer running on a Nokia N900 smart phone (See image above). The performance is nothing I would enjoy, but it is a start.
Additionally the features in various grids are evolving at different rates. RealXtend already has freeform meshes. Freeform meshes are to go into beta test in SL this quarter. In SL people talk and dream about mirrors. RealXtend implements mirrors, or at least gives you a reasonably easy way to do so.
Then there is SpotOn3d and their idea of how to sell stuff. They are removing all vendors from in-world and building an XStreetSL type web based vendor system into the viewer. So, yet another viewer complication, which is tending toward grid specific viewers.
The scripting in various grids is also leading to differences. OSGrid has a number of way handy scripting commands not available in SL and unlikely to ever make it into SL. One handy feature is being able to write a note card via script. In RealXtend there are various ways to store configuration data for a script and handy ways to parse and use the information.
For most users the variety of developers, features, and grids means we will likely have a number of viewers on our workstations. I already pretty much use only SL 2.0.1, Kirsten’s S20, and Emerald when visiting SL. Hippo is my choice for OSGrid when editing terrain and Imprudence for most other building. That is 5 viewers… now…