Second Life Viewer Rankings

Viewer Ranking

Second Life Viewer Ranking

If you have not looked at the Third Party Viewer (TPV) list in some time, you might be surprised to know the viewers are now listed in the order of Crash Rate. The viewer with the lowest crashes first. Of course to be rated, the viewer must report crashes.

You can find the list here: Third Party Viewer Directory

Surprisingly the viewer that crashes the least is the SLV 1.23, which is the oldest usable Linden Lab viewer available. This is probably predictable as the viewer uses all the old and well tested technology. Few, if any, of the new features are included in the 1.23 viewer.

Also the ranking does not take into account performance. That is performance in the sense of rez speed or inventory load time both things the new series 2 viewers do better. Nor are the number of features considered. Things like built in AO and Speed Rez that reduce server lag are not considered.

Behind 1.23 is the SLV 2.6.1 beta, then the SLV 2.5.2.

Without the details of how the ranking is calculated, it is hard to know how accurate the rankings are. A number of factors could contribute. We can speculate that the significant factors are considered and ranking is based on a percentage of crashes by that viewer’s users. Or something similar, to allow for the popularity of the various viewers and their differing user rates.

Behind the Lab’s viewers the best crash rate of the participating TPV’s is Imprudence. There is no information on which version. I am guessing the latest Experimental version, Imprudence 1.4.0 Experimental 2011.03.20.

In second place is Firestorm, still an alpha version, which is impressive.

In third place is Singularity.

My Experience

I use several viewers. Of the 12 graphical viewers listed I’ve used 11, Restrained Love being the odd one out. I’ve nothing against it. It just never interested me. My experience is pretty much like the listing with some notable exceptions.

I no longer use the SLV 1.23, so I can’t compare it.

The SLV 2.6.1 Beta I have not been using either. The 2.6.1 Developer version was crash prone and locked up my computer a number of times. I had to press the Reset Button or power down to reboot. Of the two times I’ve used the SLV 2.6.2-225070 Developer version, it crashed. Once locking up my computer and the second time going to 1 or 2 FPS and black screens. I exited rather than crash. So, I haven’t used the 2.6.2 version since. So, personally my experience is different than the list on 2.6.1 & 2 versions. I would say my crash rates with those viewers is near 100%. But, my use is not objective test data. Still, I am a bit skeptical about the Lab’s viewers all having better crash rates than TPV’s.

I don’t use the main SLV 2.5.2 version that new users get. That is just a case of my finding the newer stuff more interesting.

I like using Imprudence, Singularity, Phoenix 977, Kirsten, and Dolphin. I like the Firestorm viewer too, but I find it incomplete and some of the things I want to use have yet to be added to or completed in the viewer.

I would put my rating of best crash rates as;

  1. Imprudence
  2. Firestorm
  3. Phoenix 977

I do believe Singularity is probably 2nd and has a good crash rate. I just happen to use it less and feel cannot really rate it. If you are having viewer problems, definitely try it out.

I also think Dolphin 1 and 2 are very good viewers. That they don’t crash report is a user option. Also the user base is small enough that there are not enough stats yet for the Lab to rank the viewer. If you want to help Dolphin, turn on crash reporting.  Please avoid considering Dolphin a lesser viewer because it is not in the first list. It is a competitor in the TPV arena.

Recommending TPV’s to new people is not as simple as it first sounds. If they only know SLV 1.23 then I think it is Imprudence and Phoenix, in that order with Singularity and Dolphin 1 tied behind them.

If they only know SLV2, Kirsten and Dolphin 2. I only omit Firestorm because it is really alpha version software and incomplete.

State of Viewers

Viewer development is changing rapidly. On average going into March the Lab’s team was going through 82 builds per day. These are not versions. They are build ID numbers. Each Build ID gives the developers specific information about the build. Also some of the builds have very minor changes, may be just a button resize or label change. Still it should give you an idea of the work going on.

TPV’s are catching up to the Lab. Most are adopting the SLV2 code and creating new user interfaces. Firestorm and Dolphin 2 are good examples. Using a number of these viewers at the same time creates what I’ll call Lost Feature Syndrome (LFS).  This is where you have trouble remembering where the control for a feature is located. It is in one place in one viewer and another place, if even included, in another viewer. People like me that use a number of viewers suffer from LFS. (If you see me on the street you’ll recognize me because I’m the one with the effects lights swirling around my head.)

I think only Kirsten’s, and may be to some extent Firestorm, lead the Lab in viewer development. Kirsten seems to be getting a handle on merging code from the Lab into the S21 viewer. There are few new features in the Kirsten S21 Viewer. But the render pipeline and OpenJPEG subsystem and other inner working things have been upgraded and appear to work better than the Lab’s. Adding new code from the Lab does not seem to delay Kirsten’s work.

Things are changing in regard to viewer skins and interfaces. The code that makes up the viewer is becoming more modular, at least that is what I get as an outsider not working with the code. All of the parts of the viewer seem to be more modular and easier to change.

In the design tube is the idea of viewer plugins. Once implemented that would allow viewer developers to develop just features that run on top of a basic viewer rather than whole viewers. I suppose somewhat like plugins in Photoshop and browsers.

I expect the result is going to be much faster development of the viewer, skins, and features by the end of this year. I also expect to see some viewers specialize on OpenSim and others SL. However this shakes out, I expect the ride to be bumpy this year. We will have more new problems and more new features. Then things will start to smooth out… or so I hope.

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