Phoenix to Firestorm Viewer Tutorial

One of the impressive things about the Phoenix-Firestorm (PH/FS) team is the documentation they are creating for their viewers. From what I see being asked in the PH/FS group and SL Forum I suspect many PH/FS users are unaware of the documentation to be found in the team’s PH/FS Wiki.

Phoenix to Firestorm Migration

I suspect one of the most over looked yet useful articles in the PH/FS Wiki is the Migration Guide. The article is short, by my thinking, just 750 words. It does link to a YouTube video: V1’ify Your Firestorm Experience! The video runs about 12 minutes.

The underlying theme in the Migration Guide is to tweak the Version 2 viewer Interface to be more like the Version 1 Viewer Interface. Having this flexibility built into Firestorm allows for a more pleasant migration experience.

The Conundrum

As I see things the team had to make some interesting decisions about the Firestorm User Interface (UI). They have users coming from version 1 viewers. But, new Second Life users finding Firestorm are coming from Linden Lab’s version 2 viewer. The UI for Firestorm needs to be very much like the Lab’s UI for those users. Also, the more the UI is like the Lab’s the fewer changes the team has to maintain as the Lab advances their viewer.

Obviously a UI the user can customize is desirable. In this regard I think the PH/FS team may be ahead of the Lab. The Lab has been working toward creating a more modular viewer. The goal is to have a render engine separate from the UI. Obviously this will make it easier to adapt the viewer to new technology. It will also allow third party developers like PH/FS to more easy build custom UI’s.

Since the Lab’s 2.0 Viewer did not have that extensive a modular design the Lab is working toward it. The designers probably thought the V2 UI was great and could not imagine it would need to be changed or customized. For them the UI was probably sacred.

The PH/FS team started knowing they had to customize the interface. The Second Life Community’s outrage and dissatisfaction with Viewer 2 was no small clue something better, or at least different, was needed. So, that is what they have built.

Complexity

Viewers for virtual worlds are complex. The number of options and settings in a viewer are in the thousands. A setting or option cannot be intuitive if the user doesn’t know about the setting exists, the concept behind what it does, or have a need to change it. So, some things are just there. For instance Clear Group Cache, does what? Even Torley is unsure.

The PH/FS Solution

To help people learn how to use the viewer basics and explain the more esoteric settings the team provides the PH/FS Wiki, videos, and classes. For some time they offered Phoenix classes. Those have ended and are no longer conducted. They only offer Firestorm Viewer Classes now.

The PH/FS Wiki and YouTube Channel are an excellent sources of information about the PH/FS viewers.

Videos:

PH/FS Video Channel – Look here for the latest videos.

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