#SL Viewer Update Week 45

The main viewer has moved up to version 3.2.0-244443. The Beta viewer is now up to 3.2.1-244666 (someone have a sense of humor?) And today the Snowstorm Development viewer is at 3.2.3-244722. I mostly use the Development viewer. So, I’m always unsure what the main viewer is doing or what is or is not included in it. I’ll explain what the viewers are and where you can get them and what other Linden Lab viewers are available.

Second Life Viewer

Dev 244722 on ADITI

Other Viewers

The three SL Viewers listed above are the primary viewers in use by residents, excluding third party viewers. But, they are not the only Linden Lab viewers available. The above viewers are available from the main Second Life Download page. Under More Viewers (More or Alternate Second Life Viewers) is a link to the Wiki page listing the other SL Viewers and Third Party Viewers (TPV.)

On the More page we also find the Project Viewers. The Project Viewers are special development viewers. The name usually tells you the project they are associated with, like; Direct Delivery Project, Direct Delivery Development, Mesh Development, and Second Life Development.

The SL Development viewer is also known as the Snowstorm Project. The link from the Alternate Viewer page for the SL Dev takes you to the Snowstorm Project page. The link for the Snowstorm Project Viewer download is there.

Even More Viewers

Some bugs create special projects. Finding them is a task for repo-walkers and insiders. These projects are branches off the main development tree. They come and go. Currently there is an OpenGL branch for fixing OpenGL issues: davep_shining-fixes. I think there is at least one branch of it.

These additional viewers are like a scratch pad for Linden staff working on a specific problem or feature. In a way they are throw-away development areas.

Viewer Differences

The difference between Project and Development viewers is fuzzy. I’m not sure all the Lindens even see the difference uniformly. I just consider them all viewers in difference stages of development and in different stages of update that will feed their changes into the Second Life Development Viewer that will eventually feed into the Second Life Beta Viewer.

Each project viewer has the latest fixes and features for the project. But, they will not have all the fixes and features from the other project viewers. Each project feature is built and debugged on its own. Once project related code is working and stable the project viewer may be upgraded (merged) to use the latest Snowstorm code and the project retested. Then once well tested the code will move to the Snowstorm project and be retested again.

At some point all project testing and minor bug fixing is happening in a Snowstorm viewer version. New features and complex problems related to specific projects are fixed back in the project viewers by the project team. At some point development is handed off to the Snowstorm team and the code settles into the Snowstorm Project.

Code that has made it to Snowstorm may be held back and not make it to the Beta viewer. Code that has made it to Beta and has problems may be held back from the main viewer as other code moves into the main viewer.

For everyone it is hard to know which viewer has which fixes and features. Even the Lindens don’t keep up on all the updates, fixes, and features. Their system tracks them all so any Linden can look up any fix and garner its status. Those familiar with code repositories (repos) can look up the changes too. But, it is far too tedious for mere mortal users… and it’s not necessary.

Eventually everything feeds to the Second Life Viewer’s Main Development Tree in the repo.

You can see the Project Viewers are going to be the most problem prone viewers. They will have the most bugs and a mix of old and new bugs. Plus they will have bugs that are already fixed in other project viewers and often if they haven’t merged with the latest Snowstorm version in a time have bugs that are already out to Beta and possibly the main viewer. So, these viewers are for those trying to solve a specific problem or that just want to see the newest stuff even if it doesn’t work well.

User Issues

Tateru Nino, of Dwell On It fame 🙂 , lists her current teeth grinding annoyances … features in the main and beta viewers. See Four short rants about Second Life Viewer 3. Most of the article’s commenters agree with her feelings. I do.

Viewer labeling is confusing. I remember when the 2.8 viewer (I think that was the version) suddenly changed into the 3.0 viewer. I suspect there was some internal confusion in the Lab and word suddenly came down to change the viewer version number to accommodate the Release of Mesh. The quick change allowed lots of little things to fall through the cracks. The desktop icons, file names, and other miscellaneous stuff did not get relabeled to 3.0.

Now the user interface is changing. That is a significant enough change from a user viewer point to be considered a significant version change, like Mesh release. But, we did not get a version 4. Expect viewer versioning to remain confusing and a mix of rational increments and arbitrary marketing versions.

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