The production release of the Firestorm Viewer is here. It has taken 15 months from the preview to this production viewer. The team has essentially combined the features from the Phoenix Viewer with the new Linden Lab Viewer and technology while giving it a custom user interface.
Significant portions of the Lab’s technology have been changing while the team was working. The team had a changing foundation to deal with as they built. For now, the team feels they have caught up with the Lab. Check it out. The following is what I found.
In February of this year we saw the first previews of the Firestorm viewer in a video, see: Firestorm Viewer Preview, and a preview version of the viewer. Since then releases of the Firestorm Viewer have been few and far between. I think that phase of Firestorm’s development is over. I expect to see the release cycle speed up.
We are promised another release of Phoenix. I doubt we will see any more development in Phoenix once it gets mesh. Once that release is out we will see all of the team’s effort placed into Firestorm. There will probably be some bug fixes on Phoenix, but Firestorm is the replacement for Phoenix.
Jessica in one of the Phoenix Hours had spoken about missing features that kept people from adopting Firestorm. I think most of those missing features have been included now. Now it is probably time to start looking at weaning yourself off Phoenix.
Last night my download was slow… about 20 minutes. The download is only 32mb. It may have been a large number of people downloading that caused the slow motion download. I’ve downloaded 4gb in about 30 minutes… so, I doubt it is my end.
When installing, users are encouraged to remove former installs. I removed the two Firestorm Viewers I had installed. The FS-PH Team is probably most interested in having users remove the settings file as they note many of the settings in this version of the viewer have changed.
Once the older viewers are uninstalled, the install is simple and straight forward.
The Viewer sets up its own cache and settings files. The default location for them in Windows is the AppsData\Local and Roaming folders. So, one just needs to install and run. No worry about conflicts with other viewers.
If you go through Windows START menus you’ll see in the Firestorm folder there are links to your SL Account page, a Join page, and a link to LSL help in the SL Wiki. (LSL = Linden Scripting Language)
You’ll see the new splash screen when launching Firestorm. See the image above. Accordion drop downs are used to show Firestorm Information, What’s Hot Now, Events, and Destinations. The Firestorm information includes; Firestorm Notices, a link to the Firestorm blog, the Viewer version, and the SL Grid Status.
The Destinations, Events, and What’s Hot Now are the same features we see in the SL Viewer’s splash page.
Login Changes – Interface Style
When you look at the login section of the splash screen you may notice the new control labeled Default Settings. This setting allows you to change the User Interface. You have a choice of a Phoenix, V3, or hybrid style interface. When you change styles you must restart to make the change.
Regardless of which style of interface you pick the login splash screen looks the same.
The V3 interface style is NOT the new SL Viewer 3 interface with dockable buttons and floating panels. It is the interface one saw in the SL Viewer 2 releases. The interface still has the sidebar.
This is a unique mix of the V2 interface and the Phoenix interface.
Adoption of Interfaces
The number of new users coming into Second Life is increasing. This means more and more people are starting out with the V3 interface. Those new users are likely to have problems with the idea the V3 interface is supposed to be like the SL Viewer’s, having never seen the V2 interface. I like the new V3 interface. So, the change back to V2 is annoying. I suspect others will find it annoying.
Since the last Phoenix Hour was skipped due to camera failure, we don’t know what the plans are for the V2-3 interface. I am guessing that a future release will have a more V3 like interface.
The Location selector includes your land mark favorites.
The grid selector includes the popular grids. The feature is turned on/off in Preferences->Advanced. The setting includes a warning that the viewer will not work in all grids. I have yet to try the viewer in OSGrid.
The FS-PH Team warns that the arrangement of Preference Settings has changed. I haven’t been using Firestorm enough to get used to the location of settings, so that is not a biggie for me.
The difference from V3 is significant. Not just the arrangement of settings, but the number of settings. As the team said things were getting crowded in some places and the arrangement was getting nonsensical, so they decided to clean it up. I haven’t had to find a lot of settings yet, but those I have looked for I found. The new arrangement seems logical and intuitive. I also notice that some settings appear in more than one place, which makes it easier to find them.
The number of settings is amazing. Firestorm is definitely a power user’s viewer.
Link to the next page is below the buttons.