Firestorm Viewer 3.2.2.24336 Review

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.

Second Life

New Firestorm Splash Screen

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.

Download

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.

Experience

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)

Splash

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.

Interface Modes

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.

V3 Interface

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.

Hybrid Interface

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.

List of LM Favs

Location

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.

Grid Locations

Preferences

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.

9 thoughts on “Firestorm Viewer 3.2.2.24336 Review

  1. Great review. I tried out the viewer for about 20 minutes last night from a clean install and was impressed with the information displayed on the initial screen. It was easy to get up and going and things weren’t looking too bad. Then I started to move around. The movement was fast but kind of jerky, not as fluid as the Kirsten’s viewer or LL’s viewer, but I hadn’t changed anything from default yet, so maybe it wasn’t at it’s optimized settings. Walked around a bit on the Homestead sim I was on (no one else on the sim) and also noticed that some regular prims where having a heck of a time rendering. They rezzed, but their texture was messed up. Not all of them, just some. Also noticed that I couldn’t get media to play even though I seemed to give it every permission to do so.

    When I have more time, I plan to check out other options to see if I can resolve the issues I’ve seen so far. Looks promising, but wasn’t camera ready out of the box with my first use. I’ll assume operator error on my part and give it a more in depth look over in the near future.

  2. Unfortunately Firestorm still has no OTR (Of-the record messaging) support. Lets hope they backport this feature soon. Privacy is important.

  3. V1 profiles will eventually go away in SL but they will still be necessary for OpenSim grids, at least for now.

    The current 3.2.2 Firestorm build appears to have a major memory leak. I had a similar problem where it chewed up excessive amounts of RAM on my system.

    • I agree with you on the memory leak. After some time I would see Page Faults start to cascade into a runaway.

      I think we will start to see OpenSim Viewers and SL viewers. I think it is going to be too much work to maintain all the code needed for each grid.

    • I was finding that the SL viewer was eating up lots of ram too so i downloaded and installed a free program called “CleanMem”. It works fanstastic keeping my available ram free. If you’re interested you can find it at http://www.pcwintech.com/cleanmem – Give it a try.

  4. I think the Firestorm team ought to be congratulated for an outstanding job!!! It comes the closest to being the ideal viewer IMO.

    I agree with you about the V3 interface, although it’s not a biggie for me personally. I do like the new v3 interface better but have also gotten used to the v2 right panel for some windows. Having all those buttons in the bottom bar is a bit overcrowded.

    I agree that the team should move to the new v3 interface. In the meantime, I’m using the “v3” interface where I park some of my less used buttons in the right panel.

    • The Firestorm team has done an amazing job. What they have accomplished is no small task. IM them a thanks.

  5. Pingback: Firestorm Viewer Release and OpenSim Use | =IcaruS= News

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