There is a new version of the Cool Viewer out. I haven’t been keeping up with it because it uses the older V1 User Interface. But, I wanted to check it out. I’ve learned a few things that should be included in any review of Cool VL Viewer and may be about any V1 viewer. I’ve covered several points that affect all users regardless of viewer used, so you may want to skim this even if you are not interested in Cool VL. But, you are sure to learn some surprising things about Cool.
Get V1, V2, and V3 Right
In Second Life we have our own jargon when talking about SL. For instance the whole virtual world is mesh. Press Ctrl-Shift-R to see it. But, we call only some things mesh. We mean the new things we can make with ‘mesh’ models made in Blender and 3DS Max or Maya.
Our references to viewers and what code they are based on tends to be via shortened version numbers, thus; V1, V2, and V3. The problem now is that we no longer have viewers based purely on any one version of Linden Lab’s code.
Cool VL was based on Snow Globe code. Technically Snow Globe is version 1.5. However, that was a beginning point for Cool VL. It is no longer made from pure Snow Globe code. Code from the Lab’s version 2 and 3 are now part of Cool VL.
The user interface is very much a version 1 user interface. But, the code is a hybrid blend of V1, V2, and V3 code. The viewer has features like HTTP Texture Get and HTTP Map Get. Also, the new Outfits folder is in the inventory and one can use links. So, as Henri has pointed out, it is unfair to label Cool VL a V1 version viewer. It is more of a version 3+ viewer with a V1 interface.
If we try to be truly accurate it is hard to label many Third Party Viewers in relation to a Linden version.
Cool VL Life Time
Henri wrote a clear explanation of what is happening with viewers that mostly use V1 code in the Cool VL forum. I got into some of that in the last article on Firestorm-Phoenix Q&A. Henri says about the same thing.
The Lindens are not going to block V1 viewers, period. They will continue to upgrade Second Life. They will not be upgrading the Lab’s V1 viewers. Eventually the services that LL’s 1.23 needs to run will not be available. The features dependent on those services will stop working in LL’s 1.23. But, the services in Cool VL will continue to work. So, how is that possible?
The answer is simple. Henri will upgrade Cool VL to use the new services that provide the functions. For instance, Map Panels, the images that show an aerial view of a region in the World Map, use a new service that creates and distributes those images. When the old service shuts down 1.23’s map will stop working. Cool VL’s will continue to work because it has been adapted to use the new map service.
So, as long as Henri adapts the viewer to the new services it will continue to function and be 100% functional.
Time to Change
When people started adapting V2 code to V1 viewers word was it was going to be labor intense and difficult. Seemed reasonable to me. When mesh code made it into Cool VL I assumed that from the time mesh was released until it appeared in Cool was how long it took to adapt. So, obvioulsy it was difficult and time consuming. WRONG.
Henri corrects that idea in the Cool forum. Even after mesh released, Henri was waiting for the mesh code to stabilize. He says once he started on it it was not that difficult or time consuming. So, I have to change my thinking.
Henri says initially there was a lot of work needed to adapt the user interface to the new V2 and 3 code. Now that work is done moving new code into Cool VL is no longer all that difficult.
When we consider that the FS-PH team has been fighting with the user interface and was blindsided by the new Flexible User Interface (FUI), Henri’s choice to wait while FS pushed ahead may have been the smart choice. Whichever was better is moot as long as we have good viewers.
In the future new features will come to Cool VL quickly, with ‘quickly’ being a flexible and subjective term based mostly on Henri’s viewpoint. But, as you’ll read later, the Mesh Deformer is in this release, which suggests its easy enough to put the latest updates in a viewer.
Download & Install
The file is about 34mb. The download was sluggish but not bad, a few minutes.
The install is not the standard SL Viewer install. This install requires one have a copy of Snow Globe 1.5 (SG1.5). However, the installer will download SG1.5 for you and put in an archive folder for use with future Cool VL upgrades. So, other than answering 1 more question and specifying where to save the SG1.5 archive it is the basic SL Viewer install. This is a much easier install than my first Cool VL install.
I installed 1.26.3 over the top of my Cool 1.26.0 install and things worked fine.
If you like the old style interface from pre-viewer 2, you will like Cool VL. It is very much a V1 user interface. I haven’t used the V1 interface for months and was rather surprised how adapted I am to the V3 FUInterface.
While I know people love their V1 interface, I am finding so many annoyances in it and the lack of features I’ve learn to rely on that I don’t like it. Sorry V1 peeps.
I won’t go into my grips about the UI. I will point out that I found it a shock reverting back. This means new users that have only ever seen V3 UI are unlikely to adapt to it. And that is what will probably bring about the end of the V1 interface. Yes, I still beleive it has limited life. As you’ll read later I also bleive it is likely much longer than I expected.
User life in SL is about 2 years. Metaverse has some stats on that. This means that over the next two years the majority of V1 UI people will have left SL. More and more people will be new to SL and unfamiliar with the V1 UI.
But, V1 UI viewers will be around until the developers decide to stop maintaining them. Milkshake was being made for the developer and about 5 friends. So, have no fear that the viewers will leave. V1 will end when the users stop using it.
I find the viewer really fast. I get 18 to 35 FPS in my home. In the image above you’ll see 14 FPS, but that was because I opened the Snipping Tool and SL went into background mode. The 35 FPS is about double the speed I get from Dolphin, Exodus, and SL Viewer 3.2.6 with the same settings.
The viewer renders mesh… and it is fast. As far as I can tell there is no mesh upload. Qarl’s Mesh Deformer is included. It works as well in Cool as it does in other veiwers.
Only the basic build tools are part of Cool VL. There is no Build Math or prim alignment or tri-value copy/paste. Update: Lord pointed out that these features are there. They just weren’t where I was expecting them to be.
I haven’t looked hard but I did not find multi-layer wear. No Add button. I did find an Add when putting on my mesh top.
Cool does have the new Outfits that use links.
One of the things I miss in V3 UI is the ability to make outfits the way we made them in the V1 UI. The panel that let us decide which items to include in the outfit was way handy. It allowed me to make an outfit that is the basic nude me. I could then make outfits that were clothes only. I can’t do that in V3 UI. So, each outfit has a hair style, whether I want to wear that hair-do today with that outfit or not. Oh well… — I can make outfits the way I want them but it is a bit of a PITA and I don’t. The V1 UI is definitely better in this regard.
Cool VL has the new RestrainedLove v2.08.02 features and code.
Summing It Up
Cool VL Viewer is a nice viewer with up to date code and a V1 UI. I’ve likely missed lots of the V3 features that are included. Read the Cool VL forum to see the release notes.
If you are considering giving up your SL Viewer 1.23 to have a more current viewer, the Cool VL would be a good choice. It has the same V1 UI as the SLV 1.23. While I may not like the V1 UI I understand why people don’t want to change over, as I don’t want to change back.
The good news is Cool VL is NOT… I repeat… NOT… falling behind. It is pretty much a cutting edge viewer with the V1 UI.
Download: Cool VL (Virtual Life) Viewer – scroll to bottom