Most viewer reviews are written for those using Second Life®. However, more grids are opening. For the people using alternate grids there is another blog looking at viewers: Excelsior Station. The author, Sarge Misfit, does a Second Life® style VIEWERS COMPARISON. SL users will gain some benefit from the comparison,
The most recent comparison is dated May 3, 2012.
The comparison is a cross between a viewer list and a feature comparison. One of the valuable points in the comparison is whether the viewer is multi-grid ready, does it have a grid manager, handy comparison point.
The current comparison points are:
- Viewer Name
- Version Number
- Viewer Home Page
- Viewer Download Page
- Interface Style
- Grid Access (Manager included)
- Export Linkset XML (Object Export)
- Axis on Root (? – presumably this is about where the axis appears when editing prims)
- Nano Prim (? – I assume this is about whether one can use prim dimensions less than 0.01m)
- Max Hollow
- Undo (Prim editing undo)
- Built-in AO (Animation Override)
- Radar (Tells whether the MiniMap or separate extended features radar is used)
- Double Click TP (In MiniMap)
- Mesh (Not clear whether this means it has ability to render or upload mesh, assume render)
- Command in Chat (type DD ## to change draw distance)
- AuroraSim Compatible
- Viewer Notes – special notes on odd viewer traits (i.e., Firestorm/Phoenix bridge)
The viewers currently compared are:
- Cool VL
- Dolphin 3
An interesting point is 56% of the Third Party Viewers (TPV) use the V1 (old style) User Interface. The other 44% are using the new V3 Flexible User Interface. This is likely to change over time, as new users start with the Linden Lab viewer and its V3 Interface, as older SL users leave and new users come into SL. Someday the majority of SL users will be people that learned the V3 interface first.
Viewer comparisons are a bunch of work. I considered the number of features in current viewers and gave up any thoughts of doing comparisons. There are currently well over 3,000 settings controlling various features in V3 viewers. I figured I would never be able to complete a comparison before several viewers changed, making it out of date before published. So, yay for Sarge.
Which features are important varies by our personal preferences and what we use the viewer to do. I think being able to change the default cameras locations for Front and Rear View is mandatory. I suspect most users in SL have no idea one can make that change or why one would want to. (See: Camera Position Tips).
For others it would be a matter of not just which viewer can upload mesh, but how well it can upload mesh. Figuring that out would take lots of testing. In depth comparisons are way complex and take lots of effort and time. Only a group of people could take on the task. It could easily turn into a job rather than recreation.