Today I see a post on the Kokua/Imprudence blog. NickyP wrote about the problems added when a developer moves from a Beta release to a production release. They are the reason that the Kokua viewer is staying a Beta Viewer.
The Team is able to develop faster because they keep it a Beta release viewer, which is a good thing.
Back when the Viewer Policies changed some developers were warning that development would slow down because of all the stuff they were required to do. Now developers are finding their way around some of the more tedious requirements.
Kokua and Exodus both release numerous beta versions. They release few production releases.
The Firestorm viewer is infrequently released as it mostly comes out only in production releases. The typical beta release for Firestorm is to their QA people or maybe we should call them beta testers. Beta releases when they are released are versions that are intended to be a future production version. Some other TPV Dev’s are releasing beta versions that are much more in the line of experimental viewers that have fewer restictions.
I can’t really tell who is progressing faster or slower. In most cases it seems TPV Dev’s are trying to keep up with the Lab. So, to a great extent I’ve lost most of my interest in Third Party Viewers. I am still curious and use them. But, I see things much as KirstenLee said in a recent post. When KirstenLee came back and updated the Kirsten Viewer to S22 he said he saw little change in things. In certain ways that is exactly right.
While the backend of the Second Life™ system is rapidly changing and the internal mechanics of the SL Viewer are rapidly changing there has been little change in what the viewer does or what it shows on the screen. Because of that little is changing in how we use or see SL. The Materials System will change that when released.
Firestorm, Dolphin 3, Exodus, and other TPV’s have added most of the features users think they need. In many cases they have just made existing features easier to use. The Lab trise to keep from overwhelming the new users. So, many features in the Lab’s viewers are in the Advanced, Develop, and Debug Settings menus.
For instance: in comments to an earlier post Honor McMillan pointed out that the SL Viewer can de-render objects via Advanced -> Highlighting and Visibility -> Hide Selected. In TPV’s that same feature is available, but it is on the right-click popup menu, which is much easier to use.
Kokua is reputed to be similar and different in the realm of adding features. The team is adding features that work with other grids. The Aurora flavor of OpenSim is to have many features and abilities that people have wanted and the Kokua viewer is supposed to provide the viewer side access. Since viewers have to change to take advantage of those features we may see Kokua leading the way on those features. OpenSim grids are starting to list the Kokua Viewer as their viewer of choice. Of course they have to do something because the Lab’s viewer using the Havok Library is restricted to the SL grid.
But, for an everyday user in SL, whichever viewer you use seems to mostly be a matter of how easy it is to do your daily tasks. I think power users and those spending several hours in a row in SL adopt Firestorm.
Kokua is likely going to be the predominant viewer in OpenSim and Aurora grids. The Firestorm team is looking at making an alternate version of Firestorm available for use on OpenSim grids. So, Kokua will have competition. Time will tell which viewer people prefer in OpenSim.
The latest Kokua:Release Notes/220.127.116.11765. This page includes the download links.
Download & Install
The download file is about 35mb. That is a little smaller than some previous releases of Kokua. The download is fast.
The install is basic. This Beta installs into: C:\Program Files\KokuaViewer. It seems to retain all your previous Kokua settings when doing an overwrite install.
The viewer has a Grid Selector, which is reasonable. My initial start up was set to SL but I got a connection fail until I reselected the main SL grid. Even then the Sl Grid’s splash screen doesn’t seem to work correctly.
The viewer is pretty fast. I get 25 to 30 FPS in my house with Lighting & Shadows, Ambient Occlusion, and Sun/Moon disabled. Outside I get 30 to 40 FPS. My GTX560 is showing a 25% load. My 4 Core-2 cores are averaging about 25% with spikes up to 50%.
This is the Pathfinding version of the viewer. It has all the Pathfinding Tools. All but the View Navmesh works. I suspect this is because of the Havok License requirement that any viewer using Linden Lab’s copy of the Havok Library may only connect to the Lab’s grids. That library handles the displaying of the Navmesh. So, while you can edit and change the mesh, you cannot see how the physics engine is seeing the Navmesh… This is only a problem for those optimizing their Pathfinding performance.
Think about it this way. You can see all the prims you are building to make roads and other things. You can edit whether those are static or dynamic obstacles. You can also designate them for Path A, B, C, or D use. What you can’t do is look at how the physics engine is seeing all this stuff. In the image below the white areas and white lines are representing the Navmesh. The red lines show where the Navmesh stops as it reaches the water line. Without the Havok Library the viewer cannot display the white stuff.
My Pathfinding Character renders as it should. That has been a problem with the SL Development Viewers. The viewer would not always update the character as it moved around. Kokua does.
I suspect the Pathfinding Stats in Viewer Statistics (Ctrl-Shift-1) are wacky. The SL viewer and Kokua show difference results. I think I have the only PF character in the region. When it is running only 3% of the PF Characters are updating… which I’m not buying.
My little character is only using 50 microseconds. When I turn him off, which deletes the character, the percent of updated characters decreases… but, since I am pretty sure I have the only character in the region the value should go to zero… because there are none to update. The SL Viewer shows 0% when I turn him off.
Also, if he is the ONLY character in the region I think when I turn him on the percent of characters being updated should jump to 100%. Even in the SL Dev Viewer that doesn’t happen. It tends to start at a few percent and work up to 55% or so… So, this may be more a server side issue than a viewer problem.
The Kokua Viewer is very much a V3 type viewer in appearance and user interface. I didn’t use the viewer for long. But I could find every menu item I wanted to use. It didn’t crash.
I suggest you not let the designation Beta deter you from using this version, which is the point the recent Kokua Blog Post is making. It seems like a good every day power user’s viewer.