We seem to be coming to a crunch point in viewers. The Lab is changing things so quickly third party developers have a challenge keeping up. Henri Beauchamp does well with Cool VL Viewer, which is a viewer based on V3 code with a vintage V1 user interface.
Niran seems to have leapfrogged the Niran’s Viewer to having all the latest Linden features by jumping to a recent SL Viewer V3 model. Niran’s Viewer is now Nirans Black Dragon viewer. Niran’s features from previous versions are being added to the new SL V3 Viewer code in Black Dragon. Eventually Niran will have Black Dragon on a feature par with his previous versions.
So, both of those viewers have materials. Firestorm 4.4.1 doesn’t and Tonya Souther of the Firestorm Team explains why, in a blog post: Tracking LL’s big changes, and why the 4.4.2… well now that there is an emergency roll out… 4.4.3 version won’t either.
Emergency Bug Fix
The 4.4.1 version has a bug. It is going to get recalled. Version 4.4.2 will be rolled out ASAP. This version will NOT need a clean install. You’ll see this new version arrive today or tomorrow. It seems this version has a bug that overloads the Linden’s stats server. Once the roll is available the 4.4.1 viewer will be blocked. Currently the 4.4.1 version cannot be downloaded.
There is a debate among viewer developers as to which is the best way to develop the viewer. Henri thinks he can maintain a V1 user interface, so far Siana Gearz thinks the same is true with Singularity. Tonya explains why they, the Firestorm team, believe that is not the best choice for Firestorm.
There are also egos involved. I do not know all the people involved well enough to have a definitive opinion about how has the largest ego or is most evolved with protecting theirs. You can make your own decisions on that call. I think I can tell who is doing ergo and who is being practical. I will say that Tonya and the FS Team have made the most popular viewer in SL-dom, but it is falling behind the Linden viewer.
The current main release viewer is version: 3.6.1-278007. This is the Materials and SSA capable viewer with fixes to 3.6.0. See the release notes.
The Beta Viewer is version: 3.6.2-278133. See release notes (277515).
Currently viewer information coming from the Lab for ‘users’ is a bit out of date and confusing. I think that is due to the new viewer pipeline coming out. We may see that clean up a bit this week (27).
If you don’t already know, Catznip is the development viewer for RLVa features. I think of this viewer as more of an insider’s viewer.
This is a new on the scene viewer. I covered it in: CtrlAltStudio Viewer. This one is developing 3D. It is based on Firestorm so it will lack Materials too. But, should have SSA.
Dolphin 3 Viewer
Dolphin Viewer 3 last released an update in March 2013. I haven’t heard anything from Lance Corrimal in some time. That is 3 months. It doesn’t mean the viewer is discontinued. But, without a release containing SSA upgrades this viewer will be unusable sometime early this month.
The latest news from Exodus was Katharine taking over as lead developer. The last release viewer is dated August 2012.
Developers for this viewer and from Firestorm have been engaged in working with Linden Lab via open source in the development of Materials.
That has lead to little work being done on the Exodus viewer. That means it will soon no longer be useable in the SL grid.
This viewer is falling behind. I understand it is used on some OpenSim grids. While it work with SL, it is behind and AFAIK does not have SSA or Materials. The latest release I can find is 1.4.0 Beta 2 from, I think, 2011.
Kokua Viewer 3.6.1-28990 was released June 29th. This is a multi-grid viewer that is my current favorite for OpenSim. It has Materials capability now. It does not have a Navmesh editor, which for most users is not a problem. You can still work with Navmesh, you just have to know what you are doing because you can’t see it. I am guessing SSA has been or will be added.
I haven’t heard much of anything on this viewer since 2011. It is alive. Zwagoth Klaar and Chalice Yao are still developing it but this viewer is apparently for their personal use. We see code from it appear in other viewers.
The Phoenix viewer is no longer developed. This month it won’t be useable.
Restrained Love Viewer
Its last release is May 2013, RLV version 184.108.40.206. I expect this viewer to update. Work from this developer appears in other viewers that provide RLV functionality. If I have it right this is Marine Kelly’s work. RLVa is an extended RLV. I’m not into the details of these features so I could have this worng. Sorry, if I do.
When I first came into SL in 2008 there were two viewers, as far as I knew: the SL Viewer and Nicholaz Edition Viewer. Actually there were more.
- Able Edition
- Dale Glass Edition
- Greenlife Emerald Viewer
- Henri Beauchamp Edition
- Imprudence Marine Edition
- MonoVida Studio
- Nicholaz Edition
- Rainbow Viewer / Cool Viewer*
- RealXtend Edition
- SL Viewer
*I’m pretty sure this was not Henri’s viewer.
About 2 of them are left. Some of the developers are still around and working with other teams.
With the arrival of the new viewer pipeline in a couple of weeks we may see some viewers dropping from the development cycle as the development pace increases more. Time will tell if Henri is right: development model is most important. Or Tonya is right: quality control and teamwork is more important along with having a V3 like and V1 like user interfaces.
Either way it appears that Firestorm’s effort to appeal to everyone and carry multiple user interfaces is creating challenges and slowing development. It is obvious that FS improvements and features have made adapting to the new Linden CHUI a problem.
The Firestorm Viewer team created the problem by getting ahead of Linden Lab’s development work. The Lab contributed to it by keeping the CHUI under wraps until they felt they were ready to release it. That is not a bad thing on either’s part. But, it has lead to problems and delays for Firestorm.
The FS team wants to get features out and improve the user’s experience. Their criteria and emphasis is different than the Lab’s. That can get them out front ahead of the Lab in some areas. This happened with Firestorm’s improved chat.
The Lab wants to develop features they can support moving forward and avoid wasting TPV Dev’s time with preliminary code that could drastically change. So, they took a year to build CHUI and I believe most of that time was without releasing codes to TPV Dev’s.
Both developers have reasonable criteria. And both have incentives and reasons to work alone. The Lab has made it clear there are ways and places where they are willing to work with TPV Dev’s and places where they are going to work in private. So, I expect CHUI is not the last time something will be a big problem for Firestorm or other TPV’s.
CHUI is an instance of FS having to back up and redo things because of something the Lab did. While the Lab isn’t deliberately ignoring what FS Team does, they simply don’t consider the code the FS team uses and is developing. The Lindens have their work and it is more than enough to deal with without having to keep track of a collection of TPV versions. It is not surprising there are conflicts in the viewer code. And that is not going to change.
Will the TPV Dev’s be able to keep up with the Lab? Time will tell. Will more viewer developers give up and stop development? Probably. But, I would bet there will always be TPV Dev’s doing their thing.