We have a new version of the Materials Project Viewer as of August 8. It is version 3.6.3-279651. You can get the download here: Official Alternate Viewers.
The Release Notes provides an impressive list of fixes, about 5.5 screens of JIRA items. There are 8 known problems listed. This is a significant improvement over the previous release.
This viewer is classed as a Project Viewer. So, if you opt’d in to use Release Candidate viewers you are NOT going to be running this one or any other ‘project’ viewers. At least I am pretty sure you won’t. So, what happens when you install this viewer?
Inara Pey has pointed out to me that project viewers do not overwrite the main Linden Viewer or any Release Candidate viewer you may be running. She is right. The Materials Project viewer installs in:
C:\Program Files (x86)\SecondLifeProjectMaterials (Win7-64)
C:\Program Files\SecondLifeProjectMaterials (Vista 32)
by default. This means you can run both the main viewer and a project viewer at the same time.
The only option you have when installing is which folder the program installs in.
Unlike most third party viewers (TPV) there is no choice as to whether to make this the default application that opens as your viewer of choice for SLURL’s. So, the last Linden Viewer installed becomes your default viewer. If you want to change that, you will either need to change the order in which you install viewers or manually edit the Windows Registry.
There is normally an obligatory warning given about changing the registry. Because if you mess it up, that can break your computer. Consider yourself warned.
The Materials Viewer uses a separate settings file to remember viewer Preferences and other settings you may change. So, a new install will start with the default settings. If you change lots of settings, this can be a pain. But, it is only a onetime thing you have to do. Linden Viewers do NOT replace the settings file when installed over a previous version.
There are occasions where they do. Seems there are exceptions to everything. If some significant change is made that affects settings or that needs special settings to allow the viewer to run, then the install may replace the settings file. That is rare. The problem is there is never a warning when the install is going to replace existing settings. There is no easy way to handle this problem. Retrieving your previous settings and blending them with the new required settings is a tedious and error prone process. It is easier to just reset you Preferences.
By default the Materials Project Viewer uses:
This is the default location also used by the main viewer and release candidates. Once upon a time sharing caches between different versions of the Linden viewer was dangerous and resulted in various problems. For some time I have seen no problems from allowing Linden Viewers to share the same cache. There are even advantages to be gained by sharing the cache among Linden Viewers. So, I allow the Materials Project Viewer to use the default cache.
There is however a gotcha in cache size. When you have different viewers set to use different cache sizes for a cache in the same location you create some extra work for the viewers. It is not a catastrophic problem. The viewers will deal with it. But, it can affect your viewer performance. I set all my viewers to use the same size cache, whether they use the same location or not. I think that makes it easier to compare viewer performance among the different viewers.
This viewer comes with the Preferences for Software Updates and Willing to update to release candidates enabled. Does this mean your project viewer might be replaced by a release candidate? I’m not sure. I’m going to turn that ‘Willing’ setting off.
I went bouncing around the grid trying out the viewer. With the main viewer I hit regions where things just refuse to render, sometimes most of the region. I didn’t run into any region where things were ot mostly rendering. Whether that is luck or a better viewer, I’m not sure. I think the viewer is doing a better job of downloading and rendering.
I did find a few textures here and there that just never render. Long waits did not help. But, most of the regions were rezzing quickly.
Heavy CPU Use
I did notice CPU use was very high. My Core2 Quad was running an average of 90% with some cores bumping 100%. I’m not sure what is up with that. I also saw frames rates drop from time to time with no visible reason. Checking the server for the region I was in didn’t seem to indicate is was a region problem.
I would also see long PING times, 250 to 650ms. A system ping from Windows CMD to the region server would return 80 to 125ms. So, I think this is a viewer thing. But, that is hard to confirm.
Lots of Materials Bugs have been fixed. Unless you are working with Materials, you are probably not going to notice a change. So, unless you are working with Materials, there is little point in your using this viewer.
…but it is fun seeing what’s new.