Black Dragon Viewer Review

Version: Black Dragon 3.7.27 (34575) May 22 2015 Review

Update: This article starts out listing a number of small problems with the Black Dragon Viewer. From some feedback I decided to add here at the beginning, this is a pretty nice viewer.

I am not into doing reviews of Second Life™ viewers like I once was. It has been a long time since I have used the Black Dragon Viewer. I often say I stopped using it because the user interface (UI) changes so fast. NiranV objects to my continually saying that. When I was using it, it was changing. But, NiranV tells me that has not been true for some time, years. And at the time I was forming my opinion he had just started work on Black Dragon and was changing it pretty fast. Fair enough. I need to update my thinking and belief about what is actually happening.


RAYNE Isles by Loverdag, on Flickr
Taken w/Black Dragon Viewer

So, I now (6/2 – week 23) have Black Dragon 3.7.27 (34575) May 22 2015 installed. I’ll be using the viewer as I write this. Then over the next few updates I’ll decide if the UI is changing so fast I can’t keep up. I’ll publish this well before I have time to decide on the rate of change. But, my experience is that NiranV is pretty factual about what is going on with the viewer. So, for now I’ll concede the point and change what I say. 

NiranV points out that the viewer is changing and he is still experimenting. But, he says he is past the massive changes to the UI I saw in earlier versions. So, for the sake of intellectual honesty I should reconsider and  try the viewer again.

I’ve written this over a few days and I’m just now publishing it.

Download & Install

Everything in the download and install process is very similar to the Linden Viewer. No surprises.

The viewer installs in its own folders. The viewer keeps the chat logs separate from other viewers. It also has a separate cache. It uses separate settings files. So, there should be no conflicts between this viewer and others. This also means you can install and uninstall this and other viewers without a problem.

Black Dragon Photo Shoot

Black Dragon Photo Shoot by Kanade Tachibana, on Flickr

One interesting note, this install does not change the link to which program handles SLURL’s. Normally your system will call the last viewer installed to open SLURL’s, unless you specifically set that link. Black Dragon’s install did not change that aspect of my computer. Clicking SLURL’s still calls the previously installed Firestorm. I suppose some would consider this a good thing, other not so much. Whatever your case, if you want Black Dragon to be your default viewer for SLURL’s, you’ll have to manually change your system.

See additional pages – links below

17 thoughts on “Black Dragon Viewer Review

  1. Nalates, I am a long time subscriber to your blog. I usually find your articles insightful and informative and I appreciate all your hard work. I finally feel like I have to say something. I’d like to suggest that when you put together an article such as this one, reviewing someone’s work or product, you really ought to include something positive near the beginning. This article began so negative I almost stopped reading it. I was beginning to think you didn’t like anything at all about it. I do not know NiranV and do not use his viewer, but I just don’t think that treatment is good to dev’s or creators.
    I hope you will give my advice some consideration. Please keep up the good work 🙂

  2. Page #1

    The Viewer does not install by normal means. It unpacks a local copy of my personal build, since the Viewer creates all relevant folders and files, there is no need for a real installer, it allows users to open the file with WinRar and check every file and even just unpack files selectively if they want. That way people can check the contents before “installing” anything, for those people that are a bit paranoia in terms of downloaded software and potential risky contents.

    Above is also the reason it does not change the SLURL defaults.

    Page #2

    I’m aware of the missing “clear all button”. I have already said that on the blog. I’m working on it.

    “Sit” getting stuck might be due to RLVa interacting with it. RLVa is known to be broken.

    Chat panel arranged differently? It’s a tiny change.
    Linden Style | Black Dragon Style
    The only difference in the arrangement is the side the chat tabs are on. In the LL Viewer they are on the left, minimizing to the left, in Black Dragon they are on the right, minimizing to the right. Local chat appears on the left, it is only logical to put the separated chat bar to the left side below the actual chat popups, IM’s and Group Messages pop up on the right, it is therefor only logical to put the IM/Group chats on the right side, just like in V2, which is the reason my chat tabs are on the right, the conversation panel minimizes to the right instead of the left, making it fit into the right side perfectly (as shown on the pictures). Minimizing it works just fine, i see no problem here. Extending the chat tab list is indeed problematic, i never did any change there because no one really uses it in its extended state as it is just a massive waste of space. Also i don’t see where you cannot switch conveniently in or out of it. Except the inverted side it is made for there is no functional change at all. It works almost exactly like in the Linden Viewer. Some more information here would be good.

    Preferences is overall organized into tabs the same way Linden does. There are still all major tabs like General, Graphics, Audio, Colors, Notifications etc. Some tabs have been split up for obvious reasons. Camera and Movement doesn’t belong together, there are way too many camera or movement related options and camera obviously doesn’t have anything to do with movement in general. Inside those tabs everything is grouped together according to simple main topics, Display for example: It is grouped into General, LoD and Performance options, followed by all major rendering features, Vertex Shader (aka Windlight)and Deferred Rendering (aka Advanced Lighting Model), again followed by Deferred’s sub-major graphic options like Depth of Field, Ambient Occlusion, Motion Blur, Volumetric Lighting, Post Processing, Tone Mapping and Vignette. Display is the only tab in Preferences that does contain this General , Major , Minor grouping. All other tabs don’t have any options that would fit into such grouping anyway, therefor they are all just grouped into General groups with the most important options you see in the LL Viewer being at the top most of the time and some more specific options down below.

    The main menu is mostly kept in V1 style with File, Edit, World, Tools, Help , Advanced and Debug as the big main menus, none of them had any big changes except like you already saw some options that are often used have been moved into Useful Features. Shortcuts, Performance Tools aswell as the Machinima Sidebar go here.

    Flycam in Black Dragon was repurposed for Xbox 360 Controllers by default, hence why your SpaceNavigator might not work as it does in the Linden Viewer, the Space Navigator Defaults button *should* set it back to what you know from Linden. I said should because i can’t be sure since i never had a Space Navigator, i found them to be unattractive, clunky and not worth the money compared to the superiority of the multitool Xbox360 controller that can be used in any game (often with native support) and is generally a good idea to have since it is much cheaper than a Space Navigator, therefor i expect much more people using a Xbox360 controller.

    The camera not resetting is an intended change made to prevent the Viewer from constantly resetting your camera when you move (seemed to only happen with Controller as far as i know) and look around at the same time. It also fixed quite a bunch of other issues making controller controls actually viable.

    Page #3

    I’ll have to take a look at the “tab stop” thing. I might have blocked tabbing in each widget.


    It seems like that you went very far into detail in page 1 and 2 but totally dropped interest and cut short on page 3. It was… unexpected. Might be because you aren’t done yet as i understood. About the thing with all the negativity at start, Jeanie is right, the first 2 pages are full of negative aspects without any mentioning of the good aspects. I had a friend read this too while i was reading, he said he read the first page, skipped the second entirely and only read half of the third, it almost felt like a list of things that are bad without appreciating the good things, any reader not willing to read further than the first 1 1/2 page might think that you are reviewing the worst thing you’ve ever experienced, writing that you do like the Viewer at the start does not change that, it feels more like a try not to get into any trouble with the creator (in this case me). Personally i didn’t care for the most part, i’ll make some feedback notes from this post of things that need fixing so i can look into these, like the locked sit option or the missing “close all” button (which i already know of since i already announced it on the blog). The one thing that caught my eye was the chat arrangement thing, it makes it look to me like you didn’t put any efforts into actually comparing the chat layouts (like i did above) and/or trying to understand the reason behind the change of sides for the chat tabs, as you labelled it as “doesn’t make any sense to you”. Furthermore the minimizing part is… lacking information, i can only assume that you are talking about the extended chat tab/group lists but not the major chat history minimize from what i have read.

    • Thanks for the response.

      I didn’t feel I was that negative because I was enjoying using the viewer. But, feedback is; I was. I added a comment at the beginning to offset that a bit.

  3. I was only able to move camera viewing distance a limited distance. I’m guessing there must be a setting basically to make it unlimited. In other words, left mouse/alt pull back as far as I want even zooming so as not being able to see anything as the other viewers I’ve used can do. The distance can be extended if I click on a point further away from my avi then draw back but then I have to esc to find my Avi. Thank you for your help.

    • There is a setting that controls how far you can zoom out from an object you have clicked on. Once released, you have way more camera control. I don’t know where that setting is in Black Dragon. But, it is in the menus of all the viewers I have used.

    • Zoom was always limited, Viewers allowing you to zoom out infinitely removed that limit code wise, my Viewer does not remove this limit as there is no reason to do so since you already said that you can just zoom on something or use the camera control modifier keys (CTRL, Shift, Alt) to move your camera infinitely out. I strongly believe that you do not need such features if there’s a way to do it from stock.

  4. I hope this is the right place for this question, but how do I fly in the Black Dragon viewer? I find that I can jump using the space bar, but holding it does not allow me to fly. In the usual SL viewer, the E key performed this function.

    Thanks for any help!

    • It isn’t the right place to ask… Asking in the SL forum may be more productive.

      I would assume holding ‘E’ or up arrow or page up would put you in flying mode.

      It has been a while since I used Black Dragon.

    • Holding jump will only put you into fly mode if you enable holding jump to fly in the controls tab. Also “F” and “End” are for fly. You can find the controls in the Keybindings tab.

      • I’d also suggest asking these questions either me directly (that’s what the inworld friendlist entry is for) or on my blog.

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