Black Dragon Viewer Review

By default the SN tilt forward and backward (Pitch) doesn’t work. Instead tilt scrolls the Flycam Setup panel… depending on where you last clicked.  So, you will have to change the default settings. See the image below.

My SpaceNavigator Settings

My SpaceNavigator Settings

The SL Wiki states the viewer controls work as:

Joystick Flycam offers 6 degrees of freedom that you can bind to various actions:

  • Y-Axis– Move camera up/down
  • X-Axis– Move camera left/right
  • Z-Axis– Move camera forward/backward
  • Yaw– Turn left/right
  • Pitch– Look up/down
  • Roll– Bank left/right
  • Zoom In/Out


When changing values in the Flycam settings the Tab-key does not move you from field to field as it does in most viewers. You’ll need to click the next field or outside the field to set the value. I set mine to the values in the image. I like a bit of a heavy hand on the SN and a slow smooth movement. So, you’ll likely want different values. But, with these everything will work as you expect, but slower. Use higher values to speed things up.

29.12.14 - Scales and Feathers

29.12.14 – Scales and Feathers by Rainbow Mubble, on Flickr
Taken w/Black Dragon Viewer

Black Dragon has a Machinima side bar. It is pretty neat. You can dig through the menu and find it in Dragon->My Useful Features->Machinima Sidebar. Or just press the F1 key to reveal and hide it. It allows you control of most of the render settings in one place. I think it is good competition for Firestorm’s Photo Tools.

Black Dragon Viewer's Machinima Sidebar

Black Dragon Viewer’s Machinima Sidebar

In some ways I find the sidebar a much nicer and easier to use panel than Firestorm’s Photo Tools. I like both, but I think for machinima Black Dragon’s is better. It is certainly faster to open and close. So, if you are doing machinima/video in SL this is a viewer to check out.

MEMORY USE – I’m still testing this aspect off Black Dragon. So, far it seems to mostly stay below 2gb. And often below 1gb.

Performance – this viewer seems to run a bit faster on my hardware than the Linden and Firestorm viewers. It will take some more time before I’m sure and have time to make actual 1 to 1 measurements. So, for now I’d say they are close enough there is no significant advantage.

But, I have not been having the mini-freezes I am getting with Firestorm and Linden.


The viewer is nice and I think worth trying. There are render features that make it a good choice for photographers and machinima types. The volumetric-lighting or God-Rays are a neat feature added some time ago. I have yet to take time to play with those, but I want to try them. Pictures using them are pretty awesome.

Be sure to check the comments. If NiranV disagrees with me… no shyness. NiranV will correct me and that is appreciated. But, I may edit some of the words chosen…

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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