This week an Alchemy Viewer 3.8.5 update was released. The developers are busy will real life money making. So, updates are coming slowly. It has been almost 3 months since the last update. This update brings Alchemy to a level with the Linden 3.8.5 version. The current Linden version is 3.8.6.
This means Alchemy has the 90+ fixes the Lab added with the promotion of the Maintenance RC Viewer. Plus Alchemy fixes. But, it will still lack the new Notifications Handling released in Linden version 3.8.6.
This version gains a feature we call ‘Skinning’ or the ability to change the viewers UI appearance. All viewers used to have this ability. I haven’t looked to see how many still do. When the Lab started changing the UI it became difficult to know which skins would work with which viewer version. I gave trying to have a skin I liked and just went with the default of each viewer.
With the change in to the Notifications system in 3.8.6 another new skin compatibility problem is introduced…
The first time I found some skins created problems with a viewer, that weren’t in the default skin, I pretty much gave up any interest in alternate skins. Having a feature not work in one skin but does in another starts to get too confusing. It soon seemed like just another thing to debug. At the change pace of viewers I already seem to be in a perpetual debugging process. Adding another thing to debug is too much for me.
I am sure there will be people that love the new skin feature. I know I like being able to change Blender’s UI colors, essentially its skin. But, that doesn’t seem to come with the problems I having with viewer skins.
The download is typical, quick and easy. Install the same. The install does change the default handler for SLURL’s, unless you have explicitly told your computer to use a specific protocol handler for SLURL’s, like Firestorm or the Linden viewer. I prefer to have mine use the last installed viewer, so I haven’t set an explicit default for the SLURL protocol. Not making an explicit choice also means I don’t have to deal with the problems caused by updates that change the viewer name and/or install location.
There are little things in Alchemy that make it nice to use. The same is true of Black Dragon, Firestorm, and others. So, one has to use a viewer for a time to see which they like.
I find this viewer the fastest of those I use, or maybe SL is just being nice to me today. I am seeing Frames per Second (FPS) bounce around in the 20’s to 50’s.
The viewer uses its own file locations for cache, settings, and Windlight presets. So, I have to install my collection of Windlight presets.
The viewer ran for just over 2hrs before crashing. The error in the log was something about decoding an animation. I had popped into an place that had 20 or so avatars. They were staying gray… slowly rendering. Then I poof’d.
I haven’t used the viewer enough to have strong or well documented opinions about it. But, I do like it.
As the developers are busy with RL, I suspect the update frequency will be more like Firestorms, and update every 2 or 3 months. So, Alchemy is not going to be the cutting edge viewer. I’ll keep thinking of the Linden Viewer as cutting edge, and the RC versions of it as the most cutting edge the majority of us have available.