PostHeaderIcon Official Second Life Viewer Sinks Like a Rock

Tugboat Rozi

Linden Lab's new "official SL Viewer" is a wreck.

Hosed. Screwed. Whacked. Fuc... okay, you get the idea. The "official" 1.23 viewer was rushed-out long before it's time. Something is going on behind the scenes at Linden Lab - something that is more important and imperative than they are letting on about.

Linden Lab is working frantically to get the grid segregated in a big way. The segregation of 'adult' content from 'mature' content from 'PG' (parental guidance) content. The adult content being it's own walled garden locked away in it's own corner of the grid and secured tighter than a drum.

There is a cut-off date. The difference of 'cut-off' from 'deadline' is that a deadline is usually a bit flexible where a cut-off is hard and fast, no matter how ready the project is. It is the "cut-off" paradigm Linden Lab is following. This is evident by the official release of the version 1.23 viewer, which introduces (again!) new and old bugs. When I say "old" bugs, I mean ones that have been fixed in the past but are returned.

Some of these issues won't affect a lot of people and others will prove to be an annoying nightmare. Case in point: screen captures, a.k.a. "take a picture' feature of the viewer. So much focus has been placed on the new search filtering rules along with access rules, both based on the new "Adult" rating that a lot more than usual loose-ends have been left untied.

There is no doubt this is a ram-rod job. One entire branch of the viewer development map (what was supposed to be the next version) was put on-hold and set aside in order to put all effort, company-wide entirely onto this viewer in what appeared to be an emergency priority. So now, even though it is not entirely ready for prime-time, it is considered 'good enough' to release as an official viewer.

Kidz in ZandraIt was likely to be the next Release Candidate because the version of this "released" version is only a few builds later than the current "release candidate" version. In fact, it is highly likely the announcement of the "official" release preceded the actual availability of the intended build as I had just happened to see the announcement right when it was made and downloaded it and many of the bugs that are listed as "fixed" weren't. So I downloaded again the following day and suddenly that "fixed" list is accurate. There is a massive "rush" on this. Something's up that we don't know about.

Though I greatly appreciate many of the new features included such as bulk permissions-setting in object contents and uploads and things, there are other features that have broken (again) that I find far more frustrating. The most glaring being the "take a picture" screenshot is broken. I won't bother trying to explain it, just go inworld with this crappy viewer and try it. The specific issue is with the "save snapshot to disk". I haven't even bothered trying the other formats. Long story made short: don't upgrade your viewer to 1.23 (rather, keep reading for suggestions to better alternatives).

Another issue I have found with 1.23 is receiving a payment from an object (and possibly directly from an individual) - the blue notice widget (menu) doesn't appear and the L$ balance does not update on the screen until logging out and logging in again. That is is actually a bit unnerving. Granted, it may be my own experience and not this way for others. But it's scary enough that I refuse to use this version. Unfortunately the previous version is no longer available for download in order to "roll-back'.

So, broken or not, what are your favorite or most indispensable features wishlist (existing or not) of the viewer? Which have you found are now broken or work differently? Here is my list:

  1. Picture-taking (now hosed; consistent aspect ratios - especially with uploaded images - just wonked and no hope of seeing this 'fixed' any time soon)

  2. Bulk permissions-setting (newly implemented)

  3. Ability to "log-off" without exiting the viewer (absent)

  4. Ability to choose an account before actual login (absent)

  5. Ability to override no-fly zones (still functioning - for now)

  6. Diable camera constraints (Still exists, but apparently now limited to draw distance preference - which is a handicap the way I see it and use it)

  7. Ability to back-up my creations outworld (absent without after-market products)

  8. Ability to set permissions for third owner (absent; the ability to set permissions for next owner, then all following owners after the next owner)

  9. Ability to offer teleport to anyone, even if not on friends list (works as it should: this is disabled if agent has "allow anyone to see when I am online" turned off.)

  10. A "worn" tab in the inventory widget/window. (an after-market viewer offers this and I loved it the instant I saw it. It is a third tab at the top of the inventory window and shows what you are wearing (worn) similarly to the "recent items" tab. It makes it very easy to remove things.

This list is nowhere near comprehensive and is obviously a wishlist, some of which are already available, others available but broken and others nonexistent. As for number 9 above, I believe the teleport should always be available, even if the agent has "online status" hidden. However, I also understand how the system works as it must think the agent is online before it can offer a teleport.

In these cases, if someone offers me friendship so I can teleport them, I refuse and tell them to turn this preference off. Yes, I am anal that way. (Only allowing friends to see when you are online I can understand. But what about the paranoid buffoons who set their profiles to be "hidden from search". Are you serious?)

Because some features are broken and others simply don't exist I, like others have experimented with other viewers. Many are solid and astounding and offer better (or worse) performance, newer and better features and sometimes more efficient ways of implementing existing features.

My favorite after-market viewer to date is Kirstens Viewer for performance features alone. Some of the other features don't really interest me, such as the "media browser", but the performance is stunning and the stability rock-solid.

Another is the Cool Viewer by Boy Lane and it also is rock-solid. Very nice performance better than Linden Lab's viewer, but not quite as nice as Kirsten's. Unfortunately, due to heartache generously provided courtesy of Linden Lab themselves, Boy has apparently decided to discontinue his viewer. Another loss to the community.

[Update; Apparently Boy Lane's participation in "Cool SL Viewer" was via collaboration. The main web site for the current version is here by Henri Beauchamp. —Ari]

I say "another" loss because it was a devastating loss when the Nicholaz Viewer was discontinued in 2007 (okay, maybe 2008 - I forget which,) again due to heartache from the way Linden Lab participated in the open source methodology, though it appears he may have reincarnated it.

Then there is the entirely open source Meerkat Viewer. When Linden Lab (disgracefully and horribly) broke the official viewer with the rushing-out of version 1.23, I decided it was time to go back to Kirsten's viewer as she is apparently resumed releasing public versions. However, I caught wind of the Meerkat Viewer and decided to take a look.

Feature-wise, it's amazing:

  • Intergrid Teleport - Teleport to any grid instantly via the map screen.

  • Grid Manager - An intuitive interface which allows you to save grid and avatar info and use it instantly to connect to virtual worlds.

  • Content import/export - Bring objects, scripts, and textures you've created to other grids or work offline in OpenSim.

  • Avatar List - View advanced controls (IM, mute, track) for every avatar in the sim. Sim administrators can easily ban troublesome guests. It even allows you to track someone thousands of feet in the sky!

  • Teleport History - See a list of all the previous places you have visited.

  • Limits removed - Upload unlimited length sounds, build objects of any size (opensim only), advanced cut available for all objects, maximum bandwidth increased, and many debug options enabled by default.

  • Copybot protection - Prevents your client from sending the keys used for each layer of clothing you're wearing.

  • Bulk Permissions Tool - Set the permissions of multiple items with one click.

One caveat: if you grab the Macintosh version, it doesn't run on PowerPC with Tiger OS X. It does run wonderfully on Intel with Leopard. I can't speak to any other Macintosh compatibility. On my Windows XP-based system, it runs as expected and there is a Linux version as well.

Meerkat at Twycross Zoo - 11/06/09Performance seems to be equivalent, if not better than the Linden Lab viewer. I haven't played with the "backup" and "restore" feature yet, but intend to do that this weekend (it only works with your own items, where you have appropriate permissions - primarily your own creations.)

The Intergrid teleport is genius. It's not a true teleport, but rather a logout/login process. Simply open the map while inworld; click the "Grid" button and see a list of other grids, such as OpenSim. Select it and away you go. It's helpful if you already have an account set-up at the alternate grid.

There also is a "grid manager" where you can manage these other grid accounts - login information - so the "teleport" from Second Life to OpenSim for example is as seamless an experience as possible.

It's not a useful as a logout (without exiting the viewer) option, or a "select an account before login" feature per grid, but it's the next best thing.

I've only had an opportunity to play with it for a few minutes before I had to leave for first life obligations. But the Avatar List widget is a powerful tool. Especially if you re an estate manager. It shows a list of everyone in the region (sim) - their age in days, whether they have payment info on file and a few other stats.

There also are "teleport" buttons (to offer TP to you,) mute and parcel management tools (eject, ban, etc.) and a couple I intend to play with tonight with a few friends: "track" and "mark". I suspect "mark" places a beacon on them so you can find them quickly (such as when you teleport into a place and don't land at the right spot).

Teleport history is a straight list, unlike the SLURL you get in your chat history, this is an easy to read list that provide the region names where you've been. I don't know how persistent it is (such as whether it works across sessions) but I suspect that it is.

Two other features I definitely wish to try out are the limits removed on uploaded sounds and animation (I'll try uploading a 30-second sound into Second Life for example) - this could prove to be a boon for any builds that include sounds.

I also wish to see their implementation of the bulk-permissions system. A new feature brung into the Linden Lab 1.23 viewer. Unfortunately, the crappy nature of bugs and broken features introduced in that 1.23 viewer make the new features not worth the heartache caused.

I think I'll play with the Meerkat Viewer all weekend, and write up a full and proper review on Monday or Wednesday. If you don't want to wait on my rhetoric, grab your own copy at the link below.

[From The Meerkat Viewer for Second Life ]

Art: Blueberry Diver; Gumby Roffo; Morphew84

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