As explained in Virtual World viewers: Part 1 I’m going be testing different viewers for basic, Mac-friendly, useability in Second Life.
Before starting the reviews it might be helpful to new users to explain some of the differences between viewer use.
For Second Life users: there is only one official viewer series – Linden Lab’s own. Every other viewer available has been developed outside of Linden Lab, which is why they are called Third-Party Viewers (often shortened to “TPVs”). For further reading this wiki page explains more: Second Life Downloads
Two key things to mention: if you do regularly switch between the official Linden Lab viewer and TPVs, or use a third-party viewer all the time, it is useful to know that Linden Lab accepts no responsibility for problems arising from installing anything but their own official viewer. If you have concerns about security or privacy issues the most usual advice is to not download and install a viewer on your computer.
There are no longer any official Viewer 1 releases available from Linden Lab. Support for Viewer 1 in Second Life will be withdrawn at some point, although a definite date for this has not been clearly stated (to my knowledge at the time of writing).
For OpenSim users: there is no single, official viewer. This is left entirely to the choice of the individual and what works best for them. In the case of larger grids they may suggest, when signing up, which viewer suits their particular environment.
TPVs, like many other subjects in virtual worlds, can cause heated debate and disagreement. I don’t intend to raise those arguments. I don’t generally find it helpful and these reviews are not in-depth enough to cover every possible discussion.
The review series starts off with Imprudence 1.3.2. This is based on a version of Viewer 1 code. The user interface is distinctly different to Viewer 2 and 3 and will be most familiar to people who started out in SL or OpenSim pre-2010. Viewer 1 remains popular with those who prefer the design and functions or are unable to run more recent viewers.
So, let’s take a closer look with Virtual World viewers: Part 2!