Originally, I’d planned on doing one further review. Unfortunately I was not able to do that but I’m including information on three other viewers I haven’t tested.
In Part Six I’m looking at the official viewer for Second Life: Linden Lab’s V3 client. There are different versions available from Linden Lab for development viewer betas and others that focus on Inventory management or Market Place delivery functions. This review is for the main stable release: 188.8.131.52931.
Let’s take a closer look.
In Part Five I’m looking at a third-party viewer which has achieved prominence in Second Life. Firestorm is a V3 series client that comes from the same development team as the Phoenix viewer.
Let’s take a closer look.
From Part 4 onwards I’m going to be looking at viewers that are based on V2 or V3 code. Linden Labs launched Viewer 2 in 2010, bringing a new look to the User Interface and new functions to Second Life.
This review will be looking at a third-party viewer based on V3 code: Exodus.
In this review I’m looking at the well-known third-party viewer Phoenix. Originally I’d intended to review an older version but decided to try the more recent 184.108.40.2060 release. This is the team’s development to offer mesh-viewing capabilities.
I started using an older Phoenix version in 2011 when I became interested in some of the features that the Imprudence viewer did not have. Using this mesh-enabled viewer is a new experience for me. So, let’s take a closer look.
This is a review of a third-party viewer I’ve used extensively in SL and OpenSim regions. Imprudence 1.3.2 release was made available in early 2011. As this post is image intensive, please continue to read after the cut.
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!
In browsing Second Life blogs the other day; I came across a reader poll about what viewer people use for Second Life. (You can find it at HarlowHeslop “Which viewer do you use?”)
Thanks to Harlow’s poll and readers’ comments – it got me thinking of how difficult it is to know, as a Mac user, whether a viewer suits my system or not. As a Second Life and OpenSim resident; I’ve changed my viewer of choice several times for different reasons, whether that was an unstable viewer or just to improve the experience.
Although documentation is usually offered in some form; researching the general user experience usually means looking for information scattered across various developer sites, forums and personal blogs. Or simply downloading it and hoping it works.
Before drama ensues; I’m not seeking to single out developers and testers for focusing on their particular platform of choice. That is understandable and reasonable.
To help with sharing information: I intend to review the current main viewers, and a few others, based on their Mac-friendliness for basic tasks.
This is not full bench testing. I’m not an alpha (or beta) tester or a programmer and I don’t have any ties to a particular viewer or development team. Which viewer to use is dependent on what you want to do in your virtual environment, which virtual world it is used for, what machine you are on and other personal preferences.
The reviews are intended to give an overview of what is available. What I will be looking for is how well Mac viewers work without extensive changes to settings and what works on the operating system and hardware I have. For the purposes of these tests they will be taking place in Second Life. Where possible, I will be using the latest stable release and not any experimental or beta viewers.
It would be great to offer a full review of all capabilities, but, that requires more time and knowledge than I can give. For those who are looking for specific advice on streaming media, building, advanced photography, scripting or other abilities I apologise in advance at not being able to include all details.
Viewer 1 series
Viewer 3 series
Download and installation (including what documentation is available)
Navigation (user interface and avatar movement controls)
Avatar Appearance editing
Friends, chat, groups and maps
2007 iMac with a 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 2GB SDRAM Memory
ATI Radeon HD2600 Pro graphics card. Operating system is OS X 10.6.8. Online connection is wireless broadband.
N.B I recognise that the iMac being used is not a recent model. As it is only just four years old; I don’t consider this to be outrageously antique and it is my sole computer for recreational use.
In Part 2 I will be looking at two Viewer 1 versions; the still popular Phoenix viewer and the 2011 stable release of the Imprudence viewer.