Saturday, July 16, 2011

Phoenix Viewer Soon To Be Broken by Linden Labs, Horrible Firestorm To Take its Place

Reading through the dismissive blog entry on the Phoenix Viewer web site about complaints from Viewer 1 users, I couldn't help but be reminded of the replies in-world to people trying to use the Firestorm beta asking where various features were and getting unsatisfactory responses.  The general attitude was, "Viewer 2 is coming so get used to it".  Never mind that Viewer 2 is unusable for most people who started Second Life on Viewer 1.  Granted, Phoenix does have a video in which it claims to help users make their Viewer 2 viewer look more like Viewer 1 (using voice, naturally, and the volume isn't loud enough for people with impaired hearing).  But the issue here isn't just that by making a viewer that most Second Life residents who signed up before Viewer 2 can't use they are in fact helping Linden Labs to alienate a huge swath of its customers.  It's the condescendingly dismissive attitude in the face of legitimate complaints.

After all, no one told the developers who work on Phoenix Viewer to make it so that the inventory button doesn't show up at all unless you right-click the bottom of the viewer screen, and even then you have to hide another button as the trade-off.  And no one forced the Phoenix development team to make it so that the inventory menu remains hidden behind the chat window and that resizing the inventory menu isn't an option.  This means that every time you want to gain access to your inventory, you have to move or close the chat window in order to do it.  Phoenix Viewer didn't make you go through that nonsense.  Whatever window was active, that was the one that appeared on top of others.  And if you wanted to make another window active, all you had to do was click that window.  But Viewer 2 doesn't allow that.  Nor will it allow anything from inventory to be saved as an off-world .xml file — even if it's full-perm, and even if it's a texture image that is full-perm.  If you didn't make the object yourself, and if you didn't upload the texture image yourself, forget about making a backup.  So when Linden Labs servers decide to completely delete parts of your inventory, say goodbye to them forever.  The only way currently to make .xml backups of your full-perm inventory is to use a viewer like Meerkat, and soon that will be broken as it is Viewer 1-based.

In essence, the Phoenix development team caved in to Linden Labs and made their viewer an almost carbon copy of the unusable Viewer 2.  And by dismissing legitimate complaints from users as unfair attacks on volunteer staff who have been rude and condescending, a fundamental point gets lost: the Phoenix development team could easily have kept the viewer 1 layout while making the viewer itself compatible with Linden labs' demands.  It can be done because it already has been — by the Singularity development team.  The graphics engine on Singularity seems to have some deficiencies, like over-saturated colors, too-intense lighting effects, and a pixelated look making everything appear way too cartoonish.  But these are things I'm sure the Singularity team is working on, or will soon.  And they built their viewer to have the same layout and features Viewer 1 does while being compliant with Linden labs' unreasonable software demands.

Maybe instead of insulting its user base, which arguably made Phoenix Viewer the most popular one of choice for residents seeking an alternative to the unusable Viewer 2, its developers should actually listen to them and go back to the drawing board.  Just because they want to bend over backwards to please Linden labs doesn't mean they have to make their users suffer, or dismiss user complaints with insults.


  1. Totally disagree Arch As development of Firestorm has progressed ( and i compile the latest version on a 2-3 day basis) it's got it's layouts and Phoenix features that i loved ( RLV, Build Copy/paste and other stuff) put in place . Let's not forget that it's still in development But and it's a big BUT just look how it feels in comparison to the LL v2 crapola. and another "but" is that we're stuck with the V2 viewer basic coding as we were with V1 and innovative developers enhanced that in the same way Go Firestorm team and thanks!

  2. I haven't had the problems you describe with Firestorm Beta 2 at all, save the overly intense lighting effects. But as I try not to run with lighting turned on anyway, I overlook that. Your comments about inventory buttons and windows versus the chat window is odd to me. Mine exist happily on the opposite sides of the screen from each other and I can access all of the buttons.

    They can't go back to the drawing board; Phoenix is going to be locked out along with all the other Viewer 1-based browsers in the next few months. There isn't time for that. It saddens me when I see people who think they understand how software development works make remarks like that. Back to the drawing board means reversing months of development when they only have weeks to go.

    I won't speak to the attitude shown or not shown by Phoenix development, as I haven't seen the posts there.

  3. Hey, I'm just offering my opinion on it. Don't take it as gospel or anything. Having tried Linden labs' Viewer 2, I find Firestorm practically identical both in layout and in user unfriendliness. I'll take a closer look at the video when I have more time, but the audio is so low I can't hear it very well what with my fan going to help keep my computer cooler.