Friday, December 2, 2011

Phoenix Developers Release Official Firestorm Viewer to Mixed Reviews

So the official release of Firestorm is now available for download.  Many SL users, particularly those who never waste an opportunity to gush over Viewer 2 and Viewer 3 or dis Viewer 1, are singing its praises.  Unfortunately, many users are still experiencing the usual round of glitches and user unfriendliness.  Some criticisms include:
"hi hi just one question for you.... WHERE ARE MY GROUPS & FRIENDS ?"
"I'm having problems with the new version of firestorm. I can't rez and I have cleared cache, relogged. rebake and it's still not working. I've done this a dozen of times and i'm still a red cloud. Can anyone help me?"
 "I just downloaded it and logged in and don't like it. I'm a red cloud and can't get that to change, can't seem to get the 'advanced' tab, can't find anything... don't like everything spread out along the bottom and top, I'm a builder and no textures are rezzing... I'm using a new laptop with Windows 7. a An inworld friend said I could make it be more like Phoenix, which I do like, and there is a video to watch to do that. I'll try that... otherwise, I won't use it :( "
"Can it be that mesh is still summat, ummm, alpha-ish? How these releases could pass QA and get rolled out is over my head. I’ve been playing around with mesh-clothes on both versions and had a lot of issues with clothes not fully rezzing or not rezzing at all. I hear from others who are using the current releases that they only see (or rather don’t) my alphas but not my mesh attachments. I've tweaked several graphics settings, cleared cache, did clean installs -- but overall to no much avail. The issues persist. Given that mesh is one of the key features, or rather _the_ key feature, of V3-based viewers, this is simply absolutely intolerable from a plain player’s point of view. I must confess that I consider this not even beta-stage behaviour. It’s a clear show-stopper in my opinion. I’m well aware that this is very likely an issue which has to be addressed by Linden Lab, but all the same… And no, I didn’t test this against the current Linden viewer. I don’t want to climb up the wall and gnaw my way through the ceiling."
"On to day 3 of trying to get a working version of this viewer. Kinda hard to get anything done when this pile of code keeps telling me i belong to zero groups. friends list empty of names. This is getting more frustrating than making hair"
"Hi having issue with the latest firestorm viewer...ok so basically i did a complete clean reinstall and it works magically for about 10 mins then i spontaneously crash....i really dont know why i've tried lower my graphics reinstalling...i've tried the lesser graphic version but i'm still having these issue's as i use my partners alienware aurora to run SL i dont feel like its my p.c's fault ...any theories?"
 "did anyone else crash upon initial running of Firestorm.. or simply put, sim crashed? or is it just coincidence that i logged into a sim that crashed as firestorm began to load the world?"
"I've never heard of a sim crashing because someone logged in with a particular viewer. I'd have to guess it was an annoying coincidence. I've been getting errors about something called the LLAppViewer. I've looked at the Jira and apparently there are at least two others with the same issue. I'm starting to think that the latest version of FS wasn't quite as ready for prime time as they thought. On the other hand, anything with LL in the name makes me wonder if it's an SL issue and has nothing to do with FS. Actually, I do like FS.... when it runs. Sometimes it will run for hours with no problem and other times it crashes every few minutes for no apparent reason. Maybe I was wearing the wrong color socks."
"It is a lot better than previous versions of Firestorm. I simply hate though that you are so careless with space. Take the "People" window for instance: - First an almost empty line with only a minimize button on it. - Then a HUGE almost empty line with the word "People" on it and another 2 small buttons (geee.. that couldn't be all on 1 small line)? - Then another line where I can filter people. I don't need it but.. IF you want to use, at least place the options button next to it so you can ditch another row of pixels - then 4 tabs that are hardly interesting. "Nearby" is the only one ever used by me. the "Friends-tab" is already in conversations / contacts. Same with the "Group-tab". "Recent" might or might not be useful. So far I hear nobody who ever uses it... so ditch it? - Then you have a seperate button to add friends next to options. rightclicking on a name and then adding a friend is much more intuitive.. so get rid of that button? - Then there is a yet another row with "Profile", "IM", "Call" and "Share". Again... those things you can all reach by rightclicking on a username. That is much more intuitive and you can save another unnecessary line. This is just one window that has it... but litteleraly all windows have silly almost empty space in them or totally unnecessary options. I will not go back to Phoenix because I realise the technology is obsolete. On the other hand.. you have a very very long way to go till Firestorm has the compact and easy to use feel that Phoenix has."
That's pretty much the same set of problems people have been having with V2 and V3 since their initial release, and now on the official, non-beta release of Firestorm.  "Cindy" writes:
The bottom status / menu bar is still covered by windows, still no text labels, inventory / outfit management is still split over 43487565 different windows with different functionality / look and feel instead of 1,IM notifications are still in the bottom right and get covered up and missed, and the bottom chat entry is still on the same line as the buttons instead of its own line that pops up above the button bar as needed.

In general, windows still have too much crap in them filling my screen with stuff I don't need to see and reducing my view of the world.

So, it's better than the old firestorm but still contains the all the crap I didn't like about V2. You have added SOME v1 appearance, but all the badness of V2 is still there all over the place.
 Still no script pre-processor. OK, that makes Firestorm useless for scripting now as I was using that feature extensively, and once you have used it, ALL your scripts now NEED to use it if you want to edit them. Delete from hard disk.
I've been pushing to get the issues I've listed addressed since the first pre-release of FS. I must say that I'm very very disappointed that all the issues I created jira entries for are still problems in the "final" release. These are "core" to me and many others. My tone is based on the frustration of seeing some of our most critical concerns being ignored.

So what does FS give me that I can't get in other viewers? In other words, what is better about FS? Considering Mesh is in several v1 viewers so far it comes down to one, ONE little thing. Mulitiple clothing layers (such as wearing 3 shirts at once.) That's it. Why would I switch?

I was told by many many people to basically "shut up, it's still a beta, they will fix it!" Well, here we are, it's not not a beta anymore and still has some of the worst usability flaws ever seen in a modern software product.

I've been told that V1 viewers are a dead end, ancient technology, obsolete. Nobody has proven that however because it's not true. There is NOTHING that is currently in a V2/V3 viewer that can't be ported back. And guess what? Anything useful IS being ported back. If not already done, it's in progress.

I've been told that it's harder to make V1 viewers with V2 features than V2 viewers with a V1 GUI. Well, I have to point out that FS has been in development for 18 months by a team and is still lacking basic V1 GUI simplicity and usability, and that Mesh was ported to V1 viewers in 6 months by one guy. Ain't the truth a bitch?

As for Mesh, agreed it's not ready. Not at all, especially for clothing due to the lack of a parametric deformer (the ability for Mesh clothes to be re-sized or automatically sized to actually fit your avatar.) In-world objects though it's pretty cool, but as I can get it in Singularity or some of the other V1 viewers, I have no need to perform self-flagellation and use FS to see it.

According to the most recently available statistics from LL, more than 50% of the users still use non-mesh viewers so it's a little loony to wear mesh hair / clothing as you look like you are totally naked wearing a box or sphere on you to the majority. Best to wait until Mesh viewer adoption has reached critical mass (>90% of users.)
I've been hearing that opinion that V1 viewers will cease working as LL turns off services being repeated over and over since 2.0 first came out.

Let's set the record straight. First and foremost, while LL initially indicated that some back end services may be retired, they have since backed down on most of that retirement such as the NON-web profiles.

But here is the kicker - any viewer that is still maintained will continue to work. Why? Very simple. Any V1-only protocol that is retired will simply be replaced with the V2 version as needed - just as Mesh was ported over. We will still happily use the far superior V1 interface as more V2 features and protocols are pulled in. That's it. That's the whole secret that the Firestorm team and it's cheerleaders don't want you to know.

The Phoenix/FS team has declared that the next Phoenix will be the last. Don't let them fool you - after all, the Phoenix rises from the ashes, right? Isn't that what the name is all about? It's open source. I'm sure it will be forked and maintained by avid fans. I know several people who are holding off doing any work on it until the final version is stabilized Even if Phoenix doesn't in itself get picked up, other V1 viewer projects regularly are picking up ideas and code to integrate back in to their alternatives.

In my not-so-humble opinion, Phoenix is still far and above the feature king. It's the most usable and user friendly viewer available, bar none. It is suffering a bit from performance issues however - Singularity has it beat hands down there, but that should get resolved with the Mesh back-end.

 Even people who enjoyed the beta version are having problems with the official release.
 I loved the Beta. The Beta crashed sometimes, but it worked pretty well.

Now the new one is remarkably slower. It still doesn't keep settings, such as window positions. But now it doesnt even keep my graphic settings. I was hoping to get a fixed version, but now it turns out to be worse.

I didnt check out the mesh upload capabilities. But im not sure if I can trust them yet.

I'm not using Phoenix anymore, but I won't be using this version of Firestorm either. I'll just wait for a version where the show stoppers are fixed, because they are really annoying.
 And that about sums it up: Firestorm still isn't ready for official release.  I'm beginning to wonder if it'll ever be.

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