Viewers – The Sequel

Thanks for all the comments, retweets, email, etc. that I’ve received about my original article, “Viewers” (published May 30). There was so much response, I ended up commenting and replying here and there and found myself with more than enough material for a little follow-up piece. Then I had some further experiences with viewers that turned my planned “little follow-up” into a full-fledged article.


One of the funny things about using multiple viewers as I do is the similarity of them. People obviously focus on their differences…but these TPV are (obviously) based on official viewers. So for every V3 hater out there who “would never use that” but who is using Firestorm or Kokua or Angstrom…guess what? You’re using V3! It’s a modified version of course but it’s still V3. And when you use them all as regularly as I do, believe me – when you’re inworld – unless you’re using one of them for a specific task that makes that viewer different – if you’re just doing general stuff – you don’t even notice what you’re using. You’re focused on what you’re doing. More often than not when I all of a sudden have to do something that one viewer can do but the others can’t – or if someone asks me – I have to look up in the left-hand corner while I’m asking myself, “Which viewer am I using right now?”

Yes, I have over a dozen viewers but I’m not going to be on the Designing Worlds version of Hoarders. 🙂  No, if I was a hoarder I would collect them all. There are still a number of viewers I don’t have and have no intention of getting. (Inara Pey commented on my original article. She had 30 viewers on that day, including nightly updates but not counting mobiles.) In fact, I really don’t like adding viewers, especially now. Before I added number 13 – Hippo –  I was trying to log into a world for the first time and it wasn’t working. I had used two of the viewers on the “recommended” page but I had to contact support for that world. The person I dealt with wanted me to load another viewer. I said: “Hey look, this is obviously not a viewer problem. You’re not dealing with a noob here. I’ve got 12 viewers on my screen and if I can’t get into your world without downloading another one, then your world can go and — by the way, after I download this other viewer and that doesn’t work, what are you going to tell me then? Why don’t you pretend I already tried your favorite and I’m still having problems and tell me what you would say at that point?”  He/She did…and I got in with the viewer I was already trying to use. Wasn’t a viewer problem at all.

Since that first article on Viewers, I’ve already posted one update, “And the winner is…” (published June 21) in which I told you the 14th addition to my family of viewers was Singularity. I mentioned that a lot of my OpenSim friends used it but I didn’t mention why I was giving it a try.

I had started working on a new project that is located on OSgrid and we were having some issues. Our tech guy said it was not a viewer issue but still I decided to try lighter viewers to make easy tasks go a little quicker. I had completely given up on the Firestorm OpenSim version while doing this work.

I know a lot of you swear by FS, particularly those of you who spend most of your time on one grid. But you might be surprised to learn that a lot of people who move all over the Metaverse, regularly logging onto or hopping around to numerous grids, think of Firestorm as a behemoth, a resource pig, and generally one big pain in the butt that they only use on certain grids or for certain tasks and they would never consider it for their main viewer.

Firestorm is my main viewer on Kitely. I’m very happy with it there. Since April I have used it nearly 100-percent of the time I am in that world. But in February and March, when I had to move things I had made on a grid that was closing over to Kitely, I had to use Imprudence. There was no other choice. There are some things the old, outdated Imprudence could do that Firestorm just hadn’t caught up to. I still have to do this on occasion when I move an object from SoaS to Kitely. I know it sounds wrong to you FS loyalists that Imprudence can do things that Firestorm can’t but now you know why so many people are pleased that Imprudence has been updated recently and further updates are planned. I’d go into further detail on this but I’m getting off track.

I’m supposed to be telling you how I came to use Singularity. I started my work on this project on OSgrid alternating between the Firestorm OpenSim release from last December and my Imprudence version which was not the last full version but the one before that, from early 2011. Neither of these viewers was cutting it. The new experimental version of Imprudence had come out a few weeks earlier but I was hesitant to use something called “experimental” when I was already having so many problems.

I did eventually kill my older version and try the experimental one but it didn’t help, it made things a lot worse. However, I must point out, this was only on OSgrid. The experimental version of Impy works fantastically for me on every other grid I have used it on – as did my older version, for that matter. And the experimental version is now – as was its older sister before – my “go to”  viewer for my first log in to any world that allows it…and almost all of them do. Most recommend it.

But it wasn’t doing the trick in the regions I was working in on OSgrid nor was FS. So I was trying anything else I could. Kokua – my viewer of choice since April for Second Life and some OpenSim grids – was better but not good enough. Angstrom and Astra performed a little worse than Kokua. I used Hippo a lot when I wanted to speed up moving from one region to the next. And “speed up” is overstating it but it was better than all of the above. However, it turned all grass texture into snow, lack of texture. So it was not something I could consider for general use.

That’s where I was at when I downloaded Singularity. It worked okay. Better than all of the above except that Hippo still got me from region to region better. So I ended up using a combination of the two with Kokua mixed in once in a while. And I would have continued using those three until our tech problems are solved except —

A few days ago, Kokua stopped working for me. I crashed out of OSgrid with it and couldn’t log back in. Trying to start it up wouldn’t even get me to the login screen. So I went to one of the others. Later, I tried Kokua for SL and the same thing happened. After multiple tries on different grids, I had to give up. It had died on me completely. I deleted it and re-installed it. No luck. I deleted it again and did the same to my original download and went to their website and got another one. Nope. I had been using the very latest version and it had been working just fine in SL and other places besides OSgrid until this latest trouble. I thought about going back to the version from April that had been working great and had caused Kokua to become my viewer of choice for SL and some OpenSim grids. But there have been so many SL upgrades since then and more are to come that going back that far right now seemed imprudent. (A little joke there, hehehe.) I have not had time to investigate this situation any further and have decided just to wait for the next version of Kokua to be released.

So now, I was down a viewer. Two actually. Somewhere along the way, for the same reason I didn’t want to download a three-month old version of Kokua – too many recent updates in SL – I deleted my copy of an SL V3 Beta version. Don’t ask me which one it was, I hadn’t used it in so long, I forget. I figure once LL gets things sorted out with their various updates and new viewer release format, I’ll get another one. But for now, what was I going to use for my SL V3 back up?

I knew Inara Pey’s blog would have the answer. I went to her Viewers page and ran into her July 9th article about the Exodus viewer. She wrote that it was one of her “reserve” viewers (along with Dolphin). As I have made evident on these pages, I’m a big fan of Inara’s so no further research was necessary. I downloaded Exodus right away. I like it too. It’s now my SL reserve viewer as well.

So, if you’re scoring along with us at home, I’m now back at 13 viewers.

The other viewers that I have read about or heard referred to often that I haven’t tried are: Cool VL, Dolphin and Teapot. These are the ones that I sometimes wonder if I will add for some reason along the way. If you were to say, “You can’t add that one, Danko, because they stopped updating it and they killed off their old download page,” my response would be, “Great!” I know there are a few more that I don’t have but I have never thought about getting them. I also wonder if a new one might come along some day.

And I know I’ll be getting a new SL Beta and a new Kokua at some point. I really miss Kokua. So, when the dust settles, I’ll be at 15 viewers. Half as many as Inara had when I first raised this topic. And she has to keep up with all the SL Beta and Project and Test Build viewers as always but it sounds like they are about to multiply under the new release format.

Better her than me. 🙂

About Danko Whitfield

writer, explorer of virtual worlds. semi-retired time traveler.
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