Linden Lab have released a new Viewer Project to sit alongside their exiting Mesh-enabled Alternative Viewer. This is the Search Project Viewer, which is promising to deliver a new and better Search experience in Viewer 2.
Given that Search has long been a contention where Viewer 2 is concerned – where it initially started out as a massive step backwards in so many respects – the fact that LL have moved it to a dedicated Viewer should be welcome news, in that it gives people the opportunity to properly test the new features, provide feedback and for LL to finally ensure that Search is providing what the user community wants and expects.
I’m not going to go into a long review of the new engine – Ciaran Laval has already done that, and I see no reason to repeat the work he’s done. Certainly the new Search looks very promising, although some of the more irritating problems with the engine remain – such as the number of steps you have to go through simply to be able to see the information you want to get to, regardless of the fact that the Search engine can finally now locate it.
What is interesting to note is that Linden Lab state in the blog post that:
New search will soon be available to you in the official SL Viewer and we will not be implementing it for the 1.23 Viewer. To be clear, you can still use the 1.23 Viewer, but search functionality will be impaired once new search is released into general availability, after the test period.
Specifically, searches using the ALL and GROUP tabs of the 1.23.x Search will be impaired. So, where does this leave existing 1.x-based Viewers? Again the blog post provides a part of the answer:
(We cannot speak to which Third-Party Viewers will adopt the new search technology.) All of our development efforts are focused on making SL Viewer with Basic and Advanced modes exceptional for all Residents–new and seasoned.
In other words, as far as the “official” version of Viewer 1, already frozen in development in many respects, this pretty much marks the end of the road, and it will by up to TPV developers themselves to overcome any functional impairments in search by adopting the new “search 2”. How easy / difficult this might be remains to be seen, but it would certainly seem to add to the burden 1.x TPV developers are having to carry in their attempts to keep things going.
Given that many are already producing Viewer 2 alternatives (Dolphin 2, Firestorm, Kokua, Kirstenlee’s S21, to name but four), this might push them towards making a full and final switch to Viewer 2-based development and allowing any 1.x Viewer offerings they have depreciate. This many not be a popular move among the wider user community should it happen, but the fact is – and Oz Linden has pointed out – there is a lot coming down the tracks in terms of new functionality within the Viewer that trying to maintain two code bases, or simply trying to backport functionality into the older code, may simply reach a point where it is no longer viable.
If you wish to try out the Project Search alternative Viewer, you can fins the downloads on the Alternative Viewer wiki page.