Some may count this post as premature, but given we’re now into July, and what is coming down the road, I’m getting my goodbyes in early.
Viewer 1 has been with us since Second Life opened its doors. Over the years, it has seen features added, tools moved around, the capability for API elements to be introduced (perhaps the most widely-used being Marine Kelley’s Restrained Love Viewer); the code has been open-sourced, allowing a raft of famous (and not a few infamous) Viewers to come into use: the OnRez Viewer, Cool Viewer, Rainbow Viewer, Meerkat, Imprudence, Phoenix and of course the “Devil incarnate” itself: Emerald (and that’s without mentioning the various “blackhat” Viewers).
Many changes to the Viewer were welcome (remember the introduction of the first skin option? of Windlight?), many were being decried and striking fear in the hearts of some even before they rolled out (remember the hoo-haw in some camps over the arrival of Voice?); others were met with much facepalming and LL’s apparent failure to grasp how people used their viewer (remember the consternation when the chat windows all changed and “communicate” turned up?). Some of the criticism aimed at the Viewer and LL was justified; a lot of it wasn’t. But through it all, Viewer 1.x, in all its many guises has remained a perennial favourite among Second Life users. Not even the demise of the official 1.x series of Viewer did much to put a dent in this: people simply switched over to V1-based TPVs in preference to going over the Viewer 2.
Now all of that is about to change. In truth, the writing has been on the wall for V1-based Viewers for the last 12 months or so: ever since Linden Lab depreciated all versions of their Viewer prior to 1.23.5 and then turned off Snowglobe work in favour of Snowstorm for Viewer 2.x.
From this month, however, even those using V1 TPVs are going to have to consider where they are going to move to next. As LL remind us (via retweets of this announcement, at least through @SecondLife), mesh commences its roll-out this month, starting with, I understand, the Blue Steel Release Channel prior to the remaining Release Channels & the rest of the main grid being mesh-enabled by the end of August.
The key issue here is that V1-based TPVs apparently will not be able to render mesh objects in-world, nor will they be able to upload mesh imports even if they follow LL’s “registration” requirements.
Ergo, if people want to see mesh objects, they are going to have to move to a V2-based viewer. What’s more, unless the TPV developers have persuaded LL otherwise, it is possible those wanting to upload mesh imports will be forced to use Viewer 2 for this purpose, given LL were looking to ring-fence this capability (whether this is still the case is unclear – like much else around mesh).
Nor does the bad news for Viewer 1 end there; Oz Linden is on record as saying that developers of such Viewers are facing an uphill battle: “[A]ny Viewer that isn’t being actively maintained is going to start having fairly serious problems over the next months. We’re making a lot of changes… if viewers don’t keep up, things will break.”
The fact is, it will become harder and harder for TPV devs to try and maintain Viewer 1 code. Kirstenlee Cinquetti saw the writing on the wall over a year ago, and has moved over entirely to the development of the outstanding S21 Viewer. Announcements made at the end of last year concerning the future of the Viewer 1 Search prompted Phoenix and Imprudence to start down the road to developing a V2-based Viewer each. While Imprudence are still putting effort into their V1-based 1.4 Viewer, it is evident that their longer-term aim is not merge this work into their V2 Kokua Viewer, while Phoenix already have the outstanding Firestorm available. Individual TPV developers are also transitioning: Lance Corrimal hasn’t done anything significant with his V1-based Viewer since the end of April, while his V2-based Viewer comes on in leaps and bounds.
It is going to take a while for mesh to really make its presence felt – assuming, again, that the roll-out goes smoothly and without any major updates; it’s also possible that some TPV developers will look to try and backport the Search 2 functionality into their offerings in the hope of keeping things alive. So it’s possible that some may try to cling to Viewer 1 for a little longer; but while it may be seen as an unpopular statement in some quarters, the era of Viewer 1 really is now drawing to a close.
I don’t say that with any sense of superiority (I am an unabashed V2-based Viewer convert – Firestorm and Kirstenlee’s S21); I started out with Viewer 1 (version 1.14 or 1.15), and personally have no problems with it. But, sad to say, we all come to a time where, for better or worse (depending on one’s own feelings), we must move with the tide.
And the tide is now assuredly flowing to Viewer 2’s shore.