Viewer “3”: a quick road test

So, yesterday mesh arrived (except for folk on the BlueSteel RC channel, who still appear to be waiting for mesh to be rolled-out), and  – as I predicted in my report on the roll-out, Viewer “3” jumped very quickly from Beta to the main Viewer download channel.

For those hoping Viewer “3” was bringing with it some radical departure from Viewer 2 (and I did actually hear and read speculation from some who had not actually taken a look at the new version while it was in Beta), sorry folks, that was never the aim.

Elevating the Viewer from 2.x to 3.x was never about bringing out a whole new Viewer (or even radically improving what was there already), but simply about marking the arrival of mesh. In fact, other than a muted blog post in the In-World section of the official blog (actually promoted to Featured News as I wrote this article) and a couple of Tweets, it’s actually been the only sign from Linden Lab that mesh has rolled out. While I appreciate (very sincerely) that LL included a link to this very blog in their announcement, I’m nevertheless somewhat baffled at the low-key approach.

So what does “Viewer 3” bring us.

Well, pretty much what Viewer 2.8 had, with some bug fixes and, of course, the inclusion of various mesh features.

Performance-wise, I’ve personally found it to be reasonably comparable to the likes of Firestorm on my main PC. The frame rate for a reasonably busy sim (i.e. more than a handful of avatars) comes in at around 32-37fps. On a sim where I’m just one my own or with one or two others, this bangs up to 45-48fps. It doesn’t rock the way Viewer 2.7 did for me, but these figures give a pretty smooth performance.

With shadows enabled, things aren’t so good. I crash to around 5-8fps with just one or two on the same sim. Any more than that and the frame rate bottoms-out at around 2-3. This is pretty chronic compared to Firestorm with shadows enabled, and a lot worse even than some earlier iterations of Viewer 2.

The usual annoyances remain: lack of location co-ordinates in the navigation bar, overly clunky movement / camera control pop-ups, frustratingly confusing toasties, etc. (although in fairness, all Viewers based on the V2 code have this), absolutely crappy IM / chat windows (please, please, LL, take a leaf out of the Firestorm book), yadda, yadda.

As previously mentioned, the update includes an option to allow region / sim owners to allow / disable mesh on a sim. IMPORTANT UPDATE: please see the end of this article of the latest status of this option.

Region option to allow / disable mesh

The can be found bby clicking on the WORLD menu option, then navigating to PLACE PROFILE -> ESTATE / REGION, as shown above, and then clicking on the REGION tab. The option should be available for  estate managers. However, at present the option still has a bug that means it will fault back to ALLOW on clicking APPLY. Ciaran Laval has raised a JIRA on this: VWR-26727, which has been moved to SH-2341 – please make sure you WATCH it.

When it comes to uploading mesh objects, the option can be found in the BUILD menu, alongside the other upload options.

Mesh upload options

A couple of things to bear in mind here:

  • You’ll have to have completed the Mesh Upload Status tutorial and have Payment Information On File to upload mesh objects
  • It would appear that if the land is set to a Group with object entry / rezzing is restricted to that group, you may find the mesh upload option is not displayed unless you are a member of that Group (this was certainly my experience, testing on both my own land and a sim belonging to a friend whose Group I’m not a member of).

I ran a couple of upload tests without incident (although the meshes were not that complicated, and I didn’t play with the defaults that much, as they’d already been optimised for SL). I gather others have found problems.

Other than this, there is little more to say about Viewer “3”. Others have experienced crash and frame rate issues, but in using it for some 3 hours, with plenty of teleports, etc., I didn’t encounter any technical issues. usability issues, yes; but not technical. Again, the official Viewer, in whatever version number it sits under, has a long, long way to go before it reaches the level of convenient use offered by the likes of Firestorm – at least where the non-mesh aspects are concerned.

Update 25th August, 2011

In a comment on the revised JIRA, Charlar Linden states:

Charlar Linden updated SH-2341:Status: Expected Behavior  (was: Open)   Resolution: Not Applicable – thanks – this flag would have no effect, and is being removed soon.

So it would appear the option to disable mesh is not intended to be a part of the Viewer.

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11 thoughts on “Viewer “3”: a quick road test

        1. Good God! I missed that totally…

          tbh, I don’t use Viewer 2…3…in anger a lot, so turning on something like region coordinates is still foreign to me- which doesn’t excuse ignorance.

          Parcel properties are, so far as I’m aware, on by default anyway – I cannot ever remember having to have to turn them on in V2; it would be nice if the coordinates were the same.

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    1. It’s hard to adjust to Viewer 2/3.x after Firestorm’s convenience. TBH, I’m a big Kirstenlee S21 fan as well; but even that comes across as awkward for extended use. Thought I’d give V”3″ a quick run over a few hours to see if there was anything noteworthy other than the mesh bits. Back hugging Firestorm now :).

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  1. I am not really a builder and only an occasional scripter. I avoided the v.2 viewer for quite a while, but with Imprudence development slowing down so much, and a desire to see and use some of the newer features v.2 provided, I transitioned myself into using v.2 (now v.3) over a few weeks. I finally deleted Imprudence a few weeks ago.

    For the experienced SL user, it does take a while to get used to. And I am thrilled that LL recognizes how irritating the sidebar is. But the current version is stable (so far, it has never crashed for me) and probably doesn’t deserve the hate it gets these days. It’s just different.

    Of course, for hard-core inworld developers, third party viewers will probably be the better choice for some time to come. But for those of us for whom SL is mostly social, v.3 isn’t a bad choice at all, and a positive benefit for the new features.

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    1. William,

      Takes for the feedback and perspective; I’m not a great “official” Viewer 2 fan(as you can tell!), but I’m not “anti” it – although I amdit being far happier with Firestorm (and I wouldn’t go back to a V1.x Viewer for lover nor money 🙂 ). It’s good to hear from someone who is finding the same with Viewer 2 as well.

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  2. I was also going to comment on the Nav bar details being “opt in” with a right click rather than default but I see the William has it covered. That started with the first version of V2. Why? One of the mysteries of the V2 UI design process, I guess.

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