Phoenix / Firestorm Q&A, December 17th, 2011- video

On Saturday December 17th, a Phoenix / Firestorm Q&A was held at the Rockcliffe University regions, where Jessica took questions on both Viewers from the audience and which had been posted beforehand either to her directly, or via the Phoenix blog.

Jessica and host Nigma Sterling at the Q & A session

The event, hosted by Nigma Sterling, was recorded for those who could not attend, and the video has now been released on YouTube. The video is some 2hrs 30 mins long, and covers a lot of ground.

This is an honest and open response to the many criticisms the team have faced from their user community, and for those that have concerns about Phoenix and / or Firestorm it is a worthwhile spending time watching it.

I’ve not been privy to much of the situation that is alluded to in the video – the heated discussions regarding Phoenix and the perceptions that the team are somehow “abandoning” their users in “forcing” them into the V3 world through Firestorm – and i’m not about to embroil myself in it.

However, I do emphasise very much with Jessica and the team – indeed with all TPV developers in that they all face a difficult hill to climb, whether they are attempting to stay current and work within the constraints of the new Viewer code base or whether they are trying to work within the constraints of a code base (Viewer 1) that has been effectively frozen by LL for a year now, and which LL have themselves indicated is only going to get more and more broken as time goes on.

It’s a thankless task, however you look at it, and one that is never going to please everyone, be it for genuine technical issues or simply because of people’s unwillingness to take the time to work with a new UI. This being the case, I’m going to take a moment and lift a metaphorical glass of mulled wine to all TPV developers and say “thank you” for all of your efforts over the years.

Sadly, I cannot embed the Phoenix / Firestorm Q&A, as it is locked from doing so. However, you can see it here.

27 thoughts on “Phoenix / Firestorm Q&A, December 17th, 2011- video

  1. This has been very interesting to listen to, even as a user of the official V3. The speaker’s comments on meetings with LLs brings in a lot of insight to the various concerns that influence development.

    Some of the questions have been outright irrational, like the comments about ‘elitist’ or ‘lying’ – People need to stop watching Fox News, that’s just not how you talk in public, even with those you’re opposed to. 🙂

    Accusations like that shut down conversation, causing you to fail to get an answer you can work with from those you’re trying to hold accountable… The speaker has been very gracious in ‘not’ getting emotional at people making such comments. Instead, if you disagree, state rationally what you disagree about and why – leaving room for your ‘opponent’ to answer without feeling ‘put upon’ so you can truly learn what is behind their stance.

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    1. Oh, as to this blog also:
      “It’s a thankless task”
      – I’m going to disagree. The Phoenix / Firestorm devs have some amazingly devoted fans who trip over themselves to thank them. 🙂 Yes they’ve also got some hecklers (and I’ve been one), but they do get a -lot- of near worship-like devotion as well. 🙂

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      1. Yup – people do give praise and thanks; I was looking at things in the wider perspective with that comment – that it is true for whoever – V3, V1, LL viewer devs – the loudest cries that get heard tend to be the angry ones.

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  2. Thanks for the continued thinly veiled undertone of hating v1/its users (despite them being the majority, voting with their feet so to speak). It got us where we are today, but ehh, that’s not good enough.

    Even with the best V3 viewer out there, it’s /still/ the v3 UI, which is not worth re-teaching muscle memory for as long V1 exists. Be it the small and hard to read/click buttons, the terrible/unnoticeable way they notify you of IM’s or group chat, the hard-to-read notices, lack of friend notifications, the constantly reloading and ugly search function, messy *ahem* “intuitive” top menu bar that hides many basic functions, ugly or unusable colour schemes in general, the strange chat history window, most V3 viewers still don’t have Ctrl T fixed, and other little things I can’t list off the top of my head, though I’m parroting myself anyhow.

    I may watch the video, or at least some of it. I wanna look to see if they have a issue-by-issue breakdown so one doesn’t have to click around the video >_<.

    The Firestorm team did a great job of providing the minority of users with probably the best rendition of the current V3 viewer (though white text on an orange background was a pretty poor choice <_<)- But it's down to LL to fix the core issues…Which plenty of users know will not happen anytime soon. Thankfully they haven't mimicked the Dazzle Fiasco yet, but I have a feeling LL is looking to see how much damage they'll do when they pull the rug out.

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    1. The other curious thing is, why have they tried mimicking the v1 viewer HUD? It’s not like most users require V1, when most issues stem from the actual HUD. I’ve seen Dolphin(?) and other viewers with fairly significant HUD changes, but nobody has shown an attempt at recreating v1.

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      1. There’s a reason we haven’t tried recreating the V1 user interface (not HUD; that’s an object, not the basic viewer look and feel): it would require a massive programming effort. We cannot simply splice the Viewer 1 UI onto the Viewer 3 codebase. The licensing issues quite aside, the underlying code is different enough that it’d take massive effort, far greater than what we’ve put into Firestorm. That’s why we’ve been working on making a user interface that V1 users who are willing to come at it with an open mind can adopt with a minimal learning curve given the constraints of the code.

        If you don’t like the Firestorm user interface, tell us *why*. Don’t just complain at us. Help us fix it.

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        1. If you don’t like the Firestorm user interface, tell us *why*. Don’t just complain at us. Help us fix it.

          I’m sorry, I meant to say UI not HUD.

          I wasn’t expecting a splice of V1 into V3, but a proper mimicking of V1 – I’m not versed in any level of scripting, but I dunno how hard it’d be to expand the buttons, putting bright, readable text on’em, and expanding the chat bar back to a normal size – It would be a fresh, awesome start on fixing the most up-to-date UI without alienating the majority of users. Plus! If it IS possible to do at least those things, combined with the add/remove button thing, even better (I’d expect that if people wanted to put buttons on the side bars, they’d return to what V3 buttons currently look like).

          I don’t put any blame on the Firestorm dev’s for not being able to please V1 users, that blame goes straight to the top – LL, who paid a third party company (Big Spaceship? Or something?) if I remember right; to make the UI, and now have to justify it by working within it – Despite bringing a whole new slew of issues, on top of the ones that have already existed for 5+ years.

          The Firestorm-as-it-stands UI is different enough in a bunch of little ways…I suppose if it’s worth something, it’s worth repeating:
          – Better Buttons (Like I said before)
          – Return to original chatbar (current chatbar isn’t too RP friendly)
          – IM notification system (pop up rather than visually unimpactful glow)
          – Brightly-coloured notification with contrasting text either moveable or upper right.
          – Friends log in/out temporary pop up (I think I heard this might be an option buried somewhere?)
          – (Search likely isn’t fixable by TPV dev’s)
          – Returning the top menu bar back to normal (the number of menu’s and the difference between v1 & v3 is staggering. I doubt the revert will happen at all though, seems many things are in a different place now)
          – More visually palletable colour schemes.
          – (V1-styled chat history by default is delightful in Phoenix mode)
          – (Ctrl T fixed in Firestorm, which is alone a huge step forward)
          – Tabbed IM’s/Group chats by default.
          – Some ugly minimap icon choices I can’t seem to change
          – Pie menu by default, or a little higher up in preferences.

          There might be more, but even half of those would be amazing.

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    2. No idea where you get the hatred from – as I don’t. My comments encompass all Devs, regardless of Viewer colour. And I find it amusing that you make the accusation – then launch into an attack of V2/V3 for the things you personally dislike (but which many of us get on with perfectly well).

      I’ve nothing against V1. I’m just aware that – as Jessica states in the video, and I’ve linked to here, LL themselves have unofficially stated the writing is on the wall. Hence why the *majority* of TPV devs – Lance, Kitty, Chalice, Marine, the Phoenix team, the Exodus team, NiranV, Kirstenlee (prior to the sad suspension of that Viewer) all have made the move to the V2/ V3 code base.

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      1. It was said: “be it for genuine technical issues or simply because of people’s unwillingness to take the time to work with a new UI” which the latter half being a more accusational statement, because there’s no third option encompassing those many who have tried it and didn’t like it at all.

        I’ve never really hidden my distaste for V2/V3, though my “attack” is a list of issues I have with it – Albeit worded a bit more colourfully, and it’s worded more or less the same, just in a different order and some things added/removed.

        The majority of TPV’s aren’t the majority being used, as was cited in a previous article. They have their own style, their own niche’, and I’m sure some people are very happy with them, good on them. However, it’s the V1 viewers that are being used by most; be it Singularity, Official 1.23.x, or Phoenix (albeit the majority of people are on TPV’s, V1-TPV’s).

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        1. The comment was born out of observation and reading commentary around V2/V3. You opted to paint it in terms of my “hating” V1 users. Which, were it true, would be somewhat irrational, as the split between V1 and V3 flavour viewers among my closest SL friends is roughly 60/40 in favour of the latter (most being Firestorm, Catznip and Dolphin users, followed by Phoenix).

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          1. I’ll just let my track record of reviewing Singularity, Frontier, Astra, Cool VL, Rainbow and Phoenix speak for itself ;).

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      2. “I’ve nothing against V1. I’m just aware that – as Jessica states in the video, and I’ve linked to here, LL themselves have unofficially stated the writing is on the wall.”

        I think it was rather telling in the video, early on, when they stated that there is a regular meeting between LLs and all TPV devs, but that half or more, and sometimes even most of the other devs fail to show.

        Resulting in the Phoenix/Firestorm team learning of bits of news that the others never get.

        It was very interesting too, thatseveral of the questions asked were general SL questions that should have gone to the lindens. People are basically asking “the only person willing to engage with residents” – another resident, hoping that this person will know… Its a sign that LLs needs to get back to having office hours.

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        1. Regarding the questions: is it as you say, or a case that people don’t always understand the dividing line between what TPV devs can do, and what lies squarely with LL? Rendering issues are a case in point – several questions on which were asked. It’s hard at times to know where to draw the divide, and people do genuinely ask questions imply because the nuances of things aren’t always understood.

          On the broader front of office hours (or user groups as LL prefer them nowadays), you’ll hear no argument from me on that! 🙂 It would certainly be nice to see their Technology Blog regularly updated once more on matter relating to what’s happening on both the server side and the Viewer.

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  3. Jessica is highly misleading in her statements. “Linden Lab is going kill off Viewer 1”. It is simply not true. Sure they will stop supporting parts of the protocol that are no longer used by their official viewer, but there is absolutely nothing stopping viewer devs from adopting those changes. And I have been to some and listened to the recording and transcripts of all the meetings she mentioned. LL has never made a statement that they are going to kill off viewer 1. They did say that they will not support all the APIs indefinitely, but again there is nothing stoping v1 TPVs from adopting those.

    Opensource devs have every right to do whatever they wish with their time. I just don’t see why it is needed to be dishonest about justifying your choice.

    Good thing about opensource is that gives us choice. I predict that Singularity will keep gaining in traction as Phoenix team concentrates of Firestorm.

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    1. I fet the “killing off” was a little overstated, hence why I pointed to my piece on Oz’s comments from earlier in the year (as originally picked-up by Tateru).

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    2. LL has made some bold statements before, but none of them directly stated in any fashion that they’re going to purposefully kill off V1.

      What they HAVE said though, is that V1 on its own will end up not working/ceasing to function properly – By that they mean *LL* is going to be putting next to no effort into THEIR V1 viewers, but they never said anything about stopping TPV dev’s from trying – They simply said it’s an uphill battle, essentially not worth fighting.

      They said a big killer (and one of the first) of V1 would be mesh, and the Singularity team said nay nay, we now have mesh support for V1 viewers (The two out of the three big ones too, Singularity and Phoenix). Which brings hope that V1 isn’t going anywhere until LL (or a dev) recreates the V1 HUD in V3.

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    3. Latif, we are not being dishonest. We are completely honest and open about our reasons. That you disagree with them is not cause for you to call us liars about it.

      I agree that open source gives us choices. Linden Lab, however, can and will take them away, for the reasons Jessica stated in the Q&A.

      We are happy when users find a viewer they like, be it Phoenix, Firestorm, Singularity, or even Viewer 3. The point here is that we are all Second Life users, and the goal is to make Second Life better for everyone. I even have a couple of friends who use Radegast regularly, even though I find it unusable.

      However, at some point, Singularity, and Phoenix, and CoolVL, and Snowglobe, and venerable old 1.23 will not be usable on SL. When that point comes, my experience wont’ change, because I’ll already be on a viewer that fails to suck and yet is usable on the platform. That’s what we’ve been working our collective butts off to achieve over the past year. No, it’s not Phoenix. I think it’s better, myself.

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      1. Linden Lab never said that they were going to block access to V1 based TPVs. So they are not going to “kill of V1s” which Jessica repeats over and over again. The only point at which Singularity and Cool VL Viewer and others are not going to be useful on SL is when developers of those viewers stop adopting to the protocol changes. If they want to make modifications for 10 more years they will be usable for 10 more years. So instead of spreading FUD about how long will other peoples viewers work a more honest approach would be to say, “hey I do this on my own time, and I want to work on Firestorm, and if you want to keep up to date V1-type viewer Phoenix will soon not be your best choice”.

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        1. Let me paint you a picture.

          Consider that LL really, really wants everyone on the V3 codebase. They do; not having them there severely hinders their ability to improve the platform.

          There is one difference between the V1 and V3 codebases that cannot be programmed around: the GPL. LL will not relicense their V1 code to the LGPL, and it’s already a violation of the Third Party Viewer Policy to use a GPLd viewer with a closed-source library. This does not apply to an LGPLd viewer, such as V3 or Firestorm.

          Now, from those facts, it should be obvious to a master open source guru such as yourself that all LL has to do to break V1 viewers is to release a closed-source library that would either be required, or simply have the viewer be useless without, and license that library in object code form to LGPLd viewers. As the owner of the code, LL can do that.

          Presto. On the day they flip that switch, no more V1 viewers in SL.

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  4. We’ve already passed the tipping point and people just don’t want to realize it yet. V1-based viewers (yes, even the well-updated third-party ones) are objectively broken for a number of standard new user use cases, have been for a while, and this situation will only worsen.

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  5. I just want to see 1 single question answered?
    Why with mesh introduction, Anti aliasing and anisotropic filter cant be overridden by hardware? ..
    Why i can make my Vga settings run Phoenix, firestorm or any other pre mesh viewer, to 32AA and 32AQ, disabling the in viewer settings (preferences, graphics, hardware, disable AA and uncheck anisotropic, then on Vga settings choose the viewer exec and override the graphics to your choice).
    And why doing same on any mesh viewer (tried on Cool viewer, Singularity, Firestorm, Phoneix and Niran’s) just makes the viewer running with those settings disabled!
    I know this is not a matter for Tpv’s developers, but i would love to see a answer form someone to why i can’t enjoy Sl as i was used, if using a mesh viewer?

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  6. Ho and btw, i was on a concert, full sim crowed, more then 90 avatars, conted 79 phoenix, 4 singularity, 7 firestorm, 1 LL viewer?
    And why nobody answered the above posted before by Jessica (guess not the 1 leading firestorm team!)

    Quote:
    I wasn’t expecting a splice of V1 into V3, but a proper mimicking of V1 – I’m not versed in any level of scripting, but I dunno how hard it’d be to expand the buttons, putting bright, readable text on’em, and expanding the chat bar back to a normal size – It would be a fresh, awesome start on fixing the most up-to-date UI without alienating the majority of users. Plus! If it IS possible to do at least those things, combined with the add/remove button thing, even better (I’d expect that if people wanted to put buttons on the side bars, they’d return to what V3 buttons currently look like).

    I don’t put any blame on the Firestorm dev’s for not being able to please V1 users, that blame goes straight to the top – LL, who paid a third party company (Big Spaceship? Or something?) if I remember right; to make the UI, and now have to justify it by working within it – Despite bringing a whole new slew of issues, on top of the ones that have already existed for 5+ years.

    The Firestorm-as-it-stands UI is different enough in a bunch of little ways…I suppose if it’s worth something, it’s worth repeating:
    – Better Buttons (Like I said before)
    – Return to original chatbar (current chatbar isn’t too RP friendly)
    – IM notification system (pop up rather than visually unimpactful glow)
    – Brightly-coloured notification with contrasting text either moveable or upper right.
    – Friends log in/out temporary pop up (I think I heard this might be an option buried somewhere?)
    – (Search likely isn’t fixable by TPV dev’s)
    – Returning the top menu bar back to normal (the number of menu’s and the difference between v1 & v3 is staggering. I doubt the revert will happen at all though, seems many things are in a different place now)
    – More visually palletable colour schemes.
    – (V1-styled chat history by default is delightful in Phoenix mode)
    – (Ctrl T fixed in Firestorm, which is alone a huge step forward)
    – Tabbed IM’s/Group chats by default.
    – Some ugly minimap icon choices I can’t seem to change
    – Pie menu by default, or a little higher up in preferences.

    There might be more, but even half of those would be amazing.

    Unquote.
    Cause that is really what all the ones in world using v1 viewers (and i can for sure tell you that they are still more then 80 pct of active and regular users, the ones that spend time and money in world), would love to see and would make them move easly to a more modern (It is????????????????????????????) code.

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    1. The post may well have gone unanswered for two reasons:

      1. No-one from Firestorm has looked at this blog since the comment was made (this isn’t after all the Firestorm website or the JIRA).

      2. Tonya’s request notwithstanding, feature changes and requests are better made on the Firestorm JIRA, as it is there that they will get attention. This blog is neither associated with, nor operated by by, anyone directly connected to Firestorm – I simply use the end product (alongside of Exodus and most recently, Niran’s).

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