Niran’s Viewer: release 1.13

Update Jan 24th:  Version 1.14 is now available which fixes the snapshot floater iessue meantioned in the article, and which also see the Main Menu moved to F1 from ESC, thus resolving the camera / Mouselook reset issue also mentioned here. The download location remains the same.

Nirans-logoGood grief! I turn my back on SL for 1/2 a day to go shopping and take care of that “real life” thing, and what happens? Another Viewer update pops up! :).

NiranV Dean has been busy scribing away (do coders scribe, I wonder?) on Niran’s Viewer of late, with 1.12 appearing earlier in the week and now we have 1.13 arriving. NiranV’s aim with the Viewer is not to come up with the fastest (in terms of frame rates) or the most features and functions – but rather to focus on developing better graphics and a more flexible user interface. This combination has made Niran’s Viewer daringly different  – and release 1.13 continues with this.

Main Menu

On starting the Viewer there is also little sign of any changes within the release. However, tap ESC and you’ll receive an interesting surprise: the Viewer has a “main menu”!

Niran’s: Main menu

The options on the menu are self-explanatory, and NiranV clearly states this is only an initial pass at the menu – the style and layout will be subject to change, and constructive feedback on the idea is welcomed via his blog.

I have to admit that when the idea was first explained to me, I was sceptical as to its use – but I’m not sure I fully understood what NiranV was proposing. On seeing the menu, I can see that there is potential here. However, I’m not sure that using ESC is the right key function. While I understand it may be a common approach in “traditional” games (I’m genuinely not qualified to comment either way on computer games), it has to be said that ESC has long had a “traditional” use in SL: for resetting your camera view or popping out of ML. Ergo, there is a risk here that putting ESC to another use is going to cause frowns among some users, other options for getting into / out of ML notwithstanding.

I did have problems with the My Profile and Outfits options on the menu (neither worked for me), but again, this is an experimental feature.

Snapshot Floater

The revised snapshot floater in V3.x has always struck me as being a tad on the large size. Niran’s addresses this by offering a more compact floater, although it needs a couple of tweaks to finish things off – the “expand” chevron and image resolution information is somewhat squeezed by the image preview pane, and the expanded Advanced Options slider could do with being just a little wider (the closing bracket of “(fullscreen)” seems to “fall off” the edge of the panel a little. However, this is, to me at least, an improvement over the default floater in terms of size.

Snapshot floater: a trifle squeezed?

Looking at Snapshot actually reminds me to comment on the top-to-bottom fade found in the floaters on Niran’s Viewer. I’m not sure how recent a change this is – I first noticed it on the 1.12 release – but it is really rather smart and I find it adds a little something to the Viewer as a whole.

Gestures Enhanced and Other Bits

This release sees gestures enhanced with additional trigger options, as NiranV explains, “You can now use additional trigger keys for gestures, which are E Q R F I T Y Z G C V M O P and Space, you can set them in the Shortcut key combo NOT MODIFIER!”

Also in this release as an experimental option is the ability to bulk upload .anim files via NV->FILES->UPLOAD->BULK UPLOAD.

The revised Build floater, introduced in 1.12 has gained popular feedback from the core Niran’s Viewer users and has received some nips and tucks as a result.

Build floater: nips and tucks

Version 1.12 also suffered from locking issues that appeared to be related to Shining fixes. However, following investigations, NiranV found the problem seems to actually be connected to inventory loading, and has this to say on the issue and Shining fixes in general within 1.13:

“Well with 1.12 I added some Shining fixes that seemed to cause initial freezes on login, but no ….its your Inventory! IF you freeze several times on login before [the] World turns smooth, then your Inventory has been fetched … If you want, I can do an option to disable initial fetching.

“Apart from that, I´ve added a few other Shining fixes which fixed the Underwater Crash I´ve noticed when you look into the “void” (the blue water fog at the end of a sim) and transparent meshes -> meshes should now render correctly when setting them to 1% transparency or having a transparent texture on them … instead of vanishing completely. [Be aware that] the bump map on mesh crash is still present; don’t set bump maps on meshes unless you want to crash. The bump map will be set after your relog.”

Feedback

Niran’s Viewer doesn’t have everything I like to see in a Viewer – but then again, if it and every other Viewer did have everything we all wanted, they’d all likely be exactly the same. However, it is still very much a Viewer I enjoy using. However, recent releases have suffered where I’m concerned, as they have tended to push my system to its limits when I’ve wanted to use the bells and whistles.

While Niran isn’t focused on the “traditional” elements of performance (and remembering that they are always subjective and subject to a myriad of factors that cannot always be managed in everyday use of the Viewer), I have to say the 1.13 has so far reversed performance issues for me somewhat, and has been more amenable to me running with shadows, occlusion and so on switched on. This has been a pleasant surprise, as alongside Exodus, Niran’s is my Viewer of choice for what passed for photography in my hands.

Outside of this, I think the main menu idea could well have more traction than I’d given previous credit. The inclusion of such a menu may seem out-of-step with Viewer development to date, but I have to admit that were it to be used in a Viewer specifically aimed at new users, for example, it could have considerable positive impact. As it is, it’ll be interesting to see how the idea develops within Niran’s Viewer, and whether any other TPVs adopt the approach.

All-in-all, an interesting update, with more to come in the future, going on NiranV’s blog comments!

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