As a result of the release of the Group Services project code to all of the main grid this week (see my SL Projects news report), The Firestorm team have released a beta version of their upcoming Firestorm viewer update.
The new Group Services code allows for improved loading of membership lists of very large groups, together with improved reliability in editing such groups (i.e. assigning roles, removing people, etc.), by the group moderators. however, in order to be used, it requires additional viewer-side code. Without this additional code, the viewer will be unable to display membership lists for groups with more than 10K members.
To overcome this, and to allow Firestorm users who manage very large groups, the Firestorm team have released a beta version of the Firestorm viewer which includes the necessary code – as well as a lot of other updates.
Announcing the release, Jessica Lyon, the project manager for Firestorm notes, that while this is not an official Firestorm release, it will be supported by the team but requests that only those who need to manage and edit groups with more than 10,000 members download and install this release. She comments:
– This is NOT an official release, but we will provide support for it.
– This has NOT been thoroughly tested by our Quality Assurance team.
– We can NOT make any promises regarding how stable or bug-free it is.
– This DOES have some really cool new stuff in it!
USE IT IF:
– You need to manage large groups inworld.
– You’re tired of seeing unknown alert messages in Phoenix.
– You’re feeling brave, you live on the cutting edge and you want to get an early look at what’s coming in December’s Official Release.
This release means that Firestorm joins Niran’s Viewer, Zen, and Cool VL viewer alongside the official beta viewer in enabling large group editing.
This beta also includes code to access LL’s new Havok libraries. This means that it will be able to view the pathfinding navmesh, but as a result of the sub-licence arrangement, it will not be able to access OpenSim grids.
Downloading and Installing
The beta viewer is available here for Windows, Mac and Linux. As usual, a completely clean install is recommended for the most stable results.
A full review of the new Firestorm release will be appearing on these pages in due course.
A Note on Phoenix
The blog post from Jessica includes a section directed at those still using the Phoenix viewer, in which she states:
Our developers and support staff have been extremely busy trying to balance their real working and personal lives while continuing their volunteer efforts to develop SL’s most popular viewer for you. Unfortunately, most of us cannot easily compile Phoenix anymore because of missing/expired libraries like Fmod, compiler changes we’ve had to make for Firestorm, OS upgrades (Win8), etc. To update Phoenix to current LL code now would be a very, very big task and, because we are already at our limit of what we can do, there are no plans to update Phoenix Viewer to support this new group code or handle the new notification system at this time. We are, after all, only human.
This is unlikely to make popular reading in some quarters. However, as Jessica notes, the team have striven to make Firestorm’s front-end as much like Phoenix / Viewer-1 as humanly possible. While it is not possible to revert menus, etc. fully to the Phoenix format, the skinning and broad approach to getting as much of the look and feel on Phoenix into Firestorm should go a long way towards easing people willing to make the conversion a lot easier.
This does not mean the end of the road for Phoenix, but with user number falling and Firestorm proving to be a much more stable and reliable viewer which is capable of embracing viewer changes being driven out of LL, it is understandable that the Firestorm team is sounding a warning note as to the future and continued enhancement of Phoenix.