So What Are the Options?
Those currently using Phoenix have a number of choices:
- Continue to use Phoenix, at least until the server-side avatar baking system is fully deployed
- Move to Firestorm or another v3-based viewer / the SL viewer
- Move to an alternative v1-style viewer which will be supporting the new baking service, such as Singularity or Cool VL.
For those wishing to remain with the v1-style UI, the last choice would seem the most appropriate route to take – particularly where performance / hardware issues are concerned (Cool VL is reported to be particularly well suited to running on older hardware). Not only are both being maintained such that they will support the new baking service, they already support a range of options and capabilities popular among TPV users.
For those wishing to continue with Phoenix for as long as possible and are concerned about support after December 31st, 2012, an in-world there is a peer-based Phoenix Viewer Self Help group has been established, and it is recommended those using Phoenix sign-up to that. The official Phoenix / Firestorm support team will be referring Phoenix to that group come January 1st, 2013.
What of the Future?
With the decision made to officially cease support of the Phoenix viewer, it is very likely that it will be removed from the official Third-party Viewer Directory in the new year and it will be removed from the main download page on the Phoenix Firestorm website.
However this does not mean Phoenix will be blocked from accessing the SL grid. Phoenix users will continue to be able to log-in to SL as they always have, and Phoenix will remain available as a download option on the Phoenix Firestorm wiki.
Going forward, the Phoenix Firestorm Team remain committed to advancing and enhancing Firestorm, which already officially stands as the most stable of all available viewers, including both the official SL viewer and Phoenix. This not only includes implementing all changes and features needed in order for the viewer to keep pace with LL’s development and enhancement of Second Life (through the implementation of support for things like server-side baking) but also continuing to integrate as many outstanding features and capabilities from Phoenix as it is feasible to integrate without negatively impacting the viewer. They also remain committed to improving Firestorm’s overall performance – itself no easy task, as viewer performance is so hardware-dependent.
This does not mean that Firestorm will ever be entirely Phoenix-like in its overall presentation and UI style – and frankly, it is somewhat unreasonable for people to demand that it is. At the end of the day, any perception of the “superiority” of any given viewer UI over another is largely a subjective interpretation rather than any objective measurement. This is not to trivialize any of the real shortfalls people can experience with a UI – readability as a result of eyesight issues, etc. But when it comes to complaints about menus being different, or the use of chiclets and toasts – the truth is these are simply not insurmountable problems to adaptation – as the majority of SL users have shown through their use of Firestorm, Catznip, Dolphin, Exodus, RLV, Niran’s Viewer, Zen and the SL official viewers demonstrates.
The passing of Phoenix does, nevertheless, mark the end of an era and is an emotive subject; not just for those who use the viewer, either. Leave us not forget that those who made Phoenix possible in the first place did so at the cost of many, many hours of their free time. They’ve worked hard to develop, present and support what has been a very popular viewer, and as such, many of them will be finding it as hard to say goodbye to Phoenix as anyone using it.
For my part, I can only pass on my thanks to Jessica and the team as both a Phoenix user (I was there from the moment the first release was made) and Firestorm user (ditto again – there from the start, and stuck through all the warts and bumps of the v2 UI). What the team as achieved with both Phoenix and Firestorm is simply remarkable.
- Phoenix Firestorm announcement on Phoenix
- A transcript of Jessica’s remarks read at the meeting
- Avatar Baking: “and the clock has started!”