Phoenix viewer appears set to continue (but not with SL)

PhoenixAs of January 1st, 2013, the Phoenix Firestorm team ceased support of the Phoenix viewer, bring a close to all further work on that viewer on their part.

While this signals the end-of-line for Phoenix where Second Life is concerned, it appears that efforts are underway to attempt to continue Phoenix development for the OpenSim / Aurora environment, under new leadership and a new brand name.

In a blog post dated 29th December, 2012, Virtual Reaility, the new developers for Phoenix state:

Over the past week the Jessica Lyon, Project Manager of the The Phoenix Firestorm Project, Inc. made an announcement that on Saturday, December 15, the Phoenix development team would no longer support the V1-based Phoenix virtual worlds viewer that has had a significant following of users in virtual worlds such as Second Life and OS Grid.  Ms. Lyon stated that support for the viewer will be dropped to provide development and support focus on their Phoenix-Firestorm viewer.

Though this may seem like a dark day for people who use and enjoy the Phoenix viewer, this cloud has a silver lining. Virtual Reality is pleased to announce that it will continue development, maintenance, and improvement of the Phoenix V1 viewer, which will be re-branded as the Virtual Reality Viewer. “I am excited to have the opportunity to fork this highly popular viewer for virtual worlds users who use it and desire to continue to use it.”, said, Virtual Reality owner and CEO, Sonic Boom Drillion. “The Virtual Reality viewer will continue to work within OpenSim and Aurora based grids, however we hope to update the viewer to address a number of technical advancements that are presently happening in virtual worlds.  We are eager to embrace this code base and develop it to support these changes.”

The post goes on to state that as of the 29th December, work was underway to move the Phoenix code to Virtual Reality’s own systems, however the work will not include porting outstanding / open JIRA relating to Phoenix, as these are related to Second Life, which will not be the target environment for the rebranded viewer.

virtual-realityVirtual Reality is an OpenSim hosting company focused on Aurora Sim side of OpenSim, and provides customers with grid space through its own  Virtual Reality grid, as well supplying private grids to customers.

Within the blog post / announcement is a request that any developer wishing to work on the rebranded viewer should contact Virtual Reality at

While this does not help those who have used Phoenix specifically with OpenSim, it does mean that potentially, the Phoenix legacy will live on, albeit under new management and a new name, on OpenSim.

Related Links

Phoenix: hard truths

Update 17th December: The video of the meeting is available on You Tube (and embedded below). Links have also been added to the official announcement and a transscript of Jessica’s presentation given at the start of the meeting.

PhoenixJessica Lyon and members of the Phoenix Firestorm Team hosted an in-world / streamed meeting on Saturday 15th December, 2012 to discuss the future of Phoenix.

As expected, the core of the news was the Phoenix has essentially come to its end of line. As from December 31st, all official support provided by the Phoenix / Firestorm team will cease.

There are many reasons as to why this step is finally being taken, but they all have their roots in the fact that in late 2010, the decision was taken that to ensure future ease-of-development and enhancement of the viewer, it would be more in the Phoenix Team’s interest to develop a viewer which could more easily keep pace with LL’s development curve, rather than attempting to continually backport new code and features into a viewer that would be based on what would become an increasingly outdated code base. Thus, Firestorm was born. Whether one agrees with this decision or not is actually moot. It was a decision the Phoenix Team were entitled to make.

Jessica Lyon (stock image)
Jessica Lyon (stock image)

The major reason as to why the team has opted to formally announce the end of line for Phoenix now is because Linden Lab have notified TPVs of the forthcoming roll-out of server-side avatar baking in 2013.

As I’ve explained in a recent blog post, server-side avatar baking is a significant change in the way Second Life operates and which should see an end to the major issue of avatar bake fail. However, it brings with it not only changes to the server-side of Second Life, but very major changes to the viewer itself.

Such is the complexity of these viewer changes that Linden Lab has sought to provide TPVs with an eight week window in which to implement and test them. Given the overall status of Phoenix, it simply is not possible for the Phoenix Firestorm team to implement the changes in Firestorm and backport and integrate them into Phoenix (together with all the other changes required to get Phoenix back on a par with LL’s viewer development) in that time frame. The reason why it is vital for all TPVs incorporate the new code is because without it, avatars will fail to render correctly – so if Phoenix does not have the code, it simply “won’t work” when the new service is deployed.

Avatar baking 2013 and Phoenix in brief: These images show the impact of the new avatar baking service on viewer which are not updated to the new code. (l) as I appear on a viewer without the code, and someone on another viewer (regardless of the code it is using) looks to me. On the right, someone running the new code, and how I look to them - a never-rezzing cloud.
Avatar baking 2013 and Phoenix in brief: These images show the impact of the new avatar baking service on a viewer which is not updated to the new code. (l) as I appear on a viewer without the code, and someone on another viewer (regardless of the code it is using) looks to me – a “grey ghost”. On the right, someone running the new code, and how I look to them – a never-rezzing cloud.

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Calling all Phoenix users

PhoenixJessica Lyon has announced she and the Phoenix  / Firestorm team will be holding an Office Hour meeting, and all users are invited. Jessica is particularly keen to have users on Phoenix attend the meeting, commenting:

Everyone is invited and encouraged to attend but I especially want to see Phoenix Viewer users in attendance as the primary topic will be about Phoenix and its future. I also would like to see all you angry people who have been flaming and hating on us in our blog comments. I’d like to address your complaints so please at least be on the stream if you can. 

Because the lack of Phoenix Viewer development and in fact the future of the Phoenix Viewer itself needs to be discussed and your questions/concerns need to be addressed.

Firestorm users are also obviously welcome.

Event Details

Those wishing to attend / join the stream are advised to turn up around 30 minutes ahead of the meeting. As there are limited slots for both the in-world event and the stream, it would be advisable if those attending the event don’t also run the stream, as this could prevent others who are unable to get in-world from watching and listening on-line.

The event will be recorded for future playback.

Phoenix gets set for Direct Delivery

Phoenix has been released today. This has been expected since the recent updates to the TPV Policy required the removal of the on-line truth status from the profile floater.

More importantly, the update prepares Phoenix for the forthcoming roll-out of Direct Delivery, scheduled for this Wednesday, the 21st March. As such, it is very important for Phoenix users to upgrade to this release if they wish to be able to use the SL Marketplace to receive items once Direct Delivery is launched and merchants switch over to it. Additionally, the Viewer includes the V2 inventory fetch system.

Other updates include:

  • RLV updates (Kitty Barnett)
  • Optional support group viewer version identification (Zi Ree, Kadah Koba)
  • GPU table updates (TankMaster Finesmith)
  • Added CHOP, MAINT, EXP, SINV, PATHBUG, and DOC to jira parser (TankMaster Finesmith)
  • Option to show script time in either ms or µSeconds (Kadah Coba)
  • Allow /me’ when using viewer prefix (Inusaito Kanya)
  • Support for CreateInventoryCategory capability (Henri Beauchamp)
  • Backport of V3 inventory loading at login (Henri Beauchamp & Singularity Viewer)
  • Additional fast timers from V3 (Henri Beauchamp)

It is recommended that a clean install is performed for this release.

Related Links

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.

Phoenix / Firestorm Q&A

I’ve been asked to pass on the following – and while only too happy to do so, I’m closing the item to comments as it is important anyone who has questions and who can’t attend the event, post their question to the official Phoenix Firestorm blog.

The Phoenix / Firestorm team are holding a public Q&A session this coming Saturday to answer questions and concerns relating to both the Phoenix and Firestorm Viewers.

The meeting will take place at 13:00 SLT at the 4-region auditorium at Rockcliffe University and will be hosted by Nigma Sterling of Rockcliffe University.

Those wishing to attend are advised to arrive early, and using the following SLurls according to the first initial of your FIRST name:

A – I:
J – R:
S – Z:

The event will be recorded and made available online after the fact (no live streaming planned at this point).

Note that the focus of the event is to discuss genuine concerns relating to either Viewer and their future development, and to answer questions and address specific critiques.

You can read the entire post from Jessica here.