|The Dreaded Lag Monster: Part 2 - Third Party Viewers|
|Written by Snow Scarmon|
In the last issue we looked at some of the signs that the Lag Monster may be stalking you and your SL activities. This time we can take a closer look at using alterative viewers to improve performance.
A "third-party viewer" means any software client, regardless of its source code, that is not developed by Linden Lab and that logs into Linden Lab servers. A number of Second Life developers outside of Linden Lab offer customized Second Life viewers. Third-party viewers offer a wide variety of features with some being fairly common to all viewers and others unique to a particular viewer.
Since Linden Lab introduced their new version 2.0 viewer to replace the commonly used viewer version 1.23, the number of third-party viewers has increased significantly. While still supported, viewer 1.23 was last updated in 2009 and cannot use many of the SL features added after that time.
There are so many third-party viewers available that choosing one can be difficult. This task is made even more complicated as popular viewers are dropped when they become incompatible with new versions of the Linden Lab viewer. It is hard to say how many viewers are around but there are a few names that appear more frequently than others.
Full function viewers based on LL 1.23 code.
Phoenix Viewer: This currently appears to be the most popular user-friendly viewer with a similar interface to LL1.23 and many of the same features, plus a 24/7 support staff. The drawback to Phoenix is that it is based on the same LL 1.23 code that cannot support the LL feature upgrades. I really liked this one.
Imprudence: With improved user interface and usability, this viewer is attracting new users looking for a viewer with lower lag. The problem with Imprudence is that, like Phoenix, the code is based on LL 1.23 code that limits the use of recent functions. I was happy with this one for a while.
Emergence: this viewer is run by a single developer making an effort to provide users with a safe alternative viewer. Emergence is currently a near clone to Phoenix with the same drawbacks, and if not upgraded it will share the same future.
Full function viewers based in LL V2/V3 code
Cool VL Viewer: At the time of this writing, the release date for this viewer was projected to be December 12, 2011, making it the most recent of all the third-party viewers. Designer Henri Beaichamp has set out to reverse many of the unpopular interface changes and restore such things as the old toolbar and button layouts. It also brings back the old style search tab, the old style Groups search tab and reinstates the old, more visible, status bar icons and/or tracking dots in the mini-map, and the old chat history floater. I am not sure how many people are aware of Cool VL but I know I will be downloading it later today.
Dolphin: The Dolphin is one of the next generation viewers based on the official LL source code and functions well for most virtual worlds. It offers enhancements for builders, explorers, sailors, and other vehicle enthusiasts. I have used this but there is no feature that makes it better or worse that others.
Hippo OpenSim: This is a modified Second Life viewer for OpenSim users. It allows building up to a height of 10,000 meters, scaling prims up to 256 x 256 x 256 meters, etc. More specific features are under development for Hippo OpenSim Viewer Version 0.6.3.
Limited function viewers.
Libretto: A light-weight, text-only viewer. It's designed to resemble and function as an instant messaging client for low performance/bandwidth computers, or when multiple instances are needed.
Radegast: Very limited features designed for situations where a full 3D rendering client is a less than ideal option for situations such as office environments running on low performance computers.
Stored Inventory: Formerly Second Inventory, this viewer is a backup tool that allows builders to save all their creations directly to their hard drive or move them to other grids. This includes: Clothes, Skins, Textures, Scripts, Animations and every complex Objects, even nested.
Combat Cubed: This client is aimed mostly at the SL military and sports applications with quite a few interesting improvements such as “Enhanced Look & Feel” with more flexible camera movement, “Friend versus Foe” identification, and more efficient FPS combat.
Exodus Viewer is a new application for the LL V3 series. It comes packed with features intended to enhance the experience of competitive play. Roleplayers, fighters and virtual sport stars will benefit from a viewer designed for maximum performance! Exodus Viewer also offers cool visual effects for photographers and machinima film makers.
Text only viewers.
Omvviewer: Native Debian and Ubuntu .deb files for 32 and 64 bit architectures. Only minimal changes to the source code to comply with TVP, no significant features are included.
SLiteChat: SLiteChat is text-only, designed to use IM/chat to talk to your friends in Second Life and nothing else.
SparkleIM: an iphone app.
There are countless others in the development stage, so if you are not happy with SL performance with one viewer, try others until you find one that best meets your needs.