Hurray, Hurrah and yay! Firestorm beta is here, and I'm going to give it a little review after using it for a few days.
You may remember from my "Boo vs the Second Life Viewer" that I was having trouble finding a viewer that gave me a layout that was practical for what I do in Second Life and gave me great performance. I started by showing you my current Viewer layout as I have been using on the Phoenix Viewer.
As I pointed out before, it gave me a lot of screen real estate, access to my inventory, access to the camera movement and access to contacts, Local Chat and IM's in all one window. This is the layout I have used for ages in Second Life, and the layout I have been waiting for on a V2 viewer.
Well, lets have a peek at my Layout on the Firestorm Viewer to see what I came up with after some tweaking. This is set up using the starlight classic skin that is included in the viewer.
Lord help me, I even included the Mini-Map and that looks somewhat familiar doesn't it? A whole lot of screen real estate, the chat box with contacts, local and IM's, camera controls that could be resized, my inventory, the build tool...really it's quite dreamy :)
So I can honestly say Firestorm has succeeded where the official viewers have not. It gave me my preferred layout and converted me to a V2 viewer...mostly...but i'll explain that later.
Now, it could have only done those things and I'd be a happy camper, but it actually did a whole lot more than that. It has shadows that don't crash me when I use them (all the official, beta and project viewers from LL crash me every time i try to enable shadows), has a included Radar, RLV, Temporary Uploads...and many other features you might remember from the Phoenix TPV...heck it even has the option to use a old fashioned PIE menu! (I will note however, the "buy" button is not where i'd expect in the pie layout...I hope they fix that later)
So as far as features and layout are concerned, this viewer does it all right! Quite easily could get me to swap to this viewer full time....if it wasn't for the freezing.
I know a lot of folk who are having great performance on this viewer right now, so I'm not sure what it is about my machine, but as far as performance is concerned (with and without shadows) I keep having random freezing. Everything just locks up and I can't move, can't select anything, and my program just shows me a "not responding" message at the top.
Eventually it comes back around again, but sometimes it keeps doing it over and over, making everything I try to do Choppy. This is something I don't have in the official viewer. So it's kind of a trade off. Get great performance on official V2, and have the frustration of the interface, or get a choppy experience on Firestorm but get the UI I like.
I know this is only a Beta, and I sure do hope they get that sorted by the time it is a full release (maybe once they catch up on versions to the latest project build which is super quick in performance) but it is still really frustrating.
That's not to say it happens all the time. On my building platform I can get away with doing a lot before it happens, but I always know it is going to happen...and that's the thing. My settings are pretty much the same on both Firestorm and the Official Viewer (when I'm not using shadows) so it does make me grit my teeth a bit that Firestorm could get it so right in design, but my performance is so lousy compared.
The only other thing is that if you really look at the two pictures, you'll notice that i still am using a lot of screen space compared to the old one (even though I now have a lot more). If you look back and forth between the two pictures a bit you'll see exactly why that is. All the windows have more bulk to them...ie, even when re sized they are still bigger than they were. Inventory, chat, even the build tool are much larger than they had been on default settings. I still need to play with it some more, so maybe I can adjust that in the UI settings.
I only point it out because it seems to me, in streamlining the viewer, a lot of the unnecessary UI box frames could have been streamlined themselves. Not sure if that made sense, and that is a LL complaint really not a Firestorm complaint, but Firestorm still has the similar size frames on their windows, and that is odd to get used to. That said, I will most likely get used to it, but it's still silly.....just sayin.
So, keep working at it Firestorm folks, get the performance up to par with V2 and I'll make a home there....or better still, Take a cue from Firestorm LL....your viewer could be golden to a lot of people, had you just given people what they have been looking for rather than being stubborn and stuck to the V2 UI design.