02 December 2010

De-sucking Viewer 2

With the impending release of the next version of Phoenix, the team is beginning to turn its attention to Firestorm, our version of Viewer 2. We're just beginning the process, and there's a lot of work to do. Even so, there's already been significant de-sucking done, as this screenshot will show.

The biggest overall complaint is that Viewer 2 wastes immense amounts of screen space, between the sidebar and the separate IM and local chat floaters and the UI design that puts huge borders everywhere for no apparent or good reason. As that screenshot shows, we've already gotten local chat docked into the IM window, with vertical tabs, as in Phoenix, and a separate inventory floater like the one in version 1. That screenshot is already very reminiscent of the way I lay out Phoenix's user window.

This is very preliminary. We haven't really devoted much thought or design effort to Firestorm, as yet, and so any or all of that can change. We also have a lengthy list of features to examine, adapt, and port to the new codebase. The whole developer community uses Phoenix's feature set above and beyond that of the base viewer. To be sure, we all use different parts of it, but if there's a feature in Phoenix, there's a member of the team that uses and knows it.

We're not going to put out a viewer we won't use ourselves.

In addition, the members of the development team have a wide range of experience within SL, and the folks we know have an even wider range. For example, I personally know one of the biggest vendors of clothing in SL. As far as I'm concerned, Firestorm isn't ready for prime time unless he can get his job done as easily as he does today, with the minimum of learning curve to surmount. (He doesn't have time to spend learning another way of working. He's too busy creating.) The same goes for folks in many other realms of SL.

No, Firestorm isn't going to happen overnight. There's too much to de-suck, for too many people. I don't expect even an alpha version to be available to the testers for quite some time. I can promise this, though: When it does come out, it'll be worth the wait.

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