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Why is Firestorm so popular?

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I feel like one of the very few who actually uses the official viewer. Am I missing out on something? Neat-o features, less lag, better framerates, etc?

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I feel like one of the very few who actually uses the official viewer. Am I missing out on something? Neat-o features, less lag, better framerates, etc?

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JPG0809 wrote:

I feel like one of the very few who actually uses the official viewer. Am I missing out on something? Neat-o features, less lag, better framerates, etc?

I was the same way. I was a little intimidated by FS Vwr.  I LOVED the Official Viewer. Ran okay most the time although a little laggy wasn't enough to drive me crazy. One day it kept crashing and being epically (yes I still use that word) slow. I wanted to pull my hair out. One of my friend suggested another viewer might work better. Skeptical I downloaded Firestorm. It ran so smooth I was stunned. Everything was an instant load up for me. I was blown away. The fact that if I have any issue with it the support is always there is a bonus. I don't know how many times I had issues with the OV and nada from the chat help. They would literally copy and paste crap that had nothing to do with my issues and leave. I needed help with FS a few times and they took the time to help me. It is definitely worth the download. Give it time. You may or may not like it but at least you will know for sure.

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JPG0809 wrote:

I feel like one of the very few who actually uses the official viewer. Am I missing out on something? Neat-o features, less lag, better framerates, etc?

According to the statistics, you are indeed in the minority.  I can't speak for anyone besides myself... I like it because of the extra features that it has which the official viewer does not, such as the built-in AO and pose stand, the photo tools and the quick preferences (though there are a lot more).  I also find the UI more customizable and therefore easier to use.  But one of the best reasons for using it is the Firestorm Support group... there is absolutely nothing like it for the official viewer and never will be.

...Dres

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When I started the official LL viewer was version 1.23 (I might have a missed a dot there). Older residents than I might correct me on this, but I got the idea it had been in use for quite some time. Not long after I started another viewer, NOT LL supported, became popular. It was called Emerald and it did everything the LL viewer did and more.

Not too long after that, LL totally revamped their viewer into what they called Viewer 2. The user interface was way different. There was massive frustration from people who had to learn all over again how to do things they'd been doing for years on the original viewer. That drove even more people to Emerald because it still looked like the 'old' viewer, and it became by FAR the viewer of choice.

Then one or more people in Emerald's development team (I'm guessing driven by the fact that Emerald was now the SL viewer of choice, and so he/she/them figured they were calling the shots) engaged in more than one questionable practice and at least one criminal act—a DDOS against someone he/she/them didn't like—all of which made use of hooks in the the viewer and actually used the PCs of people using Emerald.

The Emerald viewer was officially disallowed by LL, as well it should have been. Some of the people on the development team decided to divorce themselves from the original Emerald team and construct a viewer that would be considered permissible by LL but would still have the attraction of being familiar to fans of the old LL V1 viewer. That was called Phoenix. They later added their current viewer, called Firestorm.

Even now, a few years after the introduction of V2 (which has since been upgraded to V3, a viewer that a lot more people are okay with than with V2) a user can still get Firestorm's current version to look a great deal like the original 1.23, even while being able to take advantage of all the new bells, whistles, and tweaks LL has made available.

To answer your question which I'm ashamed to note took only one sentence and to which I've replied with a novella: a heck of a lot of people resist change, and Firestorm gives them (okay, us) a way to not have to relearn the viewer. That's not the only reason, though. As Dresden mentioned earlier, the Firestorm Support Group inworld is tremendous. I've asked I think two questions (not because I'm clever, but because I don't push the envelope much) and both were answered in group chat within minutes, possibly seconds. That's a pretty nice resource.

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Extra goodies,better performance and stability and a Development team that actually uses Second Life and listens to residents.

Edited to add:

FIrestorm's user interface is flexible you can have it like the Phoenix or the SL 1.23 viewer but also can run it so that the interface is closer to the current official viewer.  You can even customize the UI to suit yourself.

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You beat me to the novella and well done. :) 

@OP - Having been in SL now over 6 years as well as having played a few MMORPGs, I am of the opinion that many people like whatever the current viewer/UI is when they first began.  My opinion is further strengthened by anecdotal evidence, both on the forums and from people I meet in world, that *most* (not all) people who use/like the official viewer began SL after its introduction and, therefore, learn it and don't really know there is a difference.

As Dillon said, I began when the official viewer was 1.xx (not sure if there was something prior to the 1.23 or not).  To me, it was intuitive and easy to use.  LL periodically updated it and one of the updates included no longer being able to resize the chat windows (local & IM) as small as previous versions.  For someone with a 15" monitor at the time, that ate up a lot of screen real estate.  I was introduced by a friend to a Third Party Viewer (TPV) called Nicholaz that looked just like the official viewer but each time LL "updated" there were invariably bugs to work out and the Nicholaz developer was able to produce a viewer that didn't have the bugs and kept in the features many residents of that time (2007) enjoyed, such as resizeable chat windows.

Dillon has given the history of the Emerald viewer to the present.  For me, the LL viewer is a nightmare.  After the founder of LL, Philip Rosedale, stepped down as CEO, we have had M. Linden who wanted, imo, to turn SL into another TwitFace, and now Rodvik Linden who, imo, is trying to steer LL down the pathway of games - each perspective reflected in the official viewer.

I was a diehard Phoenix fan after Nicholaz discontinued further developments.  It kept the beloved (to many of us) 1.23 UI PLUS had a LOT of amazing new features.  I recently upgraded to a new PC and was looking forward to using Firestorm (run in Phoenix mode) but I was disappointed because even using the Phoenix UI, FS lost a bit of the "charm" for me and seems a bit more "bloated" with extraneous features I'll never use.  I'm not knocking it overall and still think it is WAY better than the official LL viewer, but I opted for another TPV called Singularity that is almost identical to Phoenix, including the added features I *do* use and enjoy.

What I think is really great is that in SL we don't have to deal with a "one size fits all" viewer, but can enjoy SL the way we each prefer thanks to the variety of TPVs available as well as the official viewer.

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The LL viewer is missing essential tools I need for building as well as for running a business. But even if it had these tools, I would not use it as a main viewer because I literally can't move from one location to another. I do have to use it to apply and see the new materials, but I have to use Singularity to move to where I want to be first.

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JPG0809 wrote:

I feel like one of the very few who actually uses the official viewer. Am I missing out on something? Neat-o features, less lag, better framerates, etc?

I don't remember all the features in The Viewer Thou Shalt Not Name that originally drew me to it but one was worth its weight in gold.

Being able to change Draw Distance on the fly.  Being able to simply type what I wanted my DD to be was awesome.

From there I moved on to Phoenix and them Firestorm.  It's hard to point to all the differences but FS put at our fingertips many functions that are either not possible or are buried in the official viewer.

Compare the camera controls.  First off in the official Viewer they are not resizeable.  In Firestorm I can shrink it to about 1/4 the size so its taking less screen real estate.  Then consider that everything is on top. No digging to use features:

 

camera 3.JPG  Firestorm does in one element what takes three in the Official Viewer.

 

There are more things like that.

 

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I also use the LL viewer for my main av, but I use Singularity for my alt because of 2 features. One is that is still uses the old profiles which, unlike the web-based profiles, actually load every time, and load quickly. The other is that it can get the UUID of an object from the Edit box. I make use of the latter sometimes.

But, to answer your question, it's my opinion that many or most people who use 3rd party viewers do so to be different from the 'standard' - the standard being the LL viewer. Some use them for specific features, such as Restrained Life, but, imo, most people who use them have no particular use for their additional features, and they just use them to be non-standard. It's a sort of pride thing, imo.

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As a builder and merchant, simply extra features I use every day, such as copy/paste size rotate and location and align prims. Just makes everything quicker to do without added time to work out maths. One time firestorm was problematic when uploading mesh so mostly I used the official viewer for this task, but lately mesh uploads too are easier with more recent firestorm updates. As Phil says I find it much more useful to use regular profiles, when dealing with customer service, rather than web based ones. And lastly it runs smoothly on my laptop which I use wirelessly.

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I think one of the things about Firestorm and its features is that it's a bit of a Swiss Army Knife, in that it's got so many features, about three or so of which people find indispensable (which features those are depends on the individual user) and most of which no one ever uses, or only rarely.   

Furthermore, in an amusing inversion of how things were when Firestorm's distant predecessor, Emerald, first started, we've got a situation in which LL keep on bringing out new and unfamiliar features, which Firestorm then adapts to make them more palatable to its rather small-c conservative user-base, many of whom stuck with Phoenix precisely because they were resistant to change (and nothing wrong with that -- I don't criticise people in the slightest for not wanting repeatedly to have to grapple with new features and an unfamiliar UI in what's supposed to be a leisure persuit).

As to performance, that varies so much from set-up to set-up.   All I can say is that, on my machine, I find Firestorm somewhat sluggish compared to the Official Viewer most of the time, but that doesn't really mean much.    I've nothing against either Firestorm or the Official Viewer, but most of the time I use Catznip because it's got some things I really want that the Official Viewer doesn't have (RLVa, extra building tools, and the sanest and most user-friendly adaptation of outfits of any viewer), isn't cluttered up with lots of stuff I don't want, and runs very well for me.    

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What attracted me to Firestorm was the availability of the Vintage viewer; I could, and still can not, stand the layout of Second Life's newer viewer. Firestorm is also less laggy for my computer.

Discovering other things...such as the built-in AO, the quick and easy to access settings, and having more customizable things for the viewer...were added bonuses.

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I've mostly stuck with LL's official viewers during my nearly 7 years in SL.  I've dabbled with other viewers out of curiosity, including Pheonix and Firestorm, and also to compare their performance with the LL viewers.  I've used Firestorm sometimes when the LL viewer wasn't performing well, but I've had performance issues with Firestorm too, when a switch back to LL viewer improved things.  At the moment I use the current LL viewer and also the LL Beta viewer.

I don't have Firestorm installed at the moment.  I have Imprudence and Singularity installed, but I only use those for my OpenSim standalone island, I never use them to log in to SL.

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No matter where it's coming from , I personally think Firestorm would never have been this popular without the zeal of it's founder : Jessica Lyon.

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I'm on the LL viewer for a while now since it has materials and I noticed it's alot more performant than Firestorm. (on high settings)
The interface is ok, I use the starlight skin.
CHUI is worse than the firestorm UI but firestorm goes CHUI so that will not matter in the future.
I made an AO using the new script functions to replace the standard animations. Works better than any viewer AO, but has less functions. The LL viewer has no AO at all btw.
The LL viewer is obviously not made for building. Big minus. No improvment for a decade (is that a joke?)
Some bells and whistles missing. Depending on your priorities important or not important.

So which viewer you prefer is based on your priorities.

For me quality and speed has high priority. That kicks out firestorm in the present version. I'll surely check the next version. Building requires the use of a TPV. And the rest? I don't care much. So for me I'll use the LL viewer and will change to a TPV when one of them can keep up with the new LL code and doesn't fail at the speed.

 

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Features... I use so many of them, every time I've had to log in with the official viewer -or several others, for that matter-, I've felt lost and constrained.

About the only problem with Firestorm is that it inevitably lags behind the latest technological additions... right now those would mainly be materials and CHUI; and it tends to do so a bit more than other TPVs because, even with a relatively big developers team, the viewer itself is rather complicated precisely due to its extensive features, which I imagine makes it hell to debug every time they want to incorporate the latest Linden Labs improvements.

But even then, for me the already available features still usually outweigh said not-yet ones.

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Dillon said:

Not too long after that, LL totally revamped their viewer into what they called Viewer 2. The user interface was way different. There was massive frustration from people who had to learn all over again how to do things they'd been doing for years on the original viewer. That drove even more people to Emerald because it still looked like the 'old' viewer, and it became by FAR the viewer of choice.

 

I hate the tired statement that people left V2 because they had to learn to use it. That is just not correct for many people, me for one. It had nothing to do with learning to use it, V2 was just a disaster as far as a viewer goes. Learning to use it was not the problem, the problem was just how bad the viewer was.

V3 is a lot better and I keep it up to date and do use it, and almost only it, with this avatar.

 

Edit:

Forgot to say:

And by the way, I have never used Fierstorm and most likely never will.

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Teagan Tobias wrote:

I hate the tired statement that people left V2 because they had to learn to use it. That is just not correct for many people, me for one. It had nothing to do with learning to use it, V2 was just a disaster as far as a viewer goes. Learning to use it was not the problem, the problem was just how bad the viewer was.

V3 is a lot better and I keep it up to date and do use it, and almost only it, with this avatar.

I have to second that.

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Phil Deakins wrote:

I also use the LL viewer for my main av, but I use Singularity for my alt because of 2 features. One is that is still uses the old profiles which, unlike the web-based profiles, actually load every time, and load quickly. The other is that it can get the UUID of an object from the Edit box. I make use of the latter sometimes.

But, to answer your question, it's my opinion that many or most people who use 3rd party viewers do so to be different from the 'standard' - the standard being the LL viewer. Some use them for specific features, such as Restrained Life, but, imo, most people who use them have no particular use for their additional features, and they just use them to be non-standard. It's a sort of pride thing, imo.

I've made the statement that the Official Viewer should be the Viewer of Choice with the TPV's serving the niche market of specialty uses/users.  And I really don't think it would be hard for it to get there. 

From a practical point of view it appears that LL has abdicated on responsibility for the Viewer.  While I can not quote a specific statement from LL on this, it does amount to a business decision.  Let us, LL, focus on delivering content and features and let the TPV's sort out making it useable or palatable for the Users.

Some of it is so bad, like Web Profiles, I wonder if it is even fixable by the TPV's.  LL is not thinking in terms of the End Users being able to use the content.

CHUI is the classic example.  It almost went live with out a chat bar.  It took an eleventh hour crying out by some of us to get one added.  And we had to explain to who ever it was that was in charge of the project why it was important.  There is something very, very wrong with that picture. In their zeal to add functions they complicated what should be a very simple to do thing, simply chatting with other people.

There are negative side effects to all this.  It slows down the adoption of new features because they (LL) are having to wait for the TPV's to integrate them before the majority of users can or will use them.  It also inadvertently builds resistance in people to adapting new features.

Now I do understand that it is not possible to please everyone.  But LL needs to look closer at what is important to the Majority of residents and focus on ease of use for the residents.  They need to think through what is the 'work flow' for most people when they Log In and how they spend a majority of time In World.  And it needs to be be integrated in to the UI.

The TPV's then should be filling in the gap for the specialty niche users, which actually is something many of them are doing already anyways.

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The UI for V2 was a horrid mishmash of dark colored elements designed to make it look and feel like a web browser, not a window into a 3-D virtual world. It was unintuitive, inflexible, and terribly inefficient to use. I was so turned off by it (after giving it several fair chances) that I uninstalled the mess, went to a TPV and never looked back. To this day I don't care what gee-whiz neato super cool features LL stuffs into their latest viewer I'll never go back. While LL has attempted to make the V3 version more usable, it's still got many of the original V2 UI concepts (and introduced new weirdness like the CHUI) that for me it's just too much of a hassle to deal with.

If the Lab hadn't allowed TPVs and forced me to use their viewers I'd have dumped SL long ago. I wouldn't have been the only one either.

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Teagan Tobias wrote:

Dillon said:

Not too long after that, LL totally revamped their viewer into what they called Viewer 2. The user interface was way different. There was massive frustration from people who had to learn all over again how to do things they'd been doing for years on the original viewer. That drove even more people to Emerald because it still looked like the 'old' viewer, and it became by FAR the viewer of choice.

 

I hate the tired statement that people left V2 because they had to learn to use it. That is just not correct for many people, me for one. It had nothing to do with learning to use it, V2 was just a disaster as far as a viewer goes. Learning to use it was not the problem, the problem was just how bad the viewer was.

V3 is a lot better and I keep it up to date and do use it, and almost only it, with this avatar.

 

Edit:

Forgot to say:

And by the way, I have never used Fierstorm and most likely never will.

 

I see no reason for you to 'hate the tired statement', particularly when you go on to say 'That is just not correct for many people, me for one.'

I'm sure you're right, but It is correct for many people, me for one, and many people I know inworld for others. I get that your reasons for ditching V2 are as you say and as Phil seconds, but mine were as stated. I never have as much time as I want inworld; most of time when I am inworld I'm going someplace to meet friends. Having to keep stopping to find out where this was or that was drove me nuts. I didn't WANT to spend an hour or more (which for me is often a day's worth of inworld time) learning how to do things I could already do.

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I can't disagree with any of what you wrote, Perrie, and especially that part about CHUI, which is simply flawed. So flawed in one respect that I'm now thinking that I might ditch LL's viewer for my main avatar (this one).

An example of the flaw that I'm thinking of, which really gets up my nose, is when I am in more than one IM. I am typing in one IM to someone, then the person in the other IM sends something and that IM immediately takes the focus so that I am suddenly typing in the wrong IM. Since I look at the keyboard when I'm typing, I don't know that it's happened until I've finished and probably sent the text to the wrong person. Sometimes, when several chats are on the go, I can't find space to type to one of them, because the focus keeps changing and I can't get a typed word in edgeways.

It's utterly idiotic but then it's an LL product so such stupidity is not altogether unexpected.

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Phil Deakins wrote:

I can't disagree with any of what you wrote, Perrie, and especially that part about CHUI, which is simply flawed. So flawed in one respect that I'm now thinking that I might ditch LL's viewer for my main avatar (this one).

An example of the flaw that I'm thinking of, which really gets up my nose, is when I am in more than one IM. I am typing in one IM to someone, then the person in the other IM sends something and that IM immediately takes the focus so that I am suddenly typing in the wrong IM. Since I look at the keyboard when I'm typing, I don't know that it's happened until I've finished and probably sent the text to the wrong person. Sometimes, when several chats are on the go, I can't find space to type to one of them, because the focus keeps changing and I can't get a typed word in edgeways.

It's utterly idiotic but then it's an LL product so such stupidity is not altogether unexpected.

I got chastised in the CHUI JIRA's by a Linden for saying it there, but I did say it there. 

"This thing looks like it was designed by people who don't have a Second Life."

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