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Firestorm vs the LL Viewer

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1 hour ago, Alyona Su said:

Wow. 0.o

I'm not a technical person, but I must say that seeing the graphical representation of a description really drives home the weight of seriousness of said description. Thank you for sharing that!

Not sure if sarcasm or what, but you're welcome? 

The only other viewer I've tried aside from Firestorm is the default which works well, but has a terrible UI (at least to me) and if I could make it look like Firestorm's i'd stick with the default in a  heartbeat. But alas. As for which is better, Firestorm has better UI and settings to play with. Default is good for basics and if you want something that is reliable across all platforms. 

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20 hours ago, Alyona Su said:

They use it because people camp at the new user landing zone and tell new users they should use it.

I don't know about people at the new user landing zones plugging Firestorm to new users, but it's always been the case that Emerald, and then Firestorm, owed its popularity to word of mouth suggestions rather than what it can do. I.e. people use those viewers because other people use them, and they use them because others use them, and so on. It's like a craze, or fashion, that's been going on a long time.

Edited by Phil Deakins
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3 hours ago, Phil Deakins said:

I don't know about people at the new user landing zones plugging Firestorm to new users, but it's always been the case that Emerald, and then Firestorm, owed its popularity to word of mouth suggestions rather than what it can do. I.e. people use those viewers because other people use them, and they use them because others use them, and so on. It's like a craze, or fashion, that's been going on a long time.

That's a good point. Though I do see genuine newbies once in a while they aren't as common as before - lots of new alts, though LOL

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23 hours ago, ChibiDragon007 said:

Not sure if sarcasm or what, but you're welcome? 

The only other viewer I've tried aside from Firestorm is the default which works well, but has a terrible UI (at least to me) and if I could make it look like Firestorm's i'd stick with the default in a  heartbeat. But alas. As for which is better, Firestorm has better UI and settings to play with. Default is good for basics and if you want something that is reliable across all platforms. 

4

Graphs are always useful to convey a message, but what it really shows is that the viewer used 6GB RAM and released it when terminated. It doesn't tell you whether that footprint is too big or not. It may be bigger than we'd like, that doesn't actually change the facts though. We should instead be looking at the options, and weighing them up. How much of the 6GB is because of the UI that you crave? How much is the increased buffering of the larger caches that people want? What is more important to your specific use case, the additional features that you can only get in Viewer A, or the slimmer profile of Viewer B. The only way to really work out what you need is to go test drive the others. 

As it happens, the Lab doesn't support as many platforms as Firestorm (and other TPVs), having dropped Linux a number of years back. We are trying to help them restore their Linux support, because, in the end, we need the lab to understand and support all the platforms our users want so that when they make their design decisions they don't make ones that prevent the TPVs from continuing to support parts of the community.

The problem that we have time and again is very much a "have cake and eat it" problem. One person's bloat is another person's killer feature. One of the reasons FS is so popular is because we try hard to keep everyone happy and have a broad spectrum of features (you can't ever win them all of course, and if you wish to argue that we are too accommodating at times you'd also find no argument from me.) This means that not only are we supporting older hardware than the lab, maintaining familiar but outdated features because some/many people want them but we have to give everyone the means to pick and choose the features that they want that day. 

This is true not just in functionality but in how we manage the lifecycle. We try to maintain a regular but still controlled update cycle of approximately 3 to 4 releases per year, bringing in the newest features from the lab and integrating them with the old whenever possible. This is in stark contrast to the frequent fast-track updates from the Lab that are automatically updated, instead we follow a structured release cycle, pushing early access releases to our beta testing team to try to catch bugs and ensure the smoothest journey for the majority of users, which naturally is just "the firestorm team being slow". When our QA and beta-testers agree that things look OK, we make our (roughly) 4-monthly release, only to be berated for the proliferation of updates from those who are quite happy with their old prim avatars and wish things would just stay in 2005 just like their PC, and those users who despite our efforts had use cases that were not covered by our beta test team and find that their space bar heaters no longer work. While we keep pace with the Lab, we try our best (and this is increasingly difficult) to balance the functional differences between OpenSim and Second Life catering for both, as much as possible, even when the two have competing features and ever more divergent code bases. We are too often expected to be all things to all people and frankly, that is never going to be true. 

Every Second Life user is unique and likes their particular set of features and we try hard to keep as many of you happy and comfortable whilst keeping up with the progressive directions of the lab. We all hate to lose something we know and love, while at the same time look to improve and grow with the times. If Firestorm is larger than <insert name here> it is probably because that alternative viewer has made other choices and has discarded or not adopted certain feature sets. We are very lucky that the lab released the viewer as open source, it gives us the choices we have. 

With LL you get the latest SL can offer, with a commercial imperative to look after the majority of users, these days they are the drivers of innovation in Second Life overall, having the unique position of control over both server and viewer functions.
With TPVs you can choose from many individual variations,  from the fresh and fancy usability of Catznip, to the deeply beautiful graphics of Black Dragon, or the lean mean performance and precision of Alchemy. Perhaps you want the retro style of Singularity with its super-low update cadence, or the "hackable" scriptable openness of Radegast (to name but a few).

With Firestorm, we sit in the middle ground quite squarely, not the fastest, slimmest, nor the best looking (probably) but you get to have all the cake that you desire and eat it all up, then complain about the stomach ache or weight problem it leaves you with to our ever patient personal trainers/life coaches/support team. And of course, you can always blame the chefs for putting in too much chocolate and fruit and forcing you to eat it.

At the end of the day, you have choice. Viewers are like cars,.If one model is not performant enough then perhaps you need the sportier model from the showroom next door, but perhaps you don't like the colour options or the service. I really want an electric car that seats 5, has a 400-mile range, recharges to 100% in 5 minutes, looks like a Ferrari and costs less than a mini, sadly there's no such car on the market so I try out the ranges and settle for the one that fits best.

YMMV

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10 hours ago, Beq Janus said:

Every Second Life user is unique and likes their particular set of features and we try hard to keep as many of you happy and comfortable whilst keeping up with the progressive directions of the lab. We all hate to lose something we know and love, while at the same time look to improve and grow with the times. If Firestorm is larger than <insert name here> it is probably because that alternative viewer has made other choices and has discarded or not adopted certain feature sets. We are very lucky that the lab released the viewer as open source, it gives us the choices we have

With LL you get the latest SL can offer, with a commercial imperative to look after the majority of users, these days they are the drivers of innovation in Second Life overall, having the unique position of control over both server and viewer functions.

I liked most of your post, Beq, but a couple of small parts stood out.

You are not only very lucky that the Lab released the viewer as open source, but you (Emerald/Phoenix/Firestorm) owe your very existance to it. You didn't create a viewer. All you ever did was make small changes to the Lab's viewer code, not yours. The Lab releasing the code not only gives you the choices that you have, but it gives you everything you have. Without it you have nothing.

You write a though you are on a similar level with the LAB as far as viewers are concerned. You are not. You take what the Lab creates, modify it, and release it with the modifications. You are not up there with the Lab at all.

Edited by Phil Deakins
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On 10/6/2018 at 5:43 AM, Alyona Su said:

In your case, if you're dead-set on Firestorm (nothing wrong with that, of course) then you need to find your own cause and solution. Even if it means a new laptop because FS has out-developed past your current configuration capabilities (just a random hypothetical there). It is unlikely anyone will be able to help you. Though if LL chooses to support macOS Metal (and FS adopts it) then you'll get a major frame rate boost (and I will be jealous as a Windows user at the power boost of that for graphics).

There is an official in-world Firestorm support group that provides free support to anyone who needs it, is excellent and very responsive.  I have personally seen them tackle complicated configuration issues and managed to find the likely root cause in many cases.

Edited by Gabriele Graves
added word "official"

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I use firestorm almost exclusively now and find the official viewer painful to use on the odd occasion I need to check something.
The main draws for me are the additional features and the ability to configure it to the way I want.
I am also a Linux user and LL dropping Linux support was a big issue for me.  Kudos and my thanks to FS devs for keeping that alive.

Edited by Gabriele Graves
Added additional info
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Well I am using and observing viewers over many years and I don't see anything unexpected in FS memory consumption. You have 2 GB texture memory instead of 0.5 and go to a busy place. What you expect then? Even in old times the 32-bit LL viewer cranked up to about 3.5 GB before it crashed and now the situation is far worse :) All the extras in FS use memory too. In the past there were versions with memory holes but atm FS and LL viewer never crash, so all good from my point of view. If you dont have the memory you need to lower features or change viewer.

For performance I barely see differences. The LL viewer seems to be slightly faster but that depends on situation too.

If you like LL give Kokua a try. It's very close to the LL viewer with a few extras and optional RLV and is kept up to date.

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On 10/7/2018 at 11:28 AM, Phil Deakins said:

I liked most of your post, Beq, but a couple of small parts stood out.

You are not only very lucky that the Lab released the viewer as open source, but you (Emerald/Phoenix/Firestorm) owe your very existance to it. You didn't create a viewer. All you ever did was make small changes to the Lab's viewer code, not yours. The Lab releasing the code not only gives you the choices that you have, but it gives you everything you have. Without it you have nothing.

So are all other TPVs apart from Lumiya and Radegast - what's your point? And "small changes" made me laugh. Maybe check how much these "small changes" really are and how much time it needs to create them.

On 10/7/2018 at 11:28 AM, Phil Deakins said:

You write a though you are on a similar level with the LAB as far as viewers are concerned. You are not. You take what the Lab creates, modify it, and release it with the modifications. You are not up there with the Lab at all.

I'm pretty sure Beq was referring to feature parity. But don't let me stop your agenda...

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On 10/7/2018 at 3:28 AM, Phil Deakins said:

You write a though you are on a similar level with the LAB as far as viewers are concerned. You are not. You take what the Lab creates, modify it, and release it with the modifications. You are not up there with the Lab at all.

Wow, talk about a rude slam.  Are you familiar with the viewer code base?  Have you attempted to modify it?

I've never looked at the viewer code, but I know from years of coding, including modifying code that someone else wrote, trying to add features without breaking existing stuff is incredibly difficult, often more so that the original creation itself.  It does require an extreme level of understanding of the base work.

Edited by LittleMe Jewell
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7 hours ago, LittleMe Jewell said:

Wow, talk about a rude slam.  Are you familiar with the viewer code base?  Have you attempted to modify it?

Nope. And there was nothing rude about it. If something is true, it isn't rude to say it. I don't need to be familiar with the viewer code, or to have attempted to modify it, or even to be a programmer, to know that the Firestorm code is LL code with some modifications, and that the Emerald/Phoenix/Firestorm people didn't create it, which is what I said.

7 hours ago, LittleMe Jewell said:

I've never looked at the viewer code, but I know from years of coding, including modifying code that someone else wrote, trying to add features without breaking existing stuff is incredibly difficult, often more so that the original creation itself.  It does require an extreme level of understanding of the base work. 

It's nowhere near as difficult as you make it sound. The LL top level code (pre-compiling) was written specifically so that other people could modify it, including their own people. You don't need to understand everything about it at all. To make a modification, you only need to understand the bit you want to modify, and that's not difficult.

I know that from almost non-stop programming since the mid 80s, including writing some major programmes single-handedly.

Edited by Phil Deakins
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On 10/5/2018 at 2:23 PM, ChibiDragon007 said:

My MacBook is a late 2016 model with Touch  Bar. 

As you can see from the screenshots with Firestorm running it uses up almost all of the 8gb of memory on my system. Then there's the second image which shows how steep the drop in memory usage was after I shut Firestorm off. I'm pretty sure it's an issue related to Firestorm somewhere  because even other games I can run on my MacBook should not be using that much memory at ALL. 

Screen Shot 2018-10-05 at 2.10.22 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-10-05 at 2.19.10 PM.png

FS used 3.08 of your 8 Gb of memory, thats less than half, not almost all. Maths, fairly easy when you learn the basics. 

5 hours ago, Phil Deakins said:

Nope. And there was nothing rude about it. If something is true, it isn't rude to say it. I don't need to be familiar with the viewer code, or to have attempted to modify it, or even to be a programmer, to know that the Firestorm code is LL code with some modifications, and that the Emerald/Phoenix/Firestorm people didn't create it, which is what I said.

Very much rude. Perhaps you have forgotten the massive amount of Thrd party additions to SL that would not have come about unless TPVs didn't create them FOR SL. Nearly every feature we use was created by TPV devs. They submitted them to LL and either they were approved or not. LL rarely made any features back in the day and the ones they did make sucked and no one asked for. TPVs made useful features we wanted. But hey, keep shining that pedestal you put LL on. 

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4 hours ago, Phil Deakins said:

It's nowhere near as difficult as you make it sound. The LL top level code (pre-compiling) was written specifically so that other people could modify it, including their own people. You don't need to understand everything about it at all. To make a modification, you only need to understand the bit you want to modify, and that's not difficult.

Having managed groups responsible for maintaining large systems, I have to say: that's how we all wish it worked, but that's not how it works. In reality, a system accrues dependencies. I don't know the viewer source code, but just skimming the TPV office hour transcripts it's clear that the SL viewers are prime examples of how a system of programs can become intricately and unintentionally interdependent, despite everybody's attempts to maintain modularity and despite the help of language features and version management tools that enforce some discipline.

Eventually everything gets tangled with everything else. Then somebody decides to "refactor" the source, uncovering the more obvious dependencies, leaving a few for QA to discover, and accidentally hiding a bunch of new ones in the refactored code. This isn't bad software engineering, it's just the nature of the beast.

It's amazing software works at all.

All that said, though, the larger point is surely valid that third-party viewers are built on vast swaths of inherited code, mostly untouched from the Linden viewers. That's good, though, to streamline adoption of new LL-introduced features such as EEP and Animesh, and third-party contributions to the Lab code base.

And yet I've often lamented the lack of diversity. Lumiya, the Android viewer, is an example of an ambitious re-thinking of the whole viewer UI; I wish there were other examples.

Why, for example, is there no third-party desktop viewer with separate OS-level UI windows that we could move across displays or spread out over a 4K monitor while keeping the in-world scene uncluttered? Why not? Well, maybe because those sub-window widgets depend on each other in unwholesome ways, and maybe because new LL features come with UI components built on those OpenGL sub-windows that would take extra weeks of effort to port to first-class windows managed by the OS.

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On 07 October 2018 at 10:28 AM, Phil Deakins said:

You are not up there with the Lab at all.

That would be "DOWN there with the Lab"...

There's a reason why most people who move away from the Official SL inferiority Viewer to try a TPV, never go back.

Part of that reason is the insistence on "bug of the week" builds release strategy.

Monday you get THIS weeks bug-of-the-week build, Wednesday you get the Emergency Hot Fix update to LAST weeks bug-of-the-week build, Friday you get the ACTUAL WORKING fix to LAST MONTHS bug-of-the-week build...

And then one of the dozens of "project viewers" kicks in and it's poorly conceived addition gets inserted with a digital crowbar...

Go check the latest Animesh thread, where TPV devs TOLD the Lab that they fubared the FPS, and see who's UP there, and who is DOWN there.
 

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6 minutes ago, Drake1 Nightfire said:

Very much rude. Perhaps you have forgotten the massive amount of Thrd party additions to SL that would not have come about unless TPVs didn't create them FOR SL. Nearly every feature we use was created by TPV devs. They submitted them to LL and either they were approved or not. LL rarely made any features back in the day and the ones they did make sucked and no one asked for. TPVs made useful features we wanted. But hey, keep shining that pedestal you put LL on. 

I didn't say that TPV developers haven't been the writers of features that are now in the LL viewer. I said that TVP developers didn't write their TPVs, and they didn't. And the idea that "nearly every feature we use was created by TPV devs" is just nonsense, of course.

Lol. Me put LL on a pedestal? You have no idea, Drake. Many is the time that I've written that I think so low of LL that I wouldn't lift a finger to help the company. I've said that for years here in the forums, and I still mean it.

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11 minutes ago, Qie Niangao said:

Having managed groups responsible for maintaining large systems, I have to say: that's how we all wish it worked, but that's not how it works. In reality, a system accrues dependencies. I don't know the viewer source code, but just skimming the TPV office hour transcripts it's clear that the SL viewers are prime examples of how a system of programs can become intricately and unintentionally interdependent, despite everybody's attempts to maintain modularity and despite the help of language features and version management tools that enforce some discipline.

Eventually everything gets tangled with everything else. Then somebody decides to "refactor" the source, uncovering the more obvious dependencies, leaving a few for QA to discover, and accidentally hiding a bunch of new ones in the refactored code. This isn't bad software engineering, it's just the nature of the beast.

Yes, things can become less and less independant as programmes get bigger and bigger, but whether or it's a problem depends on what modifications you want to make. Many of the modifications that TPVs have made have been simple rearrangements of things, such as bringing some normally buried variable or other onto the screen. FPS is an example. Some others no doubt need more involvement in the code - that's the LL viewer code.

However much involvement in the code is needed, it's LL viewer code that is being modified, and that's the point I made. It's not third party viewer code, because third parties didn't create any viewers. They merely modified LL's viewer, and I wasn't overkeen on seeing their involvement written as though they created the viewer.

Having said that, I have no doubt that there are programmers amongst them who could create a viewer from scratch if necessary, just as the OpenSim people wrote the server end from scratch.

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6 hours ago, Phil Deakins said:

I didn't say that TPV developers haven't been the writers of features that are now in the LL viewer. I said that TVP developers didn't write their TPVs, and they didn't.

I'm terrible sorry most of us also have RL jobs and don't have time to build a viewer from scratch. But I hereby swear and promise I will stop sleeping at night and use the gained time to build a new viewer from scratch. Would that please you, oh Great Phil? Would that make us worthy in your eyes, Keeper of the true Faith of Viewer Development?

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You have no need to write one from scratch, and you certainly have no need to satisfy me. I'm not dissatisfied at all ;)

As far as I know, people do a very good job of modifying LL's viewer. Why reinvent the wheel now?

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6 hours ago, Phil Deakins said:

I said that TVP developers didn't write their TPVs, and they didn't.

This makes no sense. 

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TPVs were developed from LL's viewer by modifying it. They weren't written by the TPV developers.

Edited by Phil Deakins

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Just now, Phil Deakins said:

You have no need to write one from scratch, and you certainly have no need to satisfy me. I'm not dissatisfied at all ;)

As far as I know, people do a very good job of modifying LL's viewer. Why reinvent the wheel now?

Somewhere I heard somebody complaining about those lousy TPV developers just cheaply modifying the LL in a wink adding supposedly unneeded features without making their own viewer.

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In an effort to nudge this back on track, I use Firestorm from predominantly 3 features...

 

Better mouse steering (I can control my Avatar on Firestorm exactly the same as I do on... every other game for 25 years!!).

 

Area Search.

 

'search+term' wildcard inventory searching.

 

If LL added these 3 features I'd swap back in no time (2... can lose Area search even, I can LSL that), as while FS gives me by and large better performance, I can set my VRAM and have more control over options, the LL viewer has always made things look prettier to me, maybe it's a placebo... not sure, but there's no real deciding factors that stop me from using it...

 

other than personal usability.

 

I love FS, and the team making it for making it FOR us, but I'd also love to be using the LL viewer instead so I can be 100% certain without auditing someone's code that the mesh uploader is "working as intended" for example.

 

But... each to their own, a few of my friends only use the LL viewer, some use others, some are just clinging to old UI's and refusing to relearn, and of course we're very lucky to even have the option.

Edited by Ipecac Burnham
spelling :P
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8 hours ago, Drake1 Nightfire said:

FS used 3.08 of your 8 Gb of memory, thats less than half, not almost all. Maths, fairly easy when you learn the basics. 

Very much rude. Perhaps you have forgotten the massive amount of Thrd party additions to SL that would not have come about unless TPVs didn't create them FOR SL. Nearly every feature we use was created by TPV devs. They submitted them to LL and either they were approved or not. LL rarely made any features back in the day and the ones they did make sucked and no one asked for. TPVs made useful features we wanted. But hey, keep shining that pedestal you put LL on. 

By the time I had shut it down in the second image. FS was actually using 6gb of my memory, and over 50% of my CPU. That is absolutely ridiculous that any program should be using that much of a computer's resources no matter what it is. When I switched to the LL Viewer, it used maybe 1-2gb at most. Believe me, I like to think I know my math. But even so the pictures give a good idea of how fast FS eats your memory. Within an hour or so it was at the 6gb mark and I was at sims that were barely even populated or even that elaborate. My settings were on the default Mid-tier settings (aka what the viewer auto-detects as best settings) and even with the settings pulled as low as possible it was still chewing through my memory like crazy. 

Either FS needs a major update or it's my system. Likely it's a mixture of the two. I'm taking my laptop in for service on Friday, so we'll see if that was the cause or not. 

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2 hours ago, ChibiDragon007 said:

Either FS needs a major update or it's my system. Likely it's a mixture of the two. I'm taking my laptop in for service on Friday, so we'll see if that was the cause or not. 

It's more likely the word i highlighted that is the cause.. SL is a system hog. Even a gaming laptop has issues with it, you just cant pack the power of a PC into a laptop.

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