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Note: This is a ‘unfinished’ article. But it will get you the information I have learned from using this new release. So, far it seems pretty nice.

Install

Version 1.5.2(725) has a slightly different installer than most viewers. It is more like most application installers. The default is to install in the folder Phoenix Viewer. This is the folder previous versions have used. So, it over writes the previous 373 version.

In the release announcement the team warns this viewer is a drastic… significant… change from the previous viewers. They ask everyone link to the announcement so users can be warned to check out the tutorials and manual the team has been building in the wiki. So, for a download visit: http://phoenixviewer.blogspot.com/


Experience

Cache – This version uses a separate cache by default. Also, the Edit -> Preferences -> Network settings page changes and allows one to use a log folder separate from the one the Second Life Viewer uses.

The panel also allows you to set a separate cache folder for sounds.

Socks 5 – The Network panel includes the settings needed to work with company and college firewalls/proxies.

Display Names – Support for Display Names has been added, but the viewer retains the two name logon interface. Also support is incomplete. I consider the Phoenix implementation as more of being compatible than full support. You’ll only see Display Names in SOME parts of the viewer.

Grid Manager – The grid manager is still part of the viewer. Edit -> General -> … However, only Second Life and Second Life Beta grids are included. OpenSim grids have disappeared from the listings. This is in keeping with the Phoenix Team’s stated intent to focus on Second Life compatibility. – This sort of puts the divergence between OpenSim grids and Second Life in your face. The rapid development pace Linden Lab is maintaining is creating some separation and incompatibilities between grids.

The grid manager has its own panel in Preferences. Edit -> Preferences -> Grids.

Chat – This panel is full. Nothing really new. But, settings have been reorganized and some settings one would logically think belong in chat have been included. I think they ran out of room and had to move the setting to notify you of L$ change to the Audio & Video panel.

Color Friends’ Chat – I like this option. In setting it, I learned the color selector is a bit wacky. I normally click a color from one of the color swatches and then adjust its intensity using the vertical slider to the right by clicking in the color area and dragging. That doesn’t work. I have to click to the right and drag the arrow indicator. No biggie.

Skins – There are five skins included. The Default skin is NOT the Phoenix default skin. Firebird is Phoenix’s default. In this case default refers to the older SL 1.23 default colors. Using alternate skins in a new version of a viewer can reveal interface bugs in the alternate skin. Also, all skins may not have all the features a viewer supports. I have not checked all the skins, so these may all be fine. I just suggest sticking with installed default until you are used to the changes in this viewer.

Speed Rez – It is not called that in Phoenix. Edit -> Preferences (or Ctrl-P) -> Phoenix -> Page 1 -> TP/Login. You’ll find it at the bottom of the list labeled Enable Progressive Draw Distance Stepping. There is misinformation around Speed Rezzers. HUD based Speed Rezzers are lag producers and should be avoided. Speed Rezzers built into viewer use a different process and reduce lag… or at least smooth it out. I suggest using it.

Script Count – This is a feature that anticipates the coming script limits, which are still rumored to be coming. I suspect such limits are a ways off as the Lindens are busy with a load of other things. However, the idea of script limits has brought concern about avatars loaded with scripts and the lag they produce into popular awareness. For now this is more of a matter of interest to land owners and estate managers. Phoenix has a feature labeled Display Total Script Count Changes that announces changes over an adjustable limit. Preferences -> Phoenix -> Page 1 -> Chat.

A similar feature of this is also available via a right-click on the avatar, S. Count.

Disable Group Chat – This feature allows one to turn off their group chat. You must disable Group Notices first then this kicks in. It is handy when playing on combat SIM’s to be able to turn off these incoming notices. Preferences -> Phoenix -> Page 1 -> Chat

Auto-Complete Names – When typing in chat this handy little feature allow you to press Tab and have chat complete the name or offer a selection of names. Preferences -> Phoenix -> Page 1 -> Chat

Auto-Correct – This feature is just like the Auto-Correct spell checkers found in most word processors. It will correct or substitute words using your list of corrections. By default it is disabled. Preferences -> Phoenix -> Page 1 -> Chat

RLVa – Restrained Life Viewer features are supported. They are off by default. Preferences -> Phoenix -> Page 1 -> Misc.

Tag Color – This feature allows you to change the color of your viewer’s tag, the one that appears over your avie’s head in-world. It includes an option to color friends’ tags a specific color. Preferences -> Phoenix -> Page 1 -> Tags

Breast Physics – Yep… still included. Preferences -> Phoenix -> Page 2 -> Effects.

Windlight – This is a big new feature… big in that it has lots of potential to change SL. The settings are in Preferences -> Phoenix -> Page 2 -> Windlight

Viewer 2.x Upgrades

Linden Lab has been changing their SLV2 user interface and adding features. These new features have been causing problems for those using TPV’s. Inventory, attachments, and clothing outfits are changing. Those changes are now being fully supported by the Phoenix viewer. The interface in Phoenix is more along the lines of the 1.23 interface, so I find it easier to use. In the SLV2’s I’m forever stumbling around trying to figure out how to do something.

The changeover is likely to mean initial problems for many long time Phoenix users, which is why it is recommended you read the wiki support articles. Once they have made the change over the problems from new features and methods should become a thing of the past.

A likely onetime problem will be initially rezzing wearing an old outfit. This happens if one has been changing clothes using a series 1 viewer. Once you clean up and get your appearance correct, it should not happen again. Unless, you use another series 1 viewer to change clothes.

Outfits & Inventory Links – The Linden idea is that changing clothes… well… more than that… appearance should be easier and less tedious. Also, the complications of no-copy items needed to go away. Outfits and inventory links were the answer. To use outfits and create links read the wiki article: Creating and using Outfit LinksWatch the video they link to. Please vote up or down on the video to give Jessica feedback. While she is not an entertaining Torley, she is to the point, brief, and clear. Good tutorials.

Phoenix has the option in the Appearance Editor to use SLV2 style outfits or the older series 1 style outfits but with or without links for no-copy items. I think this really complicates things for new residents. The Phoenix default to use the SLV2 style inventory and outfits is the best choice.

There is a gotcha with inventory links. They work just like web links and bookmarks/favorites. Once one is created it points to a specific location or web page. Move the page or change its name and the link breaks (link rot). So too, do inventory links.

If you make an outfit and then move an item, say a top, from a folder named Pink to one named Blue then the link over in the outfit folder will break. It will not be able to find the top. I suspect deleting an item a link targets will not delete the link, just as deleting a link does not delete the item.

Also, if you have a top that allows you to change its color, changing the color changes the color for it in all the outfits that include a link to the top. I suspect this will cause some confusion, but people will eventually learn.

Attachments – This also is a significant change. Residents have wanted more attachment points for a long time. The Emerald Viewer’s answer was to add them. Phoenix adopted the feature. However, the Lindens took another approach when they got around to it. Instead of new points, the Lindens allowed stacking. Most TPV’s now support the Linden Attachment Staking. Phoenix is supporting staking and removing support for the Secondary or alternate attachment points inherited from Emerald. Phoenix will provide ‘legacy’ support so that those using older versions of Phoenix and the alternate attachments will render correctly in this version.

If you use the alternate attachment points and upgrade to version 725 then the new viewer will attempt to migrate your attachments to the right place in the Linden style attachments. See: Phoenix Viewer – Issues with Migrated Outfits.

FPS – I am getting 20 to 30 FPS on my Duel Code2 8800 GTS using the plain High setting. I went to a fashion show. With 28 people in the SIM I was still getting 18 FPS. The SIM was holding up well with a Time Dilation of 0.92 and 40 to 42 Physics FPS.  This is the first event I’ve been to where I would expect high lag since the new server rollouts.

Summary

I’ve only got to use the viewer for a little over an hour. I think a dance at a fashion show is a pretty good stress test and it survived. All in all this is a nice viewer for experienced residents familiar with the 1.23 interface.

It seems stable and I did not have any problems even in a high lag area. I’m disappointed it lacks support for OpenSim. I have heard it works well in some OpenSim grids like In-Worldz. And lack of support doesn’t mean it WON’T work on other grids, just that the Phoenix Team is not supporting problems you may have on those grids for now. It makes sense to get the viewer working well with the main grid users visit before moving on to others. Since the next step is to bring out the Firestorm Viewer next, it makes sense to channel limited resources there. As the OpenSim grids move toward more SL 2 compatibility they will become more compatible with the Phoenix & Firestorm viewers.

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