Today sees Niran’s Viewer release 1.39 hit the grid, the latest in NiranV Dean’s weekly roll-outs which started shortly after the latest time I ran a major review of the Viewer (version 1.33). Given the Viewer is now on a weekly release cycle that sees smaller, more incremental changes made to it that may not easily lend themselves to in-depth reviews, I thought I’d provide a summary of the major features that have been rolling-out with the last few releases (1.34 through 1.39).
Version 1.35 introduced a new start-up splash screen, displayed automatically when running the Viewer for the first time. This screen builds on the “classic” and “shooter/RPG” keyboard layout options introduced in Version 1.33.
Keyboard layout options introduced in ver 1.33
With Version 1.35, those using Niran’s Viewer for the first time are offered the choice of keyboard layouts via an initial splash screen. Note that as Shooter / RPG is the default layout, selecting Classic requires the Viewer is restarted before logging-in.
New initial splash screen displayed on starting Niran’s Viewer (Version 1.35+) for the first time
Once selected, the splash screen changes to display the usual login-in screen with background movie. Once logged-in, the keyboard layout can still be changed via Preferences->User Options ->Advanced once the Viewer was started, although a Viewer restart is required to completed the swap.
Version 1.37 further enhanced this capability by adding a LAYOUT SELECTION option to display the log-in splash screen choices, making it easier to switch between layouts prior to logging-in to SL (Viewer restart still required).
Version 1.39 also adds audio to the log-in screen, so that the video, called “Sad World”, displayed on the log-in splash screen now has an audible soundtrack. If you’ve not watched the video with sound before, it’s really worth stopping on your way into Niran’s Viewer and doing so – the soundtrack adds significant depth to the video.
Return of the Sidebar!
When Viewer 2 came out, the Sidebar was – frankly – a royal mess. The intent was good, but given it came from a company that self-proclaims itself to be “interface design specialists” (80/20.com), the actual implementation was potentially the biggest pile of fetid dingo’s kidneys ever to obliterate people’s in-world experience of Second Life.
However, over time (and largely thanks to TPVs showing the way), the Sidebar evolved and actually became something pretty usable – and it is fair to say that since it’s demise, it has been sorely missed by a lot of people. I freely admit that there are elements of it I miss…
Now, Version 1.39 of Niran’s Viewer sees the Sidebar make something of a return, in the form of the Machinima Options.
Activated using the F1 key, the new Sidebar takes the form of a full-height panel that gracefully slides out from the right side of the screen. With this release, it gently moves chiclets and buttons to the left as well, but Niran plans to make the panel an overlay with the next release, so it will slide OVER chiclets and button, rather than moving them.
The panel is admittedly a bit of a monster, but for those into photography and machinima, provides a fast way of accessing and adjusting options on-the-fly. Looking at it, I’d personally like to see the capability extended to include other options – perhaps via tabbed access built-in to the panel at the top, or down the side, a-la Viewer 2 (but with the tabs themselves completely hidden as a part of the panel, rather than sitting on the right of the of your in-world view, a-la Viewer 2).
NiranV has provided a video demonstrating how the panel will look when it is working as an overlay:
Version 1.36 introduced “Achievements” to the Viewer. This is a light-hearted means of emulating RPG-type “achievements” gained through the use of the Viewer. As you perform certain tasks, etc., so they are highlighted in a list you can view via NV->View->Earned Achievements, and colour awards are given.
The system isn’t intended to offer anything substantial – just some light-hearted fun.
Other Nips and Tucks
- Version 1.34: corrected a double-click to teleport on the minimap so that double-click does teleport you to the point on the map you click, rather than opening the world map
- Version 1.35: introduced split-line titles on notifiers, etc., to enable easier reading (continued in some of the later releases as well)
- Version 1.36:
- Tweaked the UI so that when the Navigation Bar, etc., at the top of the screen is set to auto-hide, any UI buttons located at the top of the screen will automatically re-align against the upper limit of the window, and then drop back down below the Navigation Bar when that latter is displayed
- Introduced a dynamically re-sizing Group Notice panel within the Group floater, making the composition of longer Notices easier
- Re-added the Restore to Last Position option to the menu when right-clicking on items in inventory.
- Version 1.37: stabilised mesh rendering
- Version 1.38:
- Added spinners to Windlight floater settings
- Re-working of the Picks and Classified floaters
- Version 1.39: revised teleport progress to render the UI while teleporting – further updates coming on this.
In addition, each release has seen a range of additional small updates and bug fixes, and I recommend those that haven’t kept pace with updates take a look at Niran’s blog and the change logs provided there.
I did not update to versions 1.34 through 1.36. However, versions 1.37 through 1.39 continue to run well on my older-spec PC (see the home page on this blog for details & for my usual test parameters). Frame rates easily matched version 1.33, so it is now only my personal preferences vis-a-vis UI and layout that keep me from using Niran’s Viewer full-time.
The fact that the Viewer is now on a weekly release cycle means the changes being made are now more incremental than radical, but this is no bad thing, NiranV is clearly enhancing and refining what works and focusing on those areas his users are giving solid feedback on. This doesn’t mean that new features aren’t being developed – the Sidebar approach shows that – but it does mean that the Viewer’s development path is liable to be more of a gentle curve, again as one would expect from any maturing product.
Of all the recent updates, 1.35-1.39 inclusive, it is the Sidebar that fascinates me the most. This offers significant opportunities in providing access to a lot of Viewer functionality and of addressing the wants and needs of those who lament the passing of the later iterations of the Sidebar (oddly enough, and while I hated the Sidebar initially, I’m one of the latter, having come to find it exceptionally handy as implemented in TPVs such at Kirsten’s and Firestorm). My only complaint with recent releases is that the version numbering is somewhat out-of-sequence between the blog and the Viewer itself; for example: the latest release outlined here is referred to as release “1.39 (1277)” in the blog, however, HELP in the Viewer refers to it as release 3.3.5 (1277). The last two or three releases have been the same. While this is a minor niggle, it would be nice to see consistency in version numbering.