What’s New with Viewers?

I’m continuing to seek out quiet places lately. So today I’m writing from a secluded beach while trying to keep sand out of the keyboard.

I’ll step away from inworld things for this post and have a look at what’s been going on with some of the more popular Second Life viewers.

The viewer is the magic bridge between real life and Second Life. For the serious SL user, it’s necessarily using the viewer is necessarily a very personal experience. Strong opinions abound. Even with this high-level, mechanical review I’m sure to offend somebody. Sorry.

The Linden Labs Viewer

The standard, Linden Lab developed viewer has not changed greatly in the past six months. When I started writing this post, the latest version was, released Jan 12th, and the only new thing was a hotfix for voice problems on MacOS (Monterey). Since then, the maintenance release has come out.

This contains a lot more. You won’t notice many changes launching the viewer. There are no big feature additions, and the look remains has it has for some time. But there are quite a few changes under the covers.

The viewer will now check for some forms of inventory corruption and advise users to contact support if it detects any problems.

A number of crash fixes are rolled in as part of some 90 bug and issue fixes. One presumes that this all means an even more stable viewer.


The current version of Firestorm is still and has been for a while now. (I wrote far too much about that in an earlier post.)  However! The splash screen has changed recently. Gone are the unobtrusive accordion sections – so unobtrusive that they commanded no attention and were hardly ever looked at – and a new, much more visually engaging presentation of hot spots and destinations has taken their place.

I’ve seen some commentary both for and against the new splash screen. There has probably been a bit more favourable response than grumbling. For me, I like the new version. I hardly ever noticed anything on the old one and the new presentation draws my eye and gets me to look at what might be going on outside my usual haunts in SL.


Catznip came out with a brand-new version, R13, on January 2nd. I have not used Catznip in a very long time. I spend about 99% of my SL time in Firestorm. Catznip is a perfectly good alternative though. For those who shop and, consequently, fiddle with their inventory a lot, it has some excellent unique features that can help out a lot. Have a look at Buttacwup Pwincess’s video for details.

I didn’t even have a copy installed, so the first job was to download the latest and put it on my SL box. The main download page is https://get.catznip.com/downloads. Installation is much like you’d expect. Query, do any open-source projects sign their installers anymore? Unsigned installation packages give me the heebie-jeebies.

The detailed release notes can be found here [https://get.catznip.com/release-notes/r13] but here’re the highlights (as far as I see them).

The splash screen, I like it. It cycles through hero images for destinations in the selected category. You can pick from the usual destination pop-out faves like editor’s picks, music, roleplaying, shopping, international, and adult. Hovering over the current image will give you the short description and a button to shift your start location to that spot. People icons to the right of the location title appear to indicate how popular the location is at the moment.

Below the destinations panel is tabbed set of news sources including what’s new from Catznip, the SL grid status feed, Inara Pey’s blog, Reddit, and Seraphim. The grid status feed can often be helpful (particularly if your immediate attempt to log in is thwarted).

Camera Presets

Now on to some new features. The Catznip team has done a lot of tweaking of the camera floater from the standard viewer. For starters, it’s more compact and you can manage the degree of transparency. A smaller, more transparent camera floater I might leave up a lot more. Currently, it’s rarely seen when I use my viewer.

They’ve added another slider for field of view and hitting the escape key snaps settings you’ve fiddled with back to their defaults. (I can’t be the only one who makes a tangled mess of settings and needs a quick fix!)

You can save custom settings as additional presets. Very handy for SL photographers I should think.

EEP / Windlight Improvements

There are several changes around managing environment settings. Most noticeable is the redesigned environment tab in quick preferences. I’ll have to play with that next time I’m in a picture taking mood.

A couple more minor improvements include highlighting any settings in your inventory that are currently applied and being able to directly edit settings from the library without having to make a copy first. (One presumes a copy is made for you automatically.)

Medium Improvements

A few other new features that are worth noting:

  • Control beacon heights (to more easily distinguish location)
  • Group notices show characters remaining while editing (kinda like editing a tweet)
  • Some UI tweaks to places search
  • Resolution scale control (dumb down the rendering to hopefully recover some fps)

Minor Improvements

  • A collection of minor UI and feature tweaks
  • Some 26 bug/crash fixes

The takeaway is that all of these viewers are in great shape. Firestorm, by far, remains my fave but I won’t be surprised to find myself hopping over to Catznip from time to time to take advantage of some of its inventory features.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s