Old Linden Viewer, or Sexy Independent Viewer?

Writing from Destin, Fla.:  off-Grid until 7/26.

Many users apparently have a bugaboo with the stock viewer we download from Linden Lab for use in Second Life.  I myself am a tolerant sort, and have not had any problem locating any of my main controls since I first started up last October — yes, I’m a nerd; I’ll admit it — but there are still some idiosyncrasies that I wouldn’t mind seeing adjusted, mostly in the Inventory area.  (Any tools allowing us to wrassle that particular bugbear into submission would be welcome!)  In M Linden’s letter to Residents on the Big Blog, he notes that the recent and current Release Candidates have over 50 crash fixes, and that Linden Lab is planning to redesign the viewer interface completely, to make it easier for newcomers to navigate.  (I’m always shy about this, or just plain fearful; “increasing simplicity” usually means we’re headed for the era of what the New Hacker’s Dictionary calls “drool-proof paper.”)

However, alternatives are coming at you.  Since the viewer is open source, anyone can tinker with it in an effort to improve it; and many have already.  In fact, Dusan Writer has been running a contest, with prizes totaling L$800,000, for Resident-created redesigns of the viewer.  And some have taken him up on it.  The field has been narrowed to five finalists, whose results you can examine both on their own sites and Dusan’s.  The final five will go up against the judges on July 22 at 2:00 pm SLT, in the Remedy region (logically, I assume).  If I was able to get onto the Grid right now, it’d be an interesting event to watch as each presenter makes their case.  In the presentations I’ve seen, each has had some interesting ideas, such as grouping logically related functions closer together, improved inventory sorting and filtering, and various levels of depth for newbies to experienced users.  Some of the pictures I’ve seen so far are rough, and could use smoothing of graphical concept, but there’s enough to get the main idea of what the designer is intending.

Will any of these prove to be popular?  That’s up to the individual Resident — whether they are content with Linden’s work, willing to wait for the Lab to continue the native viewer’s evolution, or wish to venture into uncharted territory.  I suspect there will be a mix of each; despite all the yowls from various quarters for changes, some Residents are content with how the viewer is progressing.  Some, frankly, may not want to invest more time in a new learning curve.  That could be to their benefit, or their harm, either way.  Only time and experience will tell.

Thanks to Hamlet Au.

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