Thursday, February 10, 2011

Kirstens Viewer (So Far)

As I mentioned a few days ago, I'm using the Kirstens S21 viewer (v2.6; Web) for a week, and though I have found myself slipping back to the Official Viewer now and then, I would have to say that I rather like Kirstens so far. While I get the impression that it takes longer to load new views (such as slow texture loading after a teleport) and that it takes more system resources, the only confirmable gripe I can make is that I crash more often with Kirstens if there is an intensive graphics upload. A good example is that in this very moment I'm writing here. I was camming to take pictures for a new post on the Lucky Kitty blog and the application crashed after making my hard drive run crazy for a few moments.

I had a successful recovery so on with the list of (mostly) positive comments, in no particular order:
  • Each time you start the application, a new and often interesting place is featured in the bilboard. Plus, you can click Change Background to see another one.
  • In the S21 menu is a My Useful Features sub-menu with "Stop Animating Me," "Rebake Textures," and more handy things to know.
  • You can change how close you need to be to see Hover Text, via Preferences > Graphics > Advanced > Misc No more Hover Text pollution!
  • Faster access to Windlight controls in the World > Environment menu.
  • You can use the tabbed sidebar like in the Official Viewer or you can set each function as a button in the bottom task bar. Some task bar buttons are available even if you use the sidebar.
  • The Nearby option in the People window has it's own Mini-Map with a scan range function in the sortable list. You can also track people, see your distance to them, and manage avatar permissions.
  • Web Profiles. Well, I'm not a fan of Web profiles, but it is nice to see them in Kirstens so I can get used to them. Sometimes it takes a couple tries to open anyone's profile.
  • The Inventory has a Worn button, but it duplicates the same option in the My Appearances sidebar. Items are not sorted by folder.
  • Right-click on any object and Delete is immediately available without having to find it in the Remove sub-menu.
  • A Draw Distance slider is accessible in the menu bar, allowing for quick changes that can reduce lag.
  • It takes several steps, but Always Fly is available if you show the Admin Menu, hidden in the Develop Menu, accessible via the Advanced Menu (whew ... lots of steps).
  • One button access to Preferences and Advanced Sky options right in the Navigation Bar.
  • All the Official Viewer features that I like are still here, but various menus and 'bars' can be easily customized in various ways.
There are an amazing number of features in Kirstens that I don't use, such as Shadows (they don't like my graphics card), other extensive lighting controls, and a menu with fast adjustment options for filmmakers, to mention a few. And I have a few minor gripes, such as no matter what I try I can't see a aggregate prim count if I edit a linked or coalesced set of objects and Linden water sometimes flashes like a tawdry neon sign. Every viewer has it's issues, though, and there are many things to like about Kirstens. I can see myself making it my standard viewer, but first I have to nail down why it seems slower than the Official Viewer in side-by-side tests.

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