Nov 13, 2010

An Open Letter to Viewer 2 Haters

What follows is my open letter to the people who have spent the past 8 months bashing viewer 2 and impeding its growth, as well as consequently stifling the entire market and innovation through their boycott. If you’re easily offended, I’d suggest you read another blog entry than this one.

For instance, how about the actual post that wasn't intentionally written to piss you off? Yes, this post was written on purpose to infuriate everyone, and to this day I still get comments that make me laugh simply because people entirely missed the point. This is the "shock value" companion to the follow-up that was meant to get people talking and illustrate a point that is now mute in 2011 - in that all of the hatred and bickering back and forth served no purpose than to drag out a process that we could have spent better time and resources making better united. This article was written from the point of view of somebody that was simply missing this point, and many other points, to illogically debase Viewer 1.23 at all costs. While the same attitude persisted from 1.23 viewers toward 2.0, I chose the viewpoint of 2.0 instead because it would cause more contention.

In the end, I proved my point - because whether we liked it or not at the time, I said that Viewer 2 would become our staple viewer going forward and 1.x series was on the end of it's life. Of course, we could have sped this up by about a year in advance had we all stopped to unite over it. Progress is scary, and rapid change in technology is outright terrifying for those of us who have become accustomed to our entrenched methods. 

If we wish to survive the future and accelerating returns, we need to lighten up and move forward. It's only going to happen in faster bursts going forward.

For the full intentions of this letter, please see the second part here -

Dear Viewer 2 Haters,

The past eight months has been a rocky road of progress. In April when I decided to bite the bullet and give Viewer 2 an honest shot, shortly after it was made public, you were there with your prim torches and sculpty pitchforks. Sure Viewer 2 introduced Shared Media, but that didn’t matter to you.

You stood by smugly, assured in your dominance and rightful place in the virtual world when you continued using Emerald, even as it was apparent that it was going down in flames. You stuck to your guns and continued fabricating countless reasons why you would never be caught dead using Viewer 2.

There was the introduction of alpha layers, which make unsightly invisi-prims a thing of the past, but still you showed strength in unity when turning your nose up at the fledgling viewer, still not even a year old.

You called yourself true designers, builders and people who cared about the economy in Second Life, all while contributing to TPVs holding out in introducing the new features. If it had anything to do with Viewer 2, then you wanted no part of it.

And the third party viewers listened to your pleas! Surely you are proud of your voices being heard in stopping TPVs from even considering the notion of switching to Viewer 2 code and taking the time to make it better on their terms and yours. Why should they? They had a codebase that was solid and had the benefit of many years of development and maturation, compared to this snot-nosed upstart called Viewer 2.

How dare this new viewer even exist?! Why should anyone bother giving it the time of day, or even the scrutiny of the TPVs to tear apart and make better?

Sure, my experience with using Viewer 2 has not been a bed of roses, and there have been hardships along the way. But this is where I differ from you.

While you call yourself the true spirit of Second Life, I must question you on this as well as your integrity.

Surely you were there in the beginning when the 1.x codebase wouldn’t even let you teleport without taking off all of your clothes? Surely the pain and hardships of that first year of development did not scare you away. Where would we as a virtual nation be today had you taken the same stance against the fledgling 1.x series as you do with 2.0 series?

If you had simply snubbed your nose and sat elsewhere in your smug superiority, you would not have a 1.x series to even base those now solid 1.x third party viewers on. But you persevered and continued to add feedback, and in a number of cases took it to heart to do better with third party viewers.

Where did that spirit go? Are you the same pioneer that you were from day one?

Clearly you are not the representation of Second Life in its glory days. You have become complacent and lost your spirit of innovation. You’ve forgotten what it’s like to roll up your sleeves and push the limits, to get your hands dirty.

And for that, I sincerely thank each and every one of you.

For the past eight months, I’ve worked hands on with Shared Media at Pixel Labs along with Jon Dragoone. Each day listening to countless people like yourself tell the world how much Viewer 2 is hated and how you’ll never use it.

Thanks to you, we’ve had eight months to explore and create using these new features. We’ve had eight months to get to know the Viewer 2 Interface, and while it’s not everything we wish it was, we still have the greatest gift you could have ever given people like us this holiday season.

Thanks to you, we’ve had an eight month head start with these new features, and have had ample time to get to know the intricacies of the main viewer. At first it was a pain in the butt, I’ll admit, but over time I’ve learned to come to terms with it.

You haven’t even taken the time to do that much.

Sure you’re just busy… you’re a prominent in-world merchant and can’t find the time to relearn something wholly new. I totally understand. The only issue with this thinking is – it’s the main viewer, and whatever influx of new users that may be coming into the virtual environment will likely be using Viewer 2, now that the 1.x codebase is on a fast track to being retired.

Where are your products utilizing the Viewer 2 features? Are you still recycling scripts from old televisions because you don’t take advantage of Shared Media? Are you creating shoes and other parts covered in invisible prims to hide the feet because you don’t see the merit of alpha layers?

Somehow you call yourself professional designers, and yet you stood by for nearly a year and refused to make an effort to bring the absolute latest and best features into your own product lines. Heck, you didn’t even bother to think about how you can benefit from those features in the future, and begin to make plans and tests when you had the chance.

But that is changing soon, isn’t it?

It was the introduction of Mesh that was the straw which broke your back.

It’s becoming painfully obvious now that you will use Viewer 2 in some form or fashion going forward, and even you cannot deny this. Phoenix is updating to Firestorm, and while the 1.x code of Phoenix will stick around, its days are numbered. I give great kudos to Kirstens for biting this bullet early and making great strides with Viewer 2 codebase as a third party viewer.

But while the TPVs are making plans to convert to 2.0 codebase, even if some are still standing their ground and refusing, you and I both know it is a matter of when and never has been a question of if.

I’m sure you can jump over to InWorldz and continue your protest. The land is definitely cheaper there.

But I find it dubious that you’re the same people who complain that Second Life search is broken but brush off the fact that InWorldz search doesn’t even exist.

You seem to be tolerating quite a bit of things from places like InWorldz that you have come down heavy handed on for Second Life. I suppose when they offer insanely cheap sims with a ridiculous prim limit, you’ll suddenly have selective amnesia.

I’m not against progress, and I’m sure as hell not against places like OpenSim, ReactionGrid or InWorldz. But I know when not to be a hypocrite.

What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

If you wish to continue bashing Second Life for things which are being worked on, or are currently broken, you had better be prepared to hold third party grids and efforts to the same standards.

You consider Viewer 2 unfinished and broken, refusing to use it. Yet you gladly trot over to InWorldz and other places to find much worse or equal conditions, only to give it a glaring thumbs up review.


You cannot do that.

I understand the pioneering spirit, possibly better than you at this moment. The same scrutiny and willingness to endure stability issues, bugs, and overall issues in a new system that you apply to those third party grids is the same attitude you gave Second Life when it first began in the 1.x series.

You were willing to use the viewer even when, and despite, that it was broken and was in need of serious development help. You stuck to your guns and gave it all you got. Hell, you’ve managed to build entire brand empires in the virtual world because you had that pioneering spirit and stuck to your guns.

Viewer 2 is the same situation as the dawn of the 1.x era and it’s the same situation as you gladly walk into concerning places like InWorldz.

The only difference is that despite the prices and prim limits, Second Life is still quite a distance ahead in features and pure magnitude.

Of course, that also explains why every time somebody tells me the virtues of InWorldz and how they are moving their brand over there, I’m also invited to Inworldz with them.

That’s the problem with cheap land and high prims; It’s directly proportional to the amount of money you’d be expected to make in that system through perceived traffic. I know at least two brand owners who have spent plenty of time evangelizing InWorldz like a Time-Share Condo salesperson and pushing all they can to convince their group members to drop Second Life and follow them into InWorldz like some preachy ass cult.

If your marketing in InWorldz involves leeching people from a totally different system, then you aren’t cutting ties with Second Life. You are still wholly dependent on the population of Second Life to keep you going, even if you are in InWorldz, and that is simply a piss poor business decision.

That’s like opening shop in a cheap storefront buried in an alley on the outskirts of town, and relying on sending people to Wal-Mart to stand in their aisles and tell them about your store and how much better it is than Wal-Mart.

Inworlds more than likely will suffer from the same issues of scalability as Second Life has had to deal with over these years. It is the very nature of that system, closely resembling Second Life, that while there is not many people co-currently within its confines it will be very inexpensive to deploy servers. This trend is simply a temporary one, and over time even they will have to start raising prices just as Second Life has had to do.

How much faster do you think Viewer 2 would have developed had a majority of the serious community actually used it? Your voice is pretty powerful, at least enough to convince TPVs not to use Viewer 2 code for nearly a year or so.

That shear force of will could have been put to better use over the past eight months, in using the Viewer that a majority of truly new users will be using and getting to know your market. Instead you’ve chosen poorly, in refusing to touch Viewer 2, telling the world how much you hate it, and how you simply don’t have time to learn it.

Thank you.

Because of you, I’ve spent the past 8 months truly living that pioneering spirit you’ve forgotten. Clearly that head start isn’t enough of an incentive either, for me, or I would have been long gone by now.

No, I have greater incentive to use Viewer 2 and tear apart every single thing it can and cannot do. If my suspicions are correct, and quite often they are, Second Life is headed toward “Fast, Easy, Fun” integration with Social media networks and websites with their Skylight project combined with the layer ability from Intel which allows about 1,000 co-current users per region.

In your unwillingness to learn Viewer 2 for all it’s worth, you’ve essentially screwed yourself out of valuable time to prepare and capitalize on a coming wave of casual users and micro-transactions for your products that will likely number 100 to 1000 times the reach that you have today.

I’m sure InWorldz is growing like a weed and tons of people are signing up every day for it, but it cannot compete with the ability to reach the 500 million users of Facebook as well as the 6 billion websites on the Internet.

Suddenly that cheap land and high prim limit doesn’t seem so enticing anymore, does it? I’d venture to say that it wasn’t a very wise decision to stick to your guns and stand your ground in using 1.x viewers, either.

Looking back at the past eight months you’ve squandered, and now knowing that things like Project Skylight and the co-currency layer will open your brand up to untold millions of potential consumers, if you haven’t been convinced to bite the bullet yet, then you are just plain ignorant.

No, viewer 2 is not perfect. It simply hasn’t had the benefit of many years of development to reach that point yet. What viewer 2 is, however, is a glimpse into your future. You were given ample opportunity to reach for that brass ring, and you turned away. Now you are going to scramble to play catch up, or you can wait for your TPV of choice to do the scrambling for you.

In the end, the TPVs will bite that bullet and roll up their sleeves. I’m certain that the TPVs will find ways to make the viewer 2 experience much better as well – but you’ve paid an obscenely high price for procrastination and being an elitist. You’ve paid for it in losing your edge, and your ability to beat your competition to a market that may number in the tens of millions or more.

At this very moment, Second Life is the best option if you are a content creator. OpenSim and HyperGrid are promising, but without a central marketplace you may as well hang it up if you want to be a serious creator there. HyperGrid technology is like going from America Online to the World Wide Web but forgetting to have

When HyperGrid is paired with a central marketplace, as well as building the HyperGrid teleports into the Landmarks natively, then I see an absolutely huge future outside of Second Life. Assuming that the features of Viewer 2 are also present in HyperGrid enabled Open Sims.

InWorldz still needs a year or two in order to know if it’s worth the time and money to participate (even if it’s just a little money). As it stands, InWorldz is a good experiment that needs time to mature and by no means should you treat it as a platform to build a business on.

Now would be a good time to stop rationalizing your boycott and learn to use Viewer 2 for all its worth. You simply cannot afford to waste any more time than you have at this moment.

Or you can continue to give people like myself and Jon Dragoone an insane head start on this coming wave, and play catch up later.

Your choice, regardless, but we still thank you from the bottom of our hearts for giving us an eight month head start over you to begin with.

Why not be generous and make it an entire year head start?

Update: For the full intentions of this letter, please see the second part here -


  1. Hate is a strong word,I believe once they went to V2 the interface changed so much that people ran to TPV for comfort, Familarity and of course the TPV Perks, rightfully so, many of them are not wanting to help developers improve the V2 code, They just wanted to Shop, teleport to places and resume thier SL as it had been going, Selfish? No... Some long term people here have never reported a bug, Nor would know what one was, can you imagine the the elementary complaints that LL would have received if ALL of our residents posted complaints. How many reports of "Viewer is broke" (this would be the PG version of what would have been sent) with no extra information added would have been helpful. It almost makes me smile at the Percentage of residents that lack the inability to create such a informational request. I have been lost without emergence ((Deep Sighs)) But I have taken in the V2 Beta into my life.... Maybe a bit begrudgingly... But trying to relearn what used to be so simple is a total pain. I Thank you for taking one for the team, Being the one to Tweak the new viewer, Otherwise the Mass majority of residents would be complainiing about unreasonable, Unmanageable and unfixable Items (I am sure there would be such requests to keep Serial Cheaters out, Serial Liars, Or maybe people would just send LL Lists of people they don't like to ban, Give's me that comfy cozy feeling)... SO Thank you Aeonix and Jon for Battling the 2 Viewer, If it was on me, The Interface may have just been Changed to a Violet Overlay with Personalized settings for events to let me know what events were going on that fit my history and likes.... and Of course More room for picks....

  2. Nice rant but you miss one basic point. Viewer 2 sucks the big wazzooo. I don't much care for InWorldz, that place is broadly broken.

    I spend 8 + hours a day in SL, I run a business and have a social life.

    Placing classifieds was broken till a very very recent snowglobe drop, chat and IM take up most of the screen before the huge single purpose task side bar slides out, fonts are unreadable, everything takes longer to accomplish.

    Viewer 2 makes SL less fun and more of a chore. But yay for mesh, woooo, shiny that sucks the creativity right out of SL.

    You can keep your rambling open letter, print it out and use it for loo paper.

  3. Well, I hardly know where to start....
    Firstly you repeat yourself and this post is twice as long as it needs to be...
    Secondly, I am quite able to make my own decisions as to how much time I want to use on mastering a broken tool...
    Thirdly.... Inworldz suits me fine, I have better building tools there than in SL and cheap prims are what I want... and the customer service is good.
    Fourthly ...we will see how mesh pans out....
    Fifthly.... there are as many disadvantages as positive sides in having 500 million's not something I look forward to..
    Sixthly ... congratulations on your cleverness, getting ahead of us all, I hope it makes you very happy....
    ...and I'm very sorry if I have held back the new viewers development, but I won't be losing any sleep.

  4. I thank everyone for their comments, even if it's just a suggestion to wipe my butt with it.

    However, you still show your ignorance in public in not acknowledging that a serious business owner would never turn down the opportunity to expand their reach to million of potential customers and take an opportunity to get to know the technology in advance.

    Sure the station wagon is more reliable, but in the long run it's not very practical when a Ferrari is being built. Nearly all of the issues with Viewer 2 will be addressed in TPVs to cater to their audience (which is likely you), but had you not been so far against viewer 2 in all of its good and bad, the TPVs would probably have bit the bullet a lot sooner (like Kirstens) and this would be a non-issue.

    Inworldz has its place, and I agree, but not as a serious business platform at this time.

    Viewer 2 is still broken, but it's the people who are actually using it that are reporting constructively that its broken so that it can be worked on. The more eyes on it to see those flaws and issues, the faster it comes to the attention of Linden Lab.

    In the end, you and others will be using Viewer 2 in some form or fashion. It's always a matter of when and not if.

    In the meantime, if the prospect of getting your products in front of millions of people aren't enough of an incentive then I have no idea what is.

    All I know is this: no matter how much you try to slam me for saying so, you're still exhibiting poor business decisions by negating even preliminary tests with that functionality ahead of time.

    Does this mean I suggest everybody use Viewer 2 and nothing else? Not at all. I have six viewers installed and each has a purpose and place. But I'm also not bashing Viewer 2 either.

    When I wrote this open letter, I did so knowing full well to expect a heated flood of comments from the very people it was addressed to.

    I wrote this letter to intentionally piss off a lot of people.

    Comments, even if heated or disagreeing, are always welcome. Unless you are being derogatory or abusive, I'm likely to post them.

  5. I have been using V2.0 full-time since SLCC. It took awhile to get used to it but once I "got it" then it was an easy viewer to use. Great commentary overall. I am glad to see someone stepping up and addressing the continued stance against the V2.0. Shame on me for not doing so with my own blog.

  6. Anonymous9:41 PM

    I've been using SLv2 for ages and it works as good for building since the build tool is identical. As for shared media? Whatever. I use it sort of. It has uses. Earth shattering tool that will make zillions? Right. Whatever. LL endorses misuse of the technology so more and more people are totally disabling media thanks to LL not removing abusers. So developing a dependence on vulnerability laden technology is dumb IMHO.

    Anyway back to SLv2...

    The secret to SLv2 is a quad core system with a damn good video card and a 1080p HD monitor. Then it all makes sense. Tghe sidebar is not in your way at 1080p. And with an nvidia 480gtx on a quad core system the lag is not present. Except for the bad UI actions that freeze the UI.

    Oh and TPVs are not holding anything back given how much code those developers are contributing to LL to fix the issues. Nothing has been held back. Everything is proceeding right along.

    But none of this is going to help anyone given what LL is doing to drive small businesses out of SL. Once they get done with that then SL is gone anyway. LL has severely misread the tea leaves again.

    So your rant was pretty much for nothing. But it is your rant and your blog right? :P

    BTW you communicate exactly like Oz Linden lmao.

  7. @annotoole

    Linden Lab may have read the tea leaves wrong, but maybe not. Viewer 2 just isn't the flaming demon of despair that a lot of people try to make it out to be.

    Recent comment to me said that V2 should never have been sent out as broken as it was, but I think it should have been. When 1.0 came out and was about 8 months old, surely it was a flaming pile of turd worse than 2.0 is considered.

    There should be no expectation that 2.0 wouldn't be released in the same fashion as 1.0 was, or that it wouldn't follow the "perpetual beta" mentality that 1.0 did.

    I do have the following expectations though:

    1. TPVs will ultimately adopt 2.0 codebase and do amazing things with it.

    2. 2.0 series will continue to get better, despite all the calls for it to be wiped from the face of the earth. (Remember, 1.0 series followed the same pattern)

    3. What we think of it today has no bearing on the inevitable decisions of Linden Lab's roadmap. We can prepare for that roadmap or we can scramble later on to catch up.

    4. Those who believe none of these things is worthwhile and they would rather have seen stagnation so it would still run on their 5 year old laptop are missing a big point. Technology evolves rapidly and the requirements evolve as well. We're not going to stop the exponential curve no matter how much we would like to.

    5. Making a valid comparison is important. 1.0 came out a flaming pile of crap but over time and perseverance from the community it did get better. The same holds true with Viewer 2. We can't compare Viewer 1.x with years of dev time and stability fixes to a viewer that's 8 months old. It's a logical fallacy and very disingenuous.

    6. There is a difference between broken and irreparable damages. Viewer 2 is still broken, but it's being fixed. We mustn't discount that any more than we were willing to give 1.0 a chance and make it better in the beginning. Anything less would be a disservice to ourselves and the future of virtual environments.

    7. There is always very legitimate reasons for not using Viewer 2. My letter is addressed to people who actually have none of those reasons and are making sweeping generalizations.

    I use a Dual Core laptop with Viewer 2.3 and really don't experience anything horrible for it. 4GB RAM and a Mobile ATI Graphics chipset. Before this I used a beat up, refurbished Acer Aspire (which did horribly in SL, but I had no expectation that it wouldn't have)

    Thanks for the comment. All views are actually welcome as long as they are constructive and not vulgar.

  8. I've been using V2 since it first came out on beta. It has its strengths and its weaknesses, but the worst thing for me is that the suppression implementation is completely different from 1.X and has made impossible many of the ways the UI is used when making machinima. There's no way to change that now, so the machinimatographer's toolbox is dramatically smaller than before.

    Course if you don't make machinima that doesn't matter to you.

  9. I use the viewer 2 since it exists. Since the problem of lack of eyeballs has been resolved by turning the shadows on, I got interested in machinima and I could make my first video. It was completely made with the viewer 2.2 .............. would you ever say it? I used a double connection for the shootings in couple, I do not have the Space Navigator and I have never had any problems with the interface. I have an excellent PC and GTX470 graphics card. Any other word would be superfluous, just watch the video to understand that ...........YOU.......CAN.........DO....... IT :-O

  10. Wow. I might have worded this differently, and it is a bit on the long side, but there's a lot in there that I've definitely thought about.

    I've used V2 since pre-beta. If you can imagine, it was a bit worse then than what was released. This was back before the viewer even had any sort of media controls (you controlled it via preferences, including volume), versus the ones it has now. It was a hard experience.

    IMO, the biggest issue with V2, and what led to all the hate was that it did "move a lot of people's cheese," and did it in a very poor fashion that did not take this into account. It was also rushed out without key features in place (in some cases, still not in place) and will bugs that vastly worsened the user experience.

    It is not yet a perfect viewer. The sound and volume controls are still poor from a usability standard. Osprey did point out some of the machinima limitations (though I have used it for a couple small Machinima). I doubt it ever will be, much like the 1.x viewers never were perfect. It *is* a far better viewer than it was at released.

    But in the nearly-a-year of using it, I've adapted. At this point when I go to a 1.x viewer (I have an old Mac laptop that cannot use V2, and have had to get on there on a rare moment or two), I feel as lost as I did when I switched to V1.

    But it has features that I have found extremely useful. the topbar and favorites, the outfits pane, "nearby" avatars that works over sim borders, Multilayers and multiattachments, shared media (oh how I wish more people were using V2 viewers!), tattoo and alpha layers.

    I use it to build every day I am in SL, yet I hear people tell me that it is impossible -- or at least user-hostile -- to build using V2. I get to watch any discussion about *how* to use the viewer devolve in seconds into how this or that person "used it for two minutes and hated it and will never use it."

    At the same time, much like Aeonix Aeon pointed out about InWorldz, the various TPVs have their own slew of problems. I host events where people can't hear the music because their TPV doesn't handle the available stream's format, or where their viewer has graphical glitches that I've not seen since 1.18.

    So thanks for the continues testing, Aeonix, and I'll see you on the JIRA for sure. :-)

  11. Anonymous5:04 AM

    Neophobia is a disease. Neophobia in part is hypocrisy.
    Very nice post. Ill be happy in translating it and sending for some people at SL via notecards.

  12. This kind of confrontational and disrespectful attitude among the v2 evangelists is why we have stepped away from SL, frankly.
    And it is very obvious that as a "serious business" in SL, my business and the business of many others are of less interest to you than feeling righteous.
    Congratulations, you win SL.
    It is all yours.

  13. Very nice! A comment on a post from last year. By the way, there was a second part to this letter explaining exactly why this first part was written the way it was. Since you're interested in reading the archives, you may want to do yourself a favor and get the whole story before casting your lot.