The Firestorm viewer created by The Phoenix Firestorm Project Inc, founded in 2010. Is the successor of the Phoenix viewer, most widely used on Second Life. The Phoenix Firestorm Project is a non-profit incorporated organization who’s main purpose is to improve user experience. The Phoenix viewer was based on Linden Lab’s Viewer Version 1.23.5 and Snowglobe 1.5 and the Firestorm viewer is based on Linden Lab’s Viewer versions 2 and 3, (based on the Linden Lab V3 LGPL code base). They have incorporated a great deal of new features to improve performance, increase usability and enhance the user’s overall experience on both viewers. These viewers are developed for use on Windows, Linux and Mac operating systems. They even provide a link on their website to their viewers source code.
The Phoenix Firestorm Project Inc has submersed themselves in almost all forms of social media;
Blog: http://phoenixviewer.blogspot.co.nz/ (there are many more blogs available that talk about Firestorm).
There are links to everything Firestorm in social media on their website. I was very surprised at the online presence they have, because I am new to all of this I assumed that a viewer wouldn’t have anything to do with social media.
The Phoenix Firestorm Project Inc offers a huge amount of user support! They have approximately 80 volunteers and are managed through three different departments; Development, Support and Quality Assurance. They also provide live support 24/7 in nine different languages!! Just from this I can tell this organization loves what they do, and provide everything they possibly can to enhance the user experience in virtual worlds.
Firestorm would be the second viewer I have used the most, I have played with pretty much every legit one I could find. I have to say personally I love Firestorm, it is my favorite viewer. It all came down to the interface, unlike every other viewer I found Firestorm very easy to use and learn. Simple to maneuver around, unlike for example; Singularity, which no offense, I hate with a passion!
All of the tools used most often are lined up down the bottom, no weird looking buttons, no complicated “I have no idea what they are” buttons. Firestorm I found loads a lot faster and smoother than Singularity and Second Life Viewer, this is my personal opinion so I could be wrong. I was religiously using Second Life Viewer and switched quite recently to Firestorm because I found it lagged a great deal less, teleporting wasn’t so laggy, everything rezzed a lot faster. I will be mostly comparing Firestorms to Imprudence. I chose to compare to Imprudence because it is the one viewer I have hardly used at all.
In a lot of ways the user interface of Imprudence is extremely similar to that of Singularity, I found Imprudence a lot more laggy and unpleasant to use. I would like to point out that this is most likely my own personal bias as I haven’t liked Imprudence or Singularity since day one. There are a few user interface and speed factor reasons why I don’t like them compared to the Firestorm and Second Life viewers.
When logging into the Imprudence viewer, none of my avatar would load, the location I was in wasn’t rezzing properly. Just a really bad experience.
There are tools available for quick, easy access down the bottom. However, not as many as Firestorm provide and some of the options in Imprudence are confusing to use, for newbies like me.
Imprudence inventory window (there is no appearance window)
Firestorm inventory and appearance windows
This is something I will point out because I am constantly changing my avatars appearance and when I first started in Second Life, I would spend hours doing it because I’m a noob and it was hard for me to figure it all out. I do not like the fact that Imprudence does not have a separate appearance window, it has a “worn items” tab in the inventory window. As your inventory items start to build up it’s impossible to find anything easily (if you’re as unorganized as I am), having a window to view what my avatar is wearing and a separate window showing what my avatar has available to wear is the only way I can make sense of the madness that is my inventory.
I am always searching for new locations to explore or items to buy, as I’m sure many other users do. Point for Imprudence their search options were actually much more user friendly than that of Firestorm. I found it extremely easy to find my way around, and search for what I wanted as refined as I could get.
Firestorm is based on Second Life viewer version 3, this means it supports mesh and media-on-a-prim, modern outfits and floating menus. The mesh support is good, keeps you from having to accidentally see another avatar naked if they are wearing mesh objects and vice versa. Firestorm is actively maintained by regular software updates and news posts. Firestorm enthusiastically supports OpenSim, they have added some OpenSim friendly features to their viewer and they even have an office on OSgrid!
At one point, according to Second Life’s own data, Firestorm was the most popular and most stable viewer, topping their own viewer!
Although, a lot of my opinions are based on my own personal bias. I love Firestorm compared to other viewers, it’s that plain and simple. The Phoenix Firestorm Project Inc has put a great deal of effort, time, care and love into their viewer and it definitely shows. They are constantly updating, posting news about their viewer. Increasingly creating a user friendly viewer for Second Life and OpenSim grids. They welcome the chance, some would say even inspire other developers to find and fix bugs and to add new features to the viewer. Which means, Firestorm is constantly being maintained, not being left to become a dead project like so many others.