Published April 05, 2010

Related sites: Informatics, Scientific Vis, Paraview

ParaView 3.8

Kitware, Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory are proud to announce the release of ParaView 3.8. The binaries and sources are available for download from the ParaView website. This release includes several performance improvements, bug fixes for users, and plenty of new features for plugin and application developers. We have made it easier to locate cells/points in your dataset using queries. Search the ParaView Wiki for "Find Data using Queries" for more information.

The plugin loading and management dialog was redesigned to make it easier to load plugins. It's now possible to configure plugins to be auto-loaded every time ParaView starts. We've added support for plotting over curves and intersection lines using the filters "Plot On Sorted Lines" and "Plot On Intersection Curves".

A couple of GPU-based rendering/visualization techniques have been incorporated along with GPU-based volume rendering support for 3D image volumes, which is accessible through the "Volume Mapper" option on the Display tab. Support for Line Integral Convolution (LIC) is available as a plugin; this support can be used for visualizing vector fields over arbitrary surfaces.

ParaView now includes (in source form only) an interface to the University of Utah's Manta interactive software ray tracing engine. The Manta plugin provides a new 3D View type which uses Manta instead of OpenGL for rendering. The plugin is primarily being developed for visualization of large datasets on parallel machines. In single processor configuration it has the benefit of allowing realistic rendering effects such as shadows, translucency and reflection.

In terms of performance improvements, we've greatly improved the first render time for datasets with large numbers of blocks. Raw image reading for parallel file systems underwent a major overhaul making it fast and efficient. Options were added to the Settings dialog to fine tune image compression, improving interactivity when remote rendering over connections with varying bandwidths.

After the introducing Python tracing in the previous release, we have expanded the purview of tracing to include selections, lookup tables, and implicit functions.

For climate simulation folks, this release includes support for NetCDF with CF (Climate and Forecast) conventions. For cosmology researchers, the Cosmo plugin has been substantially revised. The major improvement is that the plugin now works in a data parallel fashion, so that it can be used with higher resolution simulation results. We have reintroduced basic support for CAVE rendering which was lost since the major overhaul for ParaView 3.0.

AdaptiveParaView, a new experimental application developed using the ParaView application framework is also now available in source format. Like StreamingParaView, AdaptiveParaView processes structured datasets in a piecewise fashion, omitting pieces which are unimportant, in order to make it possible to visualize datasets which do not otherwise fit in RAM. AdaptiveParaView differs from prior work in that it renders pieces in a multi-resolution manner, initially producing low-resolution images and then progressively filling in greater detail within the viewing frustum. This application still contains many experimental features and is not yet documented, but we encourage users to try it out and report bugs and feature requests.

PVBlot is a command tool for batch or interactive processing of Exodus data files. It is provided as a plugin. The commands create various mesh visualzations and XY plots of variable versus time, or variable versus variable. The plugin adds an interactive pvblot console to the ParaView Tools menu. Documentation for PVBlot is built into the tool, just type 'help' or 'help '. The SierraTools plugin provides pvblot-like features but exposes the functionality through toolbar buttons and dialogs in place of text commands.

There are several other fixes including those for charting and plotting, wireframes for quadratic surfaces, and for dealing with temporal ranges.

For developers, this release includes major changes to the core ParaView libraries making it easier to create and deploy custom applications based on the ParaView framework. This enables developers to create applications with fundamentally different workflows than that of ParaView while still leveraging ParaView's parallel processing and large data visualization capabilities. Search for "Writing Custom Applications" on the ParaView Wiki for details.

The plugin framework has undergone an overhaul as well, making it easier to debug issues with loading of plugins as well as support for importing plugins in static applications.

Starting with ParaView 3.8, we will be releasing development binaries for ParaView, which will make it easier for developers to build and distribute plugins that are compatible with the binaries downloaded from our website.

As always, we rely on your feedback to make ParaView better. Please use http://paraview.uservoice.com/ or click on the "Tell us what you think" link on paraview.org to leave your feedback and vote for new features.


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