A Simple Example

ParaView can be an overwhelming and confusing program to use at first. To remedy this, a simple ParaView example is presented here to familiarize the new user with the concepts behind ParaView. More detailed tutorials are given in the following sections.

1. Start ParaView

Example of the starting screen
Example of the starting screen

This tutorial starts with the assumption that ParaView has been downloaded and installed on the user's system. To start ParaView under Linux or Unix, simply go to the directory in which ParaView has been installed and type ./ParaView. Even better would be to put the directory in which ParaView has been installed into the path of the shell program.

If ParaView is installed on a Windows system, the application can be started by one of two methods. The first would be to click on the Desktop Shortcut for ParaView if it exists. The other option is to go to the Start Menu, then to the Programs subfolder, then to the ParaView subfolder, then select the ParaView item.

Soon after starting ParaView, the splash screen should appear; after a few more seconds, the ParaView application should appear on the screen.

2. Load Data (or Create a Source)

The "Source" Menu
The "Source" Menu

ParaView by default starts with an empty scene. The left panel initially is the 3-D View panel. The left panel will change once data is loaded or created. From this point, the user can either load data into ParaView or create a source. To keep it simple, this example will create a Wavelet source using the Source Menu on the main menu bar. The Wavelet source creates a regular rectilinear grid in three dimensions. The values on the 3-D grid vary according to a periodic function. As such, the Wavelet source is similar to 3-D that the user might want to load into ParaView.

Once the Wavelet source is selected, the left panel will change and be split into two panels. The top, left panel is the Selection Window. The bottom, left panel is the Property Sheet for the Wavelet Source. The Accept button will be highlighted in green, indicating that changes have not taken effect. Click on the Accept button to create the Wavelet data. You will see a white box appear in the Display window.

3. Properties Tab

Default "Wavelet" Source Settings
Default "Wavelet" Source Settings

ParaView, being built on top of VTK, is creating a vtkRTAnalyticSource. This can be seen in the Properties Sheet on the Parameter Tab under the Class heading. Once the Wavelet source is selected, its output is empty, but its properties are presented to the user. These properties can be modified by the user before or after clicking the Accept button. Think of the Accept button as being the same as the Update() call in VTK. Some of the properties that can be changed on the Wavelet source are its extent in the X, Y, and Z directions, its center, and the frequency and magnitude in the three dimensions. Any changes to these properties will mark the previous output as out-of-date, and the Accept button will once again turn green.

4. Display Tab

Default "Wavelet" Display Settings
Default "Wavelet" Display Settings

Since a Wavelet source was created, why did the Display window simply draw a box? The reason for this can be found on the Display tab. The Display tab is divided into four sections: View, Color, Display Style, and Actor Control. The reason the Wavelet source was represented by a box is that its Display Style has been set to Outline. The Display Style Representation can be changed between Outline, Surface, Wireframe of Surface, Points of Surface, and sometimes Volume Rendering (for 3-D unstructured grids).

5. Information Tab

The Information tab is useful for showing the statistics, the type of data, the bounds of the data, and the extent of the data. The statistics show the number of cells, the number of point, and the memory occupied by the data. This information can be useful for decimation of large data sets.

The data arrays section is useful for showing what data was loaded along with its minimum and maximum values. In particular, if a data set is loaded that is invalid, the information shown (or not shown) in this section can be helpful in diagnosing the problem.

Likewise the bounds and extents server to show the user the size of the data in 3-D space, as well as the extent of the data in computation space. Again, if a data set is loaded that is invalid, the information shown (or not shown) in this section can be helpful in diagnosing the problem. For example, if the Bounds in the 3-D space shows a delta of zero, it likely means that there is a problem with the grid.

6. Interactions

By holding down the right-mouse button the user can rotate the data about its center. By holding down the center-mouse button the user can translate the data. By holding down the left-mouse button the user can zoom in and out.

7. Pipelines and Filters

The user can investigate the data by applying filters to the data. Filters are used to process the data in order to gain more information and to derive insight about the data. A Comprehensive List of Filters lists all the filters and how they may be used.

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