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This example demonstrates the GetClassName function. This should be available for every VTK class. This is extremely helpful for debugging - you are able to determine the type of a variable that is passed as an abstract type. With this information, the list of functions that can be called on this variable can be determined.

The example illustrates alternative ways to get the "name" of a class. Notice that the GetClassName provides a simple and useful solution.


#include <vtkSmartPointer.h>
#include <vtkPoints.h>
#include <typeinfo>
static const char *unmangleName (const char * name);
int main(int, char *[])
  vtkSmartPointer<vtkPoints> points = 
  std::cout << "points->GetClassName():             "
            << points->GetClassName() << std::endl;
  std::cout << "Mangled" << std::endl;
  std::cout << "\ttypeid(points).name():              "
            << typeid(points).name() << std::endl;
  std::cout << "\ttypeid(points.GetPointer()).name(): "
            << typeid(points.GetPointer()).name() << std::endl;
  std::cout << "Unmangled" << std::endl;
  std::cout << "\ttypeid(points.GetPointer()).name(): "
            << unmangleName(typeid(points).name()) << std::endl;
  std::cout << "\ttypeid(points.GetPointer()).name(): "
            << unmangleName(typeid(points.GetPointer()).name()) << std::endl;
  return EXIT_SUCCESS;
// Better name demangling for gcc
#if __GNUC__ > 3 || ( __GNUC__ == 3 && __GNUC_MINOR__ > 0 )
#include <cstdlib>
#include <cxxabi.h>
const char *unmangleName (const char * name)
  char const *mangledName = name;
  int         status;
  char *      unmangled = abi::__cxa_demangle(mangledName, 0, 0, &status);
  return unmangled;
  return name;


cmake_minimum_required(VERSION 2.8)
find_package(VTK REQUIRED)
add_executable(GetClassName MACOSX_BUNDLE GetClassName.cxx)
  target_link_libraries(GetClassName ${VTK_LIBRARIES})
  target_link_libraries(GetClassName vtkHybrid vtkWidgets)

Download and Build GetClassName

Click here to download GetClassName. and its CMakeLists.txt file.

Once the tarball GetClassName.tar has been downloaded and extracted,

cd GetClassName/build 
  • If VTK is installed:
cmake ..
  • If VTK is not installed but compiled on your system, you will need to specify the path to your VTK build:
cmake -DVTK_DIR:PATH=/home/me/vtk_build ..

Build the project:


and run it:


WINDOWS USERS PLEASE NOTE: Be sure to add the VTK bin directory to your path. This will resolve the VTK dll's at run time.