Large Data Visualization Made Easier

ParaView is an open-source, multi-platform data analysis and visualization application. ParaView users can quickly build visualizations to analyze their data using qualitative and quantitative techniques. The data exploration can be done interactively in 3D or programmatically using ParaView’s batch processing capabilities. ParaView was developed to analyze extremely large datasets using distributed memory computing resources. It can be run on supercomputers to analyze datasets of petascale as well as on laptops for smaller data. ParaView is an application framework as well as a turn-key application.

The ParaView code base is designed in such a way that all of its components can be reused to quickly develop vertical applications. This flexibility allows ParaView developers to quickly develop applications that have specific functionality for a specific problem domain. ParaView runs on distributed and shared memory parallel and single processor systems. It has been successfully deployed on Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, SGI, IBM Blue Gene, Cray and various Unix workstations, clusters and supercomputers. Under the hood, ParaView uses the Visualization Toolkit (VTK) as the data processing and rendering engine and has a user interface written using Qt® The goals of the ParaView team include the following:

  • Develop an open-source, multi-platform visualization application.
  • Support distributed computation models to process large data sets.
  • Create an open, flexible, and intuitive user interface.
  • Develop an extensible architecture based on open standards.


The History of ParaView

The ParaView project started in 2000 as a collaborative effort between Kitware Inc. and Los Alamos National Laboratory. The initial funding was provided by a three-year contract with the US Department of Energy ASCI Views program. The first public release, ParaView 0.6, was announced in October 2002.

Independent of ParaView, Kitware started developing a web-based visualization system in December 2001. This project was funded by Phase I and II SBIRs from the US Army Research Laboratory and eventually became the ParaView Enterprise Edition. PVEE significantly contributed to the development of ParaView’s client/server architecture.

Since the beginning of the project, Kitware has successfully collaborated with Sandia, Los Alamos National Laboratories, the Army Research Laboratory and various other academic and government institutions to continue development. The project is still going strong!

In September 2005, Kitware, Sandia National Labs and CSimSoft started the development of ParaView 3.0. This was a major effort focused on rewriting the user interface to be more user-friendly and on developing a quantitative analysis framework. ParaView 3.0 was released in May 2007.