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Getting Started


If you have an idea for a macro, plugin, or would like to see how we would address a geoscientific visualization problem with ParaView, please post your thoughts on the issues page or get involved with the PVGeo community on Slack to discuss adding new features:

A Brief Introduction to ParaView

ParaView is an open-source platform that can visualize 2D, 3D, and 4D (time-varying) datasets. ParaView can process multiple very large data sets in parallel then later collect the results to yield a responsive graphics environment with which a user can interact. The better the processor and graphics hardware the machine or machines hosting the software, the faster and better ParaView will run. However, it can run quite well on a laptop with a standard graphics card such as a MacBook Pro.

Since ParaView is an open source application, anyone can download the program and its source code for modifications. The easiest way to get started with ParaView is to download the compiled binary installers for your operating system from here.

For further help, check out the documentation provided by Kitware. In particular, the two worth looking through for a quick tour of ParaView are the The ParaView Guide and The ParaView Tutorial. One is a tutorial of the ParaView software and shows the user how to create sources, apply filters, and more. The other is a guide on how to do scripting, macros, and more intense use of the application.

Install ParaView

Open the downloaded installer from ParaView’s website for ParaView 5.6.x (or greater) and follow the prompts with the installer.

Tour around software: Take a look at Section 2.1 of The ParaView Tutorial for details of the application’s GUI environment. Chapter 2 of the tutorial as a whole does an excellent job touring the software and its workflow for those unfamiliar with the software and its general capabilities.

Tip: State Files

One convenient feature is to save the state of the ParaView environment. This saves all the options you selected for all the filters you applied to visualize some data. Select File->Save State… (Note: this saves the absolute path of the files loaded into ParaView, so be sure to select Search for Files Under Directory… when opening these state files).

Install PVGeo

We highly recommend using Anaconda to manage you Python virtual environments and we know installation via Anaconda Python distributions will work on Mac, Windows, and Linux operating systems. To begin using the PVGeo Python package, create a new virtual environment and install PVGeo through pip.

$ conda create -n PVGeoEnv python=2.7

Use Python 2.7!!!

If you’d like to link PVGeo to ParaView, you must use a Python 2.7 virtual environment.

$ source activate PVGeoEnv
(PVGeoEnv) $ pip install PVGeo

Non-Windows Users

Now you must install VTK to your virtual environment. For Linux and Mac users, simply install VTK through pip:

# Now install VTK
(PVGeoEnv27) $ pip install vtk

Install PVGeo to ParaView

Use the latest release of ParaView

PVGeo is compatible only with version 5.6.x (and greater) of ParaView. You can find the ParaView downloads page here

To use the PVGeo library as plugins in ParaView, we must link the virtual environment that you installed PVGeo to ParaView’s Python environment and load a series of plugin files that wrap the PVGeo code base with ParaView’s Graphical User Interface.

Linking PVGeo

First, lets link PVGeo‘s virtual environment to ParaView by setting up a PYTHONPATH and a PV_PLUGIN_PATH environmental variables. First, retrieve he needed paths from PVGeo. Do this by executing the following from your command line:

(PVGeoEnv) $ python -m PVGeo install
Having Trouble?

Try executing the following command to debug the launcher creation (this will help us if you create an issue):

(PVGeoEnv27) $ python -m PVGeo install echo

Mac OS Users

That script will output the paths you need to set in the environmental variables moving forward. If you are on a Mac OS X computer then that script will output a shell command for you to execute for the install. If you are on a Mac, execute that command and skip to Loading the Plugins

Windows Users

Setting up environmental variables is a bit involved for Windows. Remember how we ran python -m PVGeo install? Well this created a new file on your Desktop called PVGeoLauncher.bat. We will use this file to safely launch ParaView it is own environment with environmental variable set properly.

  1. Go to your Desktop and right-click to select New->Shortcut.

  2. Browse… to the PVGeoLauncher.bat on your Desktop. Note sure where this file is? Check the output of the install command from above.

  3. Click Next and give your shortcut a meaningful name like ParaView+PVGeo and select Finish.

  4. Now right-click that newly created shortcut and select Properties.

  5. For the Start in field, we will use the path to your ParaView installation (top-level). To discover this, go to where ParaView is installed. Likely in C:\Program Files and find the ParaView 5.6-xxxxxx folder. Go into that folder and then copy the full path by copying the path in the navigation bar at the top of the window. Paste this path into the Start in field.

  6. Click Apply then Okay

  7. Now launch ParaView using your new shortcut!

  8. Test that the install worked: open the Python Shell and import the modules delivered in this repo by executing import PVGeo and import pvmacros. Errors should not arise but if they do, post to the issues page and the errors will be immediately addressed.

Loading the Plugins

Now you must load the plugin files through ParaView’s Plugin Manager. Select Tools -> Manage Plugins then select Load New on the bottom right of the popup dialog. Navigate to the directory declared in PV_PLUGIN_PATH and load the pluigns files. Note that we have included a file called; this will load all of PVGeo’s Plugins for conveinance. If you wish to only load specific suites, then load the desired suites by their individual plugin .py files. Once the plugins are loaded, expand them in the plugin manager and be sure to select Auto Load.

Not sure where your PV_PLUGIN_PATH is located?

Re-run the install command with an additional argument echo:

(PVGeoEnv27) $ python -m PVGeo install echo

Plugin Manager

Now test that the install worked by ensuring the various categories for the PVGeo filters are in the Filters menu such as PVGeo General Filters. Errors should not arise but if they do, post to the issues page and the errors will be immediately addressed.


If an error arises or you are having trouble, feel free to join the PVGeo community on Slack and ask for help:

You can also post to the issues page if you think you are encountering a bug.

Update PVGeo

(PVGeoEnv) $ pip install --upgrade PVGeo

Using Outside Modules

If you installed PVGeo according to the instructions above, then any Python package installed through pip/conda in that virtual environment will be accessible in ParaView. For some further reading on using virtual environments with ParaView, see this blog post.