Paraview’s View Settings is moving to the Properties Panel

Motivation

The View Settings dialogs allow you to set view specific parameters such as background color and type of lighting for a 3D View or font and color of axis labels for a Bar Chart View. These dialogs use their own names and specify their own defaults for view properties. This way of naming properties and setting their defaults may be OK if the GUI client (the paraview executable) would be the only way to use ParaView. However this is no longer the case. ParaView can be used through python scripting (pvpython or pvbatch executables) or through a web interface (ParaViewWeb). Storing property defaults in all the clients would result in data redundancy causing maintenance issues and possible inconsistencies between clients.

It turns out that there is a common place where view property names and defaults (besides properties for other visualization objects) are already defined. This place is the Server Manager,  a module shared between clients, that ensures that communication with the visualization server is done through a common interface. The Properties Panel can be used to change properties defined in the Server Manager. This panel offers facilities to edit and reset properties as well as the ability to search for properties and to show or hide properties flagged as advanced.

Changes

We take advantage of the facilities provided by the Server Manager to specify default values for view properties. These default values are the same as what has been specified in the GUI client, however default view settings for python scripting and for ParaViewWeb will change to match the settings set on the GUI client. In particular, the background color and lighting will change to match settings on the GUI client.

The Properties Panel is already used to set properties for VTK pipeline sources or filters (the Properties expander button) or display properties such as what attribute to color on (the Display expander button). We add another expander button named View which contains all view settings for the current view. This is how the Properties Panel showing settings for the RenderView looks like:

 

 

These changes are already in the repository version of ParaView and are coming in the next ParaView release (ParaView 4.2 and later).

Limitations

Only the RenderView and related views (MultiSlice, QuadView, MantaView, PrismPlugin) are set through the Properties Panel. All other views still use the old dialogs to set their properties. We are looking for feedback from the user community on this UI change. Based on user feedback, we'll continue our work toward the goal of having uniform view settings defaults for all ParaView clients.

When you create a new view, view names presented do not match view names displayed in the Properties Panel. For instance, "3D View" is used when you create a new view but "RenderView" is used in the Properties Panel. This inconsistency is also an instance of a property name being set in the GUI client instead of being read from the Server Manager. We plan to address this issue as part of this ongoing work.

Conclusions

View properties for RenderView and related views are now set through the Properties Panel, which creates consistent default view settings for all ParaView clients.

There are other related improvements to ParaView that will be addressed in the future. Examples include: user preferences saved in the GUI client should also be read by python or ParaViewWeb clients and per site user preferences.

Questions or comments are always welcome!