VTK 5.10 Now Available

Kitware and the VTK team are pleased to announce the release of VTK 5.10. This release contains new and updated classes, utility improvements, and other enhancements.

In the 5.10 release, the Google Summer of Code 2011 work by David Lonie and Tharindu de Silva has been incorporated into VTK. David developed chemical structure visualization code, which adds accelerated rendering of 3D chemical geometry using standard chemical representations. Tharindu worked on the 2D chart and plot features in VTK, improving chart interaction and adding support for keyboard modifiers to mouse and key events.

There was a new set of image rendering classes incorporated for use in the next generation of VTK-based image viewer applications. Like VTK’s volume rendering classes, the new image rendering classes consist of separate actor, mapper, and property classes for maximum flexibility. The VTK team also updated many of the VTK reader classes, including the LSDyna reader, which resulted in read times for large (100 gigabyte) parallel data sets dropping from multiple hours to several minutes. Additionally, there is a new crop of NetCDF readers, and VTK now has true support for netcdf4 readers.

In addition to new and updated classes, support for new compilers, such as Visual Studio 2011 and Clang, was added, along with a multitude of code quality improvements. The code quality improvements came from a persistent effort on the part of the community to plug memory leaks and address compilation warnings that the CDash regression test servers exposed. In a related development, there is now an extension to VTK’s leak detection that allows fine-grained profiling of the construction and destruction of VTK objects.

There were several important external development efforts as part of the 5.10 release. To provide the ability to perform arbitrary boolean operations on polygonal meshes, a team from UNC made several meshing improvements, and added a new quad rotational extrusion filter that generalizes beyond triangle meshes. As part of DOE/ASCR and Sandia National Lab’s efforts to extend the state of the art in Mathematical Analysis of Petascale Data, the statistics algorithms were revamped and extended.

Other improvements that the VTK team focused on include framework and widget updates. The generic framework to handle arbitrary high order cells and custom interpolation functions was enhanced in this release to seamlessly work with the modern VTK pipeline paradigm, and particularly within ParaView. There was also a new hierarchy of versatile multi-state button widgets added to VTK, along with others including a cropping plane, reslice cursor, and broken line widgets.

Also of note, the team made improvements to visualization within immersive environments. The ability to perform “Off-Axis” rendering was added to VTK, and can be used either with or without stereoscopic visualization.

The new release is available on the download page, and the updated online documentation is available on the wiki. As always, we rely on your feedback to improve VTK, and encourage you to get involved with the community through the mailing list. For more details on the 5.10, join us on June 1st for a brief 20 minute release webinar.

Questions or comments are always welcome!