Gaël Varoquaux

Thu 11 December 2008

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What’s new in Mayavi 3.1.0?

Mayavi 3.1.0 has just been released, and I think it is a fantastic version. We are starting to be able to focus on the details and the focus. In addition, we are getting user feedback, which helps identify the pain points.

Automatic scripting

This is a huge deal! You now have a record button on the pipeline view. In record mode, the modifications that you make to the objects properties are recorded as valid Python lines: Mayavi tells you what are the line of code to modify those properties or create new objects. I use this a lot: I first build a skeletton of a visualization using mlab but when it comes to tuning parameters, I do it interactively, and record.

Much more testing

We added a huge amount of testing (many thanks to Suyog who contribed quite few). From an user’s point of view this has two consequences. First the code is more robust (for instance the mlab commands are more flexible on the shape of the arguments passed in). Second the rendering part of the Mayavi engine is well-separated from the algorithmes, which means that the VTK algorithms can now be used easily to manipulate numpy arrays through Mayavi.

Two new mlab functions: barchart and triangular_mesh

Mlab has two new functions: one to create nice bar chart, for 2D histograms displayed in 3D, and one to build meshes defined from their triangle.

Control of the pipeline through mlab is easier and more robust

As the mlab.pipeline is getting more usage, it is being ironed out. For instance applying a module to a source object (may it be a Mayavi source, or a vtk dataset) adds it automatically to the figure if it is not already in it. Also, when adding an additional module on an existing source, a new module manager (object controlling the colormap) is added automatically if the colormaps or extents differ. Many modules take keyword arguments to make common operations easier.

IPython in Mayavi

If you have a recent version of IPython installed (> 0.9), Mayavi will use an IPython widget, instead of the vanilla pyshell.

mlab.view has now a sensible behavior

The mlab.view no longer gives a bad roll angle to the camera. This makes it much easier to do animations during which the camera moves.

Axes and outline extents

mlab.axes and mlab.outline now adjust by default to the extents of the object they are applied on. This removes a bad surprise for people having tuned the scale of their visualization.

enthought.tvtk.tools.visual in Mayavi

enthought.tvtk.tools.visual can now be used inside Mayavi, to provide a visual-like API in mayavi.

Documentation has recieved some love

Documentation has been added and completed, with a focus on making it easier for the beginner to discover the features of Mayavi. We try more and more to walk the user through complete usecases of Mayavi, in a task-oriented documentation, such as in the introductory examples, or in case-studies.

Two new sources

There are two new sources that do not require data. The first creates objects, such as an arrow, a cube, or a view of the earth, to be viewed with a ‘surface’ module. The second creates image data, such as a disk, or a 2d gaussian, or (my favorite) the Mandelbrot set. This can be viewed with an ImageActor, or (even better) with a WarpScalar filter and a Surface. These sources have been contributed by Suyog.

A word of thanks

I am sure I am going to forget some people here, but I’d like to thank a lot those who have been helping us with getting Mayavi2 going. First of all, Dave Peterson, who is doing the release management for ETS. This is a lot of work, and we would never have frequent releases without him. I’d also like to thank Suyog Jain, who contributed some code. This is fantastic, and I am sure we are going to have more people contributing improvements. Finally, I’d like to thank Pierre Raybault, of Python(x,y), and Varun Hiremath, of Debian. Packaging is very important to our users, and it is not a trivial piece of work… Hum, I almost forgot Chris Casey. Chris has been updating the docs on the net and making sure the docs build well. This is also very important, as the web page is a major means of communication with our users.

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