By Elaine Jiang


ParaView is an open-source, scientific visualization modeling tool owned by Kitware. It has a GUI that allows users to model data without writing any code. It began in 2000 as a collaborative project between Kitware and Los Alamos National Laboratory and was funded by the Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Simulation and Computing Initiative (ASCI). ParaView is primarily used to build visualizations and analyze large datasets. Data exploration can be done interactively through its GUI or programmatically using ParaView's batch processing capabilities.

ParaView runs on distributed and shared memory parallel and single processor systems in order to display and analyze large datasets effectively. It can be run on Windows, Mac, and Linux, among other machines. It uses the Visualization Toolkit (VTK) library as the data processing and rendering engine and has a user interface written using Qt.


  • Allows the changing of parameters of filters by directly interacting with the 3D view

  • The user interface is run on a separate computer using the client/server mode

  • Handles structured, unstructured, polygonal, image, and multi-block data types

  • Supports distributed rendering (results are rendered on each node and composited later using the depth buffer), local rendering (resulting polygons are collected on one node and rendered locally), and a combination of both. This provides scalable rendering for large data without sacrificing performance when working with smaller data

  • ParaView is fully scriptable with Python

  • Supports a variety of file formats including VTK, EnSight, Plot3D, and STL.


Accessibility: The estimated time for someone to create Hello World in VR

  • Beginner: No coding or graphics experience |10 min

  • Intermediate: Some coding or graphics experience | 10 min

  • Advanced: Both coding and graphics experience | 10 min

  • Expert: A lot of experience with computer graphics | 10 min

Power: The engine's power - i.e. how much one can do with this

  • High: Intended for developers with years of graphics experience

Usage: Evaluation of software's use for the following purposes

  • Scientific visualization - main use for ParaView


User Support

Final Thoughts

Paraview should have a source code display option so that users who are hoping to use the VTK library will be able to learn faster by converting back and forth between using the GUI in Paraview and examining its underlying VTK code. Although the time spent on making simple models through Paraview is drastically less than the time spent using VTK, the applications of Paraview are still limited if we don't have access to the code.


ParaView Overview. 2018, Kitware Inc.