By Elaine Jiang


VisIt is an open source, scientific visualization tool. VisIt can automatically generate animations on data with timestamps, and manipulate data with a variety of operators and filters. VisIt is visualize most scientific data formats due to its customizable plugin architecture.

VisIt was originally developed by the Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Simulation and Computing Initiative (ASCI) to visualize and analyze the results of terascale simulations. Because of it’s applicability beyond visualizing terascale data, VisIt is now a licensed open source product.

Official Resources

Official Documentation: VisIt User Manual

User Support: is a wiki that contains up to date information about VisIt

Installation Guide: VisIt Basic Getting Started Guide

Usable Environments


Accessibility: The estimated time for someone to create a simple data visualization 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

Recommended System Requirements

  • Compatible with Unix, Windows, and Mac



Software Performance

Data Visualization Summary

Powerful GUI

Overview: Not a big learning curve for beginner users, and automatically creates time-based animations from data sets that contain multiple time steps

Keyframe Animation Capability

Overview: Has a keyframe animation capability that allows users to create sophisticated animation.

Distributed Parallel Computation

Overview: Employs a distributed and parallel architecture in order to handle extremely large data sets interactively

Support for Multiple Mesh Types

Overview: Supports multiple mesh types including two- and three-dimensional point, rectilinear, curvilinear and unstructured

Extensible with Plugins

Overview: Extensible with dynamically loaded plugins

Final Thoughts

(By Elaine)

  • Very similar to ParaView; default visualizations are different -- VisIt's default visualizations have axis, labels, legends, while ParaView's default visualizations are more basic (just the model)

  • In VisIt you can have multiple active windows at once so you can render different models at once. In ParaView you have one active window

  • In both ParaView and VisIt, users can make animations of the model. Both software have underlying VTK code.


Official Tutorial master page


VisIt: About VisIt. 2018, Laurence Livermore National Security, LLC.