Download and install VTK for Windows

The VTK web page at is a portal to all sorts of information about VTK. Click on the Get The Software link on the toolbar to the left and then on Download the official release (4.2) link on the page that comes up.

Look for the Wintel Pre-Compiled Binaries header and click on the .exe file link. This will bring you to a page that lets you select a mirror.

Click Download for the mirror of your choice. This should bring up a dialog box that allows you to save the install file.

Save the file in your favorite place (mine is C:\Packages\VTK) and remember where that place is. Once the download is complete, open the folder where you put it and run the executable to install VTK.

No entries will appear on the desktop or in the start menu to let you know that VTK is installed: it places a number of library files, some header files, and some executables int C:\Program Files\VTK that are needed when you want to run your own programs.

There is access to the VTK manual online at, on the Manual links along the left (click on the version you want to see the manual for, probably 4.2 or above).

Download and install ParaView for Windows

The Paraview web page at is a portal to all sorts of information about Paraview, which is a 3D viewing program that is built on top of VTK. Don't let the Para in the name (which stands for parallel) throw you: it works just fine on single-processor machines. Click on the Download link on the toolbar to the left and then on the file entry in the Latest Stable Release table in the Windows (installer) row.

Save the file in the same place you saved the VTK installer. Open that folder and run the executable to install Paraview.

The installer will create a new Paraview entry in your Start/All Programs menu.

Download the ParaView Users's Guide. Save this somewhere you can find it easily. This guide is for a previous version, but will still help in learning how to interact with the basic controls.

Download and install VolView for Windows

Go to the product website at Click on the link in the left toolbar for downloading Volview 2.0 for a 30-day trial. (The program will run in professional mode for 30 days, and will then revert to free mode. Free mode has advanced features turned off, but it will do what we need it to for this course.) Fill out the form and then click the download button. Click on the VV20p5.exe link to download the version for windows (you can try the Linux version if you prefer, but I won't be providing instructions for installing it). Also download the user manual (by right-clicking on the link and selecting "Save link target as".

Save the files in the same place you saved the VTK installer. Open that folder and run the executable to install VolView. You do not need to check for an upgrade during the installation process.

This will create a new VolView20 entry in your Start/All Programs menu. The first time you run the program it will ask you to register in one of several modes. I selected the choice to run the program in free mode.

Getting started with ParaView

Run the Paraview application from the Start/All Programs/Paraview entry. Click the left mouse button in the large gray box labeled 3D View and drag the mouse, which will tumble the set of red, green, and yellow axes. The right mouse button will zoom in and out, and the middle one will translate the axes. A second set of axes (red, green, and blue) tumble in the corner; they are labeled with X, Y, and Z to indicate the orientation of the object you are viewing.

Select File/Open Data from the pull-down menu at the upper-left corner of the application. Browse into the Data directory and select the file chombo3d.pdv. This will bring up a set of white wire-frame boxes. Select the Display tab in the control panel to the left of the 3D View window. Click on the selector labeled Outline in the Display Style panel and select Points of Surface from the list that appears. Click on the selector labeled Property in the Color panel and select Cell phi from the list. Adjust the Point size within the Display Style panel by clicking on the arrow to the right of 1 and adjusting the spinning-wheel control that appears.

Downloading ParaView tutorials

Go back to and again select the Download link on the toolbar to the left. In the Latest Stable Release box is a Data row; click on the paraview-tutorial-data-XXX.tar.gz file to download it. Save it in the place you will be keeping the other data sets from this course. I picked C:\data\VisCourse\Data. Open and decompress the file using Winzip.

Quit ParaView and restart it, then (if you want to get a jump-start on the ParaView and VolView homework) follow the tutorial instructions in appendix B of the ParaView User's Guide (starting on page 58). You will need the files that you just unzipped as part of the process.