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<title>VTK README</title>

<IMG ALIGN="middle" SRC=vtkBanner.gif><br>
Welcome To The Visualization Toolkit
    <LI> <A HREF="#Introduction">Introduction</A>
    <LI> <A HREF="#Copyright">Copyright Notice</A>
    <LI> <A HREF="#Organization">Organization</A>
    <LI> <A HREF="#Documentation">Documentation</A>
    <LI> <A HREF="#Compilation">Compilation</A>
        <LI> <A HREF="#Building">Building with CMake</A>
        <LI> <A HREF="#Configuration">Configuration Options in CMake</A>
    <LI> <A HREF="#Installation">Installation</A>
    <LI> <A HREF="#Problems">Common Problems</A>
    <LI> <A HREF="#Data">Getting Data</A>
    <LI> <A HREF="#Running">Running VTK</A>
    <LI> <A HREF="#NewClass">Adding A New Class</A>
    <LI> <A HREF="#Help">Getting Help / Mailing List</A>
<h1><A NAME="Introduction">Introduction</h1>

VTK is an open-source software system for image processing, 3D graphics,
volume rendering and visualization. VTK includes many advanced algorithms
(e.g., surface reconstruction, implicit modelling, decimation) and rendering
techniques (e.g., hardware-accelerated volume rendering, LOD control).<p>

VTK is used by academicians for teaching and research; by government research
institutions such as Los Alamos National Lab in the US or CINECA in Italy; and
by many commercial firms who use VTK to build or extend products.<p>

The origin of VTK is with the textbook "The Visualization Toolkit, an
Object-Oriented Approach to 3D Graphics" originally published by
Prentice Hall and now published by Kitware, Inc. (Third Edition
ISBN 1-930934-07-6). VTK has grown (since its initial release in 1994)
to a world-wide user base in the commercial, academic, and research

This README is written for VTK version 5.0 and greater. For more information,
additional resources, and the FAQ see the web page at
<A HREF=""></A><p>

<h1><A NAME="Copyright">Copyright Notice</h1>

VTK has a generous open-source copyright modelled after the BSD license. Yes,
you can use VTK in commercial products. The complete text of the
copyright follows.

Copyright (c) 1993-2005 Ken Martin, Will Schroeder, Bill Lorensen
All rights reserved.

Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without
modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions are met:

 * Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright notice,
   this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.

 * Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright notice,
   this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the documentation
   and/or other materials provided with the distribution.

 * Neither name of Ken Martin, Will Schroeder, or Bill Lorensen nor the names
   of any contributors may be used to endorse or promote products derived
   from this software without specific prior written permission.

 * Modified source versions must be plainly marked as such, and must not be
   misrepresented as being the original software.


<h1><A NAME="Organization">Organization</h1>
The VTK source code repository is organized into four major sections.

  <li>The toolkit source code is found in the following directories
      next to this README.  In some cases an additional README.html
      file may be found in the named directory. Please see these for
      more information.
         <li><b>Common</b>- Core classes commonly used by other kits
         <li><b>Filtering</b>- Data pipeline implementation superclasses
         <li><b>Rendering</b>- Classes used to render a scene (surface primitives)
         <li><b>Graphics</b>- Filters that process 3D data
         <li><b>Imaging</b>- Specialized image processing filters (2D & 3D)
         <li><b>Infovis</b>- Classes for information visualization
         <li><b>IO</b>- Classes for reading and writing data
         <li><b>Views</b>- Classes for application-level views
         <li><b>VolumeRendering</b>- Classes for rendering volume data
         <li><b>Hybrid</b>- Complex classes that depend on imaging and graphics
         <li><b>Widgets</b>- Classes for interacting with the objects in the scene
         <li><b>Parallel</b>- Parallel processing support such as MPI
         <li><b>GenericFiltering</b>- Part of an adaptor framework
         supporting integration of VTK with external systems
  <li><B>Examples</B> that are reasonably well documented are found in the
         VTK/Examples directory. You may wish to start with the examples
         found in the Tutorial directory.<p></li>
  <li>The <B>Utilities</B> directory includes things like jpeg, png,
         and zlib source code. This code is used by VTK in various ways
         (reading/writing data, etc.)<p></li>
  <li>The <B>Wrapping</B> directory contains code related to VTK's automated
         wrapping process. The wrapping process automatically generates
         Tcl, Python, and/or Java bindings depending on how the build
         process is configured.<p></li>

There are hundreds of testing examples located in the Testing/ directory
under each source code directory (e.g., Graphics/Testing). These are
undocumented tests but can be helpful in some cases.<p>

<h1><A NAME="Documentation">Documentation</h1>

The ideal way to learn about the software is from two books:
<i>The Visualization Toolkit, An Object-Oriented Approach to 3D Graphics</i>
and <i>The VTK User's Guide</i> both published by Kitware, Inc. (Note:
<i>The Visualization Toolkit</i> was originally published by Prentice-Hall,
the third edition is published by Kitware.)
You may order the books from the following locations ( also
carries the books.)
  The Visualization Toolkit, An Object-Oriented Approach to 3D Graphics (Third Edition)
  by Will Schroeder, Ken Martin and Bill Lorensen.
  Kitware, Inc.,
  ISBN 1-930934-07-6
  <A HREF=""></A>

  The VTK User's Guide (VTK 4.2 Edition)
  Kitware, Inc.,
  ISBN 1-930934-08-4
  <A HREF=""></A>

On-line Doxygen man pages are also available at
<A href=""></a><p>

<h1><a name="Compilation">Compilation</h1>

<div align="left" style="width:720;">
The Visualization Toolkit can be built on UNIX, PC (Windows
NT/2000/XP/7), and Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard (or greater) systems.  VTK uses
<a href="">CMake</a> to generate its build system.
To build VTK one must first install CMake version 2.8.5 or higher.
CMake may be downloaded from <a
The instructions below cover the basics of running CMake for VTK under
the assumption that CMake is already installed.  See the CMake web
page for details on
  <a href="">intalling</a> and
  <a href="">running</a> CMake.
Compiling VTK requires a complete VTK source tree.  Running VTK tests
requires a complete VTK data tree.  Now is the time to extract the
source and data archives if one has not done so already.  These
instructions assume there is a directory "<code>VTK</code>" containing
the source code and optionally a sibling directory
"<code>VTKData</code>" containing the data.

<h2><a name="Building">Building with CMake</h2>

CMake must be run to generate a build system for VTK.  The build
system may be placed either in the VTK source tree (an
<i>in-source</i> build) or in a separate binary tree (an
<i>out-of-source</i> build).  We strongly encourage use of
out-of-source builds because they make it easy to have multiple builds
with different configurations sharing the same source tree.  Once a
single in-source build has been created it is the only build tree that
can be associated with that source tree.  A source tree may not be
used both for an in-source build and an out-of-source build, but any
number of out-of-source builds may share a source tree that does not
have an in-source build.  Having multiple out-of-source builds is
particularly useful for installing VTK on multiple architectures using
a single source tree on a shared disk.
CMake provides both a command-line tool and interactive interfaces.
Advanced users may wish to use the command-line tool but here we
document the CMake interactive interface for each platform:


      Run the CMakeSetup dialog to get started.  It must be executed
      from an environment configured to run the compiler to be used.
      In the case of the Visual Studio IDE no special environment is
      needed and CMakeSetup can be started from its icon.  In the case
      of a Visual Studio NMake, Borland C++, or MinGW build the
      CMakeSetup dialog should be executed from a command prompt with
      the appropriate environment set.
      The dialog prompts for the location of the source and binary
      trees.  There may also be prompt for the build system generator
      to be used ("Build For:").  Once these are set then CMake is
      ready for a first pass at configuring the VTK build system.  Use
      the "Configure" button to initiate this process.  If there was
      no earlier prompt for the build system generator a separate
      dialog will appear during the first configuration step to prompt
      for generator selection.  After a while the dialog will present
      a set of configuration options.
      See <a href="#Configuration">below</a> for details on the meaning of
      each of these options.  After setting the options as desired
      press "Configure" again to make another pass at configuring VTK.
      New options may appear when earlier options are adjusted.  Keep
      adjusting options and pressing "Configure" until the desired
      configuration is reached.  Finally press the "Generate" button
      to actually generate the build system.
      Now that the build system has been generated the corresponding
      native tools can be used to build VTK.  In the case of the
      Visual Studio IDE simply run it and load the VTK workspace or
      solution file from the binary tree specified in the CMakeSetup
      dialog.  Select and build the <code>ALL_BUILD</code> target.  In
      the case of a Visual Studio NMake, Borland C++, or MinGW build
      use the corresponding make tool (<code>nmake</code>,
      <code>make</code>, and <code>make</code>, respectively) from the
      command line.

  <li><b>UNIX / Cygwin / Mac OS X</b><br>

      CMake should be run from the command line on these platforms.
      The current working directory should be set to the desired
      binary tree location in which the build system should be
      generated.  One command-line argument is used to specify the
      location of the source tree.  CMake will usually choose the
      system C and C++ compilers automatically but it can be told to
      use specific compilers through the "<code>CC</code>" and
      "<code>CXX</code>" environment variables.
      A typical in-source build for VTK might look like this:
         $ ls -d VTK<br>
         $ cd VTK<br>
         $ ccmake .<br>
         $ make<br>
      A typical out-of-source build for VTK might look like this:
         $ ls -d VTK<br>
         $ mkdir VTK-build<br>
         $ cd VTK-build<br>
         $ ccmake ../VTK<br>
         $ make<br>
      In the above examples the call to <code>ccmake</code> may be
      replaced by
         $ env CC=/your/c/compiler CXX=/your/C++/compiler ccmake /path/to/VTK<br>
      in order to tell CMake to use specific C and C++ compilers.
      Setting the environment in this way will only change the
      compilers the <i>first</i> time CMake is run for a specific
      build tree.  Do not attempt to change the compiler of an
      existing build tree.  Instead one should create a separate build
      tree for each desired compiler.
      The <code>ccmake</code> tool is a curses-based dialog that may
      be used to interactively configure VTK.  When it appears press
      'c' on the keyboard to run the initial configuration of the VTK
      build system.  Eventually a set of configuration options will
      appear.  These may be edited using the arrow-keys and the ENTER
      key for navigation.  See <a href="#Configuration">below</a> for
      details on the meaning of each of these options.
      Once the options have been set as desired press 'c' again to
      reconfigure.  New options may appear when earlier options are
      adjusted.  Keep adjusting options and pressing 'c' until the
      desired configuration is reached.  Finally press 'g' to actually
      generate the build system.  Now that the build system has been
      generated just run <code>make</code> or <code>gmake</code> to
      build VTK.
      NOTE: The <code>ccmake</code> curses dialog is the most commonly
      used interactive interface for CMake on UNIX-like platforms, so
      these instructions assume it is available.  Some system
      administrators may not have installed curses in which case
      <code>ccmake</code> will not be available.  On these platforms
      one may use the command "<code>cmake -i</code>" in place of
      <code>ccmake</code> and follow the on-screen instructions to
      configure VTK.  A last resort is to use the command-line
      interface to <code>cmake</code>, but that is beyond the scope of
      this document.  See CMake documentation for further details.


<h2><a name="Configuration">Configuration Options in CMake</h2>

VTK is a large toolkit providing a wide variety of functionality.
Several configuration options are available to customize the VTK build
system.  These options are configured through an interactive CMake
interface as described <a href="#Building">above</a>.  Note that not
all options are available on all platforms, and some options are
available only when other options are set to a particular value.
The interactive CMake interface provides brief documentation for every
option.  Some options have more meaning than can be described in one
sentence, so additional documentation is provided here:

    Sets whether the compiled VTK libraries will be shared libraries
    or static libraries.  When linking executables against static
    libraries the needed symbols will be copied from the libraries
    into the executables enabling them to run without access to the
    original libraries.  When linking executables against shared
    libraries references to the symbols are placed into the
    executables.  This has the advantage that many executables can
    share a large library without producing many copies of its code.
    Shared libraries have the disadvantage that they must be found at
    runtime in order for an executable to run.  Each operating system
    supporting shared libraries has a component known as the
    <i>dynamic loader</i>.  This component is responsible for finding
    the shared libraries needed by an executable when it is run.  In
    order to run VTK executables from the build tree when using shared
    libraries one may need to help the dynamic loader find the
    libraries (usually the bin subdirectory of the build tree).
    On Windows, the dynamic loader will look for shared libraries in
    the directory containing the executable, in directories listed in
    the PATH environment variable, and in some system directories.
    Since VTK places all of its executables and libraries in the same
    directory nothing needs to be set to get them to run.  However,
    when one builds outside projects against VTK the PATH environment
    variable must be set to point at the directory containing the VTK
    shared libraries.
    On UNIX-style platforms, the dynamic loader will use an
    environment variable such as LD_LIBRARY_PATH (Linux and many UNIX
    systems) or DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH (Mac OS X) to look for shared
    libraries.  In order to run VTK executables from the build tree
    one must set the appropriate environment variable to point at the
    directory containing the VTK shared libraries.  The same environment
    setting must be used for running outside projects build against the
    shared VTK libraries.


    Enable/Disable automatic generation of VTK bindings in the Tcl
    language.  In order to build the Tcl-based VTK interpreter one
    will need to have Tcl and Tk version 8.2 or newer. Look to

      <a href=""></a>

    for information about getting Tcl and Tk. To turn on Tcl wrapping,
    set VTK_WRAP_TCL to ON during the configuration process.  One may
    then have to set the values for Tcl/Tk include directories and
    libraries during the next CMake configure iteration.  If there is
    more than one version of Tcl installed on the computer, make sure
    all the TCL_* and TK_* configuration options are set consistently
    to use the proper version.  This is especially important when
    Cygwin is installed because the Cygwin Tcl will not work for a
    native Windows VTK build and a Windows Tcl will not work for a
    Cygwin VTK build.  When building the Tcl/Tk wrappers on Cygwin one
    must also install the Cygwin sources for Tcl/Tk and set
    TK_XLIB_PATH to "/usr/src/tcltk-20030901-1/tk/xlib" or the
    corresponding directory for one's Cygwin Tcl version.  See

      <a href="Wrapping/Tcl/README">Wrapping/Tcl/README</a>

    for details on using the Tcl wrappers once they are built.


    Enable/Disable automatic generation of VTK bindings in the Python
    language.  In order to build the Python-based VTK interpreter one
    will need to have Python installed. Look to

      <a href=""></a>

    for information about getting Python.  To turn on Python wrapping,
    set VTK_WRAP_PYTHON and BUILD_SHARED_LIBS to ON during the
    configuration process.  One may then have to set the values for
    Python include directories and libraries during the next CMake
    configure iteration.  If there is more than one version of Python
    installed on the computer, make sure all the PYTHON_*
    configuration options are set consistently to use the proper
    version.  This is especially important when Cygwin is installed
    because the Cygwin Python will not work for a native Windows VTK
    build and a Windows Python will not work for a Cygwin VTK build.
    In order to use Tkinter with VTK-Python make sure that the Tcl/Tk
    libraries that are set correspond to the same version used by
    Note that the VTK-Python modules are now installed by default via
    'make install', which is a change from previous VTK versions.  The
    automatic python module installation is highly configurable. The
    <a href="Wrapping/Python/README.txt">Wrapping/Python/README.txt</a>
    file documents the installation procedure and the VTK-Python

    When VTK is <a href="#Installation">installed</a> all files are
    placed in a directory structure rooted at the directory specified

<h1><A NAME="Installation">Installation</h1>

Installing VTK from a source distribution requires first that it be
compiled in a build tree.  See the <a
href="#Compilation">compilation</a> section above for details.  Once
VTK has been compiled in a build tree one may build the <i>install</i>
target to actually put VTK in an installation tree.  If VTK was built
using a CMake Makefile generator then this is done by running "make
install" from the top of the build tree.  If VTK was built using a
CMake project file generator (such as Visual Studio), then building
the INSTALL project from inside the IDE will install VTK.  The
installation process will install all files in a directory structure
rooted at the directory specified by CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX.


<h1><A NAME="Problems">Common Problems</h1>
  <li>Strange compile errors on UNIX, typically involving system
      headers and types. Make sure that you specify the environment
      variables CC and CXX prior to running CMake.  If you have
      already run CMake you must create a fresh build-tree and start
      again.  If you ran CMake in the source tree then you must delete
      the source tree, re-extract the sources, and start again.
  <li>Errors on Tcl or Tk include files or libraries. Make sure that
      you set the TCL_* and TK_* configuration variables to the
      correct location when running CMake.
  <li>Link errors on Windows platforms. Make sure that the swap space is
      at least 300 MByte.
  <li>Link error with borland: TCL82.LIB contains invalid OMF record,
      type 0x21 (possibly COFF). You have to convert Tcl libraries
      from coff to omf with the Borland utilitiy coff2omf. Once you
      have created OMF versions, re-run cmake to tell it where the Borland
      versions of Tcl and Tk are located. Also, make sure that you are using
      Tcl/Tk 8.3.2.

<h1><A NAME="Data">Getting Data and Test Images</h1>

Many of the examples require data. There are two ways to get data. The
first is to download the file VTKData.tgz. The second is to access the
data via CVS checkout. The CVS checkout also includes many test images
used by the testing process (see <A href=""></A>).
These can be used if you wish to test VTK or submit testing dashboards.
The VTKData.tgz contains only data in compressed form is therefore can
be obtained much faster.

  1) Download the data at

  2) Checkout the data from CVS using the following commands:
     cvs -d login
        (there is no password...just press enter)
     cvs -d checkout VTKData

<h1><A NAME="Running">Running VTK</h1>

Many C++ examples will be compiled if BUILD_TESTING and/or
BUILD_EXAMPLES are enabled in CMake. To run these C++ examples just
type their name. (They will be found in the binary build directory.)
If you have built shared libraries, make sure the PATH environment
variable (Windows) or the LD_LIBRARY_PATH (Unix) point to the shared
libraries (see above documentation of the BUILD_SHARED_LIBS for

If you have enabled Tcl wrapping, you will want to set TCLLIBPATH to point to
the VTK/Wrapping/Tcl directory and check the instructions located in the <A
href="Wrapping/Tcl/README">Wrapping/Tcl/README</A> file. You will then run
the VTK executable found in the bin directory where the code was
compiled. Assuming that the executable VTK is in your path, or has been
aliased, you would type:
  vtk mace.tcl
Note that most Tcl scripts allow you to type "u" in the render window to
obtain an interpreter. You can use the interpreter to modify the application
at run-time.

If you have enabled Python Wrapping you should read the instructions
located in the <A
href="Wrapping/Python/README.txt">Wrapping/Python/README.txt</A> file.

<h1><A NAME="NewClass">Writing Your Own Class</h1> There are several ways to
extend VTK. The simplest way is, in your own code, create classes that
inherit from the appropriate VTK classes.  Please see the
<a href="Examples/Build/vtkLocal/README"><code>vtkLocal</code></a> example
for instructions to build your classes outside VTK.

<h1><A NAME="Help">Getting Help / Mailing List</h1>
For general information go to the VTK web site
<a href=""></a>
If you run into problems, your best bet is to join the VTK mailing list.
Visit <a href=""></a> to join the list.
Commercial support contracts are available from Kitware at
<a href=""></a>.
Kitware also provides consulting services.
<a href=""></a>.
Training is also available from Kitware. See
<a href=""></a>.

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