Thursday, September 18, 2008

Announcing the Mayavi2-3.x series

This is a long overdue announcement. ETS-3.0.0 was released just before the SciPy conference in August 2008. Mayavi-3.0.0 was released as part of this. There are a huge number of significant changes to Mayavi as compared to 2.x. Note that we are still calling this Mayavi2-3.x.y since the Mayavi2 represents a departure from the older Mayavi-1.x series and Mayavi2-3.x is simply the next version of Mayavi2. The full details of the changes from the 2.x series are documented in the CHANGES.txt file in the mayavi documentation directory. Here is a summary of the major changes to this series thus far. The current release is 3.0.3.

Core Mayavi:
  1. I've added all the modules and filters that were available in Mayavi1 into Mayavi2. The only module I didn't port is the Locator module which didn't seem very useful. Mayavi2 now has more modules and filters than Mayavi1 had. Now there isn't an excuse to continue using Mayavi1.5.
  2. Users can now right-click on the nodes on the tree view to create new sources, filters and modules.
  3. The menu entries for the modules and filters (on the app and on right-click) are all context sensitive. So if your data doesn't support a particular module you shouldn't be able to add it from the UI.
  4. The file->open menu is far cleaner and exposes just one "Open" item that automatically lets you open any supported data.
  5. Added a toolbar to the engine view that offer icons to make it easy to add new sources/filters and modules. Special "Adder nodes" are added to the tree view when a scene/source is empty that makes it easy for new users to use the mayavi pipeline.
  6. Added a -o/--offscreen option to the mayavi2 application so you can run mayavi offscreen if your VTK version supports it. This in combination with the -x command line option makes for a powerful combination.
  7. New and much easier extension mechanism for the mayavi library and app via a and
  8. Added a tvtk_doc module/script that lets you search through the TVTK classes (with and/or keyword support), this is similar to Mayavi1's vtk_doc script.
  9. Added a GenericModule that makes it very easy to put together a bunch of components/filters to create a new module.
  10. Added Optional, Collection filters that let you easily build filters out of combinations of existing components or filters.
  11. Added a new SetActiveAttribute filter that lets you choose the active scalar/vector/tensor attribute, this lets you do neat things like plot iso-contours of one scalar on top of the iso-contour of another, see examples/mayavi/ for an example.
  12. Gaël sphinxified the documentation to make it look much nicer and fully searchable.
  13. Better and more complete testing, these are unfortunately integration tests currently and will slowly be made into proper unit tests.
  14. The mayavi2 application and plugins are now ported to use Envisage3 which is much cleaner and nicer to work with than Envisage2.
  15. There is now a full-fledged preferences framework for Mayavi (to access the preferences use, from enthought.mayavi.preferences.api import preference_manager).
  16. Some parts of the API and file organization has been cleaned up. This is mostly related to the location of some modules, the core scripting API hasn't really changed.
  17. The project is now called Mayavi and not MayaVi as before. This avoids unnecessary confusion on how to pronounce the name and avoids any comparison with either Maya or Vi.
  18. ETS itself is reorganized into a much smaller set of packages unlike the 40 odd packages in the ETS-2.x series. This makes dependency handling, packaging and installing much easier.


  1. The enthought.mayavi.mlab.pipeline is complete and can be used to fully script mayavi.
  2. The mlab API has changed to be more consistent with the naming style used in ETS, for example isosurface has become iso_surface, extractedges becomes extract_edges etc.
  3. Added a show() function and decorator to allow users to easily create standalone scripts.
  4. lets you open any supported data.
  5. The mlab API can now take either engine or figure keyword arguments. This allows to avoid the use of the global sate set in the mlab engine. Mlab also now exposes a set_engine function.
  6. It is easy to change visualized data using the .mlab_source attribute on objects created from mlab. This makes it very efficient and easy to create animations from mlab. See here for more details.
  7. Mlab by default uses a MayaviScene that features a convenient Mayavi icon which brings up the engine view using which you can edit the pipeline from the UI (using the toolbar or right clicks). This gives mlab the full power of mayavi.
Apart from these significant feature additions there have been the usual round of bug fixes and new bugs introduced.

As you can see this is a very significant release that marks a very important phase for mayavi2. All the additions made at the sprint went into this release.

Currently it is probably easiest to install mayavi via either enthought's EPD or Python(x,y). Gaël has made available Ubuntu packages that are available at a link he mentions here. Dave Peterson has been making all of ETS available from PyPI, however you'll have to get all the dependencies installed (numpy, VTK, wxPython or Qt4). The best place to look for installation instructions is here,


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