OpenGL Visualization Tool

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VarView Visualization Tool


VarView is a 3d visualization tool designed to work with Excel and other COM enabled applications to produce surface plots, 3d scatter plots and other types of visualization. It uses OpenGL, a graphics language implemented by most video cards, to produce stunning images. The user can control lighting, surface properties, and coloring, and can rotate and zoom around the image. Each image can have a title, subtitle and footer. Images can be saved to BMP, JPG, GIF, TIFF and PNG formats, and can be printed at high resolution on color or black and white printers.

VarView has its own command language. Commands can be entered directly in a COM command window, which can be embedded in Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Explorer etc., or processed via script through a command handler object which does not need a window. In addtion, VarView commands can be combined into text files and run through the command handler in batch mode.

The help file contains a command window and a list of all the commands. In addtion there are several script files included in the distribution.

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Version Log

Download Software

To use VarView, down load theWindows 2000/XP MSI Installer File (built 7/31/2003).

VarView installs in the directory C:\Program Files\VarView. The installer adds a link to the help file and to the Excel demo spreadsheet under Start->Program->VarView.

There is an Excel Add-In, VarView.xla, in the bin subdirectory. The add-in helps you use VarView from Excel. The add-in is automatically installed when you run the demo spreadsheet.

Getting Started

Once you have downloaded and installed the software, here are some basic examples to get you started. Remember all commands are lower case and case sensitive. Spaces are important. None of the examples will work until you install the software!

Excel Add-In

The Excel add-in installs a menu bar like so:

The command are:

1. Execute active cell
Executes the command in the active cell as if it were typed into the command window.
2. Execute current region as a script
Executes the vertical block of commands from the active cell down to the next empty cell in the same column as though each were typed into the command window.
3. Show last return value
Pops a dialog box with the last return value from the command handler.
4. Print
Pops the print dialog box to print the active window.
5. Save
Save the active window as a BMP, JPG, GIF, TIFF or PNG file. Operates using the BMP etc., script files. See savex for more information.
6. Tile all windows
Tiles all graphics windows. Low tech at the moment; assumes you have a 1600x1200 monitor.
7. Cascade all windows
Cascades all graphics windows in the top right hand corner of the screen
8. Kill all windows
Kills all graphics windows.
9. Animate plot
Rotate the actors in the graphics window. You can also move the plot by left-clicking in the window and holding the button down. The scroll button zooms in/out. The left/right and up/down arrows also move the actors.
A. Toggle lights on/off
Turn lighting in the plot on and off.
B. Toggle colored/white light
Toggle lighting between colored lights (red and green) and white light. See lights and lightpos for more information on lights.
C. Toggle wireframe or surface
Toggles rendering mode between fill, wire front fill back, fill front wire back and wire front and back. See frontfill, frontline, backfill, backline,
D. Get Model Position
Captures the current model position, see modelview.
E. Set Model Position
Set the model position to the value returned by the last Get Model Position, button D. This allows you to have multiple windows with the same orientation. To set the position programmatically use @pos.
F. Insert image from active cell
Select a rectangular range where the cell (x,y) represents the value f(x,y). Click button 13 to insert an image of the range where color indicates value. See image.
G. Insert surface from active cell
As 13 only inserts a surface. See surface.
H. Insert xyz scatter plot from active cell
Select a range of 6-tuples (x, y, z, r, c, a) where (x,y,z) gives a point in space, r is a radius, c is a value mapped to color and a is a value mapped to opacity. Produces a plot of spheres of radius r at (x,y,z) with color c and opacity a. See xyxplot.
I. Insert lollipop plot from active cell
As 15, except each sphere is joined to the plane z=0 by a thin line, giving the impression of a field of lollipops (hence the name!). See lollipop.
J. Pop command window
Shows a command window on a VBA form. Any of the commands discussed so far can be typed directly into the command window.
K. Help on command in active cell
Type a command in the active cell and click 18 to see the help topic. See help for more. Try with help for more on using help!

Abbreviations and Let

Temporary and permanent variables (abbreviations) and snippets of code can be created using the let or abbrevs command. These are called using @cmd. For example typing

> let test surface f peaks

defines a temporary variable call test. Typing

> @test

calls this variable. It is the same as entering "surface f peaks" at the command line. Type abbrevs for a list of currently defined abbreviations. Many common colors are defined as abbreviations, so

> color bg @olive

will set the background color to an olive green. Typing

> echo color bg @olive

will echo back to the command window what the command expands into.

Script and Abbreviation Examples

There are several script and abbreviation examples included in the distribution. You can look at the scripts in Notepad, or another text editor, to see how they work. To expand the abbreviations use the echo command.

@bmp, @gif, @jpeg, @png and @tiff
These scripts save the active window in the indicated format. For example jpeg c:\temp\abc.jpg will save the active window as a 1600x1200 JPEG file. They all use the savex function.
Makes the active window fullscreen, Shift+left mouse click to restore the window
Toggles smooth rendering mode and white light. Fallable if you have changed lighting!
Example of surfaces with different textures. Shows how to include multiple actors in one plot and how to position the actors.
Example of animiation. This will not work with the application as shipped. You need to be able to create fvm files for it to work.
Example of the body brush. You need a 3DConnexion SpaceBall for this to work
cmap [colormap name]
Displays the colormap colorbar and shows the RGB ramp functions that make up the colormap. Try cmap copper for an example.
Demonstrates making custom colormaps
Four different surface plots showing how to control title and subtitle, change font, size, colors etc. Note that the title etc. is not shown when the plot is moving because the display flickers.
Four surface actors in one plot, with the spring, summer, fall and winter colormaps.
Three surfaces with different textures. Use the mouse to move this plot around.
A nice toy.
More texture demos.
Example of 3d scatter plot and lollipop plots.

Excel Spreadsheet Examples

In addition to the add-in, the installation includes a demo spreadsheet (Start->Program->VarView->VarView Demo Spreadsheet). Running the spreadsheet will automatically install the VarView Excel add-in. The spreadsheet contains some starter examples and the named ranges plot1 and plot2 which are used in the basic examples.

(c) 2003 Stephen Mildenhall