NERSCPowering Scientific Discovery for 50 Years

1999 User Survey Results



Do you use visualization software to analyze or display your results?

No: 86, Yes: 84


Have you used NERSC visualization resources?

No: 147, Yes: 19


Describe the visualization software used to analyze or display your results - 94 responses

  • 28:    Download data and do visualization locally
  •   8:    Gave general description of what is visualized
  •   7:    Use home brew software
  • 51:    Others who listed software used
    • NCAR Graphics: 16
    • IDL: 14
    • AVS: 9
    • Matlab: 6
    • gnuplot: 6
    • Mathematica: 5
    • kaleidagraph: 5
    • xmgr: 4
    • noesys: 4
    • xmol: 3
    • vmd: 3
    • MSI Insight II: 3
    • 26 other software packages
      had 1 or 2 users

If you don't use visualization software, why not? - 25 responses

  •   9:    Don't know enough about it, don't know how to use it
  •   6:    Don't need visualization software
  •   3:    Haven't found the right software yet
  •   2:    Network access too slow
  •   2:    NERSC doesn't support the software I want
  •   2:    Learning curve is too steep, don't have the time
  •   1:    Not yet ready; might use in the future

Describe the NERSC visualization resources you have used - 19 responses

  •   7:    Use / have used NCAR Graphics
  •   4:    Use / have used AVS
  •   3:    Help from members of the Visualization group
  •   6:    Other visualization software

What additional visualization services or software could NERSC provide for you? - 36 responses

  • 18:    Don't need NERSC visualization services
  •   9:    Individual software requests
  •   7:    Don't know what I need, don't know what you offer
  •   1:    Help with AVS
  •   1:    Need more interactive computing

Describe the visualization software used to analyze or display your results - 94 responses

  • Download data and do visualization locally:   28 responses

    I have an SGI that satisfies my visualization needs (for now). In the future when I have larger data sets I may look into the visualization support that NERSC offers.

    In our work group, we've found that it is easier to do computations at NERSC and move the data back to the office and plot it there. It has been very frustrating in the past when software changes and you are forced to spend a lot of time reworking graphics.

    I use VMD to visualize my results. I have it installed on my SGI.

    I still use NCAR for some purposes. More often, I dump the data into NetCDF files and look at it with IDL using local (non-NERSC) computers.

    I use visualization at the ohio supercomputer center (OSC) since it was more convenient. the connection to nersc is sometimes on the slower side, so I did not think it worthwhile to start thinking about visualization at nersc

    Data explorer, run on our local AIX machine.

    For 3D visualization I use AVS and sometimes Mathematica on my local workstation. I also expect in the near future to use IBM Data Explorerer. I also use a variety of graphics software for more routine 2D viewing of my results. This would include Kaleidagraph, NOeSYS, NCSA Image on the Mac. On my workstation I use PLPLOT, NCSA Image and NCAR graphics.

    IDL on my desktop machine

    MATLAB at home institute.

    IDL and AVS
    Visualization is done at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

    We have enough software in our home machines. However, I will try to use visualization software in NERSC.

    I am primarily doing performance analysis at NERSC. I do most of my production runs here at ORNL.

    I use visualization tools on my PC or workstation since it works faster than remote connection (actually, I never tried visualization tools at NERSC, but I believe that the above statement is true). I have visualization tools for molecular structures and plotting on my PC but I am not sure what is available at NERSC.

    PC spartan pro

    Usually I download data files and do graphics on PC

    I use Chem3D and Xmol locally after transferring files from NERSC to my PC.

    I use idl on my local workstation

    I use IDL, but not through NERSC.

    I download my data and use the visualization packages I have here on my PC.

    I am happy with my local visualization software and am not training in using NERSC's software.

    Data are analyzed in my local platform

    gnuplot (for 2-dim plots), but I use them on my local machine

    ftp the results to my PC and analyze them there

    Occasionally, we visualize our data using a PC-based program named Noesys. This is basically a modern version of the older NCSA "Datascope" software.

    We use our own visualization, TECPLOT

    Just simple plots, using xmgr or Mathematica running on my local machines.

    Have used SGI Explorer on our workstations, as well as AVS at NERSC to generate cross sectional images and isosurfaces of 3-D data arrays.

    I use IDL on a local HP workstation


  • Gave general description of what is visualized:   8 responses

    I display various kinds of slices of atmospheric data in several dimensions; usually: lat, lon, alt/level/pressure, species, concentration.

    Molecular graphics programs to visualise particular atomic configurations of systems under study.

    Our results generate enormous amounts of data and can only be analyzed by careful graphical analysis.

    3D visualization of atom locations
    Contour plots

    No. Generally our graphics involves only two dimensional (y vs. x) plots, so that no sophisticated visualization software is necessary.

    Complicate numerical and analytical results need visualization analysis and presentation

    Graphical plots of results for publication.

    Simple plotters do usually fine


  • Use home brew software:   7 responses

    Home made software

    Have used AVS and home-grown.

    Sometimes use private software

    NCAR for basic line plots and SGI graphics workstations with custom-written software for more extensive visualizations

    Programs: AVS, xmgr, and self-written programs

    I primarily use a package, AmrVis, written and maintained by our research group.

    PV Wave, and amrvis (viz software for hierarchical data sets)


  • Software used:


    • NCAR Graphics: 16 responses
    NCAR graphics. Simple 2D plots and contour plots, monochrome.

    NCAR graphics

    Many codes used by group use NCAR routines

    NCAR graphics package.

    NCAR Graphics (available on J90/SV1 cluster in NERSC).

    Just NCAR.

    NCAR Graphics

    Primarily use NCAR.


    • IDL: 14 responses
    Simple 2-D plots with NCAR graphics. Color contour plots and 2D plots and postprocessing in IDL.

    Mostly NCAR and IDL

    NCAR graphics. IDL in past but not in the recent year


    • GIST graphics: 2 responses
    • AVS: 9 responses
    Mostly NCAR and GIST graphics; post-processing using Yorick; occasionally we use AVS

    I primarily use the NCAR plotting library (on the PVP) and the gist plotting library (which is part of Yorick and has in interface in python) (on both PVP and MPP). I only occasionally make use of other packages such as AVS.



    We use IDL and other packages to plot our results.


    • mongo, supermongo: 2 responses
    idl; sm (supermongo)


    • Matlab: 6 responses
    idl, sometimes matlab

    AVS system to display streamlines and vector plots.


    Only Matlab.

    I use matlab to look at my data.


    • gnuplot: 6 responses
    • xmgr: 4 responses
    • Mathematica: 5 responses
    Besides line plots with gnuplot or xmgr, I make surface plots with Matlab or Mathematica. [...]

    I am using Gnuplot to display my results. It needs to be updated to latest version.

    just gnuplot


    GNU plot


    • kaleidagraph: 5 responses
    • xmol: 3 responses
    gnuplot, kaleidagraph, xmol

    I use Mathematica for visualization, as well as some free UNIX software tools (xmgr, xmgrace, Plotmtv).


    • POVRAY: 1 response
    • MiniCAD: 1 response
    I use KaleidaGraph, POVRAY, Mathematica, and MiniCAD.


    • spyglass: 2 responses
    I use kaleidagraph for conventional plotting and spyglass for contour and 3-d plotting


    • NCSA Image: 2 responses
    • noesys: 4 responses
    kaleidagraph; image; noesys transform

    Noesys software


    • vmd: 3 responses
    My research group investigates the dynamics of atoms and molecules in complex systems. We frequently use molecular visualization tools (such as vmd and xmol) to analyze and display results.


    • rasmol: 2 responses
    VMD from UIUC, rasmol for protein visualization



    • atomtv: 1 response
    I utilize atomtv to view atomic positions and trajectories from molecular dynamics simulations.


    • QUANTA: 2 responses
    Use QUANTA to look at molecular dynamics results from CHARMM calculations.


    • MSI Insight II: 3 responses
    quanta, insightII, molden

    visualization of molecules using INSIGHTII from MSI, Inc.


    • O (Alwyn Jones): 1 response
    Molecular Graphics
    Insight II (MSI)
    O (Alwyn Jones)


    • Data Explorer: 2 responses
    • other single answers:

    Yes, have tried this once or twice (MAVIS for viewing Gaussian results).

    I'm a new user and am not yet up to full speed. The code I will be using, called XOOPIC, has a GUI that can be used to postprocess image files generated during batch runs.

    i use the vampir tool for visualizing execution traces


    I use the PCMDI-developed tool VGS to view the results.

    RM Scene Graph, beta product of R3vis Corp

    Geomview for 3-D interface.

    I (seldom) use the emerging HENP standard tool ROOT


    Simple packages for making graphs of data, e.g. TOPDRAW.


    PC spartan pro



    SGI Explorer

If you don't use visualization software, why not? - 25 responses

  • Don't know enough about it, don't know how to use it:   9 responses

    [...] I don't have a good idea of what is possible with some of the more advanced software on escher. I have tried experimenting from my desktop Sparc5, but am unable to run AVS.

    I need to learn more about this topic

    I don't know how to use this software.

    Don't know how

    I don't know enough about it, that's my fault.

    not familiar with it

    I do not know how to use the software at NERSC.

    complete ignorance on my part. PLease point me to a tutorial. I assume that it uses X-windows.

    do not know how to use


  • Don't need visualization software:   6 responses

    I'm not sure what I'd learn from visualizing my results. I've seen some visualizations of lattice QCD simulations, and they are somewhat useful to help explain to nonscientists what we are doing. But I think that some visualization techniques oversimplify things, and may actually be misleading in the course of the research. Then again, I don't have much experience with this.

    In appropriate for our application

    Others in our group do that.

    Use NERSC as a number crunching resource, only.

    Type of calculations are not really suitable for visualization.

    My work has not yet demand such software.


  • Haven't found the right software yet:   3 responses

    My group's work is mainly compiler/systems development. On the applications side, we would like to visualize adaptive (AMR) meshes but have not yet found good tools for this. (We are pursuing some.)

    I am working on a compiler rather than a number-crunching application per se. I am not familiar with any visualization software for abstract syntax trees, though that's an interesting idea....

    Still trying to find appropriate software


  • Network access too slow:   2 responses

    Network inside UGA too slow.

    Data transmission too slow.


  • NERSC doesn't support the software I want:   2 responses

    We use AVS (Advanced Visual System) for our visualizations. NERSC does not support AVS. [note from NERSC: AVS is supported on escher, the visualization server.]

    Our codes use DISSPLA and DISSPLA is not available on the CRAYs.


  • Learning curve is too steep, don't have the time:   2 responses

    Often there seems to be a large initial investment needed to come up to speed to be able to use large visualization software packages.

    Have not had the time.


  • Not yet ready; might use in the future:   1 response

    Currently , we are generating data which may be in future to display results graphically. Then we would use the visualization software.

Describe the NERSC visualization resources you have used - 19 responses

  • Use / have used NCAR Graphics:   7 responses

    NCAR graphics

    I have used NCAR graphics package before I got my own Fortner (originally Spyglass) package.

    So far I've only needed NCAR.

    NCAR on the J90's.

    I used to use the NCAR package, but didn't like it very much so I gave up about a year ago

    NCAR routines only

    [...] Presently only use NCAR at NERSC


  • Use / have used AVS:   4 responses

    Have used AVS at NERSC to generate cross sectional images and isosurfaces of 3-D data arrays.

    Yes, I have occasionally used AVS on Escher since it has a larger module library than my local workstation has. [...]

    I have tried AVS, but it didn't seem to offer significant advantages over my current software choices.



  • Help from members of the Visualization group:   3 responses

    The visualization group prepared a demo for SC'98 using my data.

    help from Wes Bethel using Quicktime and other animation tools

    Viz lab & viz group staff support.


  • Other visualization software:   6 responses

    Use escher to compute various viz frames for large-scale combustion calcs. [...]

    Past used IDL on sas. Presently only use NCAR at NERSC

    Physics Analysis Workstation (PAW) of CERN library


    PVWave a few years ago


What additional visualization services or software could NERSC provide for you? - 36 responses

  • Don't need NERSC visualization services: 18 responses

    In general the network latency is too large to allow reasonable access to remote visualization facilities.

    I am used to Matlab. A visualization tool on the local machine performs better than over the net.

    None, really. It is much more efficient to run it on a local machine for what I do.

    None, I believe that off-line visualization (on my local LINUX workstation) works better for my research.

    My telnet connection is usually painfully slow, and the best bet is to generate a graphics file at NERSC and ship it home by mail or ftp.

    See above; I don't think that visualization software is really appropriate for the domain in which I am working. But I'm open to suggestions! :-)

    I have planned to, but other approaches were used first.

    none -- due to security reasons (I'm in LANL)

    I have had no need so far.

    We use TECPLOT [not at NERSC]

    no need for outside visualization

    Nope. Not much free time and no burning desire to do this.

    see above. [does visualization locally]

    see above [does visualization locally]

    (see above) [uses local PC software]

    See above. [doesn't use]

    Not applicable.

    See above. [doesn't use]


  • Individual software requests:   9 responses

    Software geared around visualizing fluid dynamic data (FAST, Tecplot, ...) which, however, does not rely on graphics hardware support.

    [...] Could use Tecplot as well if it were there.

    I'm not aware of current offerings. I would like tools for analyzing 1000s of CDF files and for producing isosurface plots.

    Something for adaptive mesh data (actually, I haven't looked myself to see if such tools are available, but I've heard that better stuff might be coming, and I'm not in much of a hurry right now, so I'm waiting).

    AMR visualization library, but we would need to interface it to our own language/compiler, Titanium.

    I'd like to use the NCAR routines on mcurie.

    No. Something similar to Exodus

    Some simple 3D visualization program

    Our codes use DISSPLA and DISSPLA is not available on the CRAYs. If it were, we would run our DISSPLA-based codes on the CRAYs.


  • Don't know what I need, don't know what you offer:   7 responses

    an email pointing us to relevant information on the web

    I do not know anything about the capabilities of your tool.

    I am not familiar with NERSC's visualization resources. Coordinates which characterize the processes we are interested in are commonly collective and not easily discerned from pictorial representations. There have been, however, occasions on which the tools available to me for representing data have not been sufficient.

    I don't know right now. I am new to the system and I have been using our own home-grown visualization systems.

    not sure - not educated enough about what's out there.

    I havn't check all the possibilities...

    do not know


  • help with AVS:   1 response

    [...] Several topics I could use help on with respect to AVS are:
    (a) An efficient way of writing 3D data out as VRML 2 format for web applications. AVS only has modules (contributed) which write out in VRML 1 format and they write very inefficient forms of VRML. I've seen examples of direct reduction of 3D objects similar to what I work with to VRML 2 (without using AVS) which are much more efficiently rendered in VRML viewers than those I've written through AVS.
    (b) Better ways of getting my data imported to AVS. For example, I often work with non-planar analytically described surfaces. It would be helpful to know if there is software which would help one subdivide general surfaces into triangular elements and then write this out along with nodal data directly into a binary-format AVS UCD data structure. I usually end up either writing out lots of 3D field data and then making an isosurface through it or writing out the surface and then letting AVS convert the field to a UCD (it's converter does not seem to be very efficient).
    c) Another area that I've found challenging is in doing time-series animations of 3D data coming from simulations. One tends to have to write time slices of the data out as many separate files and then set up a loop within AVS to read these in and render them and save the 2D images again as lots of separate files. It would be helpful if someone would create an AVS module which could read multiple time slices out of a single file (or small number of such files) along with the code fragment needed in the simulation code for writing out this file (or files).


  • Need more interactive computing:   1 response

    Much of our visualization is interactive using the actual simulation program; more emphasis on interactive computing would help.