How does Iris Explorer work?

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When you start the program, you will be presented with three windows: the Librarian, the Editor and a Log window. The program uses a "toolbox" principle.

In the librarian window you will find a large number of modules, which perform certain simple tasks, such as reading in data from a file, or calculating a function of several variables, or displaying graphics. You can click-and-drag those modules to the editor window to build a map. The librarian window also includes quite a few fully developed task maps that can serve as examples.

The editor window is the main component of Iris Explorer. Here you arrange modules that perform simple tasks to a network called a map. The output of one module may be connected to the input of another, and with this map you are able to specify the overall visualization tasks that you may want to have performed. Here is an example (from the pre-made maps that come with the program):

The map "Simple" is meant to display a so-called isosurface of a three-dimensional distribution, ie, the set of all points that share a specific value of that distribution. This is done in the simplest possible manner by reading the distribution in from disk and constructing the isosurface from those data. The map consists of three component modules: ReadLat, IsosurfaceLat, Render.

ReadLat has no input channel, and consists only of a GUI that lets the user specify which “lattice” file contains the needed data for the distribution. A lattice is a special data structure used in Iris Explorer to specify data of various complexity, dimensionality and connectivity. Such data might be generated by a program or by another module. ReadLathas one output channel through which it passes the lattice on to the next module.

IsosurfaceLat produces a specified isosurface from a 3D lattice. It has one input channel for a 3D lattice representing a three-dimensional distribution, and one output channel for asurface geometry. A surface geometry is a graphical object which may be displayed. There are a few adjustable parameters which might be passed to this module via a GUI, e.g. To specify the value of the isosurface.

Render is the standard renderer in Iris Explorer, and excepts several types of input, one of them being geometries. It has a variety of adjustable parameters which may be adjusted via a GUI, and have to do with the rendering of objects that are being displayed by this module, for instance colors, light sources, orientation, size, perspective, etc.

The output of each of these modulkes is connected to the input of the next one, giving a chain ReadLat > IsosurfaceLat > Render. It is at any point possible to switch in or add additional modules, for example to produce a bounding box, axes, cuts, annotations, etc.Iris Explorer comes with a large number of example maps a prepared modules. However, it is relatively simple to write additional modules and integrate them into the program, for example to let you convert the output data from your favourite program into a "lattice" that can be processed by Iris Explorer's modules.