ALMA Visualization Software Discussion

TIP Last Update: JeffMangum - 15 March 2012

Requirements (items in bold are added requirements beyond original visualization requirements)


  • X-Y plots (OL-7.1-R2.1)
  • Histograms (OL-7.1-R2.2)
  • Contour plots (OL-7.1-R2.3)
  • Vector plots (OL-7.1-R2.4)
  • 2D images (OL-7.1-R2.5)
  • Wireframe 3D surfaces (OL-7.1-R2.6)
  • Interactive display zooming and unzooming capability within plot windows. (OL-7.2-R2)
  • “Blinking" between two different images, or stepping through a set of ordered images, at a user-selected rate and with adjustable transfer functions must be possible. (OL-7.1-R3)
  • Different line styles, sizes, thicknesses and colors must be available. User shall be able to manipulate intensity and color scales, interactively for graphical displays. The setup shall be saveable and reloadable. (OL-7.2-R4)
  • Users shall be able to add annotation, both interactively and through scripts, including text with various fonts (including Greek letters),
symbols (e.g. all the symbols provided by the LaTeXpackage with AMSTeX extension), arrows, geometrical figures like boxes and circles, etc. (OL-7.2-R8)
  • Histograms of pixel values must be easily produced for selected regions of the cube. (OL-7.5-R1)
  • It shall be possible to view subsets or slices of data cubes interactively: (OL-7.5-R2)
    • for axes aligned with cube faces
    • for arbitrarily aligned axes
  • It must be possible to plot values of the same pixel in different cube layers, or in different images, against each other. (OL-7.5-R3)
  • Data cubes must be viewable as movies with selectable frame rates and layer step directions. (OL-7.5-R4)
  • Interactive display of spectra corresponding to a pixel or region in a displayed image shall be supported. (OL-7.5-R5)
  • Interactive display of a 1D slice taken from a 2D image, such as dragging the line on the map to bring up a position-velocity diagram, shall be available. (OL-7.5-R6)
  • Plotting of spectra on a pseudo-grid corresponding to position on a raster (e.g. a “stamp map" or “profile map", basically thumbnail spectra in panels corresponding to position) shall be possible. (OL-7.5-R7)


  • File output capabilities in standard formats (pdf, jpg, gif, png, FITS, etc.) (OL-7.1-R4.1)


  • Basic axis transformations shall be built in to plotting, such as: (OL-7.2-R5)
    • Logarithmic amplitude and intensity scale
    • Different time and coordinate units and formats (e.g. hours, hhmmss, radians, ddmmss.s)
  • Identification and Extraction
    • Identification of faint signal (both targeted to a known (RA,Dec,Vel/Freq) and search)
    • Blob fitting (2D and 3D gaussian, etc.)
    • Frequency identification (from defined list)
    • Photometry (2D and 3D)
    • Spectral fitting (both pixel and boxed)
    • Moments
    • PV analysis

Overlay and Synchronization

  • User shall be able to augment plots and produce overlays of different data sets of standard formats: (OL-7.2-R6)
    • Images with same axes, size and orientation shall be superposable directly, with basic control of colors and symbols.
    • Overlay layer style shall be selectable, e.g. contours, greyscale, colormapped (RGB or HSV), or single color (i.e. one layer gets assigned intensity scales of red, another one of green, and one of blue).
    • Overlay of selectable coordinate grids (e.g. J2000, B1950, galactic, ecliptic, pixel number) shall be available. It must also be possible to overlay multiple grids.
    • The user must be able to overlay functional fits (e.g. polynomials) or points read in from standard tabular files
    • It shall be possible to place data sets in “layers" be which can be interactively colormapped, and switched on and off.
    • It shall be possible to display and overlay data with different coordinate systems, i.e. the coordinate system of the display can be chosen independent of the system the data were observed in and the data transformed appropriately with pre-computation.
    • It shall be possible to shift, rotate and scale the images interactively.
  • Users shall be able to synchronize multiple display windows, for example such that zooming to a given pixel in one image window will select the equivalent pixel in the slaved windows. (OL-7.2-R7)

-- JeffMangum - 2012-03-01
Topic revision: r2 - 2012-03-15, JeffMangum
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