Introduction to IRIS ExplorerTM

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What is IRIS Explorer?

IRIS Explorer is a powerful visual programming environment for 3D data visualisation, animation and manipulation. It is a standards-based package that utilises the Open InventorTM, ImageVisionTM and OpenGLTM libraries together with NAG's world-class numerical libraries. It is available on a broad range of PC and workstation platforms (see Getting More Information below).

IRIS Explorer's visual programming environment enables you to create customised applications simply by selecting from the library of 'modules' (software routines) included and connecting them together, without writing a single line of code. The application can be altered and updated just as simply. This enables you to interactively analyse collections of data and visualise the results for analysis, presentations or publication. Each module is interactively controlled by a set of dials, buttons, sliders and file browsers, which are displayed on a control panel and can be altered while the application is running.

You can develop your own modules or use NAG's Consultancy Service (External) to write modules tailored to your particular requirements. These modules provide an easy way to share functionality, without the need to understand the underlying program or algorithm.

What is the History of IRIS Explorer?

IRIS Explorer was originally developed and distributed by Silicon Graphics, Inc. (SGI). Interest in the system grew over the years and SGI decided to move IRIS Explorer to an external independent software house. On 25th July 1994 the Numerical Algorithms Group (NAG) took over the development, porting, marketing, sales and support of IRIS Explorer from Silicon Graphics. NAG have subsequently made a number of enhancements to the product.


Interactive Demonstrations

Various interactive demonstrations, illustrating how to perform certain tasks in IRIS Explorer, are available via the FAQ Pages. The demos contain a running commentry that explains what is happening in the map at each step. You can step through a demo interactively or leave it to play automatically. The demo can be paused at any point and the current state of the map saved for later recall, if desired.

These demonstrations and the example maps provided with the IRIS Explorer system can be used as a starting point for your own applications.


  • To help you get the most from IRIS Explorer, NAG runs two comprehensive, hands-on training courses (External) for current and potential users of IRIS Explorer.

  • Getting Started with IRIS Explorer
    This two-day course shows you how to start building and using applications to visualise your data. No knowledge of IRIS Explorer or programming is assumed. The course describes what IRIS Explorer does, how data is represented within the system, how to construct applications from software building blocks (modules), and how to read data into IRIS Explorer. The course cost includes comprehensive notes and lunch.
  • Working with IRIS Explorer
    This two-day course enables you to learn the more advanced features of the software. In particular, it focuses on building new modules to extend the functionality of the system. It is assumed that the user has a working knowledge of IRIS Explorer (or has attended the Getting Started with IRIS Explorer training course) and can program in C and/or Fortran 77. The course describes some of the advanced features of the Map Editor, the module building environment, and the IRIS Explorer data types in detail. It also describes Shape, an interpreted language which can be used to quickly build and prototype new IRIS Explorer modules. The course cost includes comprehensive notes and lunch.

These courses are available in Europe, North America and Japan. They can also be arranged for other parts of the world. Further information including prices and scheduled course dates can be obtained from your nearest IRIS Explorer center (see Getting More Information below).

Consultancy Services

  • NAG offers a consultancy service which can range from short-term module writing through to full application implementations. The modular nature of IRIS Explorer means that it is easy for NAG IRIS Explorer consultants to customise the product to meet your particular needs.

    Modules can be developed for range of requirements, such as

  • developing customised format file readers
  • porting existing legacy C or FORTRAN code into IRIS Explorer
  • adding new visualisation techniques
  • tailoring the mathematical algorithm set
  • In addition, the Consultancy Service can, for example

  • develop fully specified applications
  • provide "on the job" training
  • run training events (using the NAG training facilities or your location)
  • provide technical input for projects involving IRIS Explorer

Getting More Information

IRIS Explorer Center (Worldwide)
Wilkinson House
Jordan Hill
United Kingdom, OX2 8DR

Tel: +44 (0)1865 516377
Fax: +44 (0)1865 516388
WWW: (External)

IRIS Explorer Center (North America)
1400 Opus Place, Suite 200
IL 60551-5702

Tel: +1 708 971 2367
Fax: +1 708 971 2346
WWW: (External)

IRIS Explorer Center (Japan)
Yaesu Nagaoka Building No. 6
1-9-8 Minato

Tel: +81 (0)3 5542 6311
Fax: +81 (0)3 5542 6312
WWW: (External)

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' The Numerical Algorithms Group Ltd. Oxford, UK.