Using Fides in ParaView

Fides is now available as a reader in ParaView. We’ll explain here how to build ParaView with the Fides reader, as well as provide an example on how to use the reader in ParaView.

Building ParaView with the Fides Reader

To enable Fides support in ParaView, you can either build from source or download the binaries for your system. If you’re used to building ParaView, the instructions don’t change much for building Fides. Full ParaView build instructions are outside the scope of this guide, but can be found in the ParaView repo.

To get the Fides reader in ParaView, you’ll need to add the CMake option -DPARAVIEW_ENABLE_FIDES=ON. Fides is included as a third party module, so you do not need to build your own version of Fides to use in ParaView.

A couple of notes:

  • ADIOS2 is required and you may need to set the environment variable ADIOS2_DIR if CMake cannot detect the location of your ADIOS2 build.

  • For MPI support in ParaView, you can set the CMake option -DPARAVIEW_USE_MPI. The Fides reader can be used with or without MPI.

  • For our examples in this guide, we will be showing how to use the Fides reader with ParaView’s Python scripting support, so you should also build with Python support. Use the CMake option -DPARAVIEW_USE_PYTHON.

Gray-Scott Example

The Gray-Scott example is pulled from the ADIOS2 Examples repo. We are including the Gray-Scott code in the Fides repo under examples/gray-scott, so you do not need to pull anything from ADIOS Examples. To run this example, you’ll need to build Fides with the CMake option -DFIDES_ENABLE_EXAMPLES=ON. CMake should also copy the configuration files needed to your build folder, so all files referenced in the example should be located in /path/to/fides-build/examples/gray-scott.


For this example, the ADIOS2 build you use for building Fides needs to have MPI enabled. Fides decides whether to build with MPI based on if it is enabled in the ADIOS build.

Run Gray-Scott

To run, you can do the following:

$ cd /path/to/fides-build/examples/gray-scott
$ mpirun -np 4 ./gray-scott settings-staging.json

You should now see gs.bp in your current directory. The number of steps for Gray-Scott is set to 1000. If you’d like to change this number, change the value for steps in settings-staging.json.

Visualize with ParaView

Now we can use the Python script. This script will visualize a selected variable for each time step in the gs.bp file. First let’s run it and see the output, then we’ll break down what’s going on in the script.

To run (assuming we are still in the fides-build/examples/gray-scott directory):

$ mkdir vis
$ /path/to/paraview-build/bin/pvbatch --bp_file=gs.bp --output_path=vis --varname=U

There’s a few command line args needed by

  • --bp_file is the path to the BP file.

  • --output_path is the path where we want to save the visualizations created.

  • --varname is the name of the variable to visualize. This should be one of the variables listed when running bpls on the BP file. For Gray-Scott, we can select either U or V.

There should be one png file per timestep located in the vis directory we just created. Looking at the 250th time step, we see a visualization like:


Python Script Breakdown

Now let’s break down what’s going on in The main section starts by parsing the args, then creating a Fides reader object:

fides = FidesReader(FileName=args.bp_file, ConvertToVTK=1)

We need to provide the reader with the path to our BP file and optionally tell it whether to convert the data to VTK (from VTK-m format). The ConvertToVTK argument has a default value of 1, meaning convert to VTK format. If you want to use a VTK-m filter, you could have Fides leave it in VTK-m format (ConvertToVTK=0) and then the filter would convert to VTK format after it runs.

Currently when using Fides in ParaView, you cannot provide your own data model, so Fides will generate a data model using attributes contained in the BP file. For example, if we run bpls:

$ bpls -a gs.bp
double   Du                           attr
double   Dv                           attr
double   F                            attr
string   Fides_Data_Model             attr
string   Fides_Dimension_Variable     attr
double   Fides_Origin                 attr
double   Fides_Spacing                attr
string   Fides_Variable_Associations  attr
string   Fides_Variable_List          attr
double   U                            10*{64, 64, 64}
double   V                            10*{64, 64, 64}
double   dt                           attr
double   k                            attr
double   noise                        attr
int32_t  step                         10*scalar

The attributes starting with Fides_ are variables that are used by Fides to generate the data model. For more details on how Fides generates a data model, see Data Model Generation. For an example on how this attribute information is written to the BP file, see Writer::Writer() in examples/gray-scott/simulation/writer.cpp.

Back in, we call Streaming(), which iterates over each step in the data. This can be used in cases where the file has already been written (so BP3 or BP4), or with BP4 file streaming.

def Streaming(fides, output_path, varname):
    step = 0
    renderView = None
    while True:
        status = NotReady
        while status == NotReady:
            # essentially calls BeginStep on ADIOS engine being used
            # let ParaView know we need to update the pipeline info,
            # so we can get the status of this step
            status = fides.NextStepStatus
        if status == EndOfStream:
            print("ADIOS StepStatus is EndOfStream")
        if step == 0:
            renderView = SetupVis(fides, varname)
        UpdateVis(renderView, output_path, int(step))
        step += 1

fides.NextStepStatus will only return either EndOfStream or OK. If the step status is NotReady, internally Fides will wait until the next step is ready. On the first step, we call SetupVis(), which sets up our visualization pipeline and returns the render view. The full explanation of the ParaView objects used is outside the scope of this guide, see the ParaView User Guide.

On all steps, we call UpdateVis(), which simply tells ParaView to update the pipeline and save a screenshot to the directory specified by the output_path argument we passed to the script.

In Situ Visualization with ParaView Catalyst and Fides

Fides has also been integrated into ParaView Catalyst. ParaView provides an engine plugin for ADIOS that simplifies using Catalyst. This requires using ADIOS v2.8.0 or later, due to the use of an ADIOS plugin. Internally, this plugin uses the ADIOS inline engine to pass data pointers to ParaView’s Fides reader and uses ParaView Catalyst to process a user python script that contains a ParaView pipeline. Normally, using Catalyst would require writing adaptors, but with Fides it is possible to do in situ visualization of ADIOS2-enabled codes without writing adaptors.

This example is also using the Gray-Scott simulation described above that is provided in the examples/gray-scott directory of the Fides repo. settings-inline.json uses the adios2-inline-plugin.xml configuration file. It sets the engine type to plugin and provides the PluginName and PluginLibrary parameters required when using ADIOS engine plugins. In addition, you will need to set the environment variable ADIOS2_PLUGIN_PATH to contain the path to the shared library built by ParaView.

This example uses the data model file gs-catalyst-fides.json. The contains the pipeline Catalyst will execute on each step. These files are passed as parameters to the engine plugin (see parameters DataModel and Script in the adios2-inline-plugin.xml file).


Currently you must provide the JSON file with the data model. Support for generating the data model from ADIOS Attributes will be added soon.

Build and Run

This example is built as described above; just need to make sure to use the CMake option -DFIDES_ENABLE_EXAMPLES=ON. In addition, you must be using ADIOS v2.8.0 or later. You must also have built ParaView with the following options: -DPARAVIEW_ENABLE_FIDES=ON, -DPARAVIEW_ENABLE_CATALYST=ON, -DPARAVIEW_USE_PYTHON=ON, -DPARAVIEW_USE_MPI=ON. Again, ParaView must be built with ADIOS v2.8.0 or later.

The lib directory should contain Set the following env variables.

$ export ADIOS2_PLUGIN_PATH=/path/to/paraview-build/lib
$ export CATALYST_IMPLEMENTATION_PATHS=/path/to/paraview-build/lib/catalyst

To run:

$ mpirun -n 4 ./gray-scott simulation/settings-inline.json