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Although education of new users is the main motivation, the VTK Examples should also:

  1. Encourage good programming style
  2. Promote the proper and modern way to use VTK and write VTK programs
  3. Facilitate the nightly compilation and testing of examples that reside in the VTK Examples repository.

These requirements must be met without compromising the main goal of user education.

Guidelines for each language

All examples should follow the VTK programming style and there should be a single blank line at the end of the example


  • The indentation style can be characterized as the AllmannStyle. The curly brace (scope delimiter) is on a separate line and aligns with the control statement. The control block is indented by two spaces (no tabs). A suitable .clang-format is provided in src/Cxx. Most IDE's can be be configured to use this file for formatting. See clang-format for more information.


    if (this->Locator == locator)
    for (i = 0; i < this->Source->GetNumberOfPoints(); i++)
      p1 = this->Source->GetPoint(i);
  • Where appropriate, explicitly use the std:: namespace:
    std::cout << "Print something" << std::endl;

rather than

    cout << "Print something" << endl;
  • All includes from the toolkit should use <...> notation. This follows C++ programming conventions.

    For example: #include <vtkContourFilter.h> is preferred over #include "vtkContourFilter.h"

  • The main program must have the following signature:

    int main (int argc, char *argv[])

or, if argc and argv are not referenced in the code,

    int main (int, char *[])
  • If arguments are required, a check similar to the following should be made at the start of the main program.
  float alpha = 0.5;
  if (argc < 2)
    std::cout << "Usage: " << argv[0] << " filename.vtp [alpha] e.g. Bunny.vtp"
              << std::endl;
    return EXIT_FAILURE;
  if (argc > 2)
    alpha = atof(argv[2]);
  • An example should never call exit(). If the main program executes successfully, it should
    return EXIT_SUCCESS;


    return EXIT_FAILURE;
  • The use of SmartPointers is preferred in VTK examples, generally use vtkNew and only use vtkSmartPointerwhere appropriate.
    vtkNew<vtkCutter> cutter;

or (where needed)

    auto cutter = vtkSmartPointer<vtkCutter>::New();
  • When building pipelines, the new SetInputConnection(), GetOutputPort() methods should be used.

  • Input/Output filenames

    When possible, filenames should be passed on the command line. This gives the examples utility beyond the data that is used in the specific example.

  • If there are just a few parameters for the example, these should be passed in as arguments. This increases the utility of the example and facilitates testing.

    For example, this program

    Delaunay3D InputPolydataFileName(.vtp) Alpha
would use the arguments in this manner
    reader->SetFileName (argv[1]);
  • Always provide a background for the renderers. Avoid setting the background to white.

  • Use vtkNamedColors for setting colors of actors and renderer backgrounds. VTKNamedColorPatches shows the colors that are available. If you are using a color series, then you can choose what you want from here VTKColorSeriesPatches.

For example,

  #include <vtkNamedColors.h>

  int main(int, char*[])

    vtkNew<vtkNamedColors> namedColors;


is preferred over

    renderer->SetBackground(0.9412, 0.9020, 0.5490);


In general, Python submissions should follow the VTK Programming style and the comments outlined for C++ above (with language appropriate modifications).

Python code styling follows PEP 8 -- Style Guide for Python Code.

Python code is tested in a similar manner to C++ code, so it must follow this layout:

#!/usr/bin/env python

import vtkmodules.all as vtk

def main(argv):
    Get parameters (if needed)
    Instantiate your classes, call them and any defs.

if __name__ == '__main__':
    import sys

Use argparse where needed:

#!/usr/bin/env python

import vtkmodules.all as vtk

def main(argv):
    xyz_fn, q_fn = get_program_parameters(argv)
    colors = vtk.vtkNamedColors()

    # Do the work

def get_program_parameters(argv):
    import argparse
    description = 'Some description.'
    epilogue = '''
    Extra information.
    parser = argparse.ArgumentParser(description=description, epilog=epilogue,
    parser.add_argument('xyz_filename', help='combxyz.bin.')
    parser.add_argument('q_filename', help='combq.bin.')
    args = parser.parse_args()
    return args.xyz_filename, args.q_filename

if __name__ == '__main__':
    # import sys

For the Input/Output of filenames and parameters. Use this snippet GetProgramParameters.

It you do not know what vtk modules and classes you need use:

import vtkmodules.all as vtk

instead of:

from vtkmodules.<SomeVTKModule> import <SomeVTKClass>

Generating/Editing Import Statements

Finally, when you are happy with everything, make sure only the requisite VTK classes and constants that you are using in your code are loaded when your program runs. To do this, run your code through VTKImportsForPython, it will analyse your code producing a list of import statements for you.

At the end of the list that is produced, there are a series of commented out statements consisting of imports that you may need to enable. Only enable the ones you really need and include the statement # noinspection PyUnresolvedReferences for PyCharm users, as this will prevent the statement from being removed.

e.g The most common ones will be:

# noinspection PyUnresolvedReferences
import vtkmodules.vtkInteractionStyle
# noinspection PyUnresolvedReferences
import vtkmodules.vtkRenderingOpenGL2

Remove any unused ones.


In general, Java submissions should follow the VTK Programming style and the comments outlined for C++ above (with language appropriate modification).

For Java code layout, look at CylinderExample

Java code styling follows the usual style as implemented in the IDEs.

However note:

  • No Tabs