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Polyscope is a C++/Python viewer and user interface for 3D data such as meshes and point clouds. It allows you to register your data and quickly generate informative and beautiful visualizations, either programmatically or via a dynamic GUI. Polyscope is designed to be lightweight—it does not “take ownership” over your entire program, and it is easy to integrate with existing codebases and popular libraries. The lofty objective of Polyscope is to offer a useful visual interface to your data via a single line of code.

Polyscope uses a paradigm of structures and quantities. A structure is a geometric object in the scene, such as a surface mesh or point cloud. A quantity is data associated with a structure, such as a scalar function or a vector field.

When any of these structures and quantities are registered, Polyscope displays them in an interactive 3D scene, handling boilerplate concerns such as toggling visibility, color-mapping data and adjusting maps, “picking” to click in the scene and query numerical quantities, etc.

Note: There are two variants of this documentation, for C++ and Python. Use the buttons on the top bar to change language.

A simple workflow for visualizing data in Polyscope looks like:

#include "polyscope/polyscope.h"
#include "polyscope/surface_mesh.h"

// Initialize polyscope

// Register a point cloud
// `points` is a Nx3 array-like container of points
polyscope::registerPointCloud("my points", points)

// Register a surface mesh structure
// `meshVerts` is a Vx3 array-like container of vertex positions
// `meshFaces` is a Fx3 array-like container of face indices  
polyscope::registerSurfaceMesh("my mesh", meshVerts, meshFaces);

// Add a scalar and a vector function defined on the mesh
// `scalarQuantity` is a length V array-like container of values
// `vectorQuantity` is an Fx3 array-like container of vectors per face
polyscope::getSurfaceMesh("my mesh")->addVertexScalarQuantity("my_scalar", scalarQuantity);
polyscope::getSurfaceMesh("my mesh")->addFaceVectorQuantity("my_vector", vectorQuantity);

// View the point cloud and mesh we just registered in the 3D UI
import polyscope as ps

# Initialize polyscope

### Register a point cloud
# `my_points` is a Nx3 numpy array
ps.register_point_cloud("my points", my_points)

### Register a mesh
# `verts` is a Nx3 numpy array of vertex positions
# `faces` is a Fx3 array of indices, or a nested list
ps.register_surface_mesh("my mesh", verts, faces, smooth_shade=True)

# Add a scalar function and a vector function defined on the mesh
# vertex_scalar is a length V numpy array of values
# face_vectors is an Fx3 array of vectors per face
ps.get_surface_mesh("my mesh").add_scalar_quantity("my_scalar", 
        vertex_scalar, defined_on='vertices', cmap='blues')
ps.get_surface_mesh("my mesh").add_vector_quantity("my_vector", 
        face_vectors, defined_on='faces', color=(0.2, 0.5, 0.5))

# View the point cloud and mesh we just registered in the 3D UI

Polyscope is designed to make your life easier. It is simple to build, and fewer than 10 lines of code should be sufficient to start visualizing. In C++, some template magic means Polyscope can probably accept the data types you’re already using!

Author: Nicholas Sharp

If Polyscope contributes to an academic publication, cite it as:

  title = {Polyscope},
  author = {Nicholas Sharp and others},
  note = {},
  year = {2019}

Development of this software was funded in part by NSF Award 1717320, an NSF graduate research fellowship, and gifts from Adobe Research and Autodesk, Inc.