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Callbacks & Custom UIs


When polyscope::show() has been called, Polyscope will optionally invoke user-supplied callback function as each frame of the interface is redrawn. This callback can be used to build a program-specific GUI, update an animation, perform computation, etc.

See Dear ImGui for documentation of UI commands.

std::function<void()> polyscope::state::userCallback
user callback

A function which will be invoked on every main loop iteration by Polyscope, once show() has been called.

If null, nothing will be invoked.


The code below creates the following UI using a callback.

callback ui demo

#include "polyscope/polyscope.h"
#include "polyscope/point_cloud.h"

// Parameters which we will set in the callback UI.
int nPts = 2000;
float anotherParam = 3.14;

void mySubroutine() {

  // do something useful...

  // Register a structure
  std::vector<glm::vec3> points;
  for (int i = 0; i < nPts; i++) {
        glm::vec3{ polyscope::randomUnit(), 
  polyscope::registerPointCloud("my point cloud", points);

// Your callback functions
void myCallback() {

  // Since options::openImGuiWindowForUserCallback == true by default, 
  // we can immediately start using ImGui commands to build a UI

  ImGui::PushItemWidth(100); // Make ui elements 100 pixels wide,
                             // instead of full width. Must have 
                             // matching PopItemWidth() below.

  ImGui::InputInt("num points", &nPts);             // set a int variable
  ImGui::InputFloat("param value", &anotherParam);  // set a float variable

  if (ImGui::Button("run subroutine")) {
    // executes when button is pressed
  if (ImGui::Button("hi")) {


int main(int argc, char** argv) {

    ...your program setup...

  // Initialize polyscope

  // Specify the callback
  polyscope::state::userCallback = myCallback;

  // Give control to the polyscope gui

  return EXIT_SUCCESS;


bool options::openImGuiWindowForUserCallback
open imgui window for user callback

If true, an ImGui window will be created and docked to the side of the UI when the user callback function is invoked. This means you can immediately start making ui calls like ImGui::Button("do stuff").

If false, no ImGui anything will be pushed on the stack when the callback is invoked, and the user is entirely responsible for making any ImGui calls (or not making any).

Default: true.

bool options::invokeUserCallbackForNestedShow
invoke user callback for nested show

Suppose you call polyscope::show(), and within your callback, another instance of polyscope::show() is called—this is a nested show.

Depending on the situation, you might or might not want your userCallback to continue being executed on each render loop iteration of this nested viewer; this setting exposes the option.

If true, your callback will be executed as normal for every main loop iteration, even in nested show windows.

If false, your callback will only be executed for initial, outermost calls to polyscope::show().

Default: false.

bool options::giveFocusOnShow
give focus on show

If true, the Polyscope window will request focus from the window manager whenever show() is called. If false, the focus state will be left unchanged.

Default: false.

Custom UIs

If desired, you can circumvent Polyscope’s standard ImGui style and UI panes, in ordered to build dramatically customized applications.


Circumventing the standard Polyscope user interface should be considered “advanced” usage. You are more likely to encounter bugs, and you may need to look at the Polyscope source to understand the behavior. The functions listed in this section may change in future versions of Polyscope.

Two callback functions are made available to configure the appearance of Polyscope’s ImGui panes. These callbacks are invoked internally by Polyscope during the setup process. If desired, you can set them to your own custom functions to use alternate styles.


// clearing the callback will fall back on default imgui styles
polyscope::options::configureImGuiStyleCallback = nullptr;

// alternately, set a custom callback 
// (which in this case simply configures the imgui light style)
polyscope::options::configureImGuiStyleCallback = []() { ImGui::StyleColorsLight(); };

// clearing the fonts callback will fall back on default imgui fonts
polyscope::options::prepareImGuiFontsCallback = nullptr;

// initialize polyscope

// ... the rest of your program as usual

std::function<void()> options::configureImGuiStyleCallback
imgui style callback

A callback function which will be invoked when an ImGui context is created (which may happen several times as Polyscope runs). By default, this is set to invoke configureImGuiStyle() from Polyscope’s imgui_config.cpp, but you may assign your own function to create custom styles. If this callback is null, the default ImGui style will be used.

std::function<std::tuple<ImFontAtlas*, ImFont*, ImFont*>()> options::prepareImGuiFontsCallback
imgui fonts callback

A callback function which will be invoked exactly once during initialization to construct a font atlas for ImGui to use. The callback should return a tuple of three pointers: a newly created global shared font atlas, a regular font, and a mono font. By default, this is set to invoke prepareImGuiFonts() from Polyscope’s imgui_config.cpp, but you may assign your own function to create custom styles. If this callback is null, default fonts will be used.

This callback is invoked when polycope::init() is called, so if you are going to customize it you must do so before init().

The default implementation of this callback looks something like the following. You can customize your own version of this function to modify any Polyscope fonts, or if you simply want to load additional fonts, do so at the commented note below.

std::tuple<ImFontAtlas*, ImFont*, ImFont*> prepareImGuiFonts() {
  ImGuiIO& io = ImGui::GetIO();

  // outputs
  ImFontAtlas* globalFontAtlas;
  ImFont* regularFont;
  ImFont* monoFont;

  { // add regular font
    ImFontConfig config;
    regularFont = io.Fonts->AddFontFromMemoryCompressedTTF(render::getLatoRegularCompressedData(),
                                                           render::getLatoRegularCompressedSize(), 18.0f, &config);

  { // add mono font
    ImFontConfig config;
    monoFont = io.Fonts->AddFontFromMemoryCompressedTTF(render::getCousineRegularCompressedData(),
                                                        render::getCousineRegularCompressedSize(), 16.0f, &config);

  // Add your own additional fonts here

  globalFontAtlas = io.Fonts;

  return std::tuple<ImFontAtlas*, ImFont*, ImFont*>{globalFontAtlas, regularFont, monoFont};

The option buildGui can be used to entirely disable all of Polyscope’s ImGui UI elements, allowing you to build your own UI. Polyscope will still initialize ImGui and invoke its drawing routines each frame.

bool options::buildGui
build gui

This option can be used to disable all of Polyscope’s ImGui UI elements, which may be useful for advanced applications which wish to build a fully-custom UI on top of Polyscope.

If false, Polyscope will not create any ImGui UIs at all, but will still set up ImGui and invoke its render steps each frame. The allows advanced users to create their own UIs totally from scratch and circumvent the standard Polyscope UIs.

Default: true.

The functions buildPolyscopeGui(), buildStructureGui(), buildPickGui(), and buildUserGuiAndInvokeCallback() can be used to manually build pieces of the UI one at a time.