geomview.1gv man page

Geomview — interactive geometry viewer


geomview [-b r g b] [-c commandfile] [-wins #windows] [-noinit] [-nopanels] [-noopengl] [-wpos xmin ymin xsize ysize] [-wpos xsize,ysize[@xmin,ymin]] [-e external-module-name] [-M[cg][sp] pipename] [-start external-module-name [arg ...] --] [-run external-module-path [arg ...] --] [file ...]


Geomview is an interactive geometry viewer written at the Geometry Center.  It displays the objects in the files given on the command line and allows the user to view and manipulate them interactively.

The present version (1.7) of geomview runs on Silicon Graphics Irises, and X Window System workstations.  We are very interested in hearing about any problems you may have using it; see below for information on how to contact us.

In addition to providing interactive control over a world of objects via the mouse and keyboard, geomview has an interpreted language of commands for controlling almost every aspect of its display.  It can execute files containing statements in this language, and it can communicate with other programs using the language.  See geomview(5), e.g. the file man/cat5/geomview.5 in the geomview distribution, for more details of the language.


This manual page serves only as a (very) terse reference manual for geomview.  For a gentler introduction to the program and the format of the data files it can read, see "overview" and "oogltour" in the "doc" directory of the geomview distribution, or better, see the full manual: "geomview.tex" or "", also in the "doc" directory. The source distribution also includes a tutorial for how to write external modules in the "src/bin/example" directory.



Set the window background color to the given r g b values.


Interpret the commands in commandfile, which may be “-” for standard input. The command language is described in geomview(5). Commands may be supplied literally, as in “-c "(ui-panel main off)"”; since they include parentheses, they must be quoted.


Causes geomview to initially display #windows camera windows.


Specifies the initial location and size of the first camera window. With “-”, you are prompted for window placement.

-M objname

Display (possibly dynamically changing) geometry (or commands) sent via “togeomview -g objname [geomview-shell-command]” or “geomstuff objname file ...”. The data appears as a geomview object named objname.

Actually listens to the named pipe “/tmp/geomview/objname”; you can achieve the same effect with the shell commands:
   mkdir /tmp/geomview; 
   mknod /tmp/geomview/objname p
(assuming the directory and named pipe don't already exist), then executing the geomview command:
   (geometry objname  < /tmp/geomview/objname)

-M[cg][ps[un|in|in6]] PIPENAME|TCPPORT

The -M option accepts modifiers: a 'g' suffix expects geometry data (the default), while a 'c' suffix expects GCL commands.  A 'p' implies the connection should use a named pipe (the default on everything except on the NeXT), while 's' implies using a UNIX-domain socket (the default on the NeXT). Since version 1.9 of Geomview internet domain sockets are also supported; use 'sin' to make Geomview listen on the IPv4 port given by TCPPORT, or use 'sin6' to make Geomview listen on an IPv6 port (also as specified by TCPPORT). 'sun' is a synonym for 's', i.e. use the Unix domain socket with the name PIPENAME. If PIPENAME starts with a slash ('/'), then it is assumed to be an absolute pathname, otherwise the named pipe or socket is created below ${TMPDIR}/geomview/.

So -Mcs fred selects reading commands from the UNIX-domain socket named /tmp/geomview/fred, -Mcsin 40000 selects reading commands from the IPv4 port '40000'.


Disable the use of OpenGL for (possibly) hardware accelerated rendering, even if the Geomview binary has support for OpenGL compiled in. This also disables the support for transparency and and textures


Start up displaying no panels, only graphics windows.  Panels may be invoked later as usual with the "Px" keyboard shortcuts or "(ui-panel ...)" command.


Read no initialization files.  By default, geomview reads the system-wide ".geomview" file, followed by those in $HOME/.geomview and ./.geomview.

-e modulename

Start an external module; modulename is the name associated with the module, appearing in the main panel's Applications browser, as defined by the emodule-define command (see geomview(5) for details).

-start modulename arguments ... --

Like -e but allows you to pass arguments to the external module.  "--" signals the end of the argument list; the "--" may be omitted if it would be the last argument on the geomview command line.

-run shell-command arguments ...

Like -start but takes the pathname of executable of the external module instead of the module's name.

Geometry File Formats

The format of the files read by geomview is described in oogl(5); type "man 5 oogl", or see the file man/cat5/oogl.5 in the geomview distribution, for details.

Note to users of MinneView (the precursor to geomview): geomview can read MinneView files, but MinneView cannot read all geomview files.

Startup Files

Immediately upon starting up geomview reads and executes the commands in the system-wide .geomview file in the "data" subdirectory of the geomview directory.  Then, if there is a file named .geomview in the current directory, it executes the commands in that file.  If no in the user's home directory, and executes it if found. The startup file of an individual user overrides the systemwide defaults, since later commands take precedence over earlier ones.

External Modules

Geomview has the ability to interact via its command language with other programs, called "external modules".  Many such modules have been written and appear in the "Application" browser in the main geomview panel.  To invoke a module you click the mouse on the module's entry in this browser.  This starts the module and adds an additional entry to the browser, beginning with a number in square brackets as in “[1] Crayola”, which represents the running instance of that module.  You can terminate the module by clicking on the numbered entry.  Modules are documented separately from geomview.  See the manual page for each module for details.

Installing an External Module

Geomview looks for external modules in a special directory for modules.  In the geomview distribution tree this is the "bin/$MACHTYPE" subdirectory.  A module consists of two files: the executable program, and a "module init file", which is a whose name is ".geomview-" followed by the module name.  The module init file tells geomview how to run that program.  Be sure to always keep these two files together; geomview needs both of them in order to run the module.  To install a new module, simply put the module's executable file and its init file in your geomview's module directory.  The next time you run geomview, it will know about that module.

Geomview can actually looks for modules in a list of directories; by default only the "bin/$MACHTYPE" directory is on this list.  See the set-emodule-path command in geomview(5) for details.

There is a tutorial for how to write external modules in the "src/bin/example" directory.

External Module Init Files

An external module init file is the file that tells geomview how to run that module.  Its name must be ".geomview-" followed by the name of the module, e.g. ".geomview-foo".   It should contain geomview commands; typically it will contain a single emodule-define command which enters the module into geomview's application browser:

        (emodule-define "Foo" "foo")

The first string is the name that appears in the browser.  The second string is the command to invoke the module.  It may contain arguments; in fact it can be an arbitrary shell command.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Many geomview operations are available from the keyboard.  Hitting the "?" button on the main panel, or typing "?"  with the cursor in any window, causes geomview to print a message on standard output listing all the keyboard shortcuts.

Keyboard commands apply while cursor is in any graphics window and most 
control panels. Most commands allow one of the following selection prefixes 
(if none is provided the command applies to the current object): 
   g  world geom	g#  #'th geom	g*  All geoms
   c  current camera	c#  #'th camera	c*  All cameras
Many allow a numeric prefix:  if none they toggle or reset current value.
 Draw:		     Shading:		Other:
  af  Faces		0as Constant	 av  eVert normals: always face viewer
  ae  Edges		1as Flat	#aw  Line Width (pixels)
  an  Normals		2as Smooth	#ac  edges Closer than faces(try 5-100)
  ab  Bounding Boxes	3as Smooth, non-lighted  al  Shade lines
  aV  Vectors		aT  allow transparency   at  Texture-mapping
 Color:			aC  allow concave polygons
  Cf Ce Cn Cb CB   face/edge/normal/bbox/backgnd
Motions:				      Viewing:
  r rotate	   [ Leftmouse=X-Y plane,	0vp Orthographic view
  t translate	     Middle=Z axis,		1vp Perspective view
  z zoom FOV	     Shift=slow motion,		 vd Draw other views' cameras
  f fly		     in r/t modes.      ]	#vv field of View
  o orbit           [Left=steer, Middle=speed ]	#vn near clip distance
  s scale					#vf far clip distance
  w/W recenter/all				 v+ add new camera
  h/H halt/halt all				 vx cursor on/off
  @  select center of motion (e.g. g3@)		 vb backfacing poly cull on/off
						#vl focal length
  L  Look At object				 v~ Software shading on/off
show Panel:	Pm Pa Pl Po	main/appearance/lighting/obscure
		Pt Pc PC Pf	tools/cameras/Commands/file-browser
		Ps P-		saving/read commands from tty
Lights:  ls le		Show lights / Edit Lights
Metric:  me mh ms  	Euclidean Hyperbolic Spherical
Model:   mv mp mc	Virtual Projective Conformal
  N normalization < Pf  load geom/command file
   0N none	  > Ps  save something to file	ui  motion has inertia
   1N each	  TV	NTSC mode toggle	uc  constrained (X/Y) motion
   2N all	  				uo  motion in Own coord system
  Rightmouse-doubleclick  pick as current target object
  Shift-Rightmouse        pick interest (center) point
  RR send RIB output to <fileprefix>NNN.rib (default fileprefix == "geom")
  RC Emulate lines using cylinders (default)
  RP Emulate lines using polygons
  Ra choose ASCII RIB format (default)
  Rb choose BINARY RIB format
  Rt choose Display token to specify .tiff file (default)
  Rf choose Display token to specify framebuffer
  Rs Simulate background color with Polygon (default)
  Rx No background simulation - fully transparent (alpha) background


The "geomview" command is actually a shell script that sets various environment variables which tell geomview about your local setup, and then invokes the geomview executable program "gvx" (or "gvx.OGL"). Do not run "gvx" by itself; always invoke geomview with the "geomview" shell script.

See Also

oogl(5) - OOGL geometric file formats and conventions
geomview(5) - geomview command language reference


data/.geomview - default initialization file in geomview command language

data/geom - sample data files


The “geomview” shell script sets these internally by default; if you set them before invoking geomview, the values you set will be used instead of the built-in defaults.

GEOMVIEW_GVX - geomview executable
GEOMVIEW_DATA_DIR - default directory for data files
GEOMVIEW_LOAD_PATH - colon-separated search path for data files
GEOMVIEW_EMODULE_DIR - default directory for external emodules
GEOMVIEW_EMODULE_PATH - colon-separated search path for external modules
GEOMVIEW_SYSTEM_INITFILE - system-wide GCL initialization script
GEOMDATA - top directory of the default data tree, used by some modules
GEOMVIEW_DOC_DIR - path to the user manual
WEBBROWSER - executable for viewing the HTML version of the manual when invoking the `Manual (HTML)' menu item
PDFVIEWER - executable for viewing the PDF version of the manual when invoking the `Manual (PDF)' menu item


   Stuart Levy              Tamara Munzner         Mark Phillips
             Celeste Fowler              Nathaniel Thurston
              Daniel Krech                   Scott Wisdom 
              Daeron Meyer                  Timothy Rowley

       The National Science and Technology Research Center for
        Computation and Visualization of Geometric Structures
                        (The Geometry Center)
                       University of Minnesota


Sometimes core dumps on bad input files.

Zoom and scale have no inertia.

Virtual spherical mode doesn't work on VGXes.


December 10, 1996 Geometry Center