The MayaVi Data Visualizer

Mayavi2: the next generation

MayaVi is not dead! Mayavi2 is the next generation of MayaVi. Mayavi2, is a full rewrite of the original MayaVi and provides far more scriptability, easier usage for common patterns, and easy embedding in Python applications.

Mayavi2 has been under very active development for a while now and has many more features than Mayavi-1.x. Please consult the Mayavi2 home page at for more installation instructions and a user guide.

The following information and the information on this site pertains to the older MayaVi-1.x versions. Note that MayaVi-1.x is no longer under active development.

MayaVi1: the past

MayaVi1 is a free, easy to use scientific data visualizer. It is written in Python and uses the amazing Visualization Toolkit (VTK) for the graphics. It provides a GUI written using Tkinter. MayaVi is free and distributed under the conditions of the BSD license. It is also cross platform and should run on any platform where both Python and VTK are available (which is almost any *nix, Mac OSX or Windows).

Latest version: 1.5
Release date: 13 September, 2005
Read the announcement

Fairly stable CVS snapshots of MayaVi are obtainable from the download link on the left.


  • An easy to use GUI.
  • Can be imported as a Python module from other Python programs and can also be scripted from the Python interpreter.
  • Provides modules to:
    • Visualize computational grids.
    • Visualize scalar, vector and tensor data.
  • Quite a few data filters are also provided.
  • Supports volume visualization of data via texture and ray cast mappers.
  • Support for any VTK dataset using the VTK data format. Works for rectilinear, structured, unstructured grid data and also for polygonal data. Both the original VTK data formats and the new XML formats are supported.
  • Support for PLOT3D data. Only the binary structured grid format works because of current limitations in VTK's vtkPLOT3DReader. Simple support for multi-block data is also incorporated.
  • Support for EnSight data. EnSight6 and EnSightGold formats are supported. Only single parts are supported at this time.
  • Multiple datasets can be used simultaneously. Multiple modules can be viewed simultaneously.
  • Support for data files belonging to a time series.
  • A pipeline browser with which you can browse and edit objects in the VTK pipeline. A segmented pipeline browser is used to make it easier to look at parts of the VTK pipeline.
  • Support for importing a simple VRML or 3D Studio scene. Texturing in VRML is not yet supported due to limitations in VTK's vtkVRMLImporter.
  • A modular design so you can add your own modules and filters.
  • A Lookup Table editor to customize your lookup tables easily while visualizing data!
  • An interactive data picker that lets you probe your data interactively.
  • A light manipulation kit that lets you modify the lighting of the visualization.
  • The visualization (or a part of it) can be saved and reused in the future.
  • Export the visualized scene to a Post Script file, PPM/BMP/TIFF/JPEG/PNG image, Open Inventor, Geomview OOGL, VRML files, Wavefront OBJ or RenderMan RIB files. It is also possible to save the scene to a vector graphic via GL2PS. This is only available if VTK is built with GL2PS support.
And a lot more! MayaVi can be easily modified to do things differently.

The name

MayaVi is pronounced as a single name as "Ma-ya-vee". It is not pronounced as "Maya" + "Vi". MayaVi has nothing to do with either Maya (the graphics/modelling tool) or Vi (the editor).

In Sanskrit "mayavi" means magician. The name wasn't exactly chosen for its meaning but was the result of a long and hard search with the author pestering a lot of people for suggestions. My sincere thanks to all of those who offered suggestions.


Earlier, the author had developed a similar visualization tool called VTK-CFD. This tool was originally intended for a Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) audience but had features that made it more of a generic data visualizer. After the VTK-CFD 0.6 version, it was completely redesigned, rewritten and renamed. The new design makes MayaVi a general scientific data visualizer.

Last modified: 26 May 2007