E3D - The Euro3D Visualization Tool
Unoffical webpage Page
Version 1.1
Status and Download
Reporting Problems


The Euro3D Research Training Network (RTN) was put forward with the intention to promote integral field spectroscopy (IFS), or ''3D'' spectroscopy, and to help making it a common user technique. One of the major tasks was identified as the need of providing software tools for the visualization and analysis of datacubes. These tools should be general enough to be entirely independent of the origin of data, i.e. 3D instrument. Previously, a heterogenous collection of instrument-specific data formats and software tools, proprietary software packages and a lack of any standard have hampered a break-through of this powerful observing method, leaving it merely as an expert technique with comparatively limited scientific impact. Recognizing the importance of this problem, a work plan was devised to start creating a package of tools for the analysis and visualization of IFS data. Entitled 3D Visualization, Task 2.2 of this work plan foresees the development of a programme, which should be capable of reading, writing, and visualizing reduced data from 3D spectrographs of any kind. We have named this tool E3D.

One of the major problems for the development of a standard visualization tool is the lack of a standard data format. Every group has developed its own 3D data format, both for the spectral and the position information (cubes, FITS images, FITS tables, MIDAS images, etc...). In order to overcome this problem, the RTN has proposed a unified data format, the Euro3D Data Format. Taking into account previous experience from more than a decade of operating 3D instrumentation in the visible and the near-infrared, this data format is supposed to cover most foreseeable requirements of existing and future instruments. E3D was written specifically to make use of this data format, although it can import and export 3D data of different formats (e.g. datacubes) as well.

Requirements for Installation:

  • Lyon C Library ( LCL) as I/O library, developed at CRAL
  • PGPLOT as graphical library, copyright by CALTECH
    Attention: PGPLOT is not a GPL product. It is property of Tim Pearson and cannot be distributed. However, it can be freely downloaded from his homepage at http://www.astro.caltech.edu/~tjp/.
  • Additional standard requirements:
    • Tcl/Tk as basis for the E3D internal interpreter tk_e3d and the E3D GUI tk_e3d.tcl
    • C-compiler, used for tk_e3d coding

Status and Download

The last stable version of e3d is 1.3a.

Binary releases (these already include LCL):

Installation: Untar the files and run the scripts "./install_static.pl", following the subsequent instructios
Sourcecode tarballs:



  1. For both source code and binary releases
    Installation of PGPLOT, including the CPS, PS, GIF, VGIF, and TK drivers.
    (see http://www.astro.caltech.edu/~tjp/pgplot/install.html)

  2. Only for source code installation
    Installation of the Euro3D I/O libraries (E3D_io_LCL-1.2 for e3d-1.3a).
    (see InstallationGuide-1.0_E3D.ps)

  3. Only for source code installation
    Environment variables required:
    PGPLOT_DIR:       path of pgplot package including dir name
    IFU_PATH:       path of E3D I/O libraries (= LCL)
    IFU_DEFAULT_FMT: "Euro3D"       default format

    (e.g. for bash:
          export PGPLOT_DIR=''/usr/local/src/pgplot'';
          export IFU_PATH="/usr/local/src/";
          export IFU_DEFAULT_FMT="Euro3D";)

(*) For a quick description of the pre-installation for the source code packages see e3d-1.3a/doc/INSTALL.txt!

E3D Installation:

For binary releases:

  1. Download the binary release for your platform into a directory of your choice
  2. Unpack the distribution using e.g. tar xvzf e3d-1.3a-linux.tar.gz, this will create a directory E3D containing the E3D programs.
  3. Change to the new directory (cd E3D), execute ./install_static.pl, and follow the instructions.

For source code tarballs:

  1. Download the last stable version of the E3D distribution (e.g. e3d-1.3a.tar.gz) from the list of Downloads and copy it into the Euro3D directory (given by the environment variable IFU_PATH ).
  2. Extracting the archive via tar xvfz e3d-1.3a.tar.gz under the $IFU_PATH path will create the directory e3d-1.3a or a newer version number respectively.
  3. Change into the created directory and execute the configure and make scripts:

          e3d-1.3a> ./configure
          e3d-1.3a> make

    The make can fail due to a different definition of certain libraries. We have tested the procedure under the two main Linux distributions, RedHat (7.1 and 8.0) and Suse (8.2). They differ in the definition of TCL/TK libraries. You should edit the file add_defs/makedefs.local to select the proper definition of V3D_LIBS for your distribution and add your E3D path to the declaration of the chosen (#HOME) V3D_LIBS as well as to V3D_INC.

  4. Execute the installation script:

          e3d-1.3a/scripts> ./install.pl

    This script will edit the tk_e3d.tcl script to be compatible with your directory tree.

  5. Add the directory user/bin of e3d to your PATH, e.g. for csh add in .login or .cshrc:
          setenv PATH=${PATH}:${IFU_PATH}/e3d-1.3a/user/bin
  6. Test E3D executing the Tcl script tk_e3d.tcl. It will run at any prompted path if the PATH was set properly.
    Try to load file e3d-1.3a/scripts/test.e3d as a first test example.


E3D was developed by Sebastián F. Sánchez Sánchez in the framework of the Euro3D Research Training Network with funding from the European Commission under FP5 contract no. HPRN-CT-2002-00305 (Work Plan, Task 2.2.).
E3D is not public-domain software. However, it is freely available outside the RTN for non-commercial use. The source code and documentation are copyrighted by Astrophysikalisches Institut Potsdam, Germany, as principal contractor under the above mentioned contract. The source code and documentation may not be redistributed or placed on public Web servers without permission. The software is provided ''as is'' with no warranty.


E3D User Guide by S.F. Sánchez Issue 1.2 (Draft) 2004/04/19
LCL Cookbooks by P. Ferruit et al. Issue 1.0b (Draft) 2003/04/14
Euro3D Data Format by M. Kissler_Patig et al. Issue 1.2 2003/05/15

To get some experience, you may run through the exercises of the E3D Software Tutorial, held in Potsdam in April 2004.


Reporting Problems

If you have questions about E3D, please send them to Sebastián F. Sánchez (sanchez AT caha.es) If you have a problem with the installation, please include information about your operating system version, and the version of E3D you are trying to install.


  • Sánchez, S.F.
    E3D, The Euro3D Visualization Tool I: Description of the program and its capabilities
    AN 325 (2004) 2, 167. (ADS | astro-ph)

  • Sánchez, S.F., Becker, T., Kelz, A.
    E3D, The Euro3D Visualization Tool II: mosaics, VIMOS data and large IFUs of the future
    AN 325 (2004) 2, 171. (ADS | astro-ph)

  • Kissler-Patig, M., Copin, Y., Ferruit, P., Pecontal-Rousset, A., Roth, M.M.
    The Euro3D data format: A common FITS data format for integral field spectrographs
    AN 325 (2004) 2, 159. (ADS )

  • Pécontal-Rousset, A.; Copin, Y.; Ferruit, P.
    The Euro3D LCL I/O library
    AN 325 (2004) 2, 163. (ADS)

Task 3.9 | S.F.Sanchez | 21-Jul-2005 Euro3D Home