I have previously looked at using Excel for generation of images from data listing 3D coordinates of points and lists of connections (see https://newtonexcelbach.wordpress.com/2012/09/27/daily-download-11-perspective-projection/ for instance), but this approach is limited in what can be done:
- It will only generate a “wire-frame” image
- It doesn’t provide any means of processing the data
- It is very slow if the images contains more than a few thousand lines
Paraview (to quote from their web site) is “an open-source, multi-platform data analysis and visualization application. ParaView users can quickly build visualizations to analyze their data using qualitative and quantitative techniques. The data exploration can be done interactively in 3D or programmatically using ParaView’s batch processing capabilities.
ParaView was developed to analyze extremely large datasets using distributed memory computing resources. It can be run on supercomputers to analyze datasets of exascale size as well as on laptops for smaller data.”
It came to my attention through the latest edition of “Programming the Finite Element Method” which I recently purchased. This publication contains Fortran routines for generating Paraview readable files of finite element models, including output data, which can then be used to generate surface contoured images and animations for instance. As well as being open-source, Paraview uses Python as a scripting language, which would seem to offer the possibility of linking it to Excel for direct transfer of data.
It must be said that the program appears to be sufficiently complex to require a significant learning period before it can be used effectively, but comments from a user at OSGeology suggest that this will be worth the effort.
A related product is the Kiwi Viewer which will allow the VTK files used by Paraview to be viewed on tablet and phone devices (both I-phone and Android).
You Tube video illustrating some basics of working in Paraview:
And the Kiwi Viewer in action: