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E3D - The Euro3D Visualization Tool
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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:

  • PGPLOT as graphical library, copyright by Caltech
    Note: 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
  • Additional standard requirements:
    • C compiler (GCC, required to compile LCL and E3D).
    • Fortran compiler (g77, only required to install PGPLOT, on a very recent Linux distribution you might need to install the compat-g77 package.
    • Tcl/Tk (needed for the E3D shell and GUI), be sure to install both the normal packages and the devel packages if your distribution offers them seperately (ask you system administator for help in these matters).

Status and Download

The last stable version of e3d is 1.3.8, it relies on version 1.6 of the Euro3D I/O libraries (LCL, written at CRAL) for support of the Euro3D data format.



  1. Installation of PGPLOT, including the CPS, PS, GIF, VGIF, and TK drivers
    (see for instructions). The easiest way to install it, is to use download this Shell script, set $PGPLOT_DIR to the path you want to install to and then run the script.
    E.g. for bash
        export PGPLOT_DIR=/usr/local/pgplot
        sh ./
    and for tcsh
        setenv PGPLOT_DIR /usr/local/pgplot
        sh ./
    If you install into a new directory, you will also need to add it to LD_LIBRARY_PATH. Remember to add the variable PGPLOT_DIR also into your startup file (either .bashrc or .cshrc).

  2. Installation of the Euro3D I/O libraries (LCL), this is explained in detail in
    In short, unpack the tarball, execute
    and then (temporarily) set this variable:
    IFU_PATH:       path to the directory above the E3D I/O libraries (= LCL)
    E.g. for bash:
        export IFU_PATH=/usr/local/src
    and for tcsh
        setenv IFU_PATH /usr/local/src
    Note: Since E3D version 1.3.6 the variable IFU_DEFAULT_FMT is no longer necessary.

E3D Installation: (*)(**)

  1. Download the file with the last stable version of the E3D distribution (e3d-1.3.8.tar.gz) from the list of Downloads.

  2. Extracting the archive via tar xvzf e3d-1.3.8.tar.gz under the path $IFU_PATH (i.e. above E3D_io_LCL-1.6) will create the directory e3d-1.3.8.

  3. Change into the new directory and execute configure and make:

        e3d-1.3.8> ./configure
        e3d-1.3.8> make

    Note: The make process fails most often due to different definitions of certain libraries (especially Tcl/Tk). We have tested the procedure under several Linux distributions, RedHat (7.1 and 8.0) and Suse (8.2, 9.3), OpenSuSE 10.0, Gentoo. You should edit the file add_defs/makedefs.local to select the proper definition of V3D_LIBS for your distribution at the top. (In case you have unusual paths for include files and libs, uncomment and adapt the two lines at the bottom.)

  4. To adapt scripts with correct paths, install them under user/bin and to set up the ~/.E3D directory:

          e3d-1.3.8> make install

  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_io_LCL-1.6/e3d-1.3.8/user/bin

    or link the binaries into your path, e.g.:

          cd /usr/local/bin
          ln -s ${IFU_PATH}/E3D_io_LCL-1.6/e3d-1.3.8/user/bin/* .

  6. Test E3D executing the Tcl script tk_e3d.tcl. It will run whatever your current directory is, if the PATH was set properly.
    Try to load file e3d-1.3.8/data/test.e3d as a first test example.
(*) A more detailed version of the installation procedure is given in Sect. 2 of the User Manual which can be found in the file e3d-1.3.8/doc/E3D.pdf after unpacking the tarball or here.

(**) The version number 1.3.8 is used just as an 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 & P. M. Weilbacher Issue 1.3.8 2011/02/14
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, but note that some files are not compatible the current version of E3D any more, as the Euro3D Data Format changed since then.


Reporting Problems

If you have questions about E3D, please e-mail them to Peter Weilbacher (pweilbacher AT with CC to Petra Böhm (pboehm AT 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 | Petra Böhm | update: 2011-02-14 (Peter Weilbacher) Euro3D Home