Clemson University’s Center for Advanced Engineering Fibers and Films
As one of twenty-two NSF-funded Engineering Research Centers, Clemson University’s Center for Advanced Engineering Fibers and Films (CAEFF) has the vision of creating a paradigm shift in the way polymer process engineering is done. Our visualization lab
produces mathematical software analyzing how industrial-strength fibers
and films are formed. Although the foundational mathematics derived
from physics is difficult, we desire to design an interface that would
facilitate easy use by an engineer who may not understand the
This is where the VCF has helped us tremendously. We initially wrote several trial versions using other toolkits. None of these had the flexibility we desired in a Windows environment. We sought something that would have an interface independent of the operating system and that was open-source and object-oriented. So in August 2004, we downloaded the VCF and began development.
We found two aspects of the VCF particularly helpful. First, the software is incredibly usable. A cornucopia of examples accompanies the initial installation to help begin development of a project or a feature. The API is easily accessible, with plainly organized functions, event handlers, etc. Second, although the VCF is under development, it has been complete enough to meet our extensive needs. Most of the fundamentals have been developed for the Windows environment.
Our software utilizes several custom-built controls to facilitate our specific needs. Custom labels use LaTeX markup, and text controls check the validity of entry-data. Displays using OpenGL provide the user with 3-D graphics that allow a custom design of certain parts of extruder instrumentation. A visualization control with the Visualization Tookit (VTK), a scientific visualization package, facilitates interaction with final results. All of these were seamlessly built upon the VCF’s extensible and open-source architecture.
Help forums assist us in answering pressing questions and in designing newly-needed features. Countless times, we have suggested small extensions of the VCF that would help us, and each time, our suggestions have been heeded. Whenever a bug in the code arrives (which is extremely rare, only a couple times in our year-long experience), a quick-fix is always provided on the CVS via the forums.
As a whole, we have been quite pleased in our experience with VCF. As our software begins its public releases in July and August 2005, we can only hope that our industrial and academic clientele will be as satisfied with our product as we are with the VCF.
The VCF allows for custom controls to be built, such as this one housing an interactive viewer with VTK.
Toolbars, ImageControls, multiple DLLs, and more combine into an interface pleasing to the eyes.
An OpenGL control allows for 3-D custom configuration of specifications.