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IRIS Explorer User Group meeting - SIGGRAPH'94

A meeting of the IRIS Explorer Users' Group was held during SIGGRAPH'94 in Orlando, Florida.

The meeting was held on 28 July 1994 at the Clarion Plaza Hotel and was chaired by the president, Jeff Hanson from NASA Lewis Research Center.

The first speakers were Bob Brown (technical manager, IRIS Explorer) and Carol Kay Curry (marketing manager) from Silicon Graphics who described some of the recent activity associated with the package. In particular, they discussed the announcement on 25 July of the new relationship with The Numerical Algorithms Group (NAG) regarding the development of future releases of IRIS Explorer. They emphasised a number of points with regard to the background to the new relationship:

These points were discussed at greater length by Jeremy Walton from NAG Ltd who introduced NAG, outlined the past history of their work with IRIS Explorer and then described the new arrangement in some detail.

NAG has over 20 years experience in developing, porting, distributing and supporting scientific software. Perhaps best-known for its numerical libraries, it is a not-for-profit organisation which supplies a range of compilers, tools, software libraries and associated products for the professional programmer and for educational and industrial use. NAG Ltd is based in Oxford, UK, with subsidiary companies in Chicago, Munich and Tokyo as well as distributors worldwide.

IRIS Explorer was licensed to NAG for porting to non-SGI platforms in late 1992. Ports have been produced for Cray, Sun (SunOS 4.1.3) and IBM (AIX3.2.5); the Sun Solaris 2.3 port is currently in beta, and other ports (including HP and DEC Alpha) will be available shortly. NAG is also developing new IRIS Explorer modules, some of which are based on other software products from the company (eg. its graphics library).

Last year, NAG set up the IRIS Explorer Centers to provide information, distribution and support for IRIS Explorer. NAG are now offering support for users of IRIS Explorer on SGI, as well as for their own ports. The support service consists of access to technical experts, an information service (including a user newsletter) and software updates (or both new versions of IRIS Explorer and new modules).

Jeremy then described the new NAG/SGI arrangement. The two companies are to cooperate over the next nine months on a joint development program resulting in the launch of IRIS Explorer version 3.0 in the first quarter of 1995. At the completion of the joint development effort, NAG will sell,distribute and support version 3.0 on all platforms, including SGI. At the same time, SGI will unbundle IRIS Explorer from IRIX. However, users who have taken out an IRIS Explorer support contract with NAG before the end of December 1994 will receive a free upgrade to version 3.0 upon its release. Users who do not take out support before this deadline would still be able to buy IRIS Explorer from NAG. More details about the support service are available from the IRIS Explorer Center (below).

As well as participating in the development of version 3.0, SGI will continue to ship older versions of IRIS Explorer, as long as it remains compatible with IRIX. SGI also retain the intellectual property rights to the product, and are committed to ensuring the long-term success of the package in the scientific visualization community.

Jeremy concluded by summarising the overall benefits of the new arrangement. These included:

Following an active question and answer session, the meeting moved into its final section, which was a poster session. Here, users were able to present details of work done using IRIS Explorer in an informal environment. Poster presenters included:

Rob DeMillo (Lincoln Laboratory) - visualizing microbursts
Roger Crawfis (LLNL) - vector field visualization
Robert van Liere (CWI) - computational steering
Len Zaifmann (Guelph) - teaching IRIS Explorer
Urban Svensson (CFE) - hard rock studies
Jeremy Walton (NAG) - new IRIS Explorer modules
Hiro Chiba (IECJ) - Using IRIS Explorer in Japan

In addition, Rob DeMillo showed a video of the microburst studies, and Len Zaifmann gave a live demo of his IRIS Explorer course. Some of these posters are displayed on the IRIS Explorer Center WWW site at

Finally, with much munching of cookies, quaffing of beverages and cries of "Where's the IRIS Explorer worry beads, then?" people chatted in groups before dispersing for other SIGGRAPH-type activities.

Thanks to all who presented at the meeting, and to those who came along to hear about what was happening with IRIS Explorer. If you have any queries about the meeting, or IRIS Explorer in general, please contact the IRIS Explorer Centers at, or:

IRIS Explorer Center (Europe)
PO Box 50, Oxford OX2 8JU UK
Tel: +44 1865 516377
Fax: +44 1865 516388

IRIS Explorer Center (North America)
1400 Opus Place, Suite 200
Downers Grove IL 60551-5702, USA
Tel: +1 708 971 2367
Fax: +1 708 971 2706

IRIS Explorer Center Japan (IECJ)
Nagashima Building 2F, 2-24-3 Higashi
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Tel: +81 3 5485 2901
Fax: +81 3 5485 2903

Jeremy Walton
The Numerical Algorithms Group Ltd, Oxford, UK
Tel: +44 865 511245
Fax: +44 865 310139