SHADOWVUI: A visual user interface for the SHADOW ray-tracing code



SHADOWVUI is a visual interface to the SHADOW x-ray tracing program. SHADOWVUI calls the standard SHADOW kernel. The interface provide high level menus and graphics to prepare the SHADOW inputs, to run SHADOW and to process the resulting files, including visualization and beamline 3D representation.

Working scheme

The interface tries to follow SHADOW's philosophy, The three main steps are:

  • Definition of the source
    • Select the desired source: Geometrical (where the source dimension and divergences are from simple geometrical shapes, like rectangles, ellipses and Gaussians), or synchrotron sources (bending magnets, wigglers and undulators)
    • Press "Modify..." to enter the source parameters
    • Run SHADOW to create the source by pressing "Run SHADOW/source". SHADOW runs and creates several files. The most important is begin.dat, a binary file containing the source rays.
    • To visualize the results, use the "PlotXY" or "Histo1" tools, for making 2D and 1D plots.
  • Definition of the optical system
    • Set the desired number of elements using the "Add oe" and/or "Delete oe" buttons, and enter the parameters by clicking on "Modify oe..."
    • Run SHADOW by clicking on "Run SHADOW/trace" button. Many files are created. The most importants are star.xx and mirr.xx containing the rays at the optical planes and on top of optical elements, respectively.
    • To visualize the results, use the "PlotXY" or "Histo1" tools.
    • To create a 3D representation of the beamline, use the "BLViewer" button
  • You can define macros, which are programs that allow you to automate some tasks (postprocessing, loops, etc.)
  • You can make nice representations of your beamline using BLViewer


Some exercises covering many cases of the functionality of XOP and SHADOWVUI can be found from the XOP documentationl page. At the appendix of the main document, one can find minimal information about SHADOW, including the description of its files and reference frames. More information on ray-tracing and SHADOW can be found from the ESRF/SciSoft ray-tracing page.


SHADOWVUI works under Windows and Unix environments. SHADOWVUI is distributed as a part of the XOP package. Alternatively SHADOWVUI can be run using a valid IDL license (contact M. Sanchez del Rio for instructions).


Installation steps:

  • Download and install XOP following these instructions
  • Install SHADOWVUI as an XOP extension. Available for Windows and Unix (download).