Installation

Python and Tecplot

Note

Software Requirements

Required Python Modules (normally installed by pip - see below):

Optional Python Modules:

  • numpy (Recommended for better performance of data operations)

  • ipython

  • pillow

  • flatbuffers (Required when connecting to Tecplot 360 versions prior to 2018 R2)

Warning

Python 3.8+ on Windows requires PyTecplot 1.1+

Due to a change in how dynamic libraries are loaded in Python 3.8 on Windows, the minimum supported version of PyTecplot in batch mode is 1.1.

PyTecplot is supported on 64 bit Python versions 2.7 and 3.6+. PyTecplot does not support 32 bit Python. Interacting with the Tecplot Engine requires a valid Tecplot 360 installation and Tecplot 360 License with TecPLUS™ maintenance service. Visit http://www.tecplot.com for more information about purchasing Tecplot 360.

For all platforms, the Tecplot 360 application must be run once to establish a licensing method. This will be used when running any script which uses the python tecplot module.

Package Installer

It is recommended to use pip to install PyTecplot, along with all of the dependencies, from Python’s official PyPI servers. The installer, pip, is a python module that can be executed directly (from a console) and is part of the core modules that come with recent version of Python. Please refer to pip’s documentation for information if you have issues using pip.

Depending on the options you set when installing Python, you may already have the folder containing pip in your PATH environment variable. If this is the case, then you may use pip directly instead of prepending it with python -m like we show in the following commands.

If you can not get pip installed and you are running Python version 2.7, you may be able to install it with easy_install from within a command console:

easy_install pip

You will likely need administrative privileges to run the above command. If you still do not have pip installed, this installation guide may help.

Connecting PyTecplot to Tecplot 360 GUI

Python scripts that use the PyTecplot package normally run in “batch” mode. That is, PyTecplot starts it’s own Tecplot Engine, thus interfacing directly with the underlying libraries allows fast execution of a user’s scripts. PyTecplot also has the capability to connect to a running instance of Tecplot 360 through the TecUtil Server addon. Connections can be made from the local or a remote host and the GUI will update as the script progresses, however commands are passed through sockets and there is a high overhead cost that will cause the script to be much slower than in batch mode.

To connect to a running Tecplot 360 instance, you must have version 2017 R3 or later. In Tecplot 360, the TecUtil Server addon must be loaded and “listening” on a specific port (click on “Scripting -> PyTecplot Connections…”, the default port is 7600). Then in the script, the user can call tecplot.session.connect() to make the connection and the script will send all following commands to the running Tecplot 360.

TecUtil Server

Starting with the 2017 R3 release, Tecplot 360 includes and loads by default the “TecUtil Server” addon, however it is not active on start-up. As mentioned above, it must be turned on by going through the “Scripting -> PyTecplot Connections…” dialog in Tecplot 360 or via a macro command as described in the PyTecplot documentation for tecplot.session.connect().

This addon is a remote-procedure-call (RPC) interface to Tecplot 360’s Application Development Kit (ADK), otherwise known as the TecUtil Layer. For details, please refer to the ADK User’s Manual. Because PyTecplot communicates with this addon over sockets, it is capable of interacting on a remote machine running a potentially different operating system. To open up the TecUtil Server to listen for an incoming message from any remote host, uncheck the “Listen to localhost only” option in the PyTecplot Connections dialog in Tecplot 360 or specify “*” as the host in the macro command described in the documentation for tecplot.session.connect().

Windows

Note

We recommend using the latest version of Python (64 bit) with Windows since it comes with pip and will require the least amount of post-install configuration. The default version of Python presented to Windows users is 32 bit which will not work with PyTecplot. You will have to navigate Python’s download page to find the “x86-64” version.

Installation

Once Python is installed along with the pip module, you may install PyTecplot from Python’s official PyPI servers by opening a command console and running the following command with administrative privileges if needed:

python -m pip install pytecplot

Installing from Local Source

For those with a restricted internet connection, it is neccessary to “manually” install all the required dependencies as listed in the section “Software Requirements” above. This ostensibly involves downloading these packages from https://pypi.org/, transferring them to the target system and running python setup.py in each. A compiler may be required if there are no pre-compiled binaries for your specific operating system and Python version.

PyTecplot ships with Tecplot 360 and can be found under the pytecplot directory. You may run pip from within this directory to install pytecplot as follows. Note that “[VERSION]” should be replaced with the installed version of Tecplot 360 and the use of “.” indicates the current working directory:

cd "C:\Program Files\Tecplot\Tecplot 360 EX [VERSION]\pytecplot"
python -m pip install .

Installing Without Administrative Privileges

If you get a “permission denied” error, this likely means you are attempting to install PyTecplot into a system-controlled Python package directory. If this is what you want to do, then you must open the command console with administrative privileges. Alternatively, you may wish to install PyTecplot into your user-space or home directory. This can be done by add the option --user to the install step (see the output of the command python -m pip help for details):

python -m pip install --user pytecplot

Optional Dependencies

All required dependencies will be installed along with PyTecplot. There are optional dependencies such as Numpy and IPython which you may want to install as well. These can be installed by appending [extras] to the installation command:

python -m pip install pytecplot[extras]

Environment Setup

PyTecplot scripts can be run in two distinct modes: “batch” in which PyTecplot manages it’s own internal Tecplot 360 “engine,” or “connected” where the PyTecplot script communicates with a running instance of Tecplot 360 through the “TecUtil Server.” When running in “connected” mode, see tecplot.session.connect() for more details, no further environment setup is required. Conversely, when running in “batch” mode, we need to use environment variables to point to the installation of Tecplot 360.

Depending on the options you selected when installing Tecplot 360, you may need to setup your environment so PyTecplot can find the dynamic libraries associated with the engine. If Tecplot 360’s bin directory is not already in the system’s PATH list, you will have to add it and make sure it is before any other Tecplot 360 installation. With a standard installation of Tecplot 360, the path is usually something like the following. Again, “[VERSION]” should be replaced with the installed version of Tecplot 360:

"C:\Program Files\Tecplot\Tecplot 360 EX [VERSION]\bin"

To view the current path, run the following command in the command console:

echo %PATH%

To edit it globally for all consoles you will have to navigate to “Control Panel” -> “System” -> “Advanced System Settings” -> “Environment Variables”. From there, you should find the PATH environment variable, edit it, and click “OK”; no reboot is required. After changing the PATH, be sure to close and re-open your console window.

Updating

To update PyTecplot after you have already installed it once, you run the same installation command with the option --upgrade. For example:

python -m pip install --upgrade pytecplot

When installing a new version of Tecplot 360, you must ensure that the PATH environment variable gets updated accordingly.

Linux

Note

We recommend using the operating system’s package manager to install and update Python along with pip. Once this is done, you can use sudo pip to manage the installation of system-wide python modules.

Installation

Once Python is installed along with the pip module, you may install PyTecplot from Python’s official PyPI servers by running the following command with root privileges (sudo) if needed:

pip install pytecplot

Installing from Local Source

For those with a restricted internet connection, it is neccessary to “manually” install all the required dependencies as listed in the section “Software Requirements” above. This ostensibly involves downloading these packages from https://pypi.org/, transferring them to the target system and running python setup.py in each. A compiler may be required if there are no pre-compiled binaries for your specific operating system and Python version.

PyTecplot ships with Tecplot 360 and can be found under the pytecplot directory. You may run pip from within this directory to install pytecplot as follows. Note the use of “.” indicates the current working directory:

cd /path/to/tecplot360/pytecplot
pip install .

Installing Without Root Access

If you get a “permission denied” error, this likely means you are attempting to install PyTecplot into a system-controlled Python package directory. If this is what you want to do, then you must prepend the above pip command with sudo. Alternatively, you may wish to install PyTecplot into your user-space or home directory. This can be done by add the option --user to the install step (see the output of the command pip help for details):

pip install --user pytecplot

Optional Dependencies

All required dependencies will be installed along with PyTecplot. There are optional dependencies such as Numpy and IPython which you may want to install as well. These can be installed by appending [extras] to the installation command:

pip install pytecplot[extras]

Environment Setup (Batch Only)

PyTecplot scripts can be run in two distinct modes: “batch” in which PyTecplot manages it’s own internal Tecplot 360 “engine,” or “connected” where the PyTecplot script communicates with a running instance of Tecplot 360 through the “TecUtil Server.” When running in “connected” mode, see tecplot.session.connect() for more details, no further environment setup is required. Conversely, when running in “batch” mode, PyTecplot needs to configure and locate the dynamic libraries associated with the Tecplot 360 engine. This is accomplished through several shell environment variables.

Tecplot 360 2020 R1 and Later

Since the Tecplot 360 engine can be configured differently based on rendering needs, such as whether or not an X server connection exists or whether or not graphics drivers are available, it is best to setup the environment for each execution of Python. This is the preferred method so that the environment setup matches the Tecplot 360 engine configuration. To configure the environment for each execution of PyTecplot, use the tec360-env script shipped with Tecplot 360 as follows:

/path/to/tecplot360/bin/tec360-env [options] -- python [options]

Available options to the tec360-env script can be explored by supplying the --help flag. Notably the --osmesa flag allows for image export without an X server connection or graphics drivers.

Tecplot 360 2017 R2 and Later

A shell’s environment can be permanently configured for repeated executions of Python so that PyTecplot can find the dynamic libraries associated with the engine and configure it correctly. Typical usage is to pass the output to the built-in shell command eval:

eval `/path/to/tecplot360/bin/tec360-env [options]`

after which multiple executions of Python can be performed within the configured shell environment.

Updating

To update PyTecplot after you have already installed it once, you run the same installation command with the option --upgrade. For example:

pip install --upgrade pytecplot

When installing a new version of Tecplot 360, you must ensure that the LD_LIBRARY_PATH environment variable gets updated accordingly.

Mac OSX

Note

We highly recommend using a package management tool such as Macports, Brew or Fink to install and update Python along with pip. Once this is done, you can use sudo pip to manage the installation of system-wide python modules.

Installation

Once Python is installed along with the pip module, you may install PyTecplot from Python’s official PyPI servers by running the following command with root privileges (sudo) if needed:

pip install pytecplot

Installing from Local Source

For those with a restricted internet connection, it is neccessary to “manually” install all the required dependencies as listed in the section “Software Requirements” above. This ostensibly involves downloading these packages from https://pypi.org/, transferring them to the target system and running python setup.py in each. A compiler may be required if there are no pre-compiled binaries for your specific operating system and Python version.

PyTecplot ships with Tecplot 360 and can be found under the pytecplot directory. You may run pip from within this directory to install pytecplot as follows. Note that “[VERSION]” should be replaced with the installed version of Tecplot 360 and the use of “.” indicates the current working directory:

cd "/Applications/Tecplot 360 EX [VERSION]/pytecplot"
python -m pip install .

Installing Without Root Access

If you get a “permission denied” error, this likely means you are attempting to install PyTecplot into a system-controlled Python package directory. If this is what you want to do, then you must prepend the above pip command with sudo. Alternatively, you may wish to install PyTecplot into your user-space or home directory. This can be done by add the option --user to the install step (see the output of the command pip help for details):

pip install --user pytecplot

Optional Dependencies

All required dependencies will be installed along with PyTecplot. There are optional dependencies such as Numpy and IPython which you may want to install as well. These can be installed by appending [extras] to the installation command:

pip install pytecplot[extras]

Environment Setup (Batch Only)

PyTecplot scripts can be run in two distinct modes: “batch” in which PyTecplot manages it’s own internal Tecplot 360 “engine,” or “connected” where the PyTecplot script communicates with a running instance of Tecplot 360 through the “TecUtil Server.” When running in “connected” mode, see tecplot.session.connect() for more details, no further environment setup is required. Conversely, when running in “batch” mode, PyTecplot needs to configure and locate the dynamic libraries associated with the Tecplot 360 engine. This is accomplished through several shell environment variables.

Tecplot 360 2020 R1 and Later

It is best to setup the environment for each execution of Python. This is the preferred method so that the environment setup matches the Tecplot 360 engine configuration. To configure the environment for each execution of PyTecplot, use the tec360-env script shipped with Tecplot 360 as follows:

"/Applications/Tecplot 360 EX [VERSION]/bin/tec360-env" -- python [options]

where [VERSION] should be replaced with the installed version of Tecplot 360.

Tecplot 360 2017 R2 and Later

A shell’s environment can be permanently configured for repeated executions of Python so that PyTecplot can find the dynamic libraries associated with the engine. Typical usage is to pass the output to the built-in shell command eval. Note the full path is wrapped in quotes to allow for spaces:

eval `"/Applications/Tecplot 360 EX [VERSION]/bin/tec360-env"`

At this point PyTecplot should be configured for use and you may try running the “hello world” example. If for some reason the tec360-env script fails to work, you may add by hand the Contents/MacOS directory to the dynamic library loader search path. This involves setting the following environment variable (this is what the eval command above does):

export DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH="/Applications/Tecplot.../Contents/MacOS"

With a standard installation of Tecplot 360, the “Tecplot…” above is usually something like the following. Note that [VERSION] should be replaced with the installed version of Tecplot 360:

"Tecplot 360 EX [VERSION]/Tecplot 360 EX [VERSION].app"

You can see what this environment variable is set to by running echo $DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH in the terminal.

Updating

To update PyTecplot after you have already installed it once, you run the same installation command with the option --upgrade. For example:

pip install --upgrade pytecplot

When installing a new version of Tecplot 360, you must ensure that the DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH environment variable gets updated accordingly.

System Integrity Protection (SIP)

If you installed Python (and the pip module) using Macports, Brew or Fink, you should have little trouble using PyTecplot. Please try running the “hello world” example before continuing here.

Starting with OSX version 10.11, Apple has introduced a highly restrictive protection agent which unsets the DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH environment variable when a sub process is created using a system-installed executable such as /usr/bin/python. It is easily by-passed but requires some work on the user’s part. We present here two options: 1. Setting up a Python virtual environment in user-space (the user’s home directory) and 2. disabling Apple’s System Integrity Protection (SIP).

Using a Python Virtual Environment

This is the less invasive option and has several advantages as it isolates the installation of PyTecplot from the system. The user has total control on which python modules are installed and there is no need for elevated “root” privileges. However, there is overhead involved on the user’s part. Specifically, the user is now responsible for installing all the python packages to be used and the environment will have to “activated” before running any scripts that require it.

Please see the official documentation concerning Python virtual environments. If you are using Python version 2.7, please see the older virtualenv project. In short, the venv Python module is used to create a complete installation of Python in the user’s home directory:

python -m venv myenv

This creates a directory “myenv” and installs Python into it. The virtual environment can now be activated by sourcing the “activate” script under the myenv directory:

source myenv/bin/activate

You should now have python and pip pointing to this directory:

$ which python
/Users/me/myenv/bin/python
$ which pip
/Users/me/myenv/bin/pip

From here, you should be able to install PyTecplot as discussed above without root (sudo) requirements.

Disabling SIP

The system protection enforced by default on the newest versions of OSX is controlled by the csrutil command which only allows you to change the settings in recovery mode. To do this, you may follow these steps:

  1. Restart your Mac.

  2. Before OSX starts up, hold down Command-R and keep it held down until you see an Apple icon and a progress bar.

  3. From the Utilities menu, select Terminal.

  4. At the prompt, type csrutil disable and press Return.

  5. Reboot.

The status of SIP can be checked by the user without being in recovery mode with the command:

csrutil status

You can test the propagation of the DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH environment variable to the sub process by running the following command which will print True or False:

export DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH='test'
/usr/bin/python -c 'import os;print("DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH" in os.environ)'

Troubleshooting

  1. Verify that you have installed and can run Tecplot 360 version 2017 R1 or later.

  2. Verify that you are running 64 bit Python version 2.7 or 3.6+.

  3. Verify that you have run python -m pip install pytecplot with the correct python executable.

  4. Installing into the Python’s site-packages typically requires elevated privileges. Therefore the pip install command may need a sudo or “Run as Administrator” type of environment. Alternatively, you may install PyTecplot and all of its dependencies into the user’s home directory with pip’s option: --user.

  5. Make sure the directory pointed to by PATH, LD_LIBRARY_PATH or DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH for Windows, Linux and OSX respectively exists and contains the Tecplot 360 executable and library files.

  6. Though the package is named “pytecplot” the actual python module that is imported is just “tecplot” - i.e. you should have “import tecplot” and not “import pytecplot” at the top of your scripts.

  7. If your script throws an exception when you attempt to call any pytecplot API, the most likely cause is a missing or invalid Tecplot 360 License or an expired TecPLUS™ maintenance service subscription. Run Tecplot 360 and go to Help -> Tecplot 360 EX Licensing… to verify the license is configured properly.

  8. If an attempt to uninstall PyTecplot using pip fails with a message like “No files were found to uninstall.”, it may be that Python is picking up the tecplot module from either the current working directory or from a directory found in the PYTHONPATH environment variable. Unsetting this variable or changing directories to one that does not contain a file named tecplot.py nor a directory named tecplot should allow you to uninstall PyTecplot.

  9. If PyTecplot was successfully installed but you are still getting a message like “ImportError: No module named tecplot”, it may be that you installed PyTecplot into a different Python installation. Use python -mpip install pytecplot to ensure you install PyTecplot into the proper place. Also, be sure there are no stray files named “tecplot.py” or directories named “tecplot” either in the current working directory or in any of the directories listed in the PYTHONPATH environment variable as Python might attempt to pick these up as the PyTecplot module.

Note

If the license is missing or invalid, try the following:

  1. On Windows, be sure that the latest version of Tecplot 360 is first in your PATH environment variable.

  2. Check to see if you can run Tecplot 360 by double clicking on the desktop icon (Windows), or from the command prompt.

  3. On Linux and Mac OSX, be sure that your LD_LIBARARY_PATH (Linux) or DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH is set to the latest version of Tecplot 360.

  4. If you are able to run Tecplot 360 but still cannot run a script that imports the tecplot module, contact Tecplot Technical Support.

Note

On Mac OSX, some Python configurations will fail to export images.

When running a PyTecplot script with Python as installed using MacPorts or Brew, you may see the message QGLPixelBuffer: Cannot create a pbuffer followed by the exception:

tecplot.exception.TecplotLogicError: The off-screen image export
failed.  This may be caused by remote display issues with OpenGL.
Verify that the remote display settings are set to use 32-bit color
depth. If this error persists, contact support@tecplot.com.

This has been fixed in Tecplot 360 2020 R1 and updating Tecplot 360 should allow exporting of images and videos using these versions of Python. An alternate workaround is to download the official package from python.org and make sure you are using it instead of the python that was installed via MacPorts or Brew.

See the Getting Help section under Quick Start for troubleshooting after installation is successful.

Version Information

Version information of the tecplot Python module can be obtained as a string of the form “Major.Minor.Patch”:

tecplot.__version__

or as a namedtuple with attributes: “major”, “minor”, “patch”, “build” in that order:

tecplot.version_info

The underlying Tecplot 360 installation has its own version which can be obtained as a str:

tecplot.sdk_version

or as a namedtuple:

tecplot.sdk_version_info

PyTecplot adheres to the semantic versioning as outlined in SemVer 2.0.0 with regard to backwards compatibility between releases. For this purpose, the public interface of PyTecplot is defined as all entities (functions, properties etc.) presented in the HTML documentation and does not include methods in the code-base which do not show up in the HTML documentation, even when a docstring is present. In short, we will maintain backwards compatibility of the public interface between all minor releases of the same major version with the exception of internal changes that fix incorrect behavior or bugs.