MegaMol™ ( is a system software for visualization research on particle-based data. The software originates from a joint research project between biologists, physicists, material scientists and visualization experts working with large, particle-based data sets.

On the one hand, the flexible data structures and functional module design of MegaMol allow for easy adaption to changing research questions. Therefore, this software is not a visualization system, but a visualization prototyping system that allows the visualization researcher to work as “closely to the metal” as possible, i.e. to easily exploit all capabilities new GPU hardware provides.

On the other hand, common functionality for data handling and advanced rendering implementations are available and beneficial for all applications. This approach allows central parts of the software to reach a mature and stable state. Such continuity makes the software to be usable by application domain scientists.

MegaMol is written in C++, supporting Windows and Linux platforms, and primarily uses OpenGL and CUDA. The framework is strongly tailored towards fast rendering. It only provides a thin layer above OpenGL avoiding overhead during rendering while exposing low-level functionality required for cutting-edge graphics programming. Thus, a central paradigm is that data management and layout on the CPU side has to fit the requirements of the GPU and strictly follows a zero-copy paradigm.

All functionality in MegaMol is provided as so-called Modules. The Modules can be arranged in arbitrary call graphs, where control flow and data flow follow a pull paradigm. Modules communicate via strongly typed channels dubbed Calls. The graph of modules determining the actual functionality of MegaMol can be created using a graphical utility, the so-called MegaMol Configurator.

Today, MegaMol is developed and used by several Ph.D. students and postdoctoral researchers as basis for their research, and enabled us to create a wide range of complex visualizations. All participating institutions and people are today satisfied with the result, concerning both software and scientific publications.

More Info:

  • [DOI] S. Grottel, M. Krone, C. Müller, G. Reina, and T. Ertl, “MegaMol — A Prototyping Framework for Particle-based Visualization,” Visualization and Computer Graphics, IEEE Transactions on, vol. 21, iss. 2, pp. 201-214, 2015.
        author={Grottel, S. and Krone, M. and M\"{u}ller, C. and Reina, G. and Ertl, T.},
        journal={Visualization and Computer Graphics, IEEE Transactions on},
        title={MegaMol -- A Prototyping Framework for Particle-based Visualization},
        keywords={Data models;Data visualization;Graphics processing units;Libraries;Rendering (computer graphics);Visualization},
  • S. Grottel, G. Reina, M. Krone, C. Müller, and T. Ertl, “MegaMol™—for Fun and Profit,” in Workshop on Visualization in Practice, 2016.
    @inproceedings {grottel2016fun,
        author = {Grottel, Sebastian and Reina, Guido and Krone, Michael and M\"{u}ller, Christoph and Ertl, Thomas},
        title = {{MegaMol™---for Fun and Profit}},
        year = {2016},
        booktitle = {{Workshop on Visualization in Practice}},