Welcome to the VisTrails User’s Guide. This book has been updated for version 1.6.2 of the VisTrails software.

VisTrails is a new scientific workflow management system developed at the University of Utah that provides support for data exploration and visualization. For an engineer or scientist, generating and evaluating hypotheses is an interactive process. With each change, a different, albeit related, workflow is created. VisTrails was designed to manage these rapidly-evolving workflows. By automatically managing the data, metadata, and the data exploration process, VisTrails allows you to focus on the task at hand and relieves you from tedious and time-consuming tasks involved in organizing vast volumes of data. VisTrails provides infrastructure that can be combined with and enhance existing visualization and workflow systems.

VisTrails is an open-source software system. You can contribute to VisTrails by sharing bug reports, bug fixes, and suggestions with the VisTrails community. The easiest way to get started is to sign up for the VisTrails Users mailing list. Instructions for doing this can be found on the VisTrails web site:

This book is divided into four parts. The first part, Introduction to VisTrails, provides instructions on how to download and install the VisTrails software, and introduces you to its user interface. The second and longest part, “Learning VisTrails by Example,” consists of a number of tutorial chapters that guide you, step by step, through the features of VisTrails. We encourage you to try out these examples for yourself as you read this book. The third part provides information on additional features and packages. The forth and final part is the “Developer’s Guide” and is intended for programmers who wish to add new features, packages, and modules to VisTrails.

We hope that you will find VisTrails to be a useful tool towards automating and streamlining your workflows, leading to faster discoveries and deeper insight.

For your convenience, the html version of this manual is also available at

About the figures: VisTrails works across multiple platforms, and the screenshots shown in this manual reflect this. Hence, some of the images in this book may vary slightly from what you see on your system, depending on the look and feel of your platform.


VisTrails research and development has been funded the Department of Energy SciDAC (VACET and SDM centers), the National Science Foundation (grants IIS-0746500, CNS-0751152, IIS-0713637, OCE-0424602, IIS-0534628, CNS-0514485, IIS-0513692, CNS-0524096, CCF-0401498, OISE-0405402, CCF-0528201, CNS-0551724), and IBM Faculty Awards (2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008).

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