Using ipyvtk-simple

pyvista has the ability to display fully featured plots within a jupyterlab environment using ipyvtk-simple. This feature works by streaming the current render window to a canvas within jupyterlab and then passing any user actions from the canvas back to the VTK render window.

While this isn’t an exciting feature when jupyterlab is being run locally, this has huge implications when plotting remotely as you can display any plot (except for those with multiple render windows) from jupyterlab.

For example, both sections of code will display an interactive canvas within jupyterlab:

import pyvista as pv
sphere = pv.Sphere()

# short example
cpos, image = sphere.plot(use_ipyvtk=True)

# long example
plotter = pv.Plotter(notebook=True)

For convenience, you can enable use_ipyvtk by default with:

import pyvista
pyvista.rcParams['use_ipyvtk'] = True


If you’re using an Anaconda environment, installation is the quite straightforward:

conda env update --name base --file environment.yml
conda run conda install -y nodejs
conda run jupyter labextension install @jupyter-widgets/jupyterlab-manager@2.0 itkwidgets@0.32.0 ipycanvas@0.6.1 ipyevents@1.8.1

Where environment.yml is:

  - conda-forge
  - defaults
  - jupyterlab=2.2.9
  - itkwidgets=0.32.0
  - ipywidgets=7.5.1
  - pyvista=0.27.0

On Linux, you can setup your jupyterlab environment with:

pip install jupyterlab itkwidgets==0.32.0 ipywidgets=7.5.1 pyvista
sudo apt install nodejs
jupyter labextension install @jupyter-widgets/jupyterlab-manager@2.0 itkwidgets@0.32.0 ipycanvas@0.6.1 ipyevents@1.8.1

Other Considerations

It may be worth using GPU acceleration, see Off-Screen Plotting GPU Support.

If you do not have GPU acceleration, be sure to start up a virtual framebuffer using Xvfb. You can either start it using bash with:

export DISPLAY=:99.0
which Xvfb
Xvfb :99 -screen 0 1024x768x24 > /dev/null 2>&1 &
sleep 3
set +x
exec "$@"

Or alternatively, start it using the built in pyvista.start_xvfb(). Please be sure to install xvfb and libgl1-mesa-glx with:

sudo apt-get install libgl1-mesa-dev xvfb