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Project History

After I released my molecular surface computation package MSMS many people started to ask how to look at these surfaces. So I decided to write this little viewer both to enable MSMS users to display surfaces and also to learn about OpenGL. This (initialy) small project grew in a somewhat larger program/OpenGL test tube called MSV for Molecular Surface Viewer.

The very first version had no GUI (Graphic User Interface) and could only read the .vert and .face files produced by MSMS and display the surface in a window where it could be rotated, translated and scaled with the mouse.

Pretty soon I started to get frustrated because I wanted to be able to look at several surfaces simultaneously, change their position, color, appearance etc.., but to do this I needed an GUI. So I decided to use the Xforms library by Zhao and Overmars. Control panels were added for OpenGL features such as Fog, lighting model, light sources, clipping planes, polygon culling etc... .

Finally, Arthur Olson (my boss) suggested that it would be nice to be able to import some other geometries and we decided to add a simple VRML browsing capability. This was down using the QvLib library.

Still to be done

  • It is my dream to add an interpreted language such as Python to this viewer to control all graphical elements and their properties through this language.
  • Texture mapping has been one of the hot topics in computer graphics in the last years. This will have to be added to the MSV (just give me time!!!).

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    Michel Sanner
    March 31 12:00 PDT 1997