Catalyst for Implementation Developers

Developers can develop custom implementations for the Catalyst API to support a wide variety of use-cases. In most cases, however, if your goal is to use ParaView for in situ data processing, it may be easier to simply use ParaView Catalyst. It support several ways for describing computational meshes and field arrays including Mesh Blueprint and Fides.

This section describes the workflow for those who want to implement a custom implementation for the Catalyst API.


To build a custom Catalyst implementation, your project needs to be a CMake-based project i.e. use CMake as the build system generator. While it is technically feasible to use a non-CMake based project, it is highly recommended to use CMake.

CMake Setup

The following sample CMakeLists.txt shows how to build a Catalyst implementation.

 1# When implementing the Catalyst API, as against using
 2# it to invoke Catalyst, one must use the component
 3# ``SDK`` in ``find_package`` call. This ensures that all necessary
 4# libraries etc. are available.
 6             REQUIRED
 7             COMPONENTS SDK)
 9# use this function call to create a Catalyst API implementation.
11  TARGET  MyCustomCatalystImpl
12  NAME    MyImplName
13  SOURCES MyCustomCatalystImpl.cxx)

That is it! catalyst_implementation creates the library with the appropriate CMake target-properties on the library including setting its name and version number. This function is only available when the SDK component is explicitly requested in the find_package(catalyst .. ) call.

For more advanced usage, the following arguments are also supported:

  • EXPORT <export>: Add the target to the named export set.

  • LIBRARY_DESTINATION <destination>: Where to place the implementation underneath the build and install trees (with reasonable defaults if not provided).

  • CATALYST_TARGET <target>: The name of the target which provides the Catalyst API (defaults to catalyst::catalyst).

Implementing Catalyst API

Providing an implementation for the Catalyst API implies providing code for the five catalyst_ functions that are part of the Catalyst API:

  • catalyst_initialize_MyImplName

  • catalyst_finalize_MyImplName

  • catalyst_execute_MyImplName

  • catalyst_about_MyImplName

  • catalyst_results_MyImplName

To do that, simply include catalyst.h and catalyst_impl_MyImplName.h headers in your implementation file and add definitions for these functions. Definitions for all the five functions must be provided. You can choose to invoke the default stub implementation for any of the functions by including the catalyst_stub.h header and then calling catalyst_stub_initialize, catalyst_stub_finalize, catalyst_stub_execute, catalyst_stub_about or catalyst_stub_results in your implementations for the corresponding methods.

If your custom implementation is using C++, you can include c/conduit_cpp_to_c.hpp headers to convert the conduit_node pointer to a conduit::Node instance pointer using conduit::cpp_node(). Then you can use the conduit::Node API which is generally friendlier than the C API.

 1#include <catalyst.h>
 2#include <conduit.hpp>            // for conduit::Node
 3#include <conduit_cpp_to_c.hpp>   // for conduit::cpp_node()
 7enum catalyst_status catalyst_about_MyImplName(conduit_node* params)
 9  // convert to conduit::Node
10  conduit::Node &cpp_params = (*conduit::cpp_node(params));
12  // now, use conduit::Node API.
13  cpp_params["catalyst"]["capabilities"].append().set("adaptor0");

On successful build of your project, you should get a shared library named,, or catalyst-ImplName.dll on Linux, macOS, and Windows respectively.

Using your Catalyst implementation

Now, to use your implementation with any simulation or code built with the stub Catalyst implementation, all you need to do is to make sure your Catalyst library is found and loaded by catalyst_initialize.