The MPI - Adaptive Mesh Refinement - Versatile Advection Code
Data file conversion

Table of Contents


The standard MPI-AMRVAC dataformat, i.e. the *.dat files usable for restart, contain all the conservative variables in all gridblocks, and hence suffice for visualization, in principle. However, in many instances, one would like to use data formats that are directly readable by some of the more widespread visualization software packages. Therefore, we created the convert.t module, which ensures that this post-process data file conversion can be done with the same executable (but possibly even on a different platform). The many possibilities include conversion to *.vtu (VTK unformatted data format) directly readable by Paraview (or ViSiT), to *.plt format for the commercial package Tecplot. Also, this info will not explain you how to use the mentioned software for visualization, but just explain how to do the conversion. Furthermore, this part of the code is subject to continuous change and improvement, and we welcome extra contributions.

We now give some brief info on how to use the same executable amrvac (which you already compiled and used to obtain output *.dat files with), to convert a single or all *.dat file(s) to one of these formats.

Converting (on a single CPU)

** Note that all the steps below assume you're running on a single CPU. The same steps are to be taken for obtaining any of the other precoded data formats. One important warning is due: when you run a simulation for some reason twice, and you did not erase the previously created *.dat files, these files are overwritten (if the base_filename has not changed). Then, it may be that conversion fails, since the end of the file may contain some leftover data from the previous time, if the filelength has changed due to some other reason. The only remedy to this is that one should always remove old *.dat files, or never forget to change the name for the files accordingly, by setting base_filename in the &filelist;.**

We will assume that you ran the standard 2D advection problem used for test purposes, i.e. that you did the following steps beforehand:

cd $AMRVAC_DIR/tests/rho/vac
mpirun -np 1 amrvac

We also assume that in the parameter file amrvac.par, the namelist &filelist; was stating (note that the end of the namelist is indicated as usual by a backslash)


If all went well, you then have created as many *.dat files as requested through the settings you provided in the combined &savelist; and &stoplist; namelists from the par-file. For the example, they normally default to asking a full data dump at time zero, as well as every time the time has increased by 0.05, and this till tmax=1.0d0, such that we actually have 21 snapshots in total. You should thus have files like vaclogo0000.dat up to vaclogo0020.dat. You can now individually convert such *.dat file to a *.vtu file by doing the following. Edit the amrvac.par file, to select a visualization data format like


you can then convert the single vaclogo0000.dat file simply running again

mpirun -np 1 amrvac

or, which is actually equivalent (single CPU)


Note that this will create a new file, namely vaclogo0000.vtu, which can be directly imported in Paraview. It will, under the settings above, just contain the density on the grid hierarchy at time zero. The convert_type='vtuBCC' indicates that the data is exactly as the code interprets and updates the values, namely as cell-centered quantities.

Realizing that you typically want to convert multiple data files, you can do this by repeating the above as many times as there are *.dat files, by raising/changing the restart_from_file identifier. Since you typically want to convert all data files between a minimum and maximum number of similarly named files, the script aiconvert is added. If you have a line PATH="$AMRVAC_DIR:$AMRVAC_DIR/tools:./:$PATH" in ~/.bash_profile (or ~/.bashrc), typing aiconvert will tell you its intended usage. In the example case at hand, where we created 21 data files from running the advection problem. This aiconvert script needs the intended base_filename and the executable amrvac exists in the same directory. It will complain when the parfile does not exist, and obviously requires the existence of all files between the start and stopindex (0 and 20 here). With paraview, you will then be able to immediately import all 21 *.vtu files with the same base filename, and directly make movies or still images from them.

For example, to convert snapshots from number 10 to number 20:

aiconvert 10 20

or to convert the snapshot number 12

aiconvert 12

or just type


to convert all the snapshots! You can also specify a parfile other than amrvac.par as:

aiconvert newname.par 0 20

or to convert the snapshot number 12

aiconvert newname.par 12

For details of aiconvert, please read the header of the $AMRVAC_DIR/tools/aiconvert.

Parallel conversion options

For very large simulations (typically 3D, and/or runs achieving high effective resolutions), even the data conversion may need to be done in parallel (and ultimately, the visualization itself too). The convert.t allows to perform some of the *.dat conversions in parallel, in particular, this is true for the *.vtu format, and for the *.plt format. You should then select one of


Here, the prefix p stands for the parallel file format, where each process is allowed to dump its data into a single (e.g. *.vtu) file and a master file (e.g. *.pvtu) is stored by rank zero. This has the advantage that the write operation on suitable file systems is sped up significantly. In a visualization software, only the *.pvtu files need to be imported and also the reading process is sped up in case of parallel visualization.

You can again use aiconvert as explained above, and type in the number of processors to use by answering a popup question:

How many processors do you want to use? (default=1) 4


In addition to the conversion after the run, AMRVAC now offers also to directly output files ready to use for visualization along with the simulation. A parallel run will however only be capable to provide the file- types ready for parallel conversion (see parallel conversion). To enable this capability, simply set the switch autoconvert=.true.. The example above would then read


and when the code is run via

mpirun -np 2 amrvac

three new output files (vaclogoXXXX0000.vtu, vaclogoXXXX0001.vtu) will appear simultaneous to the vaclogoXXXX.dat files, stored at given intervals. All functionality of the usual convert is conserved, e.g. derived quantities and primitive variables (using the saveprim=.true. option) can be stored in the output files.

Notes on conversion possibilities

Cell center versus cell corner values

In all cases mentioned below, the difference between convert-types with or without CC relates to the difference between cell center (`CC') versus cell corner values. For the cell center case, no interpolation of the computed data is needed, since the (conservative) variables actually represent volume averages stored at cell centers. For the other cases (without 'CC'), the convert.t tries to interpolate from cell center to the cell corners, and then the data will be known at the grid nodes. This will be noticable on reading in the data in paraview, which reports whether data is cell data (cell centered) or point data (nodes or corners). In principle, the conversion from cell centered (or cell data) to cell corner (or point data) types can also be achieved in paraview itself, with the filter Cell data to Point data. There may be subtle differences between the way MPI-AMRVAC does this interpolation, and the way it happens internally to paraview, so we provide both options as output *.vtu files. Similar observations hold for the Tecplot format.

Conservative/primitive storage and adding derived quantities

The saveprim logical allows you to select whether the conservative or primitive variables need to be stored in the resulting output file. The names for the conservative variables and primitive ones are hard coded depending on the physics.

Another very useful option is to specify which variables actually need to be converted: by default all conservative variables available in the *.dat file will be included, but then again filesizes may become restrictive. For that purpose, the logical array w_write allows to select which variable(s) to store (and this in combination with saveprim, possibly). You can then create different files for selected variables, knowing that the output filename will start with base_filename.

We allow the possibility to compute derived variables from the *.dat file in the userfile, by setting how many you add beyond the nw variables typcial for the physics module at hand, in the integer nwauxio. Correspondingly that many variables, you should then compute and store in the w(*,nw+1) ... w(*,nw+nwauxio) entries, in the user-written subroutine _ specialvar_output_ (as defined in mod_usr_methods.t). The names for these variables then need to be provided in the corresponding specialvarnames_output subroutine. This feature is very useful, for the same reason as above: you can let the code compute gradients of scalar fields, divergence of vector quantities, curls of vectors, etc, using the precoded subroutines for that purpose found in geometry.t. You then do not rely on visualization software to do interpolations or discretizations, which may not reflect those actually taken in MPI-AMRVAC.

Another useful feature is the possibility to select the output AMR level. You can let the code compute from the *.dat file an output residing on a specified level level_io. This then uses the MPI-AMRVAC internal means to perform restriction and prolongations, and you can then make sure to have a single uniform grid output too.

_convert_type='vtu'_ or convert_type='vtuCC'

Does the conversion to *.vtu data files. This option works on 1 CPU. The resulting *.vtu files contain data in ASCII format.

_convert_type='vtuB'_ or convert_type='vtuBCC'

Does the conversion to *.vtu data files. This option works on 1 CPU. The resulting *.vtu files are in binary format.

_convert_type='vtumpi'_ or convert_type='vtuCCmpi'

Does the conversion to *.vtu data files. This option works on multiple CPUs. The resulting *.vtu files contain data in ASCII format.

_convert_type='vtuBmpi'_ or convert_type='vtuBCCmpi'

Does the conversion to *.vtu data files. This option works on multiple CPUs. The resulting *.vtu files contain data in binary format. (recommended)

_convert_type='tecplot'_ or convert_type='tecplotCC'

This realizes conversion to *.plt files, which can be read in directly by Tecplot. Note that the output is in ASCII format, which may mean huge data sets, but Tecplot has its own preplot command that will allow you to operate on such a file, and thereby make a binary version for it. The above is for single CPU execution, allows to add user-defined variables with nwauxio, and renormalization using the normt and normvar array.

_convert_type='tecplotmpi'_ or convert_type='tecplotCCmpi'

Same as above, but allows to perform the conversion in parallel. One can add user -defined variables with nwauxio, and renormalize using the normt and normvar array. The current implementation is such that tecplotmpi and tecplotCCmpi will create different length output ASCII files when used on 1 versus multiple CPUs. In fact, on 1 CPU, there will be as many (tecplot) zones as there are levels, while on on multiple CPUs, there will be a number of zones up to the number of levels times the number of CPUs (or less, when some level does not exist on a certain CPU).

onegrid(mpi), oneblock(B), ...

Extra possibilities to allow creation of a single uniform grid level output. Please inspect the workings in convert.t.