Visualization by Sketching, Analogy, and Computational Creativity

The IV/LAB distributes and/or contributes to a number of publicly available software tools and datasets. Click here for a complete list. The following projects have been supported by this "Visualization by Sketching" grant.


This tutorial will provide the steps necessary to load the NAM forecast dataset into Visualization by Sketching. This tutorial is for OSX 10.11 or greater.

Prepare Dataset

Download Resources

  1. Download this zip file.
  2. Unzip the contents into your ~/Documents/ directory. This should result in a directory named ~/Documents/visualization-by-sketching/ (Visualization-by-Sketching requires this directory exists in order to run).
  3. Install Visualization-by-Sketching.


  1. Make sure you have Fortran installed. You can install fortran by installing gcc with the third-party brew:
    brew install gcc

Build GRIB

GRIB is a meteorological data format. In order to uncompress our dataset, we will need to build GRIB, including the optional IPOLATES tool. Here are the steps we used to build GRIB:

  1. Unzip ~/Documents/visualization-by-sketching/tutorial/wgrib2.tgz
  2. Open ~/Documents/visualization-by-sketching/tutorial/grib2/makefile
  3. Edit line 91 to say:
  4. Edit line 146 to say:
  5. Save and close the makefile.
  6. Go to the grib directory:
    cd ~/Documents/visualization-by-sketching/tutorial/grib2
  7. List the contents of the gcc lib directory:
    ls /usr/local/lib/gcc/
    The listed result is the gcc version number. For us, the version was 5. If your version is different, make the appropriate change in the next step.
  8. Set the following environment variables. This is how we did it using bash:
    export FC=/usr/local/bin/gfortran
    export LDFLAGS+=-L/usr/local/lib/gcc/5
  9. Build GRIB:

Build Tutorial Tools

  1. In the terminal, run the script:
    cd ~/Documents/visualization-by-sketching/tutorial/

Download Dataset

  1. In the terminal, run the script:
    cd ~/Documents/visualization-by-sketching/tutorial/

Process Dataset

  1. In the terminal, run the script:
    cd ~/Documents/visualization-by-sketching/tutorial/

Load Dataset into Visualization-by-Sketching

  1. Open
  2. Press ⌘L to load a dataset.
  3. Navigate to ~/Documents/visualization-by-sketching/data/NAM/ and select the Index.txt file.
  4. You should now be able to add layers to begin sketching your visualization!
  5. Press ⌘O to open a visketch Sketch file.
  6. Navigate to ~/Documents/visualization-by-sketching/sketches/ and select 0330_5.visketch.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1218058.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.