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Research Computing

MAVIS - Molecular Animation and VIsualization System


MAVIS, the Molecular Animation and VIsualization System, is a Molecular Graphics display and manipulation package designed specifically to interface to many popular Computational Chemistry codes.

MAVIS with VRMenu

MAVIS is designed to offer a wide range of features to the user enabling them to build and study complex molecules from both individual atoms and residues, perform calculations using several of the most popular Computational Chemistry codes, and then view the output structures using a number of display styles.

As well as static molecular display, MAVIS affords facilities to allow the user to display molecular properties as surfaces and animations. MAVIS can produce 2D data files of several types (colour or black and white schematic postscript or MAC PICT format), which are suitable for inclusion in documents. MAVIS can also output 3D data files suitable for use with external, third-party software for the production of presentation-quality images using specialist graphics techniques such as ray-tracing.


MAVIS was originally based on the widely available visualization package AVS 5 (Application Visualization System), and as such is a highly portable system, available for over 20 different types of workstation and supercomputer. The majority of the information on these pages refers to this version and the term AVS refers to AVS 5.


A port to the more advanced AVS/Express application was started ~1996/7 though at the time it was not successfully ported to Windows PCs. With the development of Multi-Pipe Express, MAVIS was updated with the addition of a VR Menu system and has formed a part of standard demo suite in the VIPL. With the update of the Visualization service machine that drives the VIPL in 2006, MAVIS was updated and the opportunity was taken to make it fully portable including Windows PCs.

MAVIS was initially developed by Dr. Chris Parkinson while a postgraduate student within the Theoretical Chemistry Group at the Department of Chemistry (1992-1995), University of Manchester in collaboration with Manchester Computing (MC)

The AVS/Express port was carried out by Dr. Matt Cooper, followed by Tobias Schiebeck, who also added the VRMenu.

The code is currently being maintained by James Perrin.

Obtaining MAVIS

MAVIS is currently unavailable but will hopefully be available again soon to UK HEI's.

For more information about MAVIS please contact Research Computing Services at the University of Manchester

MAVIS in AVS/Express

MAVIS Documentation

The MAVIS documentation set includes a comprehensive user guide, a module guide describing the individual modules and their use in AVS networks and a programmer's guide describing how to write new modules to incorporate into the MAVIS module set. These can all be downloaded below:

Original AVS 5 Version


  1. MAVIS: An Interactive Visualization Tool for Computational Chemistry Calculations in a Distributed Networked Environment, C.I. Parkinson, M.D. Cooper, W.T. Hewitt and I.H. Hillier, Pacific Symposium on Biocomputing 3:189-200 (1998)