New to RTMaps ? This is the perfect place to start ! In this tutorial, we will explain the main functionalities of RTMaps from the point of view of a new user. We will construct a simple diagram and show some basic tips and functionalities of RTMaps. The goal is to show how RTMaps basically works and to prepare the new user to use RTMaps for complex multi sensors applications.


Figure 1 : the studio interface

The registered components panel

First, let’s have a look to the registered components panel (the orange zone with label 1 in the figure 1). In this panel we can find current available components. A component represents an hardware abstraction (for example : the mouse or keyboard) or a processing task (for example algorithms for image processing). Each component has a unique name and has its own inputs, outputs and properties. Information about a particular component is available in the Help (accessible via the contextual menu with a right click on the component). The Help shows information about the global behaviour of the component and also detailed information about the inputs, outputs and properties.

Note that those components can be sorted by package or by category. By default, the components are sorted by package but you can change this at any time by clicking on the desired button (use the tool-tip to identify the button you need). Setting the sort to Category will distribute components in extra packages into predefined categories.

Actually, when you start RTMaps, only “standard components” are loaded here. Of course one day or another you will need a specific component to be placed on the diagram. So we should have a look at the panel just below.

The EXPLORER panel

In the available package panel (purple zone with label 2), we find specific packages to be loaded on demand. If you need a specific sensor, you can load the dedicated components by double clicking on the corresponding package (.pck file), or drag and dropping it into the "Registered components" panel. .

Components have properties

To place a component on a diagram, you have to drag and drop your component onto the diagram. So let’s put a mouse component on the diagram to track the mouse position, and a data viewer so we can watch it. Note that when you select a component with the mouse left button, the properties panel shows all the properties available for that component (blue zone with label 3). These properties can be modified by the user to fit his needs. Here the mouse has only two properties (input device and axis mode).

Once the two components are on the diagram, you have to connect them. To do that, you will have to switch to connection mode. Indeed, there are two modes in RTMaps :

  • the selection mode (default) : enables the user to select and move components
  • the connection mode : enables the user to establish connections between components.

To switch between the two modes, there are many possibilities. The quicker solution is to use the mouse middle button (just click on the wheel), which toggles from one mode to the other. This is in our opinion the best solution so we advise you to use this one. But sometimes you don’t have a three buttons mouse, right ? You can also click on the connection mode | selection mode button in the RTMaps toolbars. Another possibility is to hold the shift key. Note the change of cursor appearance when you are in connection mode.

Figure 2 : the mouse appearance
Left : normal mode, right : connection mode


Once you are in connection mode, you can connect two components by clicking on the first component’s output (here the mouse component) and then the second component’s input (here the data viewer component). Note that RTMaps chooses the nearest input / output of mouse click so that you are not forced to click exactly on the desired input/output.

Figure 3 :Two connected components

Note : In RTMaps4, you can connect several outputs to inputs in one step. Yes, it means you don’t have to wire outputs to inputs one by one anymore. To do so, click on the first component, hold the “Alt” key, and click to the second component. All the compatible inputs and outputs should be wired.

Run the diagram

To start the diagram, just click on the run button (label 4). There is one run button in one of the RTMaps toolbars, and one in the VCR window (we will talk about this windows later). So choose the one you prefer. When you start the diagram, a new window should appear : the data viewer !

Figure 4 : The data viewer window


The values are updated on mouse events, it means only when you move the mouse.

If you deploy the “Info” section, you can access additional information about the received data samples such as their “timestamp”, their “time of issue”, their data type, the vector sizes and buffer sizes, etc. This will be detailed in further articles.

The console panel

Now, let’s have a look to the console (green panel label 5). The console is quite important in RTMaps because in there you will find all information concerning the studio and its components. The color of the information indicates the importance of the message:

  • Black : script commands to the internal RTMaps engine (generated automatically)
  • Blue : simple information
  • Yellow : warning on a particular component
  • Red : error on a particular component. In that case the component has already stopped.

The VCR Window

Finally, let’s have a quick look to the VCR window :

Figure 5 : The VCR window


The VCR is mostly useful in playback mode, when replaying previously recorded data. In that case, it enables the user to control the speed of the replay (the virtual time) and also to play backwards or forward.