Oasys: Orange Canvas applied to Optical Physics

This week we’re hosting experts in optical physics from Elettra Sincrotrone Trieste and European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in our laboratory. For a long time they have been interested in developing a user interface that integrates different simulation tools and data analysis software within one environment. It all came true with Orange Canvas and the OASYS system. We’ve already written about this two years ago, when the idea first came up. Now the actual software is ready and is being used by researchers for everyday analysis and prototyping.


OASYS is basically pure Orange Canvas (Orange but no data mining widgets) that is reconfigured for the needs of optical physicists. What our partners from Italy did (with the help of our lab), was bring optic simulation software used in synchrotron facilities into a single graphical user interface. What is especially incredible is that they managed to transform Orange into a simulation platform for building synchrotron beamlines.


In essence, researches in synchrotrons experiment with actual physical objects, such as mirrors and crystals of different shape and size to transmit photons from several light sources of the synchrotron to the experimental endstations. They measure a broad array of material properties through the interaction with the synchrotron light and are trying to simulate different experiment settings before actually building a real-life experiment in the synchrotron. And this is where OASYS truly shines.

beamline in synchrotron

beamline in synchrotron

Widgets in this case become parts of the simulation pipeline. Each widget has an input and output beam of light, just like real life devices, and the parameters within the widget are physical properties of a particular experimental object. Thus scientists can model the experiment in advance and do it much quicker and easier than before.

visualization of light properties

Furthermore, Orange and OASYS provide a user-friendly GUI that domain experts can quickly get used to. There are anecdotal evidences of renowned physicists, who preferred to do their analysis with outdated simulation tools. However, after using OASYS for just a few days, they were already completely comfortable and could reproduce previously calculated results in a software without any problem. Moreover, they did it within several days instead of weeks as before.


This is the power of visual programming – providing a user-friendly interface for automating complicated calculations and quick prototyping.

  • Anonymous

    Hi there Orange team and contributors…….

    i dont usually post comments, but this one really inspired me to do……. 🙂

    i have been following this awesome project right after finishing my undergraduate studies…. while helping my sister with bioinformatics – u know getting the tools necessary for learning it professionally. thats how i have been introduced with orange.

    i remember that old post about xray-photonics simulation…. i am actually happy to see such a great application with OASYS….. very much inspired. That may be because i myself is an engineer working with instruments and actually bogged down with proprietary and vendor lock down massive tools. So always exploring internet to find new tools that satisfies my ideas of programming. Came across really awesome tools(zaluum, noflow, puredata,….& some univ. level projects). One of them is Orange. Really happy to see how OASYS is being hacked and developed ………..

    hopely i will also try to use it in my setup………..
    i always dream about some free software/hardware project to grow into alternative platform for systems integrators….. which is dominated nowadays with proprietary tools(u know them already).