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Posted 15 Jun 2003

3D Graph ActiveX Control

, 2 Aug 2003
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An ATL/STL ActiveX control based on OpenGL library for 3D data visualization
<!--P>You can take a look on live demo.

NTGraph3D -Sample Image

&lt;!-- { list-style-image: url(NTGraph3D_ATL/prop.gif) } li.method { list-style-image: url(NTGraph3D_ATL/gmethod.gif) } -->


This is an ActiveX control based on the OpenGL library, which allows you to plot three-dimensional data. The control is entirely written on ATL/STL, and does not link to MFC libraries.

The control can perform the following functions:

  • Axis customization, including customizable font, colors, and titles.
  • Plot a large number of points and updating one or more plots on the graph with new data, replacing the old plot with the new plot.
  • Plot the multiple elements with individual properties such as line and point color, line width, and point size.
  • Lighting
  • Plot styles: {0 (Lines); 1 (Points); 2 (LinePoint); 3 (Surface)}
  • By setting the Projection property you should be able to change the viewing to: (0) Perspective (in which objects that are closer appear larger), and (1) Orthographic (in which the sizes and angles between objects are maintained no matter what their distance from the viewer).
  • By setting the TrackMode property you should be able to do: (1) Zooming, (2) Rotation, and (3) Panning at runtime.

About the Code

To use this control, embed it in an application that supports the use of ActiveX controls. Microsoft Visual Basic applications, all MS Office applications, VBScript and JavaScript in the HTA or Internet Explorer applications, and applications created with the Microsoft Developer Studio’s AppWizard can support the use of ActiveX controls.

Before you start, the control must be register as a COM component using Regsvr32.exe. Regsvr32 takes one argument the DLL or control to register and any of several command-line switches, the most notable of which is /u to uninstall a control. By default that is, when run with only a dll or ocx Regsvr32.exe registers the control.

Note: you must do this on every computer that you are going to use the control!

For more information on how to register and how to include the control in a VC Project, refer to my article 2D Graph ActiveX Control.

Bellow are two listings that demonstrates how to use the control to draw a Torus:


<PRE lang=c++>// // // Plot Torus // void CDemoDlg::OnButton1() { m_Graph3D.SetCaption ("Torus"); m_Graph3D.ClearGraph(); // Clear all data m_Graph3D.AddElement(); // Add an element to element list m_Graph3D.SetElementLineColor(0, RGB(255,0,0)); m_Graph3D.SetElementType(0, 3); // draw surface double x,y,z,ti,tj; for (int i = 0; i < 41; i++) { ti = (i - 20.0)/20.0 * 3.15; for (int j = 0; j < 41 ; j++) { tj = (j - 20.0)/20.0 * 3.15; x = (cos(tj) + 3.0) * cos(ti); y = sin(tj); z = (cos(tj) + 3.0) * sin(ti); m_Graph3D.PlotXYZ(x,y,z,0); } } //m_Graph3D.SetRange (-4, 4, -1, 1, -4, 4); m_Graph3D.AutoRange(); }

Visual Basic

' Look at the Demo3D.hta file 
' Double click on file to start the demo
' Plot Torus
Sub Torus

   With Graph3D
        .Caption = "Torus"
	.ElementType(0) = 3 'Draw Surface

   For i = 0 To 41
    ti = (i - 20.0)/20.0 * 3.15

    For j = 0 To 41 
	tj = (j - 20.0)/20.0 * 3.15

	x = (cos(tj) + 3.0) * cos(ti)
	y = sin(tj)
	z = (cos(tj) + 3.0) * sin(ti)
	.PlotXYZ x,y,z,0
  End With
End Sub

List of Control Properties:


  •  short Appearance
  •  long BorderStyle
  •  VARIANT_BOOL BorderVisible
  •  BSTR Caption
  •  IFontDisp* Font
  •  OLE_COLOR BackColor
  •  OLE_COLOR CaptionColor
  •  short TrackMode
  •  short Projection
  •  BSTR XLabel
  •  BSTR YLabel
  •  BSTR ZLabel
  •  short XGridNumber
  •  short YGridNumber
  •  short ZGridNumber
  •  OLE_COLOR XGridColor
  •  OLE_COLOR YGridColor
  •  OLE_COLOR ZGridColor


  •  OLE_COLOR ElementLineColor(long ElementID, OLE_COLOR newVal)
  •  OLE_COLOR ElementPointColor(long ElementID, OLE_COLOR newVal)
  •  float ElementLineWidth(long ElementID, float newVal)
  •  float ElementPointSize(long ElementID, float newVal)
  •  short ElementType(long ElementID)
  •  BOOL ElementShow(long ElementID)
  •  BOOL ElementSurfaceFill(long ElementID)
  •  BOOL ElementSurfaceFlat(long ElementID)
  •  BOOL ElementLight(long ElementID
  •  short ElementLightingAmbient(long ElementID)
  •  short ElementLightingDiffuse(long ElementID)
  •  short ElementLightingSpecular(long ElementID)
  •  short ElementMaterialAmbient(long ElementID)
  •  short ElementMaterialDiffuse(long ElementID)
  •  short ElementMaterialSpecular(long ElementID)
  •  short ElementMaterialShinines(long ElementID)
  •  short ElementMaterialShinines(long ElementID)
  •  short ElementMaterialEmission(long ElementID)

List of Control Methods:


  •  void SetRange(double xmin, double xmax, double ymin, double ymax, double zmin, double zmax)
  •  void AutoRange()
  •  void ShowPropertyPages()


  •  void AddElement()
  •  void DeleteElement(long ElementID)
  •  void ClearGraph()
  •  void PlotXYZ(double x, double y, double z, long ElementID)
  •  void SetLightCoordinates(long ElementID, float x, float y, float z)

Cost: One bottle wine. :-)


Note: I am not expert on OpenGL, therefore all good suggestions, code and help for imporving the control are welcome!

Send mail to with questions or comments about this article.


16 Jun 2003 - v1.0 Initial release

22 Jun 2003 - v2.0

  • Thanks to Alexander Chernosvitov for the Excellent article Function graphics in 3D.
  • Lot’s of new properties (see property list and demo files)
  • ElementType = {0 (Lines); 1 (Points); 2 (LinePoint); 3 (Surface)}
  • Added new demo file that demonstrate the new features
  • New Property BOOL ElementShow(long ElementID)
29 Jul 2003 - v2.1
  • Some drawing fixes
  • Added CopyToClipboard (Works only with release versions of the control! )
  • Added Klein Bottle
  • Changes to the Demo Projects


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The MIT License


About the Author

Nikolai Teofilov
Germany Germany
No Biography provided

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Comments and Discussions

GeneralMeaningless error messages Pin
UserID1532435-Mar-04 5:49
sussUserID1532435-Mar-04 5:49 
GeneralTest Pin
dhan750255-Jan-04 13:38
sussdhan750255-Jan-04 13:38 
QuestionHow to draw 3d graph using VB6 Pin
syahadda31-Oct-03 5:56
susssyahadda31-Oct-03 5:56 
GeneralI Need a 3D graphics library Pin
Hesham M. Al_Masaeed14-Sep-03 0:08
sussHesham M. Al_Masaeed14-Sep-03 0:08 
GeneralRe: I Need a 3D graphics library Pin
Vacindak25-May-04 3:51
memberVacindak25-May-04 3:51 
GeneralI need 3D library Pin
almentar14-Sep-03 0:03
memberalmentar14-Sep-03 0:03 
QuestionSave to File? Pin
rjahrman31-Aug-03 7:18
memberrjahrman31-Aug-03 7:18 
GeneralRedrawing without re-rendering Pin
Phil Atkin29-Aug-03 2:58
memberPhil Atkin29-Aug-03 2:58 
GeneralRe: Redrawing without re-rendering Pin
Alex Scripnik4-Dec-03 1:31
memberAlex Scripnik4-Dec-03 1:31 
GeneralExceptions and using namespace std Pin
Mårten R7-Aug-03 2:55
sussMårten R7-Aug-03 2:55 
First, using namespace std; in a header-file might may break others' code. Now, this is COM-component and COM wraps away all C++ specifics so this is not a problem here.

I just think it's good practice not to write using namespace std in a header-file.

Second, stl-classes and algorithms might throw exceptions. A COM-method may not propagate exceptions. Therefore it's usually a good idea to do something like this in all COM-methods:

STDMETHODIMP CGraphCtl::AddElement()
CElement Element ;
return S_OK;
return E_FAIL;

I usually end up making macros for the try...catch pair as the catch part might be quite talkative.

And if you are addind try...catch I believe it's a good idea to add try...catch to all of these methods as well.

Third, I think it's a good thing what you've done but since you asked for OpenGL pointers, I'd though I point out some COM-issues as well.

Ps. It doesn't provide any neat features but the code will be more robust.

Ps. Again good work.

GeneralRe: Exceptions and using namespace std Pin
Nikolai Teofilov7-Aug-03 4:45
memberNikolai Teofilov7-Aug-03 4:45 
Questionhow to draw button on ocx control? Pin
xnew22-Jul-03 6:16
memberxnew22-Jul-03 6:16 
BSMAN18-Jul-03 21:02
memberBSMAN18-Jul-03 21:02 
Antony M Kancidrowski5-Aug-03 3:01
memberAntony M Kancidrowski5-Aug-03 3:01 
GeneralglData Pin
Anonymous1-Jul-03 15:37
sussAnonymous1-Jul-03 15:37 
GeneralRe: glData Pin
Nikolai Teofilov1-Jul-03 20:33
memberNikolai Teofilov1-Jul-03 20:33 
GeneralAn idea Pin
Tom Mason24-Jun-03 2:20
memberTom Mason24-Jun-03 2:20 
GeneralRe: An idea Pin
Nikolai Teofilov24-Jun-03 3:37
memberNikolai Teofilov24-Jun-03 3:37 
GeneralCool Pin
Nikolai Teofilov21-Jun-03 5:24
memberNikolai Teofilov21-Jun-03 5:24 
GeneralButterfly Pin
Colin Davies21-Jun-03 0:59
memberColin Davies21-Jun-03 0:59 
GeneralRe: Butterfly Pin
Nikolai Teofilov23-Jun-03 1:48
memberNikolai Teofilov23-Jun-03 1:48 
GeneralExcellent Stuff Pin
Colin Davies20-Jun-03 16:25
memberColin Davies20-Jun-03 16:25 
GeneralOpenGL resources get here Pin
TW18-Jun-03 23:16
memberTW18-Jun-03 23:16 
GeneralRe: OpenGL resources get here Pin
Normski3-Aug-03 21:43
memberNormski3-Aug-03 21:43 
GeneralVC7 Compile Error Pin
Majid Shahabfar17-Jun-03 0:51
memberMajid Shahabfar17-Jun-03 0:51 

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