Use NEST Desktop with ViSimpl


ViSimpl visualizes neural activity from brain simulation data. It displays spike activity in space and can be co-used with NEST Desktop.

See also

For this approach, we need to run the simulation with Insite as recording backend.

When you want to learn how to use NEST Desktop with Insite, please read Simulate with Insite.


First, download the Docker Compose configuration file for NEST Desktop and Insite.


Then, pull the docker images using Docker Compose.

docker-compose pull

Afterwards, you can start NEST Desktop (with Insite).

docker-compose up

For ViSimpl, download the (binary) AppImage from the page, make it executable and then open it.

chmod +x visimpl-$VERSION-x86_64.AppImage


You can place NEST Desktop and ViSimpl side by side to see them both.

How to use NEST Desktop with ViSimpl



  • In NEST Desktop, make sure that both backends (NEST Simulator and Insite) are running.

  • Run the simulation of the network with Insite as recording backend.

  • In ViSimpl, click on the REST button to get data from Insite (check that you use the correct URL).


  • Increase the Request size to 10 000 spikes in the REST dialog that it collects spikes faster.

  • It shows spatial dots representing neurons and spikes are displayed in glowing mode.


  • Increase the Simulation timestep to 1ms in Simulation Playback Configuration.

  • Increase the Delay to 5ms in Visual Configuration.


Thanks for the collaboration on ViSimpl and NEST Desktop:

  • Félix De Las Pozas Álvarez (Collaboration on ViSimpl and NEST Desktop)

  • Marcel Krüger (Insite as recording backend)

  • Óscar David Robles Sánchez (Lead developer of ViSimpl)