1. Introduction

itom is a lab automation and measurement software developed, maintained and provided by the ITO (Institut for Technical Optics, University Stuttgart, Germany). While this software has been designed with an emphasis on developing and running optical systems, it is not limited to this field of application. itom represents a versatile tool for building the control software for any measurement setup aimed at a high degree of adaptability to different parameters and variable hardware. To address these requirements it was decided to design a powerful and fast core-program, integrating a scripting language in order to easily modify and transfer code blocks from one part of the program to another and to provide a simple and unitary interface for controlling external hardware components. Beyond the control of the physical setup, itom provides a wide variety of features for the analysis and processing of the acquired data. itom is best considered as an open source lab automation software whose functionalities lie somewhere between commercial software packages like Matlab or Labview.

The following table shows in which way base requirements to such a software system have influenced the choice of components during the designing process:

What we wanted

How we did it

fast software, development of fast algorithms


modern multi-platform GUI


easy integration of different hardware (camera, actuator,…)

Plugin system

fast, robust and easy-to-learn scriptingnguage


In the figure below you can see the three columns on which itom is based:

  1. Python

  2. Plugins

  3. GUI


Based on these three columns you can control measurement applications, basic setups or scripted image processing.

To learn more about how to control itom via script language or the GUI proceed to Getting Started.

TODO: Add the basic idea and structure of ITOM and explain it in more detail than this above

1.1. About us

Institut fuer Technische Optik
Universitaet Stuttgart
Pfaffenwaldring 9
70569 Stuttgart

Report issues at:

This help has been built for itom-version 4.1.0 (Git-revision 5be8d6bd).

1.2. Licensing

1.2.1. itom Licensing

The core components and the main application of itom are covered by the GNU Library General Public Licence (GNU LGPL). All components belonging to the SDK of itom (e.g. dataObject, pointCloud, addInInterface,…) are additionally covered by an itom exception. The main idea of this exception is to allow other libraries (e.g. plugins) to include and link agains components of itom SDK independent on the specific license model of the respective “other” library. All files belonging to the itom SDK are included in the folder SDK that is shipped with any setup or included in the build directory (when build from sources).

The full text license of LGPL and itom exception is also included as file COPYING in the source distributions and setups.

All plugins and designer-plugins that can be integrated into itom can have their own licensing. Therefore the user is referred to the specific licensing documents or statements of each external library (plugin).

1.2.2. itom Exception

All components (source files) which are part of itom SDK are not only covered by the LPGL license but also by the itom Exception, that provides further grants and rights for using these components:

ITO LGPL Exception version 1.0

Additional rights granted beyond the LGPL (the "Exception").

As a special exception to the terms and conditions of version 2.0 of the LGPL,
ITO hereby grants you the rights described below, provided you agree to
the terms and conditions in this Exception, including its obligations and
restrictions on use.

Nothing in this Exception gives you or anyone else the right to change the
licensing terms of the itom Software.

Below, "Licensed Software" shall refer to the software licensed under the LGPL
and this exception.

1) The right to use Open Source Licenses not compatible with the GNU
Library General Public License: Your software (hereafter referred to as "Your
Software") may import the Licensed Software and/or distribute binaries of Your
Software that imports the Licensed Software.

2) The right to link non-Open Source applications with pre-installed versions of
the Licensed Software: You may link applications with binary pre-installed
versions of the Licensed Software.

3) The right to subclass from classes of the licensed software: Classes that are
subclassed from classes of the licensed software are not considered to be
constituting derivative work and therefore the author of such classes does
not need to provide source code for this classes.

1.2.3. Package Licences

A standard distribution of itom links to or uses the following third-party libraries (for exact version numbers, see the About dialog of itom):

  • The QT-Framework by The Qt Company under LGPLv3.

  • OpenCV by Intel and Willow Garage under BSD-license.

  • point cloud library in version 1.9.1 by Open Perception Inc. under BSD license.

  • The visualization toolkit (VTK) under the BSD license.

  • Python in version 3.8.7 by Python Software Foundation under Python Software Foundation License Version 2 (similar to BSD license).

  • Python-package NumPy under BSD compatible license.

  • Oxygen Iconset under LGPLv3 license, as part of the KDE project.

  • A modified version of QPropertyEditor that is licensed under LGPLv2.

  • The script editor and console widget is partially based on a C++ port of the Python project PyQode (PyQode.Core, 2.11.0 and PyQode.Python 2.11.1) that are licensed under MIT.

  • Some parts of itom are also inspired by the Spyder IDE (version 4), also licensed under the MIT License and developed by the Spyder Project Contributors. Some code snippets from Spyder have been ported to C++.

  • Google test framework by Google under New BSD-license. This is not part of any itom binary distribution.

  • Some parts of the python binding and conversion classes are inspired by PythonQt (under LGPLv2.1).

  • Many widgets, that are provided via the itomWidgets library, are (modified) versions from the Common Toolkit project, licensed under Apache 2.0.

  • itom uses a modified version of the Property Browser, a part of the Qt Solutions Components, licensed under the BSD license. For more details about 3rd party licenses, see the text documents in the licenses folder. Python packages

A minimal installation of itom requires Python including its numeric package Numpy (see above). Furthermore, it is possible to install other python packages (like Scipy, Matplotlib…). For a list of installed packages including their specific licenses, see the Package Manager dialog in the menu Scripts. Usage of 3rd party libraries in plugins and designer plugins (plots…)

Plugins and designer plugins (plots…) can make use of further 3rd party libraries. The following list contains some libraries which are often used in a standard installation of itom. For more information about used libraries, see the specific plugin documentation or the about / license strings of every plugin.

  • The designer plugins itom1dqwtplot and itom2dqwtplot are based on the library QwtPlot by Uwe Rathmann and Josef Wilgen under LGPLv2.1 with additional exceptions.

  • The vtk3dvisualizer designer plugin is based on the The visualization toolkit (VTK) under the BSD license.

  • OpenMP, see http://openmp.org/wp/

  • Hardware dependent third party driver and SDKs with different license models may be published under different terms or conditions than the main itom-program. So please check the plugin-license before distributing plugins.