Lifting the lid on Vulcan

The 2014 release of Vulcan 9 cements Vulcan’s position as the most flexible and powerful 3D visualisation software on the market. How does Maptek ensure Vulcan remains at the forefront of technology? We lift the lid to discover what goes into Vulcan software.

Company commitment

For more than 30 years Maptek has mandated that software architecture evolves using the latest algorithms and techniques. This has led to a complete re-write about every 10 years to ensure Maptek customers have the latest technology at their fingertips.

Programming expertise

A global team of more than 40 programmers work year round to improve and enhance Vulcan functionality. Maptek software development simultaneously focuses on introducing new functionality and improving the foundation architecture. The result is that the new features in each release are fast and responsive, delivering the quality Maptek customers have come to expect.

Over the years several different programming languages have been used. When Vulcan was first released in 1984, it was developed on a Fortran platform. The current Vulcan code platform was developed in 2005 and is written in C and C++ language.

Software development is separated into eight focus areas to ensure that development of core and infrastructure elements proceeds alongside tools for resource modelling, mine design and planning.

Strong architecture

Maptek has invested considerable resources over the past few years to streamline Vulcan code and strengthen the software architecture.

Significant performance upgrades in Vulcan 9, including the removal of the dynamic memory setting, make it the fastest version of Vulcan yet. The amount of data loaded and manipulated is only restricted by the hardware. Graphics and display processes now take advantage of embedded processors (GPUs) to dramatically increase the rendering and manipulation speed of large datasets. Block model scripts now use GPGPU technology to run large calculations many times faster.

Rich in features

One of the core values of Maptek is to work with our customers to solve their problems. Maptek continuously seeks feedback from customers to determine what features they want to see in the software. The goal is to provide powerful software that streamline the daily tasks of users and make the most of their technical data.

The future

Work has begun on the project to develop a new code platform for Vulcan. The end product will mark the next generation of Vulcan software. Users can look forward to a vibrant, intuitive interface. The new code will also introduce greater flexibility in programming, allowing new features to be delivered to the user faster.


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Andrew Myers
Chief Software Engineer
February 26, 2014


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