We present the detailed planning and execution of the Insight Toolkit (ITK), an application programmers interface (API) for the segmentation and registration of medical image data. This public resource has been developed through the NLM Visible Human Project, and is in beta test as an open-source software offering under cost-free licensing. The toolkit concentrates on 3D medical data -segmentation and registration algorithms, multimodal and multiresolution capabilities, and portable platform independent support for Windows, Linux/Unix systems. This toolkit was built using current practices in software engineering. Specifically, we embraced the concept of generic programming during the development of these tools, working extensively with C++ templates and the freedom and flexibility they allow. Software development tools for distributed consortium-based code development have been created and are also publicly available. We discuss our assumptions, design decisions, and some lessons learned.
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