The interactive visualization of large biological assemblies poses a number of challenging problems, including the development of multiresolution representations and new interaction methods for navigating and analyzing these complex systems. An additional challenge is the development of flexible software environments that will facilitate the integration and interoperation of computational models and techniques from a wide variety of scientific disciplines. In this paper, we present a component-based software development strategy centered on the high-level, object-oriented, interpretive programming language: Python. We present several software components, discuss their integration, and describe some of their features that are relevant to the visualization of large molecular assemblies. Several examples are given to illustrate the interoperation of these software components and the integration of structural data from a variety of experimental sources. These examples illustrate how combining visual programming with component-based software development facilitates the rapid prototyping of novel visualization tools.