Non-destructive analyzing tools are needed at all stages of thin film photovoltaic (PV) development, and on production lines. In thin film PV, layer thicknesses, micro-structure, composition, layer optical properties, and their uniformity (because each elementary cell is connected electrically in series within a big panel) serve as an important starting point in the evaluation of the performance ... [Show full abstract] of the cell or module. An important focus is to express the dielectric functions of each component material in terms of a handful of wavelength independent parameters whose variation can cover all process variants of that material. With the resulting database, spectroscopic ellipsometry coupled with multilayer analysis can be developed for on-line point-by-point mapping and on-line line-by-line imaging. This work tries to review the investigations of different types of PV-layers (anti-reflective coating, transparent-conductive oxide (TCO), multi-diode-structure, absorber and window layers) showing the existing dielectric function databases for the thin film components of CdTe, CuInGaSe2, thin Si, and TCO layers. Off-line point-by-point mapping can be effective for characterization of non-uniformities in full scale PV panels in developing labs but it is slow in the on-line mode when only 15 points can be obtained (within 1 min) as a 120 cm long panel moves by the mapping station. In the last years [M. Fried et al., Thin Solid Films 519, 2730 (2011)], instrumentation was developed that provides a line image of spectroscopic ellipsometry (wl = 350-1000 nm) data. Up to now a single 30 point line image can be collected in 10 s over a 15 cm width of PV material. This year we are building a 30 and a 60 cm width expanded beam ellipsometer the speed of which will be increased by 10x. Then 1800 points can be mapped in a 1 min traverse of a 60 * 120 cm PV panel or flexible roll-to-roll substrate.