Graphviz: easy graph visualization

[2008-11-17] dev, hack, software
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This tool has been around for a while, but I still like how useful it is, so I thought I'd write a blog entry about it: Graphviz translates simple textual representation of graphs into diagrams. Visually, this covers everything where shapes are connected by lines (be it with or without arrows), which is quite a lot.

For example, the definition

digraph G {
  TODO -> "Buy food" ;
  TODO -> "Send out invites" ;

is displayed by Graphviz as:


  • The definition (and input of Graphviz) is just a text file which can be easily created by a program.
  • The GUI version of Graphviz watches files so the diagram will be updated automatically every time the text file changes.
  • Graphviz can export its visualizations in many formats (jpg, PDF, SVG, ...).
  • More examples: Graphviz Gallery, UML Diagrams Using Graphviz Dot.
  • Download (be sure to use one of the "Executable Packages from AT&T").

Now, my only wish would be a pure JavaScript implementation of Graphviz. All the Graphviz solutions that I’m aware of depend on a server-side native dot binary to do the graph layout.