Graph visualization with Graphviz


Article from Issue 77/2007

Using drawing tools to manually create graphs and diagrams can be a slow and convoluted process. The Graphviz toolbox offers a faster way. Based on a short text with the information for the graph, Graphviz quickly generates a neat drawing.

Graphviz is a useful toolbox to have on hand if you need an automated approach to generating graphs (see the “Terminology” box). Computer users fumble through generating graphs, starting with E/ R diagrams for visualizing database schemas to hierarchicial tree structures that represent an organization’s shareholdings or a chain of command. Normally, the information is located in square boxes that must be positioned carefully, without overlap-
ping with other boxes, before drawing anyconnecting arrows. This is the kind of challenge in which Graphviz excels – users simply specify the relationships between the elements, and the tool automagically outputs an attractive drawing. Don’t look for a neat graphical editor in which you can specify the relations. Instead, Graphviz reads a textbased description of the graph in a special markup language. (LaTeX uses a similar approach, although the two systems have nothing in common apart from this.)

Buy this article as PDF

Express-Checkout as PDF
Price $2.95
(incl. VAT)

Buy Linux Magazine

Get it on Google Play

US / Canada

Get it on Google Play

UK / Australia

Related content

  • Mermaid

    Mermaid lets you create diagrams from simple text-based statements.

  • Perl: Neo4j

    The Neo4j graph database is much better suited than relational databases for storing and quickly querying nodes and their mutual relationships. If your circle of friends is not wide enough to warrant a graph-based application, you might just want to inventory your LAN.

  • Perl: CPAN Additions

    Many people have declared the granddaddy of scripting, Perl, to be dead. A look at new items in the CPAN software repository, however, shows that the community is still quite active.

  • Security Visualization Tools

    Spot intruders with these easy security visualization tools.

  • A backtracking algorithm tries its hand at the bridges of Königsberg

    Pretty much any computer science lecture about graph theory covers the "Seven Bridges of Königsberg" problem. Mike Schilli puts a Python script to work on a solution, but finds that a new bridge must be built.

comments powered by Disqus
Subscribe to our Linux Newsletters
Find Linux and Open Source Jobs
Subscribe to our ADMIN Newsletters

Support Our Work

Linux Magazine content is made possible with support from readers like you. Please consider contributing when you’ve found an article to be beneficial.

Learn More