Graph Visualization

Graph visualization is a way of representing structural information as diagrams of abstract graphs and networks. Automatic graph drawing has many important applications in software engineering, database and web design, networking, and in visual interfaces for many other domains.

Graphviz is open source graph visualization software. It has several main graph layout programs. See the Gallery for some sample layouts. It also has web and interactive graphical interfaces, and auxiliary tools, libraries, and language bindings.

The Mac OS X edition of Graphviz, by Glen Low, won two 2004 Apple Design Awards.

The Graphviz layout programs take descriptions of graphs in a simple text language, and make diagrams in several useful formats such as images and SVG for web pages, Postscript for inclusion in PDF or other documents; or display in an interactive graph browser. (Graphviz also supports GXL, an XML dialect.)

Graphviz has many useful features for concrete diagrams, such as options for colors, fonts, tabular node layouts, line styles, hyperlinks, and custom shapes.

In practice, graphs are usually generated from an external data sources, but they can also be created and edited manually, either as raw text files or within a graphical editor. (Graphviz was not intended to be a Visio replacement, so it is probably frustrating to try to use it that way.)


  • tcldot - a TCL/TK scripting language extension for Graphviz
  • Webdot - a tcldot scripted WWW service for graphs in HTML documents.
  • Grappa - a Java package for graphs with full Java graph data structures.
  • ZGRViewer - an SVG-based zooming graph viewer for large graphs.
  • Mac OS X Graphviz
  • viz.js - Graphviz built with Emscripten for use on the web and in node.js.


  • gvpr is a general-purpose graph stream editor, in the spirit of awk and sed (or think of Perl if you don't know those).

Example applications

  • Software documentation: Pretty diagrams automatically generated by doxygen and dot.
  • WWW Graph Server: For a WWW application of Graphviz, please see Webdot.
  • Google Charts Graphviz API.
  • Canviz, an HTML5 canvas Javascript library.
Last modified September 17, 2022: Add some links to about.md (879c818)