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Entry 2: Creating A Graph From A Dot File Via The Command Line

Topic: Graphviz   

Tags:  Linux   CommandLine   Mac   Diagrams   Graphviz   

Created on Sun, 26 Feb 2012.
Last Modified on Fri, 20 Apr 2012.

I installed graphviz in the command line on ubuntu with

sudo apt-get install graphviz

On mac, I used macports via the command

sudo port install graphviz

Next, I created a dot file with a text editor. Something simple like:

digraph G {
    one -> two;
    one -> three;
    one -> four;
    four -> five -> six;
    five -> one;
    six -> two;

then, save it as

Next, in the command line, you can use that dot file to generate the graph. The format is as follows:

dot -Txxx -o

so for png, I use:

dot -Tpng -o graphname.png

see the man page with

man dot

and you will see instructions for the command line usage for:

       dot - filter for drawing directed graphs
       neato - filter for drawing undirected graphs
       twopi - filter for radial layouts of graphs
       circo - filter for circular layout of graphs
       fdp - filter for drawing undirected graphs
       sfdp - filter for drawing large undirected graphs

I used dot above, but if you try generating the graph with neato, twopi, circo, fdp, or sfdp you get differently structured graphs. So, testing it out, I got the following:

dot -Tpng -o dotGraph.png


neato -Tpng -o neatoGraph.png


twopi -Tpng -o twopiGraph.png


circo -Tpng -o circoGraph.png


fdp -Tpng -o fdpGraph.png


sfdp -Tpng -o sfdpGraph.png


They all use the same .dot file, but I have yet to determine the fundamental defferences between each. I'm sure that each method has its advantages and drawbacks... things usually work that way. Perhaps as I learn about more about writing .dot files It will become more clear.

Next, I need to learn how to add some more style to my graphs, I'll look to the pdf guide found at

or, in case they moved it, I uploaded a copy you can download here

I think I will print out some of the appendices for quick reference on styles I can use while creating graphs.

PLEASE let me know if I'm doing something wrong, or if you have any suggestions or requests~

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All Entries Within This Topic:

  • 1: The Plan
  • 2: Creating A Graph From A Dot File Via The Command Line

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