graph-drawing tools -- summary (Michael Gerlek)
Tue, 14 Dec 1993 06:24:46 GMT

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Newsgroups: comp.compilers,
From: (Michael Gerlek)
Keywords: tools, summary
Organization: Tanasbourne Graduate Institute -- Beaverton, Oregon
Date: Tue, 14 Dec 1993 06:24:46 GMT

I received _many_ responses to my request for graph drawing tools;
unfortunately, most were of the "gee, good question, post a summary"
variety. I did get some leads though; I have summarized below some useful
information I received.

In general, it seems the compiler writers of the world either write their
own private hacks or use a PD tool they are unhappy with...



We appreciated the recent article here that mentioned using 'dag' to lay
out flow graphs. 'dag' now has a successor, 'dot' ("Dag of Tomorrow")
with some improved layout algorithms and new layout features. We have
made these tools available as an experimental service via Internet mail.
If you mail a graph file to, the server
mails back a PostScript file of the layout as a reply. If you would like
to try this, ftp to and look in dist/drawdag.
"mail_server" contains further instructions and "" is a user's
guide. We also have written an interactive, programmable graph editor
that runs as an X windows front end to dot. While this doesn't run over
Internet mail, we would consider making the software available to a few
outside academic groups, if there were applications or research of mutual

Stephen North, AT&T Bell Laboratories, Murray Hill NJ,


[this is what we use, for want of anything better -- many asked about
it... it is slow and buggy, but functional for primitive work... it is
designed to be customized and included in an application, apparently,
though we don't use it that way -mpg]

anonymous FTP from (
in pub/graphic/edge.tar.Z
has precompiled sun binaries

robochart (

ROBOCHART is the latest generation in graphics software that lets you
create a diagram as fast as you can imagine it. And change it as fast
as you can change your mind.

ROBOCHART is the FAST and SIMPLE way to create:

o Dataflow diagrams
o Entity relationship diagrams
o Flow charts
o State transition diagrams
o PERT charts
o Organization charts
o and many more!

A single mouse click and your object is drawn. Point and type, and your
label is perfectly centered. A quick drag of the pointer, and your flow
line appears exactly where it should.

Need to change an object's size or shape? Want to move it around? One
mouse click and your diagram is the way you want it. Labels and flows
are moved automatically.

>> What makes ROBOCHART so FAST and SIMPLE? <<

o Fast drawing

Point and drag objects and flows directly on the screen - no
complicated command sequences are needed. Point anywhere within
an object to create a precisely aligned flow.

o Fast editing

ROBOCHART provides logical zooming between hierarchical levels
of detail. Make one change, and objects and flows linked across
levels are updated automatically for guaranteed consistency and

Modify label text and fonts directly on the diagram. Undo
mistakes with the press of a key.

Objects are automatically numbered according to their position
in the hier- archy. Nested diagram sections can be cut and
pasted across different levels.

Fully adjustable snap grid makes precise alignment easy.
Realign selected objects with one command.

With dynamic defaults, ROBOCHART instantly learns how you want
to work. You only have to ask once! One click saves your
configuration to disk.

o Fast learning

Follows OPEN LOOK user interface conventions, so you already
know how to use it. On-screen help is a keypress away.

o Great results

Effortless rearranging means you'll always have clear and
up-to-date diagrams. PostScript, EPSF, HPGL, and MIF formats
provide high-quality color or black-and-white output. Use the
automatic scaling and orientation, or define the printer
controls your way.

>> Program Features <<

18 predefined, 5 custom image object types with infinite size control
and 5 border choices.

4 flow types and 4 arrow types for each flow end (64 combinations). Add
up to 8 extra vertices per flow to control routing.

24 colors in 3 user-definable palettes for lines, filling, and text.

Up to 20 pages per diagram document file. Scroll or pan each diagram
level in a 4096 4096 drawing area. A reduced scale preview window shows
the complete level. Diagram complexity is limited only by system

Automatic or quick manual level numbering.

Multiple customized configuration files. Drag & drop file load. File
locking for safe network access. Simple automated installation.

Function key and double-click shortcuts.

Copy, Cut, Paste single objects and groups. The graphics clipboard can
be used to transfer objects and flows between ROBO- CHART windows.
Copy, Cut, Paste text using the window manager clipboard.

Move single objects or selected groups at one time. Optional X- or
Y-constrained moves. Adjustable snap grid for alignment. Modify the
properties of all selected objects and/or flows at one time.

Up to 250 characters per label, forming any number of lines. Full text
editing directly on the diagram. Find and Replace text. Labels can be
centered or left-justified.

Up to 200 fonts per diagram.

ASCII export format for user-customized post-processing. MIF export for
FrameMaker. Print controls include color, scaling, margins,
orientation, curved lines and 3D shadows.

Run custom commands within ROBOCHART to add calculations, hyper- text,
and multimedia capabilities to your diagram!

>> System Requirements <<

o Sun 4/SPARC
o OpenWindows 3
o SunOS 4.x/5.x (Solaris 1.x/2.x)
o PostScript printer or HPGL plotter
(compatible version 7.4 is available for Sun3 and SunView users)

>> Ordering Information <<

Each purchase includes both SunOS 4.x and 5.x native versions.
Please specify 3.5" disk or 1/4" tape cartridge.

Evaluation package $ 25

Includes a full manual and all features except
file save enabled. Cost is refunded with the
purchase of a license.

Node licenses $ 495/first,
$ 125/each additional (same order)

Locked to specific user workstation or X-terminal.
Provide hostname for each license.

Floating licenses $ 850/first,
$ 250/each additional (same server)

Please provide license manager hostname.

Annual support contract $ 200/site (up to 10 licenses),
$ 20 per additional license

Includes free upgrades.

15% discount on license fees to universities

Please add $3 shipping per license or demo (in USA)
Overnight delivery available
MasterCard/VISA accepted

Trademark/ownership: OPEN LOOK/AT&T; OpenWindows, Sun, SunView,
SPARC/Sun Microsystems; PostScript/Adobe Systems; HPGL/Hewlett-Packard;
MIF, FrameMaker/Frame Technology; Robochart/Digital Insight. Version 7.5 7/93

)1993 Digital Insight PO Box 533 Simi Valley, CA 93062-0533 USA
Voice: 805/583-3627 Fax: 805/583-3809 Email:

Try GraphEd from the university of Passau.
To get more information email to

GraphEd is available via anonymous ftp from (
[Note corrected FTP address, some previous messages had it wrong. -John]

Seems it has everything you want. Compared to EDGE it is much
faster and produces real Postscript (not just screendumps as in EDGE).

You should take a look at our interactive graph visualization system
daVinci. It's free available for Sun SPARC, but we're working on versions
for other platforms like PC's (under Linux) and DEC workstations. You can
find the details about the current version in the announcement below.

daVinci is still under construction, so we can't present you the swiss-knife-
tool you need. But all the features you mentioned will be implemented some
day. The biggest deficit at the moment is the absence of a PostScript output.
You must take screen snapshot to do this.

October 26, 1993 (Bremen, Germany) -- The Institute for Formal Methods in
Software Engineering at the University of Bremen announces the second
public release of the interactive graph-visualization system daVinci
(version V1.2). daVinci is a visualization system for directed graphs,
which are very common in todays applications, e. g. file systems, module
dependencies, dataflows, document structures, networks etc.

The most important new features of daVinci V1.2 are:
         - strongly improved drawing speed (up to 500% acceleration in
         comparison to version 1.1)
         - pixelwise scrolling and object placing
         - improved visualization (edges with arrows, more compact
         - extended functionality for application interface
         - new options; X-Window options are now supported
         - Smaller size of binary files

daVinci draws a directed graph from an ASCII term representation, con-
sidering readability qualities like minimization of edge crossings and
bends. The visualization is interactive, i. e. nodes and edges can be
selected, the calculated graph-layout can be manually improved (fine-
tuning), subgraphs can be faded out for abstraction, the scale can be
reduced and so on.

daVinci provides an application interface for the communication with a
graph administrating program. This interface is offering a set of com-
mands for transmitting graphs, creating menus, calling user dialogs or
controlling the visualization system. Using daVinci and the application
interface, a program can offer the user a graphical view to graphs with-
out losing control of the graph structure.

If you're using daVinci, we're interested in your opinion. Ideas for new
features or critics are welcome. Especially we like to know applications
of daVinci. How are you using daVinci? A feedback is needed to continue
our work.

daVinci is an OPEN LOOK program and is delivered as a SPARC binary for Sun
workstations (SunOS 4.1.x and Solaris 2.x). The minimal hardware
configuration should be a Sun SPARCstation SLC. daVinci is available for
non-profit use by anonymous ftp from

wowbagger.PC-Labor.Uni-Bremen.DE (
in the directory /pub/graphics/daVinci.

In the directory there are two packages, one for SunOS 4.1.x and one for
Solaris 2.x. The content of both packages is the same, except of the
binary files. Both packages include graph examples, tools and the docu-
mentation. Also in the directory you can find a small PostScript File
'' with more detailed informations about daVinci.

The interactive graph-visualization system daVinci has been developed at
the Institute for Formal Methods in Software Engineering at the Uni-
versity of Bremen, conducted by Prof. Dr. Bernd Krieg-Brueckner. The au-
thors of daVinci are Michael Froehlich and Mattias Werner. daVinci is
implemented in the pure functional language ASpecT, which was developed at
the University of Bremen also. The OPEN LOOK user interface of daVinci
was implemented using the toolkit XView.

To contact the daVinci project write by e-mail to:


Sun and SPARCstation are trademarks of Sun Microsystems, Inc.
SPARC is a trademark of SPARC International, Inc.
OPEN LOOK is a trademark of AT&T, Inc.


We are happy to announce the availability of 'xgrab' (X graph browser)
a graph layout and browser package running under X11.R4.

Xgrab reads a textual specification of a graph, lays out the graph
using heuristics to minimize the number of edge crossings, and displays
the graph as labeled nodes and edges in an X window. The user can then
edit the graph. Once happy with the graph layout, xgrab can write a
postscript file or a text file describing the resulting graph.

Xgrab has been used to layout finite state machines, program dependence
graphs, pert charts, trees, and much more. It works well for graphs
with fewer than 30 nodes, but will work "adequately" for graphs with
many more nodes.

Xgrab is distributed using standard conventions for anonymous binary
ftp of the compressed tar file 'pub/xgrab.tar.Z' from the machine

If you take a copy of xgrab, please send mail to ''
acknowledging that you have taken the software.


In order to make xgrab run, you will also need version 2.6 of Mark
Linton's Interviews software. If you do not already have this software
you will need to use anonymous binary ftp of the compressed tar file
'2.6.tar.Z' from the machine '', and follow the
directions contained therein.

In addition, you will also need the latest release of the GNU C++
compiler "g++". If you do not already have this, you should grab the
compressed tar file '2.6-and-g++.tar.Z' from ''.
It is unlikely that xgrab will work with AT&T CC.

The xgrab software comes with a general purpose garbage collecting
storage allocator written by Hans Boehm at Rice [Boehm et al 1988].

Xgrab has been compiled and successfully executed on vax/ultrix,
running X11.R4. It was developed under sun/3, and should continue to
run fine on that platform. Other platforms have not been tested, but
the belief is that the software can port to other platforms that have
g++, interviews and X11.R4. If g++ and interviews are not already
installed at your site, then it will take a UNIX whiz about 1 day to
read the documentation supplied with that software, figure out how to
configure and then build the required software.

The garbage collector will not run under decstation/ultrix because it
has not yet been ported to that platform. In that event, xgrab can be
compiled so that it does not recycle any storage.

The layout algorithms used in xgrab were derived from algorithms by
Sugiyama et al in 1981 [Sugiyama et al 1981].

The basis for the xgrab implementation was originally done by Rowe,
Davis, Messinger, Meyer, Spirakis and Tuan [Rowe et al 1987] at the
University of California, Berkeley, in a graph browser called 'sungrab'
running under SunView.

This code was then modified by Greg Barnes while employed as a summer
intern at Tera Computer, Seattle, WA.


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