Re: where's dag ? (Jeff Dean)
2 Feb 1997 21:21:35 -0500

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From: (Jeff Dean)
Newsgroups: comp.compilers
Date: 2 Feb 1997 21:21:35 -0500
Organization: DEC Western Research Lab
References: 97-01-257
Keywords: tools

John Hagerman ( wrote:
: [used and liked `dag' from Bell Labs]

: Then about five years ago, North and Koutsofios put out 'dot', a new
: version of 'dag'. 'dot' was more-featured, and you could get it from
: AT&T (although I don't remember how). Was 'dot' going to be the
: "available" version of 'dag'? I hoped not, it was over-featured and
: buggy -- some of my simplest graphs choked it. But it didn't matter,
: I had 'dag' and was very happy with it.


: 'dag' was fine, but is no longer available. 'dot' was over-featured,
: and apparently not successful. Imitators tend towards silly features
: (color, etc), not solid code. Why is all the simple, good software
: disappearing under a mountain of complex, bad junk? I don't get it.

Wow. These statements so contradict my experience with 'dot' that I
feel compelled to stick up for it!

I haven't used 'dag', but let me say that I found 'dot' to be one the
most useful pieces of software around. It produces very nice looking
graphs, and I found its set of features extremely useful and
definitely not overhwleming (the manual is around 30 pages, but you
really only need to look at a couple of pages to start producing
graphs). Now it may be that the graphs you were trying to draw with
it were quite different from the graphs I was drawing, and would
explain our differences of opinion. Most of my uses of it were for
visualizing (often complex) control flow graphs and other compiler
data structures: our compiler would automatically spit out dot input
files for many of its complicated data structures, and 'dot' would do
a great job in rendering them in a reasonable way.

I encourage people who need graphics visualization to at least give
'dot' a try before deciding that it is a "mountain of complex, bad
junk". You can get dot by navigating through the GraphViz link on the
following URL, clicking on the "Binary" button, and navigating a bunch
of license screens, eventually leading to a selection of which
software package you want: you should get the GraphViz 1.0 package.

I couldn't have finished my Ph.D. without 'dot'.

-- Jeff

P.S. I have no affiliation with AT&T or with the authors of dot, other than
as an extremely satisifed user.

Jeffrey Dean ( Member of Research Staff
Western Research Laboratory Digital Equipment Corporation

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