$ dot -Tcanon
$ dot -Tdot
$ dot -Tgv
$ dot -Txdot
$ dot -Txdot1.2
$ dot -Txdot1.4


Graphviz Language

These formats produce output in the dot language.


Using canon produces a pretty printed version of the input, with no layout performed.

Example: simple graph, canonicalized formatting with -Tcanon

$ echo 'digraph { a->b }' | dot -Tcanon
digraph {
        node [label="\N"];
        a -> b;

dot / gv

The dot (and gv alias) options correspond to attributed dot output, and is the default output format. It reproduces the input, along with layout information for the graph. In particular, a bb attribute is attached to the graph, specifying the bounding box of the drawing. If the graph has a label, its position is specified by the lp attribute.

Each node gets pos, width and the record rectangles are given in the rects attribute. If the node is a polygon and the vertices attribute is defined, this attribute contains the vertices of the node.

Every edge is assigned a pos attribute, and if the edge has a label, the label position is given in lp.

Example: simple graph, outputting layout positioning with -Tdot

$ echo 'digraph { a->b }' | dot -Tdot
digraph {
        graph [bb="0,0,54,108"];
        node [label="\N"];
        a    [height=0.5,
        b    [height=0.5,
        a -> b  [pos="e,27,36.104 27,71.697 27,63.983 27,54.712 27,46.112"];


The xdot format extends the dot format by providing much more detailed information about how graph components are drawn. It relies on additional attributes for nodes, edges and graphs.

See also xdot attribute type docs

The format is fluid; comments and suggestions for better representations are welcome. To allow for changes in the format, Graphviz attaches the attribute xdotversion to the graph. If the xdotversion attribute is set in the input graph, the renderer will only output features supported by that version. Note that the formats xdot1.2 and xdot1.4 are equivalent to setting xdotversion=1.2 and xdotversion=1.4, respectively.

Additional drawing attributes can appear on nodes, edges, clusters and on the graph itself. There are six new attributes:

Attribute Description Limitations
draw General drawing without labels
ldraw Label drawing
hdraw Head arrowhead Edge only
tdraw Tail arrowhead Edge only
hldraw Head label Edge only
tldraw Tail label Edge only

For a given graph object, one will typically issue a draw directive before the label directive. For example, for a node, one would first use the commands in draw followed by the commands in ldraw.

The value of these attributes consists of the concatenation of some (multi-)set of the following 14 rendering or attribute operations. (The number is parentheses gives the xdot version when the operation was added to the format. If no version number is given, the operation was in the original specification.)

E x₀ y₀ w h
Filled ellipse ((x - x₀) ÷ w)² + ((y - y₀) ÷ h)² = 1
e x₀ y₀ w h
Unfilled ellipse ((x - x₀) ÷ w)² + ((y - y₀) ÷ h)² = 1
P n x₁ y₁ ... xₙ yₙ
Filled polygon using the given n points
p n x₁ y₁ ... xₙ yₙ
Unfilled polygon using the given n points
L n x₁ y₁ ... xₙ yₙ
Polyline using the given n points
B n x₁ y₁ ... xₙ yₙ
B-spline using the given n control points
b n x₁ y₁ ... xₙ yₙ
Filled B-spline using the given n control points (1.1)
T x y j w n -b₁b₂...bₙ
Text drawn using the baseline point (x,y). The text consists of the n bytes following -. The text should be left-aligned (centered, right-aligned) on the point if j is -1 (0, 1), respectively. The value w gives the width of the text as computed by the library.
t f
Set font characteristics. The integer f is the OR of:
Flag Value Min-Version
SUBSCRIPT 16 (1.5)
OVERLINE 64 (1.7)
C n -b₁b₂...bₙ
Set fill color. The color value consists of the n bytes following -. (1.1)
c n -b₁b₂...bₙ
Set pen color. The color value consists of the n bytes following -. (1.1)
F s n -b₁b₂...bₙ
Set font. The font size is s points. The font name consists of the n bytes following -. (1.1)
S n -b₁b₂...bₙ
Set style attribute. The style value consists of the n bytes following -. The syntax of the value is the same as specified for a styleItem in style. (1.1)
I x y w h n -b₁b₂...bₙ
Externally-specified image drawn in the box with lower left corner (x,y) and upper right corner (x+w,y+h). The name of the image consists of the n bytes following -. This is usually a bitmap image. Note that the image size, even when converted from pixels to points, might be different from the required size (w,h). It is assumed the renderer will perform the necessary scaling. (1.2)

Note that the filled figures (ellipses, polygons and B-Splines) imply two operations: first, drawing the filled figure with the current fill color; second, drawing an unfilled figure with the current pen color, pen width and pen style.

Within the context of a single drawing attribute, e.g., draw, there is an implicit state for the graphical attributes. That is, once a color, style, font, or font characteristic is set, it remains valid for all relevant drawing operations until the value is reset by another xdot cmd.

Style values which can be incorporated in the graphics model do not appear in xdot output. In particular, the style values filled, rounded, diagonals, and invis will not appear. Indeed, if style contains invis, there will not be any xdot output at all.

With version 1.4 of xdot, color strings may now encode linear and radial gradients. Linear gradients have the form
    '[' x₀ y₀ x₁ y₁ n [color-stop]⁺ ']'
where (x₀,y₀) and (x₁,y₁) define the starting and ending points of the gradient line segment, and n gives the number of color-stops. Each color-stop has the form
    v m -b₁b₂...bₘ
where v is a number in the range [0,1] defining a position on the gradient line segment, with color specified by the m byte string b₁b₂...bₘ, the same format as used for colors in the 'c' and 'C' operations.

Radial gradients have the form
    '(' x₀ y₀ r₀ x₁ y₁ r₁ n [color-stop]⁺ ')'
where x y r, for j=0,1, specify the center and radius of the start and ending circle, and n gives the number of color-stops. A color-stop has the same format as defined for linear gradients, again given the fractional offset and its associated color.

In handling text alignment, the application may want to recompute the string width using its own rendering primitives.

The text operation is only used in the label attributes. Normally, the non-text operations are only used in the non-label attributes. If, however, the decorate attribute is set on an edge, its label attribute will also contain a polyline operation. In addition, if a label is a complex, HTML-like label, it will also contain non-text operations.

All coordinates and sizes are in points. Note though that if an edge or node is invisible, no drawing operations are attached to it.

Version info:

Xdot version Graphviz version Modification
>1.0 1.9
>1.1 2.8 First plug-in version
>1.2 2.13 Support image operator I
>1.3 2.31 Add numerical precision
>1.4 2.32 Add gradient colors
>1.5 2.34 Fix text layout problem; fix inverted vector in gradient; support version-specific output; new t op for text characteristics
>1.6 2.35 Add STRIKE-THROUGH bit fort
>1.7 2.37 Add OVERLINE for t
Example: simple graph, outputting layout positioning & drawing information with -Txdot

$ echo 'digraph { a->b }' | dot -Txdot
digraph {
        graph [_draw_="c 9 -#fffffe00 C 7 -#ffffff P 4 0 0 0 108 54 108 54 0 ",
        node [label="\N"];
        a    [_draw_="c 7 -#000000 e 27 90 27 18 ",
             _ldraw_="F 14 11 -Times-Roman c 7 -#000000 T 27 86.3 0 7 1 -a ",
        b    [_draw_="c 7 -#000000 e 27 18 27 18 ",
             _ldraw_="F 14 11 -Times-Roman c 7 -#000000 T 27 14.3 0 7 1 -b ",
        a -> b  [_draw_="c 7 -#000000 B 4 27 71.7 27 63.98 27 54.71 27 46.11 ",
             _hdraw_="S 5 -solid c 7 -#000000 C 7 -#000000 P 3 30.5 46.1 27 36.1 23.5 46.1 ",
             pos="e,27,36.104 27,71.697 27,63.983 27,54.712 27,46.112"];