# Viewing DOT Source Code

The Relationship Visualizer is intended to remove the need to learn the DOT language but still create Graphviz graphs. It can, however, also be a very useful tool for learning the DOT language. This chapter will explain how you can access the DOT source code which is generated from the Excel worksheets and passed to the Graphviz layout engine. These capabilities allow you to graph relationships, and then see the underlying code.

# The source Worksheet

The Relationship Visualizer contains a worksheet named source which shows the source code which was generated whenever a graphing button is pressed.

The source worksheet is hidden by default. To expose the source worksheet select the source button on the Graphviz tab.

Click on the source worksheet to make it the active worksheet. The Source ribbon tab is activated whenever the source worksheet is activated. It appears as follows:

YThe image above shows the default DOT code when the data worksheet does not contain any content. As you create a graph the source worksheet will update.

Switch to the data worksheet and build a graph. Consider the following example:

When we switch back to the source worksheet the Graphviz source code appears as:

# The Source Ribbon Tab

Now that you understand the basics of viewing Graphviz source code, let us look at the features contained in the Source ribbon tab. The Source ribbon tab is activated whenever the source worksheet is activated. It appears as follows:

It contains the following major groups:

  • Source
  • Clipboard
  • Visualize
  • Web Resources

# Source

Label Control Type Description
Save Source Button Saves the Graphviz source code displayed on the source worksheet to a file.
Create Button Creates the Graphviz source code from the information in the data worksheet without invoking Graphviz to render a graph. This action is useful if you have modified the DOT source and want to restore it to its original state.
Reset Button Clears all data on the source worksheet, but leaves the headings.
Indent Dropdown List Number of spaces equaling a tab indentation

# Clipboard

Label Control Type Description
Copy Source to Clipboard Button Selects all the Graphviz source code and copies it to the clipboard.
Cut Button Standard Excel Cut
Copy Button Standard Excel Copy
Paste Button Standard Excel Paste

# Visualize

Label Control Type Description
Graph to Worksheet Button Graphs the Graphviz data on the source worksheet using the settings on the Graphviz ribbon tab and displays the resulting graph on the graph worksheet. If the graph fails to render you will receive a message saying it failed, but limitations of the code used to invoke Graphviz prevent returning the actual Graphviz error messages. To see those messages, you must use a different tool. Note also that the exchange of data is one direction. Changes made on the data worksheet can be generated as source, but changes made on the source worksheet will not be detected and fed back to the data worksheet.
Graph to File Button Graphs the Graphviz data on the source worksheet using the settings on the Graphviz ribbon tab and writes the graph to a file. All the restrictions noted for the Refresh Graph button apply to this action as well.


You can modify the DOT source code on this worksheet, and update the graph using the visualize buttons.


Changes to the DOT source code are not reflected on the data worksheet. Any changes made on the data worksheet will wipe out any changes you make on the source worksheet.

# Web Resources

The Web Resources group dynamically supports six buttons which can launch the user's default browser and display a web page. Button text, tool tips, and the URL are specified in the settings worksheet. The worksheet as distributed contains links to Graphviz documentation and online Graphviz rendering tools.

The default settings are:

# Label Control Type Description
1 Graphviz Attributes (opens new window) Button Describes the attributes used by various Graphviz tools.
2 Pocket Reference (opens new window) Button An on-line code editor for Graphviz written by Josh Hayes-Sheen for Computer Science students.
3 Graphviz Online (opens new window) Button Online Graphviz editor with syntax highlighting.
4 Sketchviz (opens new window) Button Online Graphviz editor which creates the graph as if it were sketched by hand.
5 Graphviz Fiddle (opens new window) Button Graphviz Fiddle draws DOT language [directed] graphs. It is a dual-view Graphviz editor and playground for Graphviz written by Hermann Stamm-Wilbrandt.
6 Dot to Ascii (opens new window) Button Renders Graphviz diagrams as ascii art.

The values associated with these buttons can be changed to suit your own preferences. These links are located in the settings worksheet in the Ribbon Options location, in the Source tab

# Interactive Graphviz over the Internet

There are many public web sites which will allow you to interactively edit DOT code in a browser window and see the corresponding graph.

Sites you can explore include:

These sites work best with small graphs and cannot handle features like displaying images. There is no guarantee that these sites will continue to operate into the future. They do, however, make it easy to edit DOT graphs, quickly see the results, and learn the DOT programming language without having to install Graphviz.