Preview Graphviz in real time with Sublime Text 3
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Graphvizer is a Graphviz plugin for Sublime Text 3. It can make your experience more pleasant when editing a dot language file. You just need to edit your file at the speed of thought and this plugin will render the image and refresh it in real time. If the syntax is invalid, the plugin will show you some error messages.


  • Real-time rendering
  • Real-time syntax checking
  • Error message prompting


Note: Please ensure the file syntax is set to Graphviz (DOT). You can do this by View -> Syntax menu or clicking the bottom right corner of Sublime Text window.

Open image window

ctrl+shift+g or Tools -> Graphvizer -> Open Rendered Image

ctrl+shift+g to open the image window

Open Graphvizer panel

ctrl+shift+x or Tools -> Graphvizer -> Show Graphvizer Panel

ctrl+shift+g to open the Graphvizer panel

Why do I create this plugin?

Graphviz is an awesome visualization tool, but it's very inconvenient to write a dot file by hand. I have to use dot -Tpng -o file.png to render image manually again and again and I don't know whether the syntax is correct or not instantly. Atom editor has an excellent plugin called GraphViz preview+, but I can't find any plugins like this on Finally, I create Graphvizer.


1. Prerequisites

I can't implement the Graphviz visualization algorithm from scratch, so this plugin needs dot command to render the image. In other words, you need to install the official Graphviz on your system.

For Linux/Mac

Use your operating system package manager (e.g. dnf or apt-get) to install Graphviz.

On my Fedora 27 X86_64, the command is:

sudo dnf install graphviz

Use dot -V to make sure you have configured all things correctly and you should see the version info of Graphviz.

For Windows

Download from here: The installation is very simple but you need additional configuration to tell the plugin where to find the dot command.

Method 1: Add the path of dot.exe (e.g. D:\Graphviz\bin) to the PATH environment variable of your system. Then the dot command can be accessed from the command prompt(a.k.a. cmd) and this plugin can also invoke it. If you don't know how to do this, this article may help you.

Type dot -V in Windows cmd window and hit enter. If everything is OK, you will see the version info of Graphviz.

Method 2: Specify the path of dot explicitly with plugin settings file. See the full details in Configurations part.

2. Installing Graphvizer

Using Package Control (Recommended)

The easiest way to install Graphvizer is through Package Control.

Bring up the Command Palette (Control+Shift+P on Linux/Windows, Command+Shift+P on Mac). Select Package Control: Install Package and then search Graphvizer to install it.


git clone this project to your system or just download the zip file from GitHub and decompress it. Now you have got the Graphvizer directory.

Using the Sublime Text 3 menu Preferences -> Browse Packages... to find out your package directory path. On my Windows 7, the path is D:\Sublime Text 3\Data\Packages. Move the entire Graphvizer directory into the package directory. Press Ctrl+Shift+P in Sublime and run Satisfy Dependencies. Restart Sublime. Done!


The default configurations are as follows. If you want to change some configurations, open Preference -> Package Settings -> Graphvizer -> Settings - User and copy the following content to the opened file. Save it after modifying it according to your needs. The meaning of each configuration is explained subsequently.

	// "dot_cmd_path" is the path of dot command. Here are some examples.
	// For Windows: "D:\\Graphviz\\bin\\dot.exe"
	// For Linux: "/usr/bin/dot"
	// For OSX: "/usr/bin/dot"
	// If you have added this path to the PATH environment variable, you can
	// use "dot" instead of the full absolute path.
	"dot_cmd_path": "dot",
	// If the dot command takes more than `dot_timeout` seconds, it will be
	// terminated. The default value is 6 seconds.
	"dot_timeout": 6,
	// "show_image_with" controls how to show the image.
	// The default value is "window", so the image will be shown in a new
	// window by default. If you want to show it in a new layout instead,
	// change the following value to "layout".
	"show_image_with": "window",
	// "image_dir" controls where the image is saved. If the value is "",
	// system temporary directory is used. You can set it to other directory.
	// Example for Windows: "E:\\homework\\image\\"
	// Example for Linux/OSX: "/home/haolee/image/"
	"image_dir": ""

Set dot path

If you want to specify the path of you dot command, please set "dot_cmd_path" according to your system. This configuration is useful on Windows.

Set timeout for dot command

If you are editing a very large graph, the dot command may need a long time to complete and your CPU may be exhausted. For this reason, I set a timeout for dot command and it will be terminated if it takes too long to complete. You can change the timeout by setting "dot_timeout" as needed. Generally, you don't need to change this configuration.

Show the image in a separated layout

By default, the plugin will show the image in a new window. This is flexible in most cases, especially when you have two monitors. If you do like use a separated layout to show the image, change the value of "show_image_with" from "window" to "layout" and save it. (You may need to restart Sublime Text 3 to take effects.)

Set the image directory

By default, the generated image will be saved in system temporary directory. If you want to change this default location, you can set "image_dir" according to your needs.

Example for Windows: "E:\\homework\\image\\" Example for Linux/OSX: "/home/haolee/image/"

Key Bindings

The default key bindings are as follows. If you want to change the default key bindings. Open Preference -> Package Settings -> Graphvizer -> Key Bindings - User and copy the following content to the opened file. Save it after changing ctrl+shift+g or ctrl+shift+x to other shortcuts according to your needs.

		"keys": ["ctrl+shift+g"],
		"command": "graphvizer_open_image",
			{"key": "selector", "operator": "equal", "operand": ""}
		"keys": ["ctrl+shift+x"],
		"command": "show_panel",
		"args": {"panel": "output.graphvizer_panel"},
			{"key": "selector", "operator": "equal", "operand": ""}

To-Do List

  • Configure the dot command path in Settings.
  • Key Bindings for Window/Linux/OSX separately.
  • Add Preference -> Package Settings menu items to custom user settings.
  • Being able to show the image in a separated layout.
  • Set timeout for dot command.
  • Being able to set the image directory.
  • For other features, please open an issue.