jml's notebook

Exploring graphs

Exploring graphs

I’ve mentioned before that I’d love to see a tool like Graphviz that separated style from structure.

Another tool I’d like is something that let me visually explore graphs that were too big to fit on a screen.

Graphviz only renders to a flat image. This is great when the graph is small, but useless when it’s even a little bit big. In those cases, what I want is something interactive.

I keep thinking of “The Brain”, a piece of Windows shareware I used in the 90s. It maintained a central node that you were always looking at, with parents and grand-parents above and descendants below. When you clicked on one of these related nodes, the graph would rotate, and what was a grand-child, say, became the new central node.

I’d very much like a graph explorer like this for things like:

I’ve searched a few times for this sort of thing, but always bump into big enterprisey things rather than simple utilities. I’m genuinely surprised one doesn’t exist.