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Plotting workflow graphs

SciPipe 0.8.0 introduced a feature to plot a directed graph of workflows in SciPipe [1]. This can be done in two ways:

  1. Just producing a DOT text file, with the graph definition
  2. Also converting this DOT file to PDF.

Number 1. above can be done without any external dependencies, while number 2 requires that graphviz, with the dot command is installed on the system (On Ubuntu it can be installed with the command: sudo apt-get install graphviz).

How to plot graphs

To write a .dot file in SciPipe, include a line like follows, in your workflow definition, provided that you have initiated the variable wf with a workflow struct:

func main() {
    wf := scipipe.NewWorkflow("my workflow", 4)
    // Workflow code here
    wf.PlotGraph("") // <-- SEE THIS LINE!

If you want to also convert the dot file to PDF in one go, instead change the next last line to:


How to plot graphs conditionally based on a flag

Now, you might not want to generate a new plot every time you run your workflow (although, perhaps you would? ... checking in a .dot version of your workflow could in fact be a great way to keep a more readable version of your workflow at hand ... but anyhow), you could make the plotting optional, based on a flag. This is something we've found ourselves doing quite often at This could be done as follows (more complete code example):

package main

import (

var (
    plotGraph = flag.Bool("plotgraph", false, "Plot a directed graph of the workflow to PDF")

func main() {

    wf := scipipe.NewWorkflow("testwf", 4)
    wf.NewProc("foo", "echo foo > {o:out}")

    if *plotGraph {

Now, the graph will only plotted if you run your workflow with the -plotgraph flag, e.g:

go run myworkflow.go -plotgraph


[1] these are often called "DAG" for "Directed Acyclic Graph", but SciPipe does not have a guarantee or requirement on acyclicness of the graph, thus just "directed graph".