Dot - a second spline layout choice for (almost) free!

Here is a way to get a second dot spline layout with no downloads or special software. For example -
The standard layout:
The alternate layout:

How? We send the dot output (with -Tdot file format) to neato for a second opinion. So
dot -Tpng unix.gv -o unix.png
dot -Gsplines=true unix.gv | neato -n -Tpng -o unix.alt.png

  • Works on every OS
  • Use neato -n
  • Remember to explicitly set splines=true (will work w/ other splines settings, but will seldom produce a difference)
  • Do not explicitly set layout in the input file

What’s going on?
Dot does the node layout (and the edge layout), but we are sending the result to neato for an alternate edge layout. See FAQ | Graphviz

Here are some other examples - the neato result placed on top of the dot version. Enjoy!