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Author image Yichun Zhang (章亦春)


Makefile::GraphViz - Draw building flowcharts from Makefiles using GraphViz


This document describes Makefile::GraphViz 0.20 released on 29 November 2011.


  use Makefile::GraphViz;

  $parser = Makefile::GraphViz->new;

  # plot the tree rooted at the 'install' goal in Makefile:
  $gv = $parser->plot('install');  # A GraphViz object returned.

  # plot the tree rooted at the 'default' goal in Makefile:
  $gv = $parser->plot;

  # plot the forest consists of all the goals in Makefile:
  $gv = $parser->plot_all;

  # you can also invoke all the methods
  # inherited from the Makefile::Parser class:
  @targets = $parser->targets;


This module uses Makefile::Parser to render user's Makefiles via the amazing GraphViz module. Before I decided to write this thing, there had been already a CPAN module named GraphViz::Makefile which did the same thing. However, the pictures generated by GraphViz::Makefile is oversimplified in my opinion, so a much complex one is still needed.

For everyday use, the gvmake utility is much more convenient than using this module directly. :)

WARNING This module is highly experimental and is currently at alpha stage, so production use is strongly discouraged right now. Anyway, I have the plan to improve this stuff unfailingly.

For instance, the following makefile

    all: foo
    all: bar
            echo hallo

    any: foo hiya
            echo larry
            echo howdy
    any: blah blow

    foo:: blah boo
            echo Hi
    foo:: howdy buz
            echo Hey

produces the following image via the plot_all method:


image hosted by agentzh.org

Image hosted by agentzh.org


Browse http://search.cpan.org/src/AGENT/Makefile-GraphViz-0.16/samples.html for some sample output graphs.


Prerequisites GraphViz and Makefile::Parser should be installed to your Perl distribution first. Among other things, the GraphViz module needs tools "dot", "neato", "twopi", "circo" and "fdp" from the Graphviz project (http://www.graphviz.org/ or http://www.research.att.com/sw/tools/graphviz/). Hence you have to download an executable package of AT&T's Graphviz for your platform or build it from source code yourself.

The Makefile::GraphViz Class

This class is a subclass inherited from Makefile::Parser. So all the methods (and hence all the functionalities) provided by Makefile::Parser are accessible here. Additionally this class also provides some more methods on its own right.


$graphviz = plot($target, ...)

This method is essential to the class. Users invoke this method to plot the specified Makefile target. If the argument is absent, the default target in the Makefile will be used. It will return a GraphViz object, on which you can later call the as_png or as_text method to obtain the final graphical output.

The argument can both be the target's name and a Makefile::Target object. If the given target can't be found in Makefile, the target will be plotted separately.

This method also accepts several options.

    $gv = $parser->plot(undef, normal_nodes => ['mytar']);
    $gv = $parser->plot(
        exclude  => [qw(
            all hex2bin.exe exe2hex.pl bin2asm.pl
            asm2ast.pl ast2hex.pl cod2ast.pl
        end_with => [qw(pat_cover.ast pat_cover)],
        normal_nodes => ['pat_cover.ast'],
        vir_nodes => ['pat_cover'],
        trim_mode => 0,

This option controls the style of the shell command box. The default appearance for these nodes are gray ellipses.


This option's value will be passed directly to GraphViz's add_edge method. It controls the appearance of the edges in the output graph, which is default to red directed arrows.

    $gv = $parser->plot(
        edge_style => {
            style => 'dotted',
            color => 'seagreen',

This option takes a list ref as its value. The plot method won't continue to iterate the subtree rooted at entries in the list. It is worth noting that the entries themselves will be displayed as usual. This is the only difference compared to the exclude option.

Here is an example:

    $gv = $parser->plot(
        end_with => [qw(pat_cover.ast pat_cover)],

This option takes a list ref as its value. All the entries in the list won't be displayed and the subtrees rooted at these entries won't be displayed either.

        exclude=>[qw(foo.exe foo.pl)]

This option accepts user's GraphViz object to render the graph.

    $gv = GraphViz->new(width => 30, height => 20,
                        pagewidth => 8.5, pageheight => 11);
    $parser->plot('install', gv => $gv);
    print $gv->as_text;

This option takes a hash ref whose value will be passed to the constructor of the GraphViz class if the option gv is not specified:

        init_args => {
            width => 30, height => 20,
            pagewidth => 8.5, pageheight => 11,

The entries in this option's list are forced to be the normal nodes. Normal nodes are defined to be the Makefile targets corresponding to disk files. In contrast, virtual nodes are those Makefile targets with no real files corresponding to them.


Override the default style for the normal nodes. By default, normal nodes are yellow rectangles with black border.

    $gv = $parser->plot(
        normal_node_style => {
           shape => 'circle',
           style => 'filled',
           fillcolor => 'red',

When this option is set to a true value, no shell command nodes will be plotted.


The entries in this option's list are forced to be the virtual nodes. Virtual nodes are those Makefile targets with no real files corresponding to them, which are generally called "phony targets" in the GNU make Manual and "pseudo targets" in MS NMAKE's docs.


Override the default style for the virtual nodes.

    $gv = $parser->plot(
        virtual_node_style => {
           shape => 'box',
           style => 'filled',
           fillcolor => 'blue',

By default, virtual nodes are yellow rectangles with no border.

$graphviz = $object->plot_all()

Plot all the (root) goals appeared in the Makefile.


Internal functions should not be used directly.


Generate a unique id for command node.


Trim the path to a more readable form.


Trim the shell command to a more friendly size.


If the given element is found in the given list, this function will return 1; otherwise, a false value is returned.


  • Add support for the various options provided by the plot method to the plot_all method.

  • Use Params::Util to check the validity of the method arguments.

  • Use the next generation of Makefile::Parser to do the underlying parsing job.


I use Devel::Cover to test the code coverage of my tests, below is the Devel::Cover report on this module test suite.

  ---------------------------- ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
  File                           stmt   bran   cond    sub    pod   time  total
  ---------------------------- ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
  .../lib/Makefile/GraphViz.pm  100.0   93.2   71.4  100.0  100.0   61.5   92.1
  ---------------------------- ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------


For the very latest version of this module, check out the source from the Git repository below:


There is anonymous access to all. If you'd like a commit bit, please let me know. :)


Please report bugs or send wish-list to https://github.com/agentzh/makefile-graphviz-pm/issues.


gvmake, GraphViz, Makefile::Parser.


Zhang "agentzh" Yichun (章亦春) <agentzh@gmail.com>


Copyright (c) 2005-2011 by Zhang "agentzh" Yichun (章亦春).

This library is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as Perl itself.