Understanding, handling and debugging preCICE configuration files can be difficult and tedious. This tool simplifies this process by visualizing the configuration as a dot graph.


Understanding, handling and debugging preCICE configuration files can be difficult and tedious. As so many problems, also this problem grows superlinear with the size of the input. Especially the configuration of the data-flow can be tricky to get right for beginners and sometimes even seasoned preCICE users.

This tool is supposed to tackle this issue.

It naively interprets the given configuration file and visualizes it as a graph. This has a few important benefits:

  • Configuration mistakes can be difficult to spot in XML, but are often trivial to spot in a graph.
  • Students and co-workers have less trouble understanding relations of components in a graph format.
  • A graph is a good format to present the simulation scenario in presentations


Please first install the dependencies:

  • python3 and pip
  • graphviz for rendering the result.

We recommend installing the config-visualizer straight from GitHub:

pip3 install --user https://github.com/precice/config-visualizer/archive/master.zip

In case you want to tinker with the software, you can clone the repository and install the package locally.

git clone https://github.com/precice/config-visualizer.git
pip3 install --user -e config-visualizer

Note: You maybe need to add your user pip installations to your path to make the config visualizer findable, i.e.

export PATH=$PATH:$HOME/.local/bin


The config visualizer can be used interactively:

precice-config-visualizer-gui precice-config.xml 

Alternatively, you can generate a graph and transform it to a readable format, e.g., pdf.

  1. Use precice-config-visualizer -o config.dot precice-config.xml to generate the graph in the .dot format.

  2. Use dot -Tpdf -ofile config.pdf config.dot to layout the result and output a given format such as pdf. This program is part of graphviz.

These commands support piping, so you can also execute:

cat precice-config.xml | precice-config-visualizer | dot -Tpdf > config.pdf

Controlling the output

For big cases, the generated output can be visually too busy. This is why the tool allows you to control the verbosity of some elements. For some properties, the following options are available:

  • full shows the available information in full detail. This is the default.
  • merged shows available relations between components without full detail. Multiple edges between components will be merged into a single one.
  • hide hides all relations.

These options are currently available for:

  • data access participants using read-data and write-data to access data on meshes.
  • data exchange participants exchangeing data between meshes.
  • communicators configured m2n connections between participants.
  • coupling schemes configured cplschemes between participants.


These examples are based on the elastictube1d example.

The full picture

precice-config-visualizer precice-config.xml | dot -Tpdf > graph.pdf

Config visualization

Reduced information of coupling schemes and communicators

precice-config-visualizer --communicators=merged --cplschemes=merged precice-config.xml | dot -Tpdf > graph.pdf

Config visualization

Data flow visualization

precice-config-visualizer --communicators=hide --cplschemes=hide precice-config.xml | dot -Tpdf > graph.pdf

Config visualization