Graph models

synopsis:Renders a graphical overview of your project or specified apps.

Creates a GraphViz dot file for the specified app names based on their You can pass multiple app names and they will all be combined into a single model. Output is usually directed to a dot file.

Several options are available: grouping models, including inheritance, excluding models and columns, and changing the layout when rendering to an output image.

With the latest revisions it’s also possible to specify an output file if pygraphviz is installed and render directly to an image or other supported file-type.

Selecting a library

You need to select the library to generate the image. You can do so by passing the –pygraphviz or –pydot parameter, depending on which library you want to use.

When neither of the command line parameters are given the default is to try and load pygraphviz or pydot (in that order) to generate the image.

To install pygraphviz you usually need to run this command:

$ pip install pygraphviz

It is possible you can’t install it because it needs some C extensions to build. In that case you can try other methods to install or you can use PyDot.

To install pydot you need to run this command:

$ pip install pyparsing pydot

Installation should be fast and easy. Remember to install this exact version of pyparsing, otherwise it’s possible you get this error:

Couldn’t import dot_parser, loading of dot files will not be possible.

Default Settings

The option GRAPH_MODELS = {} can be used in the settings file to specify default options:

  'all_applications': True,
  'group_models': True,

It uses the same names as on the command line only with the leading two dashes removed and the other dashes replaced by underscores. You can specify a list of applications with the app_labels key:

  'app_labels': ["myapp1", "myapp2", "auth"],


Django templates are used to generate the dot code. This in turn can be drawn into a image by libraries like pygraphviz or pydot. You can extend or override the templates if needed.

Templates used:

  • django_extensions/graph_models/
  • django_extensions/graph_models/
  • django_extensions/graph_models/

Documentation on how to create dot files can be found here:


Modifying Django’s default templates behaviour might break graph_models

Please be aware that if you use any template_loaders or extensions that change the way templates are rendered that this can cause graph_models to fail.

An example of this is the Django app django-template-minifier this automatically removed the newlines before/after template tags even for non-HTML templates which leads to a malformed file.

Example Usage

With django-extensions installed you can create a dot-file or an image by using the graph_models command:

# Create a dot file
$ ./ graph_models -a >
# Create a PNG image file called my_project_visualized.png with application grouping
$ ./ graph_models -a -g -o my_project_visualized.png

# Same example but with explicit selection of pygraphviz or pydot
$ ./ graph_models --pygraphviz -a -g -o my_project_visualized.png
$ ./ graph_models --pydot -a -g -o my_project_visualized.png
# Create a dot file for only the 'foo' and 'bar' applications of your project
$ ./ graph_models foo bar >
# Create a graph for only certain models
$ ./ graph_models -a -I Foo,Bar -o my_project_subsystem.png
# Create a graph excluding certain models
$ ./ graph_models -a -X Foo,Bar -o my_project_sans_foo_bar.png
# Create a graph including models matching a given pattern and excluding some of them
# It will first select the included ones, then filter out the ones to exclude
$ ./ graph_models -a -I Product* -X *Meta -o my_project_products_sans_meta.png
# Create a graph without showing its edges' labels
$ ./ graph_models -a --hide-edge-labels -o my_project_sans_foo_bar.png
# Create a graph with 'normal' arrow shape for relations
$ ./ graph_models -a --arrow-shape normal -o my_project_sans_foo_bar.png
# Create a graph with colored edges for relations with on_delete settings
$ ./ graph_models -a --color-code-deletions -o my_project_colored.png
# Create a graph with different layout direction,
# supported directions: "TB", "LR", "BT", "RL"
$ ./ graph_models -a --rankdir BT -o my_project_sans_foo_bar.png