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Software to draw SEM diagrams

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paologhisletta's picture
Joined: 01/19/2010 - 14:22
Software to draw SEM diagrams


it appears that the OpenMx team prefers the Graphviz software to draw SEM diagrams. I guess the choice was a compromise between quality and flexibility (Graphviz appears to run on several OS).

What drawing software would you suggest under Windows XP if I wanted to create a diagram from scratch? (I looked at Tetrad, which seems less esthetic than Graphviz). Is there anything as good as OmniGraffle for Macs? Or would you suggest installing a Mac emulator on Windows and use OmniGraffle? Please don't suggest I go Linux or Mac ;-)

Many thanks, best regards,

tbates's picture
Joined: 07/31/2009 - 14:25
Some R packages do actually

Some R packages do actually draw diagrams (like Bill Revelle's Psych) but OpenMx writes .dot syntax for some other app to render.

On Windows, I think the best diagrammer is Visio. Not sure if it imports .dot. Can someone confirm?

Powerpoint is an OK environment for drawing diagrams. At least it has the notion of connectors.

I see now that there are several pretty good looking packages running on google apps. Like Creatly

FYI: Omnigraffle's import of .dot is incomplete but in ways that often don't matter too much. It also enforces a layout which ignores the min/max criteria in .dot

Jeff's picture
Joined: 07/31/2009 - 05:40
Here are some current

Here are some current alternatives to OmniGraffle:

miesnerd's picture
Joined: 01/15/2011 - 15:02
Hello All- I just am getting

Hello All-
I just am getting acquainted with both SEM and OpenMx. It appears this may be the best place to post my question.
I've been playing around and getting output, but expected graphical output as well.
Is the Psych library what needs to be installed for this to work, or should I be getting graphical output already, and something is wrong?

Thanks in advance


josebrandon's picture
Joined: 11/16/2010 - 17:07
Thanks Jeff its it helped me

Thanks Jeff its it helped me alot.

mhunter's picture
Joined: 07/31/2009 - 15:26
For diagrams, I don't mind

For diagrams, I don't mind using Graphviz. It's free and definitely runs on Windows XP. If I already have a RAM-type model in OpenMx then I write

omxGraphviz(model=myModelName, dotFilename="")

into the R console, and this outputs the file If I don't already have the model or if it is a non-RAM-type model, then I can construct the diagram in the .dot language of Graphviz.

Once I have the .dot file, I go to the DOS command prompt, go to the directory where the .dot file is and type

dot -Tpdf -o DesiredOutputName.pdf

This creates the file DesiredOutputName.pdf which is a pdf of the graph of the model. This same process works on Mac except with the Mac Terminal instead of the DOS command prompt. In either case, you need to have Graphviz installed on your machine to do this. Graphviz can be found at . There is a Windows binary that quickly installs the software needed.

This is the best method I've found that involves free software that runs on many operating systems.

AN's picture
Joined: 12/03/2011 - 13:51
Is there a way to move objects

In using GraphViz to dispaly the model diagram is there a way to move the objects around? The default display of the graph does not represent the structure in the usual way.


tbates's picture
Joined: 07/31/2009 - 14:25
graphviz layout and editing

hi: Sorry - Graphviz is a layout engine only…
For an editor, open the .dot file in Omnigraffle or similar editing application that can read graphviz files.

PS: You can often get very close to what you want using graphviz' layout hints. You can set lines to be straight or bezier, and can order objects to the top, middle or bottom of the graph, as well as flowing in different directions. It's quite flexible.

My workflow is graphviz for quick looks, then Omnigraffle for publication

neale's picture
Joined: 07/31/2009 - 15:14
Omnigraffle curves

FYI, after years of nagging them, Omnigraffle finally did something that lets you draw nice arcs. See the new curved line type in this thread:

moreuz10's picture
Joined: 10/10/2011 - 18:05

I also have this problem!Thank for info!I don't need to open new tread!

ebony56's picture
Joined: 02/23/2012 - 03:00
Thank you, tbates! I just

Thank you, tbates!
I just wanted to say that your reply has been really useful for me..
I need all the help I can get! And it helped a lot