May 102011

Pavel in St. Petersburg asked me if it would be possible to produce bubble diagrams like this in Excel:

UK Public Spending

Excel has had bubble diagrams sine 2003 but they are just an X-Y plot with variable-sized nodes. What Pavel was after is an automatic layout, with lines joining the nodes, along these lines:

Bubble diagram with Graphviz

Not perfect, but you get the idea, and it’s produced automatically. To do this, you’ll need Excel, Visio,¬†Graphvizio and this zip file which contains the sample XLS, GV, VSD and JPG files.

  • Open the XLS. Column A is the node’s title, B is the title and the amount separated by a newline. Columns C, D and E specify the node’s parent, colour and amount. Column F computes the diameter of the node, in inches, from the amount:

Column G just creates Graphviz DOT statements from the values. G1 and G2 are the prelude. Copying column G into a text file called bubble1.gv, we get:

graph  RootGraph {
node [fontname=Arial, fontsize=12, style=filled];

"Total\n620" [width="3.1", height="3.1", color="gray", fillcolor="gray", shape=circle];

"Children, schools, family\n63"--"Total\n620" [color="pink"]; "Children, schools, family\n63" [width="0.315", height="0.315", color="pink", fillcolor="pink", shape=circle];

"Schools\n42"--"Children, schools, family\n63" [color="pink"]; "Schools\n42" [width="0.21", height="0.21", color="pink", fillcolor="pink", shape=circle];



  • Fire up Visio. Graph>Diagram->Import Graphviz
  • To get the circular layout, Graph->Settings->Diagram->Concentric
  • Graph->Layout
  • A little tweaking of the font sizes and line thickness and you’re on your way