I'm looking for a (preferably open source) tool to visualize logic circuits such as this


with the following constraints:

  • The diagram description should be given programmatically (through java or by providing some kind of textual description which is read from a file; basically I want to be able to call a Java method - which, in turn, may run an external program; I do NOT want a visual tool which requires user input).
  • The output should be a PDF.
  • If possible, routing should be done automatically.
  • It should run on Windows.

While this seems simple enough, I have not found anything satisfactory through extensive research. The tools that came closest were:

I obviously looked at graphviz, but the problem there is that you cannot tell graphviz where exactly the edges should dock on to the nodes - which is essential if you want to specify inputs and outputs.

There is also this question on SE: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/6422603/circuit-block-diagram-drawing. But without going into detail, all of the suggestions there didn't work for me due to the above mentioned constraints.

I'd have expected this to be a problem solved many times before... (And maybe I just googled poorly.)

  • 1
    The Tikz approach should work fine. A solution for your hanging Java program is reasonably straightforward. Answer given in the linked question. Nov 14, 2015 at 21:04
  • @DanielRenshaw Thanks, I'm looking into it (I have tried redirecting the output before, though not in the same way; the suggestions seems reasonable after all; I'll let you know; with tikz I'll have to do the routing manually, right?) Nov 15, 2015 at 11:51

2 Answers 2


I would suggest taking a look at SchemDraw which is a python package which:

  • can output results in svg, eps, or pdf,
  • allows you to define your own components,
  • is cross platform, (including windows),
  • is free, gratis & FOSS

You can either create the diagrams directly from python or you can define your own format for storing the information and parse it in.

  • 1
    This looks REALLY great! I've no experience with Python, but maybe this will be the ultimate reason to finally start learning it! Nov 16, 2015 at 8:43

There's a new project called netlistsvg which may fit the bill; it's still in the early stages but is geared toward logic diagrams, and especially Verilog synthesis.

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