How to show Terraform configuration in Visual Graphical representaton using Graphviz


Terraform graph command is used to generate visual representation of either a configuration or execution plan. The command generates a DOT format Output. In the post we will see how to generate an image / nice graphical representation of Terraform resources and their dependencies using the DOT file we will generate. We will use Graphviz which is an open-source graph visualization software.

I will not go in detail of the Terraform code and assume that you already have file along with other terraform code written in configuration files. As an example, i am using below terraform configuration file which i will use it to convert to a DOT file and generate a graphical representation of the code using graphviz.

terraform {
  required_version = ">= 0.15"
  required_providers {
    local = {
      source  = "hashicorp/local"
      version = "~> 2.0"

resource "local_file" "Myfile" {
  filename = "techpress_test.txt"
  content  = <<-EOT
    Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry.
    only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining
    essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release
    iece of classical Latin literature years old. Richard McClintock a Latin professor 
    Virginia, looked up one of the more obscure Latin.

Terraform Initialize

Initialize the Terraform Plugin first using terraform init and then use terraform graph command to generate a dot file.

terraform init

Terraform Graph Command

terraform graph >

Now you will have two files in LocalFileExample Folder. One is your file and other one is file generated using terraform graph command.

Install GraphViz Tool on Windows PC

Next step is utilize file and use the Graphviz tool to convert it into a graphical representation format. First we need to download Graphviz tool on a Windows PC. It can be installed on Linux or mac machines as well, I have used a Windows Installer for this demo.

Download and Install the Latest stable version from the available options. Installation is straightforward by following a simple wizard. Only thing to note is to ensure that Graphviz is added to the PATH enviornment variable so that it can be used directly from command line. Thankfully this step is made easy by the wizard by selecting the option to add Graphviz to the PATH Enviornment variable. You can either Add the Enviornment variable for all users or just current user only.

Once Graphviz is installed, you need to close the reopen the command prompt window so that the Enviornment PATH variables which was added by the wizard can be picked up by the console.

Test Graphviz installation

To confirm if Graph has been installed and working fine. Open a command prompt on windows 10 machine and run a command dot -v to check the version. If it returns the output and shows the version along with other information then its working fine.

Convert DOT file to Image

Graphviz supports a lot of output formats which you can utilize for converting a DOT File. Today, I will be using SVG Format. Once the DOT file is converted to SVG Format, this can be opened in any internet browser.

I am showing two commands which can be used to convert dot file to svg. Either of the command can be used. First command can be used when you already have run terraform graph command and generated file.

dot -Tsvg -o mygraph1.svg

Below Command is using Terraform graph and output of the command is piped to the dot command. Basically generating dot format and converting it to mygraph.svg. In this case dot file is not getting created.

terraform graph | dot -Tsvg > mygraph.svg

Open SVG File

You can open svg file using any internet browser which shows all the resource nodes and dependencies between resources.

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