plottree - A command tool for quickly visualizing phylogenetic tree via a single command in terminal.
plottree is a command line tool written in Python, building on to of matplotlib and Biopython.Phylo module. It is designed for quickly visualize phylogenetic tree via a single command in terminal. Both text file or string (surrounded by double quotes) in NEWICK format is accepted as input. Several optional parameters are also accepted for fine tuning the tree figure a little bit. If you just want to take a quick view of a phylogenetic relationships of a tree file or from a tree string, plottree is the right tool for you, otherwise, please consider to use other visualization tools (e.g., TreeView, iTOL, …) if you care more about real visualization and want to make more fancy figures.
Once plottree was successfully installed and its executable can be found in you system’s search path, you can type plottree or plottree -h in terminal to check the short help message for how to use plottree. If you need more examples of how to use plottree, after reading the help message, you can jump to the Examples part to learn more about efficently using plottree.
$ plottree PLOTTREE - Plot a phylogenetic tree with just a single line of code. Usage: plottree TREE [options] positional arguments: TREE A tree in NEWCIK format file or string (surrounded by double quotes). optional arguments: -h, --help show this help message and exit. -a, --axes Display ticks for x and y axes. -b, --box Display the tree inside a box. -m TOP BOTTOM LEFT RIGHT, --margin TOP BOTTOM LEFT RIGHT Set the margins of the figure, four numbers in the order of top bottom left and right. -s SIZE, --size SIZE Set the fontsize of leaf and node names. -x MIN MAX, --xlim MIN MAX Set the limits for x-axis, two numbers for min and max. -y MIN MAX, --ylim MIN MAX Set the limits for y-axis, two numbers for min and max. -o OUTPUT, --output OUTPUT Save the figure into a file.
Plot a tree in a NEWICK file:
$ plottree <newick_tree_file> Plotting tree using the following setting: fontsize (-s): 10.0 width (-w): 6.4 height (-l): 4.8 xlim(-x): -0.10, 2.50 ylim(-y): 5.80, 0.20 Feel free to modify them to tune the figure nice.
plottree will plot the tree from the file and show the tree figure in a window. In the terminal, it will display the parameters and their corresponding values used for plotting the current figure. If you want to tune the figure a little bit, just close the figure window and you will get your terminal back. Inside the terminal, retrieve the last command, add some additional parameters and run the command again. Repeat and try the optional parameters until you get a ideal figure.
Plot a tree in a NEWICK string:
$ plottree "(((A:0.2, B:0.3):0.3,(C:0.5, D:0.3):0.2):0.3, E:0.7):1.0;" Plotting tree using the following setting: fontsize (-s): 10.0 width (-w): 6.4 height (-l): 4.8 xlim(-x): -0.10, 2.50 ylim(-y): 5.80, 0.20 Feel free to modify them to tune the figure nice.
Similar as plot tree from a NEWICK file, pass a double quote surrounded NEWICK string will allow you to plot tree in a even more easier way. After running the command you will see the tree was plotted in a window:
You can added a black boarded for the tree figure by adding -b flag:
$ plottree "(((A:0.2, B:0.3):0.3,(C:0.5, D:0.3):0.2):0.3, E:0.7):1.0;" Plotting tree using the following setting: fontsize (-s): 10.0 width (-w): 6.4 height (-l): 4.8 xlim(-x): -0.10, 2.50 ylim(-y): 5.80, 0.20 Plot a box surrounding the tree: -b Feel free to modify them to tune the figure nice.
It will show you a figure like this:
For big trees (or trees with several leaves), tree branches will be crowded or even overlapped with each other, you can tune the tree figure by several ways, like decreasing fontsize (-s), increasing width (-w) and/or height (-l).
Assume you plot a tree in a file (tree.newick) using the following command:
$ plottree tree.newick
And the tree displayed like this:
Then you can try to decrease the fontsize to make it looks better:
$ plottree tree.newick -s 8
This will make the tree looks like this:
You can also try to increase the height (-l) to make the tree looks better:
$ python plottree/plottree.py tree.newick -l 8.4
Once you think the tree figure is good enough, you can save it by hit the save icon in the figure windows or re-run the command with -o <output> option to save it.
Feel free to tune the figure with other options to make it even better. However, plottree is not designed for generating fancy tree figures, if you want to polish the tree figure and want it to be more fancy, I strongly suggest you use other tree visualization tools and do not waste your time on plottree, because it is only designed for quickly visualize phylogenetic relationships.
plottree can be easily installed using pip:
$ pip install plottree
This will install plottree and generate its executable script. See Q&A for details, if you run into any problem during installation.
Q: Do I need to have Python to use plottree:
A: Yes, plottree is not a standalone program, it is a Python package with an executable script made available for user once the package was installed.
Q: Which Python version do I need to use? Python 2 or 3?
A: It does not matter, it works well under both version. However, I do recommend you to use Python 3 for future compatibility.
Q: Is there any dependency for plottree?
A: Yes, plottree was built on top of matplotlib and Biopython.Phylo module. If you install plottree using pip, they will be automatically installed if they are not installed yet.
Q: Why it tells me “‘plottree’ is not recognized as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file”?
A: Make sure you successfully installed plottree first. Then, make sure C:PythonX\\Scripts folder was added to your system path, if you installed Python with the default options. If you installed Python with other options, find the Scripts folder under Python installation folder and make sure the folder was added to your system path and try again.
Q: Why it tells me “-bash: plottree: command not found”?
A: Make sure you successfully installed plottree first. Then, make sure the executable script generated during plottree installation was installed to a location that included into your PATH, if not, add the location to PATH.
Q: After I run the command, why it does not release the prompt even I append “&” after the command and try to put it running background?
A: It was intentionally designed like this. If you want to take your prompt back, just close the figure window, and the prompt will come back automatically. Once you need to see the figure again, just re-run the command.
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