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Boost read_graphml

void read_graphml(std::istream& in, MutableGraph& graph,
                  dynamic_properties& dp, size_t graph_index = 0);

The read_graphml function interprets a graph described using the GraphML format and builds a BGL graph that captures that description. Using this function, you can initialize a graph using data stored as text.

The GraphML format can specify both directed and undirected graphs, and read_graphml differentiates between the two. One must pass read_graphml an undirected graph when reading an undirected graph; the same is true for directed graphs. Furthermore, read_graphml will throw an exception if it encounters parallel edges and cannot add them to the graph.

To handle attributes expressed in the GraphML format, read_graphml takes a dynamic_properties object and operates on its collection of property maps. The reader passes all the properties encountered to this object, using the GraphML attribute names as the property names, and with the appropriate C++ value type based on the GraphML attribute type definition. Graph properties are also set with the same dynamic_properties object, where the key type is the type of the graph itself.

If the file contains multiple graphs, the graph_index parameter controls which graph will be loaded. It defaults to 0, meaning that the first graph in the file will be loaded. If graph_index is greater than or equal to the number of graphs in the file, an empty graph will be returned.

  • The type of the graph must model the Mutable Graph concept.
  • The type of the iterator must model the Multi-Pass Iterator concept.
  • The property map value types must be default-constructible.


Where Defined



struct graph_exception : public std::exception {
  virtual ~graph_exception() throw();
  virtual const char* what() const throw() = 0;

struct bad_parallel_edge : public graph_exception {
  std::string from;
  std::string to;

  bad_parallel_edge(const std::string&, const std::string&);
  virtual ~bad_parallel_edge() throw();
  const char* what() const throw();

struct directed_graph_error : public graph_exception {
  virtual ~directed_graph_error() throw();
  virtual const char* what() const throw();

struct undirected_graph_error : public graph_exception {
  virtual ~undirected_graph_error() throw();
  virtual const char* what() const throw();

struct parse_error : public graph_exception {
  parse_error(const std::string&);
  virtual ~parse_error() throw() {}
  virtual const char* what() const throw();
  std::string statement;
  std::string error;

Under certain circumstances, read_graphml will throw one of the above exceptions. The three concrete exceptions can all be caught using the general graph_exception moniker when greater precision is not needed. In addition, all of the above exceptions derive from the standard std::exception for even more generalized error handling.

The bad_parallel_edge exception is thrown when an attempt to add a parallel edge to the supplied MutableGraph fails. The GraphML format supports parallel edges, but some BGL-compatible graph types do not. One example of such a graph is boost::adjacency_list<setS,vecS>, which allows at most one edge can between any two vertices.

The directed_graph_error exception occurs when an undirected graph type is passed to read_graph, but the graph defined in the GraphML file contains at least one directed edge.

The undirected_graph_error exception occurs when a directed graph type is passed to read_graph, but the graph defined in the GraphML file contains at least one undirected edge.

The parse_error exception occurs when a syntax error is encountered in the GraphML file. The error string will contain the line and column where the error was encountered.

Building the GraphML reader

To use the GraphML reader, you will need to build and link against the "boost_graph" library. The library can be built by following the Boost Jam Build Instructions for the subdirectory libs/graph/build.


  • On successful reading of a graph, every vertex and edge will have an associated value for every respective edge and vertex property encountered while interpreting the graph. These values will be set using the dynamic_properties object. Some properties may be put multiple times during the course of reading in order to ensure the GraphML semantics. Those edges and vertices that are not explicitly given a value for a property (and that property has no default) will be given the default constructed value of the value type. Be sure that property map value types are default constructible.
  • Nested graphs are supported as long as they are exactly of the same type as the root graph, i.e., are also directed or undirected. Note that since nested graphs are not directly supported by BGL, they are in fact completely ignored when building the graph, and the internal vertices or edges are interpreted as belonging to the root graph.
  • Hyperedges and Ports are not supported.

See Also