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Publish Your Visualizations

When you finish your data analysis and visualization, you need to publish your data to share the results. Cytoscape has several options to do it, with most options suitable for Cytoscape users and other options suitable for programmers wanting to create unusual or complex network viewers. They're further explained below.

As a Session File

The easiest way to share your results with others is simply saving everything as a session file (which is a zipped session archive). You can save your current session by clicking Save Session icon. You can save to a thumb drive, a shared file system, or even a cloud drive directory such as Dropbox -- if you save to a shared drive, beware not to have two people work on the same session file with Cytoscape at the same time, as unpredictable results may occur.

As a Static Image

Cytoscape can generate publication-quality images from network views. By selecting File → Export → Network View as Graphics..., you can export the current network view into the following formats:

We recommend using PDF for publications because it is a standard vector graphics format, and it is easy to edit in other applications such as Adobe Illustrator.

Known Issues

For PDF export, there is an option to Export Texts as Fonts. This option does not work for two-byte characters such as Chinese or Japanese. To avoid corrupted texts in the exported images, please uncheck this option when you publish networks including those non-English characters.

As an Interactive Web Application (New in 3.2.0)

The Web is an excellent platform for data sharing and collaboration, and Cytoscape provides a number of ways to publish your network on the web, with each choice representing tradeoffs between ease, simplicity, and customization options. All solutions leverage the cytoscape.js drawing library, and so enable not only viewing but also Cytoscape-style interactive browsing of networks and attributes.

The simplest choice is CyNetShare, where you save your network (and optionally a style) on a public file system, then interactively view the network in a browser. Like Google Maps, you can generate and publish a URL that allows collaborators to also view your network.

Alternatively, Cytoscape can generate an entire web site showing a single page containing the viewer with your network pre-loaded. You can load this directly onto your own web server to become part of your web site.

Finally, Cytoscape can generate the skeleton of a web site for further customization by JavaScript programmers.

These features are available as Export menu items under the File menu, and are described in sections below.

For example, here is a network in Cytoscape:


Here is the same network as an interactive web visualization:


Note that web browsers can render small networks (e.g., 1000 nodes) quickly and effectively, but attempting to render large ones (e.g., 5000 nodes) will take a very long time.

A word about exporting styles styles to interactive web applications: Our web applications are based on the cytoscape.js display library, which renders a subset of Cytoscape styles. For more information, see the Export Styles to Cytoscape.js section below.

Sharing via CyNetShare

CyNetShare is a browser-based web application that renders JSON-formatted networks and attributes saved in public directories. Optionally, you can specify visual styles that the web application will use to draw your network as it appears in Cytoscape. CyNetShare is similar to Google Maps in that once you have loaded your network and have tweaked its appearance to suit, you can have CyNetShare generate a new URL that you can e-mail or post as a link on your own web site. That URL will bring up CyNetShare preloaded with your network for anyone to see.

To use CyNetShare:

  1. Select File → Export → Network and View... to export your network to a public directory. Choose the Cytoscape.js JSON (*.cyjs) export file format.

  2. Optionally, select File → Export → Style... to export your style settings. Choose the Style for cytoscape.js (*.json) export file format.

  3. Use your public directory system to determine direct URLs for the files you exported.
  4. Start CyNetShare

  5. Enter the network's URL as the Graph URL.
  6. Optionally, enter the style's URL.
  7. Click the Visualize button.

The CyNetShare User Guide is provided on the CyNetShare web page:

Note that if you specify a style URL, the style is added to the list of styles available in CyNetShare's Visual Style dropdown, and you can apply the style by selecting it in the list.

Note that the mechanics of generating a URL for a file in a public directory system is a fast moving topic. Until recently, systems like Dropbox (and others) allowed users to create a URL that resolved directly to a file -- a "direct" URL would be appropriate for use with CyNetShare. As of this writing, some public directory systems (e.g., Dropbox) generate "shareable" URLs instead, which resolve to a web page that allows file download -- a "shareable" URL makes CyNetShare hang. Systems that offer "shareable" URLs may offer "direct" URLs as part of their premium (or Pro) package. To tell if your public directory system generates a "direct" URL, have it generate a URL for a file, then paste the URL into the address field of a browser and observe whether the browser displays the file itself (good!) or a download page for the file (bad!).

A simple strategy for always getting a "direct" URL is to store your file in a public directory served up by a web server, if you have access to one -- a URL served by a web server might appear as:

Alternately, you can use Gist to create a shareable document having a "direct" URL. To try this:

  1. Use Cytoscape to generate your network as a .cyjs file on your local disk
  2. Use an editor to open the file and copy its contents to the clipboard
  3. Use a web browser to surf to Gist

  4. Paste the contents into a Gist document
  5. Select Create public Gist

  6. Select Raw to place the "direct" URL into your browser's address field

  7. Use that URL with CyNetShare

Generating a Full Web Application

The full page export option is designed for users who want to publish their network as a complete single-page application. Cytoscape creates a zip archive containing a complete JavaScript-based web application that works as a basic viewer (like CyNetShare) for Cytoscape-generated network visualizations. You can unzip the archive onto a web server (or your PC) and view the network via a web browser on PCs and tablets.


To generate an entire web page as a zip archive, select File → Export → Network View(s) as Web Page ....

To view the web page, unzip the archive into a folder on your PC or web server. The folder will contain an index.html file, the network data, and other files. You can open the index.html file in your browser (usually from your browser's File → Open menu item.)

Depending on your browser's security settings, you may not be able to open the index.html file directly if it is stored on your PC -- you may need to start a web server on your PC. An easy way to set up a local web server is by running the Python simple HTTP server. If you have Python installed on your machine, just go into the web archive folder and type:

python -m SimpleHTTPServer 8000

and use your browser to open:


Testing the archive on your PC will serve as an easy test of the web page, but to publish it to collaborators, you should unzip your archive onto a web server.

Here is an example exported file from Cytoscape:


Note that because Cytoscape uses the latest HTML5-based web technologies, it cannot support older or non-conformant web browsers such as Internet Explorer. We strongly recommend using the latest version of modern web browsers such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Apple Safari.

Generating a Simple Network View (For Web Application Developers)

The Simple Network View export option is designed for users who want to publish their data as a complete single-page application, but are interested in customizing the web viewer application themselves. Cytoscape creates a zip archive containing a partial JavaScript-based web application based on the cytoscape.js library and including simple "boilerplate" code and the current network view. The user can create a custom viewer by customizing this code.


To generate an entire web page as a zip archive, select File → Export → Network View(s) as Web Page ..., and choose the Simple viewer for current network only format.

For instructions on testing the customized web application, see Generating a Full Web Application above.

Customize Export Template (For Web Application Developers)

The code generated by Cytoscape for the Full Web Application and the Simple Network View web applications is minimalistic. While you can directly modify this code yourself to create your own page design or add new features, the modifications will apply to a single exported network. If you are a web application developer, you can change the application code generated for all exports by editing HTML5 template code resource files in your ~/CytoscapeConfiguration/web directory:


In this folder, you can find full and simple sub directories corresponding to Full Web Application and the Simple Network View described above.


To build these project, you need the following tools installed:

Full Export Template

This is an AngularJS based web application built with grunt (at least for now -- we have plans to migrate to gulp). Source code and more documentations are available here:


To build the project into dist directory, type:


Simple Export Template

This template is generated by a simple gulp project. The source code is available here:

To build the project into dist directory, type:


Use Your Custom Templates for Export

Once you have your own builds, you can deploy your templates by replacing the contents of full and simple with your own builds.

Cytoscape_3/UserManual/Publish (last edited 2016-04-26 22:21:18 by server2)

Funding for Cytoscape is provided by a federal grant from the U.S. National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) of the Na tional Institutes of Health (NIH) under award number GM070743-01. Corporate funding is provided through a contract from Unilever PLC.

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