Organic Swimlane Layout

Organic swimlane layout is a specialized variant of organic layout in which it is possible for a user to define placement constraints for nodes.

In yEd, these constraints can be created using dedicated group node types, which are available in the palette section Swimlane Nodes and Table Nodes. These group nodes display columns, rows, or both. When calculating an organic swimlane layout, these columns and rows will keep their relative positions and the group’s content nodes will stay in their respective column and/or
row albeit the nodes within a given column or row may be rearranged as the algorithm deems appropriate.

Important Notice

Only top level swimlane and table nodes will be used to create placement constraints. Creating a swimlane or table node as the child node of another group node (or another swimlane or table node) will result in that node to be treated as a normal group node, i.e. the node’s columns and/or rows are ignored in this case and will not induce further placement constraints.

Visual Tab


The whole graph will be laid out.
Mainly Selection
The selected nodes will be rearranged. The unselected nodes are only allowed to move to a certain degree.
Only Selection
Only the selected nodes will be rearranged.

Preferred Edge Length

Allows to specify the preferred length of all edges. The layouter tries to arrange the nodes in such a way that the edges have the desired edge length. The edge length is measured from node border to node border.

Consider Node Labels

Determines whether node labels should be considered in the layout process.

Allow Overlapping Nodes

Whether or not nodes are allowed to overlap. If this feature is disabled, the Minimal Node Distance will be used to arrange the nodes in such a way, that the given distance will be obeyed.

Minimal Node Distance

The minimal node distance which will be used if Allow Overlapping Nodes is disabled.

Avoid Node/Edge Overlaps

Whether or not nodes are allowed to overlap with edges.


Adjusting this value can lead to a variety of differing layouts. For small values the resulting layout will use a lot of space and nodes tend to be far away from each other. Values around 0.5 lead to evenly distributed nodes, whereas values near 1.0 produce highly compact layouts.

Use Natural Clustering

Places nodes of the same natural cluster closely together and avoids overlapping of the drawing areas of different groups. This setting does not create group nodes. More information on natural clusters can be found in the article on automatic grouping.

Natural Clustering Quality

Controls the weighting between the quality of the grouping and the calculating time when computing a natural clustering. More information on this setting can be found in the article on automatic grouping.


This tab cannot be used for swimlane layout.


Group Layout Policy

Determines the basic policy for the layout process. For swimlane layout this option is always equals to Layout Groups.

Layout Groups
Instructs the algorithm to layout groups and open folders as well as their contents in a global manner. All visible nodes’ positions will be recalculated.

Algorithm Tab

Quality / Time Ratio

This setting can be used to adjust the quality versus the running time of the layout algorithm. Small values lead to short running times, while greater values result in better quality. For large graph structures (hundreds and thousands of nodes) it is advisable to begin with smaller values and to gradually increase them.

Maximal Duration (sec)

Sets the maximal duration of the layout process in seconds. If this upper bound is hit during the layout process, the quality of the layout
may not be optimal. In this case increasing this value increases the likeliness of an optimal layout.

Activate Deterministic Mode

Whether or not the layout process should be deterministic. In Deterministic mode the layouter produces identical results for identical input graphs and identical settings.

Activate Multi-Threading

Whether or not the layout algorithm should use multi-threading to enhance the layout speed.

Swimlanes Tab

Minimum insets

This option specifies the minimum distance of nodes to the border of their swimlane or table cell.

Compact Swimlanes

This option determines whether swimlanes and table cells may be shrinked (if possible) in the layout process.