SnakeViz is a browser based graphical viewer for the output of Python’s cProfile module. It was originally inspired by RunSnakeRun. SnakeViz works on Python 2.7 and Python 3. SnakeViz itself is still likely to work on Python 2.6, but official support has been dropped now that Tornado no longer supports Python 2.6.


SnakeViz is available on PyPI. Install with pip:

pip install snakeviz

Starting SnakeViz

Command Line Interface

If you have generated a profile file called you can start SnakeViz from the command line:


Run snakeviz --help to see available options.


SnakeViz includes IPython line and cell magics for going straight from code to a visualization. First load the magics:

%load_ext snakeviz

Then use the %snakeviz and %%snakeviz magics to profile and view individual lines or entire blocks of code:

% snakeviz glob.glob('*.txt')
files = glob.glob('*.txt')
for file in files:
    with open(file) as f:

Note: Using the IPython %snakeviz magics requires internet access. If you are working offline, use prun to save a profile file and then start SnakeViz from the command line.

Generating Profiles


You can use the cProfile module at the command line to create a profile file for a script:

python -m cProfile -o

See the user’s manual for more info and other options.


You can also generate profile files of specific code using IPython’s prun magic using the -D flag:

%prun -D glob.glob('*.txt')

prun has both line and cell magics available, see the IPython docs for more information.

Interpreting Results


Example Sunburst

SnakeViz displays profiles as a sunburst in which functions are represented as arcs. A root function is a circle at the middle, with functions it calls around, then the functions those functions call, and so on. The amount of time spent inside a function is represented by the angular width of the arc. An arc that wraps most of the way around the circle represents a function that is taking up most of the time of its calling function, while a skinny arc represents a function that is using hardly any time at all.

Functions don’t just spend time calling other functions, they also have their own internal time. SnakeViz shows this by putting a special child on each node that represents internal time. Only functions that call other functions will have this, functions with no calls are entirely internal time.

Function Info

Placing your cursor over an arc will highlight that arc and any other visible instances of the same function call. It will also display a list of information to the left of the sunburst.

Function info and highlighting

The displayed information includes:

Note: For some built-in functions the file name, line number, and directory will be ‘~’, 0, and blank, respectively.

Zooming and Call Stack

Clicking on an arc will zoom the visualization, making that function the new root and allowing you to magnify different parts of the profile. Clicking the center of the sunburst will zoom out one level and clicking the “Reset” button will return the visualization to its most zoomed-out state.

Call stack example.

To the right of the sunburst is a “Call Stack” button. Clicking this will expand a list that shows all the functions leading up to the current root of the sunburst, with the root function at the bottom of the list. The call stack can be useful for orienting yourself when you’ve zoomed into the profile. Click the “Call Stack” button again to hide the list.

Stats Table

Below the sunburst visualization is a table of profile data similar to the one you’d see working with Python’s built-in cProfile and pstats modules.

Profile stats table

The table contains one row per unique function called. Calls to the same function from different places are all grouped into one row. The columns are the same as described in the cProfile user’s manual:

The columns of the table are all sortable and the search box can be used to filter the table based on the filename:lineno(function) column.


SnakeViz has two controls that affect the visualization: “depth” and “cutoff”. “Depth” controls how deep into the call stack the application goes when building the graph. Anything below this depth will not be shown until you zoom in by clicking on a new function deeper in the call stack. Increasing the displayed depth will show more of your profile at once, but it can take longer to build and display the graph.

Visualization Controls

“Cutoff” controls the display of functions that take up very little of their parents’ cumulative time. If a function’s cumulative time divided by its parent’s cumulative time is less than the currently set cutoff, then that function will be displayed but none of its sub-functions will be. Setting a larger cutoff may display less of a profile, but can speed up the building and rendering of the visualization.



If you’d like to contribute to SnakeViz you can fork it on GitHub. Please report issues on the GitHub issue tracker.