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Using the Graph Window


BinNavi graph windows show disassembled code in graph form. During a code analysis session you will have one or more of these windows open. Among other things you can use them to navigate through code, to annotate code, to create custom graphs, to tag interesting nodes, or to debug the target module.

You can switch graph windows between different perspectives depending on what you are working on. By default the standard perspective is active when a new graph window is opened. This perspective is primarily used for static code analysis. To debug a target process, you can switch to the so called debug perspective which offers all the functionality needed for debugging. Switching perspectives is either possible through the top menu (Window) option or through the key combination CTRL+ALT-D (debug perspective) / CTRL+ALT-S (standard perspective).

Both the standard perspective and the debug perspective divide graph windows into roughly four parts. In both cases by far the largest part of the graph window is the center part where the disassembled code is shown. When the standard perspective is active, the left side of the graph window provides a panel with different parts that make it easier to navigate through the graph. The right side of the graph window is all about adding information to nodes and organizing nodes. To organize nodes you can define new node tags there and assign them to nodes in the graph. To add additional information to nodes and instructions you can create new types and use the available types from the type manager to associate them to operands of instructions. The bottom part of the graph window is a panel that contains other useful features for analyzing disassembled code.
When the debug perspective is active, the left, right, and bottom parts of the graph window are changed to provide useful debugging information. The left side of the window shows the current register values while the right side shows available debugger options. The bottom of the graph window contains tabs that show the memory of the active process, its loaded dynamic libraries, previously recorded debug traces, and other things.



The main menu

The main menu on top of the graph window provides access to many different functions. At first there is the View menu. It provides functions related to the view itself.

Then there is the Graph menu. The functions available from this menu are comparable to the ones from the View menu but they are connected more closely to the graph itself.

The next menu is the Selection menu. You can use this menu to select nodes of the graph in different ways.

The next menu is the Search menu. In this menu the Search settings can be configured that are used by the Search field in the tool bar.

The next menu is the Plugins menu. You can use this menu to open a scripting dialog which you can use to manipulate the active graph. Furthermore, many plugins that work on views extend this menu to make their functionality accessible.

 The last menu is the Window menu.

The tool bar

Like the main menu, the tool bar is another way to quickly access many useful graph operations.

The following buttons are part of the tool bar:

In addition to the buttons, the tool bar provides an address field and a search field. You can use the address field to jump to the node that contains a given address. You can use the search field to search through the graph. The exact behavior of the search can be configured through the Search menu.

To search for a search string, you can enter a string in the search field and hit Enter. The first time you hit Enter, all occurrences of the search string in the graph are highlighted. Consecutive hits of the Enter key show the individual hits. To go back to an earlier hit, you can use CTRL-Enter. A click on the Results button shows a list of all search results.

The Graph View

The Graph View is the central part of the graph window. This is the part where you can view and work with disassembled code. Using the left mouse button you can select one or more graph nodes. Using the right mouse button you can navigate through the graph by dragging the graph view. Depending on the current settings (see the section about Graph Settings) it is also possible to zoom or scroll the graph window with the mouse wheel.

Each graph contains up to five different types of nodes. Disassembled code is shown in so called code nodes, whole functions are represented by so called function nodes, large comments can be put in comment nodes,  proximity browsing nodes you navigate while proximity browsing mode is active, and group nodes let you organize your disassembly. All five types of nodes behave slightly differently and offer different options when you right-click on them to bring up a context menu. Also the menu is context aware in regards to where the cursor was located within the node when the right click was triggered such that a right click on a register yields slightly different results in the context menu then right clicking on a local variable.

The context menu of code nodes offers the following functions:

Depending on what parts of the code node you click on, additional menus become available.

If you click on a numeric literal operand you can choose whether this numerical value is shown as a decimal value, a hexadecimal value, or an ASCII character value. If you click on a local variable, a global variable, or a function you can change their names. If you click on a register you can create a type substitution for the register or remove it. Also the Operands sub menu will be presented more prominently to ease the workflow for operand related operations.

Since function nodes represent whole functions their context menus necessarily look quite different.

The context menu of function nodes offers nearly the same options as the context menu of code nodes. The options for breakpoints only become available when a debugger has been configured and a debug session is running.

You can use group nodes to group arbitrary sets of nodes into a single group. Since it is possible to collapse group nodes, you can replace the appearance of the nodes inside the group by a single group node that is shown in the graph. This is useful when you are doing a bottom-up style of reverse engineering where you discover more and more abstract information along the way.

The context menu of group nodes offers the following options:

Comment nodes can only be deleted or have their text changed. This is reflected in the context menu that is shown when you right-click on a comment node.

Edges that connect the nodes of a graph play another important role in the graph view. Like nodes they support left-clicks and right-clicks too. When you left-click on a node, the screen is zoomed to the target of the edge. This makes it easy to quickly follow control flow paths in the graph.

When you right-click on an edge, a context menu is shown that offers the following options:

The last of the graph nodes is the circular proximity browsing node. If proximity browsing mode is active and some graph nodes are hidden, proximity browsing nodes are attached to the visible graph nodes that give information about the number of hidden graph nodes.

In the screenshot above two proximity browsing nodes are visible. You can see from the numbers 3 and 20 that the function CreateProcessInternalA has 20 outgoing edges and 3 incoming edges connected to nodes that are currently hidden.

Right-clicking on a proximity browsing node brings up a context menu with the following options:

The GUI elements of the Standard Perspective

The Graph Overview

The Graph Overview is a small graph view in the upper left corner of the graph window. This overview displays a minimal version of the graph and highlights the part of the graph that is currently visible in the graph view. You can navigate through the graph by clicking on the graph overview, by dragging the mouse in the graph overview, or by using the arrow keys if the graph overview has the input focus. You can also change the visible section of the graph using the graph overview. To do so, you click on and drag the small black square in the lower right corner of the rectangle that represents the visible part of the graph.

The Graph Nodes List

The Graph Nodes List is another way to quickly navigate through the graph. This list is a small table on the left side of the graph window that lists information about each node of the graph.

Four different pieces of information are given about each node. The first column of the table contains the number of edges ending at the node while the second column contains the number of edges starting at the node. The third column contains a small description of the node which varies depending on the type of the node. The fourth column shows the background color of the node.

Several different navigation options are available in the table. A single left-click on a row of the table changes the selection state of the corresponding node. A selected node is deselected while an unselected node is selected. A single right-click on the table centers the corresponding node on the screen while a double right-click centers the node and zooms into the graph to maximize the node.

The rows of the Graph Nodes List can have different text colors. If a row is printed in black color, the corresponding node is visible. If a row is printed in red color, the node is visible and selected. If a row is printed in gray color, the node is currently hidden by the proximity browsing mode.

The Selection History

In the lower left part of the graph window you can find the Selection History panel that contains a list of previous node selection states. Every time the selection state of a node changes, a snapshot of the selection state is made and put into the list. You can use this list to return to earlier selection states.

The elements of the Selection History list are either so called selection groups or simple selections. A simple selection is a selection state where just one node is selected. A selection group is a selection state where more than one node of the graph is selected. In either case it is possible to return to the whole selection state (by clicking on the Selection Group or Selection node) or to change the selection state of a single graph node (by clicking on the corresponding tree node).

Like the entries in the Graph Nodes list, the nodes of the Selection History tree change color depending on the selection state and the visibility state of the corresponding nodes. The colors used in both controls are the same with one difference. Since groups of the Selection History tree can be partly selected and partly invisible a light red color is used to denote selection groups with this state.

The Tagging Panel

The Tagging Panel on the right side of the graph window is used to create new node tags and to assign the tags to nodes of the graph.

A right-click on the tagging panel brings up a context-menu that can be used to create a new Root Tag (like the tag Analyzed in the screenshot). Subsequent right-clicks on existing tags brings up a more advanced context menu with the following options.

For each existing tag, all nodes tagged with that tag are also shown in the Tagging tree. A right-click on the Tagged Nodes tree nodes brings up a context menu with the following options:

The meaning of the colors used in the tagging panel equal the ones from the selection history panel.

The Type Editor

The type editor on the right hand side of the graph window is used to work with the type system and displays all available types of the module / project of the view. The editor allows you to create / edit / delete types and assign types to registers in the graph view. Each type belongs to one of 4 categories which are represented by the following icons:

type editor

A right-click on the type editor brings up a context-menu that can be used to create a new type (like any of the types in the screenshot) when no already available type is under the cursor, or it brings up a more advanced context menu when the right-click is performed on an existing type --on the root level of the tree-- with the following options:

The type editor has support for drag and drop operations. This allows the user to drag a type from the type manager directly into the graph view and drop it onto a register. The register which will receive the type substitution, is highlighted while dragging the type. A type substitution is automatically created if a type is dropped onto a register and the graph is updated with the new type substitution.

Type Editor dialogs

The 4 type editor dialogs are used to create and edit types and are displayed in two different forms depending on the context of the dialog. In the case of an edit only the dialog appropriate to the type will be displayed. In the case of adding a new type all 4 type editor dialogs will be displayed in one window tabbed.

atomic type dialog

The dialog to create and edit atomic types has four different elements:

pointer type dialog

The dialog to create and edit pointer types has three different elements:

compound type dialog

array type dialog

create type substitution dialog

The create / edit type substitution dialog is shown on right-clicks for register operands of an instruction since these are the only elements which can have a type associated to them. The fields in the dialog are the following:

  1. Offset (in bits): This field is optional and is only enabled when the selected type in the combo box is a compound type, i.e. a struct. Normally you do not have to fill anything in here as the type system automatically determines the offset into the struct. But there are cases when you want to manually specify the offset into a struct and this is the field to do it.
  2. Operator selection radio button: Determines if the register is a pointer or a value type of the selected type.
  3. Type selector combo box: The type for the type substitution.


The Variables panel is the first panel shown at the bottom of the graph window in the standard perspective. This panel shows the global and local variables referenced in the currently open view. Selecting either a global or local variable in this panel highlights them in the graph. Right click on a variable allows a rename of the variable.

Variables panel

Calling Functions

The Calling Functions panel is the second panel shown at the bottom of the graph window in standard perspective. This panel shows a list of functions that call the functions of the active view. This means if there is a basic block that belongs to function X in the active view, all functions that calls function X are listed in the table.

Right-clicking on the table shows a popup menu that allows you to quickly open calling functions.

Register Tracking

The Register Tracking panel shows the results of a register tracking operation. You can track the usage of registers by right-clicking on an instruction and selecting the register you want to track through the Instructions / Operands menu. The Register Tracking algorithm then calculates and shows the registers that depend on the selected register.

The table that shows the results of the Register Tracking calculation contains the following columns:

Once Register Tracking calculated something, you can select rows of the results table to show the results directly in the main graph. By double-right-clicking on individual rows of the table, you can directly jump to individual instructions of the results table.

To clear all effects from the graph, you can click the left button of the Results toolbar. The right button creates a new graph from the register tracking results that only contains the instructions from the results table.

By default, function calls always clear all tracked effects because the algorithm assumes that function calls overwrite all registers. You can change this default behavior in the Settings tab of Register Tracking. To only clear some registers for each function call uncheck the "clears all registers" check box and supply a list of comma separated register names in the text field below.

Special Instructions

You can highlight instructions that read from the memory, write to the memory, or call subfunctions in the graph. This makes it quick and easy to get an overview of the important instructions of a function.

 To highlight special instructions you use the Special Instructions panel.

In the Options tab you can select what instructions you want to highlight in the graph and what color should be used to display them.

Code Bookmarks

Code bookmarks allow you to quickly navigate to known instructions in the graph. Setting a code bookmark is done through the Instruction / Add Bookmark context menu that appears when right-clicking on an instruction. Returning to a previously defined instruction is done by clicking on a row of the Code Bookmarks table.

The GUI elements of the Debug Perspective


When you are debugging a target process, its current register values are shown on the left-hand side of the graph window. Right above the registers values, the currently active debugger can be selected if more than one debugger is configured for the active view. 


When you right-click on a register value a context menu with the following options appears:

The Debugger Toolbar

The  Debugger Toolbar provides many functions that are available for controlling execution of the the target process.


From left to right, the buttons of the debugger toolbar have the following meaning:


The memory panel shows the target memory and the stack view of the active target process.

On the left-hand side you can select what memory region you want to look at. The selected memory region is then shown in the hex window on the lower left-hand side.

The Stack view is shown on the right-hand side of the panel. In this view you can take a look at the current content of the stack and the current location of the stack pointer (shown in red)

Please note that all BinNavi debuggers are remote debuggers that do not update the displayed memory and the displayed stack in real time. If you suspect that the memory content changed, you have to click on the Refresh button to reload the memory manually.

Both the memory view and the stack view provide context menus that pop on on right-clicks. These menus provide display options as well options for working with the content of the memory. 


The Modules panel provides an overview of the modules that are loaded into the address space of the target process. You can use this panel to find out about the names of loaded libraries as well as their locations and sizes inside the address space.


A context menu is available that allows you to quickly display a module in the memory view is available on right-click. 


The Threads panel provides an overview of the active threads of the target process.


The Breakpoints panel shows a list of all active breakpoints as well as their current state.


A context menu for enabling, disabling, and removing breakpoints is available on right-click. Breakpoints can also be disabled in the graph code node menu.


The Traces tab shows all previously recorded traces. The left table shows the individual trace runs. The center  table shows the events of the currently selected trace run. The right table shows the individual register values and the acquired memory sections.


All three tables have context-menus that provide advanced options for processing the trace data.


The Bookmarks panel shows a list of all currently active memory bookmarks. Memory bookmarks can be used to quickly jump to an address in the memory view.



The history panel shows a log of the recently received debugger events. You can use this panel to get an idea about what exactly is going on in the target process.

Debugger Options

The Debugger Options panel is shown in the lower right corner of the graph window. It provides the following options:

For more information on using BinNavi to debug target processes, please see the section about debugging with BinNavi in this manual.


Except for the hotkeys which are available through the menus and the toolbar buttons, the following hotkeys can be used in the graph window (a more complete list of available hotkeys is available through the Help/Show Available Hotkeys menu of the graph window):