# Call for node distance as a variable in TikZ

Is it possible to use the node distance as a variable while expressing coordinates of new nodes with Calc and Positioning libraries? What I want to have is everything within a single piece of code for tikz picture.

This is what I have now.

\documentclass[12pt, a4paper]{article}
\usepackage{tikz}
\usetikzlibrary{automata, positioning, arrows,calc}

\begin{document}
\begin{tikzpicture}[>=stealth',shorten >=0.5pt,auto,node distance=2cm,semithick,on grid]

\tikzstyle{every state}=[minimum size=20pt, fill=none,draw=black]
\node[state,label=center:$a$,inner sep=0pt] (a) {};
\node[state,label=center:$b$] (b) at ($(a) + sqrt(1/3)*4*(0:1cm)$) {};
\node[state,label=center:$c$] (c) at ($(a) + sqrt(1/3)*4*(-60:1cm)$) {};

\path[->] (a) edge node {$1$} (b)
(c) edge node[right] {$1$} (b)
(b) edge [loop right] node[above] {$0,1$} (b);
\path[shorten <=0.5pt,<->]  (a)  edge node[left]{$0$} (c);

\end{tikzpicture}
\end{document}


I would like to be able to change the below expression with something like:

$(a) + sqrt(1/3)*2*(1:\nodedistance)$


Then if I would be copying the code elsewhere, such as a presentations, I would be able to change all these distances at once. Is that possible? If not, introducing a variable in the first line of the TikZ code, and using it afterwards instead the "\nodedistance", would also do.

Sorry if it's a dull question, I'm pretty new to TikZ.

• Welcome to TeX.SE! This is not at all a dumb question. Are you aware of this post, I guess that /tikz/node distance/.append code={...} does what you want. This allows you to store the distance in a key that you can use. – marmot Feb 3 at 0:56

AFAIK you cannot simply read off the value of /tikz/node distance. However, in this great answer by @Jake there is a simple way to amend node distance by a pgf key that you can use.

\documentclass[12pt, a4paper]{article}
\usepackage{tikz}
\usetikzlibrary{automata, positioning, arrows,calc}
\tikzset{node distance/.append code={
\pgfkeyssetvalue{/tikz/node distance value}{#1}
}}
\begin{document}
\begin{tikzpicture}[>=stealth',shorten >=0.5pt,auto,node
distance=2cm,semithick,on grid,
every state/.style={minimum size=20pt, fill=none,draw=black}]
\node[state,label=center:$a$,inner sep=0pt] (a) {};
\node[state,label=center:$b$] (b) at ($(a) + sqrt(4/3)*(0:\pgfkeysvalueof{/tikz/node distance value})$) {};
\node[state,label=center:$c$] (c) at ($(a) + sqrt(4/3)*(-60:\pgfkeysvalueof{/tikz/node distance value})$) {};

\path[->] (a) edge node {$1$} (b)
(c) edge node[right] {$1$} (b)
(b) edge [loop right] node[above] {$0,1$} (b);
\path[shorten <=0.5pt,<->]  (a)  edge node[left]{$0$} (c);
\end{tikzpicture}
\end{document} • Thank you very much for your explanation, I haven't seen Jake's post before, or at least I haven't noticed that very detail I needed. Yes, this gives me exactly what I wanted - "the way it was meant to be done". – gari Feb 3 at 9:37
• @gari please don't forget to accept this answer. – Hafid Boukhoulda Feb 3 at 16:58

You can create a macro \def\nodedistance{1cm} at the begining of the tikzpicture . Later if needed this macro could be redefined .

\documentclass[12pt, a4paper]{article}
\usepackage{tikz}
\usetikzlibrary{automata, positioning, arrows,calc}

\begin{document}
\begin{tikzpicture}[>=stealth',shorten >=0.5pt,auto,semithick,on grid]

\def\nodedistance{1cm} % <------------

\tikzstyle{every state}=[minimum size=20pt, fill=none,draw=black]
\node[state,label=center:$a$,inner sep=0pt] (a) {};
\node[state,label=center:$b$] (b) at ($(a) + sqrt(1/3)*4*(0:\nodedistance)$) {};
\node[state,label=center:$c$] (c) at ($(a) + sqrt(1/3)*4*(-60:\nodedistance)$) {};

\path[->] (a) edge node {$1$} (b)
(c) edge node[right] {$1$} (b)
(b) edge [loop right] node[above] {$0,1$} (b);
\path[shorten <=0.5pt,<->]  (a)  edge node[left]{$0$} (c);

\end{tikzpicture}

\begin{tikzpicture}[>=stealth',shorten >=0.5pt,auto,semithick,on grid]

\def\nodedistance{2cm} % <----------------

\tikzstyle{every state}=[minimum size=20pt, fill=none,draw=black]
\node[state,label=center:$a$,inner sep=0pt] (a) {};
\node[state,label=center:$b$] (b) at ($(a) + sqrt(1/3)*4*(0:\nodedistance)$) {};
\node[state,label=center:$c$] (c) at ($(a) + sqrt(1/3)*4*(-60:\nodedistance)$) {};

\path[->] (a) edge node {$1$} (b)
(c) edge node[right] {$1$} (b)
(b) edge [loop right] node[above] {$0,1$} (b);
\path[shorten <=0.5pt,<->]  (a)  edge node[left]{$0$} (c);

\end{tikzpicture}
\end{document} • Thanks, this is quite elegant way to do it. While marmot's reply gives me the exact thing I needed, your reply offers more - in case I might want to have more than one default distances. Then one could do it like this - manually. – gari Feb 3 at 9:41
• You can also use a length register: \newlength{\nodedistance} and \nodedistance=1cm. – John Kormylo Feb 3 at 19:07
• Thanks, that's also a nice solution. I'll keep that in mind too. – gari Feb 3 at 20:24