A complete UI overhaul of Rhino would be a much welcomed move

I would really like to see an updated UI for Rhino.

I understand that the most popular UI design language is flat, but I truly think that Rhino would benefit from flat UI design, and also, flat UI is the trend in design software, but that’s cos it works. These are scientific instruments that require a minimal look.
Even maybe if it’s easier to go closer to the new Windows design language, and adapt that look, it would be great. Rhino for Mac follows the MacOS design language further, so it would be a welcome change in the Windows version.
Maybe if the new UI design can unify a new unique Rhino look between the two OSs, should be the ultimate goal.

Don’t get me wrong. There are many great ideas in the current Rhino UI. Ex. Popout Toolbars, Toolbar stacking, Sub-Toolbars, Icon based UI, customization of certain UI params.
But, Rhino needs to get a modern look. We spend most of our day, looking at this beautiful piece of code, and create magnificent work, but its look is lacking behind.

If something like this is already cooking, I love to see more on it, and if there is a way I could help, I’d love to.
Is there a way for the community to build custom UI for Rhino [even Grasshopper], and what would you need to pull it off?


Rhino looks good because it looks simple and it does not waste much screen space.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” - Leonardo da Vinci

“Simplicity is the key to brilliance.” Bruce Lee

“Simplicity is the glory of expression.” -Walt Whitman

“In character, in manners, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.” - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


I didn’t say that the UI needs to get complected. As I said - Rhino does a lot of things right.
Getting a modern look doesn’t mean that it can’t be simple.

Sorry, but Rhino looks like an application from the Windows 98 era.

  • The panels are very, very basic.
  • The iconography seems outdated.
  • The menus don’t have the corresponding icons - just plain text.

I’m not putting down Rhino at all. But there are some flaws, like with any other software - and Rhino’s flaw is it’s User Interface. Why wouldn’t you like to admit that - it’s beyond me.

I used to be a 3ds Max user for almost a decade, and yea - I get it - it’s Autodesk and its infinite bank account, but 3ds Max’s interface has come a long way.
That won’t keep me away from Rhino.
When I saw what Rhino could do, I switched and never looked back. I love this piece of software. It’s the most powerful tool for me, as an architect and nothing comes even close to it.
But we need to look at the aesthetics compared to other similar modern-day software.

I hope that the community can help with this. I’m certainly willing to try.


Why are they basic? How can they be improved?

Why are they outdated? How can they be improved?

Icons would not speed up our work. They would only waste screen space. The icons and menus are used by novices only because they are slow. Intermediate users (like me) have memorized the commands. They type first letters of each command and rely on autocomplete. Advanced users made two-letter abbreviations of common commands.

Moment of Inspiration program (a.k.a. MoI) is often praised for good user interface.


I don’t think anyone disagrees that Rhino’s UI isn’t a bit archaic, but you’re basically talking about redoing the toolbars, which is not Interface Design, that’s graphic design, which does get refreshed once in a while in so far as is practical.

Trying to actually seriously update Rhino’s actual Interface requires rethinking what Rhino IS, which would be a problem for a lot of users. Rhino has so many functions that basically any way you try to organize it will turn to spaghetti, the only ways to get that number down to a manageable level are to come up with advanced new tools that eliminate the need for dozens of others each(and I don’t mean just by hiding tools as options inside other tools,) and/or just cull features.

Another part of the “Interface” that needs work is how to help the users learn about not just what the tools are but what the heck they’re actually supposed to do with them, what the heck Rhino is even all about. How many times do we still get questions from people wondering why their surfaces look jagged, and it’s just the render mesh, but they’ve gone trying to rebuild the model using a dozen different tools before asking? I shudder to think how many people run into this “issue,” rebuild the model some absurd stupid way that nonetheless makes it look better, and then carry on victoriously making terrible models! How are new icons going to help people learn what NURBS are?


Please noooooo. Don´t want so see another bling bling glossy styled interface. Make the command line your best friend and set up your shortcuts.


I didn’t want this topic to seem that I’m suggesting that we need to ruin Rhino.
My goal was to get a response from someone from McNeel. I was interested if there are any plans for updating the GUI [ < more appropriate, but there is space to better the mechanics of the UI as a whole ]

Also, I can see that all of us have different work-flow habits… and that is the beauty of Rhino. It’s flexible. That doesn’t need to change.
I work in Rhino with a pen and tablet, with just a Num-Pad keyboard. For me, this is the best way to create.
I have common shortcuts on the tablet, all of my commands in different toolbars, neatly organized in my custom setup, so I use the command line less than the average user probably to type commands.
I love that Rhino has a toolbar button for almost any command and it lets you customize it as you wish.
Also, the popout toolbars - Awesome!
And, I wouldn’t touch anything in the viewports, the system is the best. [ expect for better Object Display Order - this is killing me! ]

Honestly, I don’t understand why you would be against a visual update of the program we all love.
You spent money for it and you spend your days looking at it.
Wouldn’t you like to look at something more beautiful than the most basic table grids?

I will leave you with a few examples of GUIs from similar programs since I can’t go into bantering explanations where Rhino lacks in the graphics field.
The panels; the input fields; the sharper iconography; all-in-all - the unified look all over.
You can’t tell me that these don’t look better. They just do.

Rhino is the best, but it can be better.

And my Rhino look >

@Andrew_Nowicki @JimCarruthers @pu235


Maybe every user has it´s special needs in the UI- For me it´s all about unnecessary informations .A simple command used by it´s own button needs the information about :

  1. the command (of course)
  2. the toolbar
  3. location of the toolbar
  4. button in the toolbar and it´s position and image
  5. often with submenu (so you are back on 3.)

and a lot of clicks…

A shortcut can do all that in 0.1 sec. and most commands in < 1 sec.

All I see is verbal and visual clutter.

“There’s a great power in words, if you don’t hitch too many of them together.” - Josh Billings


There is always the - do it yourself - solution:

Because you can run Rhino without any icons, you can code a custom toolbar for yourself. Take a famous GUI-Framework such as QT or WPF and simply call Rhinocommands when clicking on your own icons. Its not that difficult to do, just lots of work.


I understand the power of the command line. That should never go away [and it can’t actually].
But in order to accommodate my workflow style with pen and tablet, I need to have a visual representation of each command. If they are organised well, you are not wasting time searching for them.
I’ve been the keyboard shortcut guy; I’ve later adapted to a 3d mouse workflow; but for me the most freeing way to create is to use a pen, and Rhino does that pretty nicely.

Also, I think that the future of graphic software input will be the pen [on a touch screen] - before we dive into VR and AR.
We need to move on from the keyboard and mouse as fast as possible.
I know that I will get scrutinised for saying that, but it’s true. You need to try it and get into it, and you will see the difference.

I don’t understand. IMO a software needs to evolve constantly, as well as the user should.
Rhino evolves ‘under the hood’, but the visual style stays the same.
Rhino deserves a better visual representation all-around.

It doesn’t need to be a drastic change in the mechanics, just a visual overhaul and some rework of the panels system.

I will look at @TomTom 's suggestion. If it’s in my skill-spectrum, I might try and do something.

You can ask here for help. I think the coding involved is maybe not as straightforward, but the complexity is minimal. Its just a problem of doing all the custom icons. But some people have fun in doing this kind of job.

true, but I think doing a reliable CAD software is extremely complex from my limited own experience. I think most people totally underestimate the required energy of that. Since McNeel is a rather small company, I guess the priority lays on functionality. Without naming another software company… There is CAD software prioritizing slightly different, which is one of their harshest criticism.

1 Like

Two different User Interface items:

Appearance of the Rhino screen: This is important to some users and irrelevant to others.

Functionality of the Rhino interface: User preferences depend on workflow and preferred methods of working.

I will look into it for sure.
As a matter of fact, there are some ports of Rhino [such as RhinoGold] that are customizing the interface to their needs, so it’s doable.

I understand that building a software like Rhino is extremely complex and that McNeel doesn’t have the resources or ‘man-power’ as some of the other companies in the business.
Rhino for me is the perfect tool. The only other thing I’d like to see completed is it’s SubD modeling capabilities, as well as minimizing the bugs that like to show up constantly.
At some point, the GUI needs to be reworked and I truly hope that day will come.

Reworking the interface shouldn’t be seen as a move that would have a negative impact on the end-user, and dismissed straight up. A better design should be embraced. It will be a ‘‘breath of fresh air’’ for its existing users, and it might pull in some new ones.
This way they could solve some problems that Rhino has, like:

  • implementing a better “help system”, that will help new [and existing] users, understand what the tools do, and how to go about completing certain tasks - what @JimCarruthers said before and I completely agree;
  • a better/unified paneling system, so that we don’t see different panels from every plugin we install, with different input methods;
  • maybe a better communication between Grasshopper and Rhino [ex. dedicated viewport window or transparent background – we were discussing this before in another thread];
    … things like these that will bring a better and more unified experience across the table.

@Andrew_Nowicki was very fond of quotes, so here’s one from one from the greatest minds that ever lived.

You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.
- Buckminster Fuller

Well, that’s kinda up to the plug-in developers… Unless McNeel goes Apple on us and forces people to develop only “approved” apps that fit their UI framework… which would be time-consuming and counter-productive to say the least.

If there has been no progress in particular technology for a decade, it means that this technology has matured. If it has matured, it should be standardized. Examples:

  1. Desktop PC computers are inexpensive because they have been standardized.
  2. Laptop computers are expensive because they have not been standardized.
  3. Automobile windshield wipers are expensive because they have not been standardized.
  4. Some automobile collisions cause lots of damage because their bumpers are mounted at different heights above the ground.

Solid works needs overhaul…
Rhino for mac’s hiding sidebars was pretty cool.

1 Like

Completely useless comment here, but fun to see two Blender GUI screenshots as the first two to compare to XD

Standardising check-boxes, drop-down menus, lists, categorisations, buttons [look and size] and all that basic stuff - it’s not “pulling-off an Apple”. It’s what makes a good UI. It will actually ease the work for developers.
It’s a blueprint on integrating your plugin with the native software.

McNeel are already doing this with the new Rendering and Materials panels, but looking at the others/older ones, it seems that the interface is ‘all over the place’.

The MacOS version of Rhino looks much better that the Windows one. It looks much more “unified”, and that’s because Apple are asking developers to keep to some basic standards.
Windows looks quite nice now, and Microsoft have put out a ton of UI elements libraries, so maybe adapt it’s design language and go in that direction.

Yes, I really like what the Blender community has done with it’s UI.
One is from the older versions and the other is from their newest release.

Also, I’d really like to see someone from McNeel give us a response on this.

And to all - I’m really sorry about these long rants in my posts, but it seems to me like I’m in a wormhole, trying to convince people that the Earth is round.

1 Like