Building custom applications with Rhino/Grasshopper


I am new to Rhino/Grasshopper. I noticed the programmatic capabilities to build plugins for both tools. I am wondering, is it possible to write an own application that wraps Rhino/Grasshopper – i.e. makes use of them as a library and – interactive – visualization engine.

For example, suppose i want to create an interactive block-world application, where a user can manipulate 3D blocks interactively. Can this be done as a stand-alone application with Python or VB.NET/C#, etc.

thank you,


Consider buying a new IPhone, changing its appearance and selling it for 10 $ each under your name as a ground-breaking new GPS device with the ability to run whatsapp …

Sounds like an sustained business plan. if you need a good lawyer, I can recommend you one. He will be happy serving you…

@TomTom I think your sarcastic reply was completely uncalled for. The question has been asked many times before about Rhino and is a perfectly legitimate question. The answer is yes, sort of. The limitations are that each user will need to actually load and run a licensed copy of Rhino and it may not be possible to hide the display of the loading process or the basic Rhino interface. I don’t know because I’ve never tried, but there are several users that have done more or less what Daniel is asking about. Hopefully they will chime in with what is possible. @dale is probably the most knowledgeable McNeel contact on this issue.


why? its a question very close to piracy.

I know, but that doesn’t mean its legitim, feasible and smart. Remember he ask for a stand-alone application…

…but how the heck is an application stand-alone if you need Rhino for it? Isn’t he rather asking for implementing core libraries into his program? How can McNeel ensure that such an application is accessed by rhino owners only? And who uses an app if he needs to buy an extra cad program for it?That doesn’t make any sense. Its the other way how it works, you buy a cad software and extend it with free and commercial plugins…

And besides that, If you need Rhino, why wouldn’t you write a plugin or just an additional renderwindow instead?? And besides that, why not writing an 100% own application then. Can’t believe this is much more difficult. You can even buy NURBS libraries, if you can’t develop them on your own… In the end the effort is the same.

Hi TomTom,

Thank you for your concern.

Indeed, i was wondering if Rhino/Grasshopper is offered as a standalone – headless – SDK as well.

This would allow developers create their own solutions as well as combine Rhino/Grasshoper with other technologies such as Unity and/or VR/AR SDKs to create seamless solutions.


Even if Daniel was looking for a library of Rhino core functions, it’s still a legitimate question. Not everyone is as familiar with McNeel policies as you seem to be and the way to find out is to ask. Assuming nefarious intentions is an unfair overreach. I’m also sure McNeel doesn’t need any informal help in protecting their intellectual property rights or policies.

I hereby declare under oath (and with the bible in hand, of course) that I had no illegitimate intentions in mind, but was asking a technical question, wondering whether using Rhino/Grasshopper as a packaged SDK for 3rd party system developers is an available option


Actually, being sarcastic doesn’t mean to insult someone. I was just exaggerating it to point out the problems in there. I believe I insulted @AlW more than @Grossd18. So its rather a problem regarding understanding irony and black humor…However, I apologise.

A game-engine is a very special case since it is develop to simplify development, and its concept is very different to a commercial CAD Software.
Besides the legal issue, I still believe its not worth to bend a software design in a way to misuse it as an engine. That of course doesn’t mean its impossible, but its very difficult!
As being a developer by myself, I actually try to safe my libraries in a way, that other can’t simply reference it, in their own programs. If you don’t do it, you don’t need care about protecting from reverse engineering at all.

Hi @grossd18,

We do not offer a toolkit to build standalone applications built with Rhino/Grasshopper. You can certainly build applications on top of Rhino using our plug-in architecture.

Does this help?

– Dale

Hi Dale,

Thank you.

If you could elaborate a bit on how you see the differences between Rhino/Grasshopper and Unity, when it comes to creating an interactive simulation of, say a 3D blockworld, that would be really helpful.

I am also interested in creating higher-level tools for creating (interesting) block-worlds … which would be part of the development effort.

thank you,


Hi @dale,

My apologies, but I only know Unity by name. That is, I am unfamiliar with it’s capabilities. I’m also not sure I understand what “3D blockworld” is. Perhaps I need more information?

On another note, what problem are you trying to solve?


– Dale