What's in a Rhino template file?

Continuing the discussion from Gumball: Does not “Align to Object” for an Extrusion:

Templates can contain any and all the information in (Windows) Document Properties or (Mac) Settings. There’s a lot of stuff you can set there… PLUS anything that a normal file can contain: layers (and their settings), geometry, notes, layouts, etc… That makes Rhino templates an incredibly powerful tool.

Thanks, Mitch. While I’ve not yet mastered the intricacies of all 1,000+ Rhino commands over the past eight years—both using and teaching with it—I’ve managed to use templates and document properties/settings oh… I dunno, maybe a couple of times. Even a blind squirrel occasionally finds a nut! :wink:

And, yes—agreed. Templates are incredibly powerful—especially if you know what the settings are in the templates. Thus, to better word my question spawned by idle curiosity: What are the “specific differences” between the Large and Small template file types under File > New Using Template? Are these spelled out anywhere, or must the user ferret through all the possible options and compare them?


the differences are basically just unit & grid size with the preinstalled templates…

if you’re modeling, say, a building which is 60’x100’ then you’ll want to use Large Objects - Feet (or whatever unit)… the grid in that template is 100’ wide so your model is going to be of the right size to correspond with the grid…

if you drew that building in the default template (which is a small object- mm template), the grid would basically disappear and much of your geometry would be far away from the origin…

eventually, we’ll be able to save our own template(s) and it will be the one which opens upon launching rhino or creating a new file… until then, the workaround i use is shown here:


[edit]-- oh wait, that’s your thread… so i guess you already saw that :wink:

fwiw, i can’t use any of the default templates… they’re all decimal units and i’m generally a feet&inches&fractions type… aside from units, my templates also have dimensions/annotations, render settings, grid, layer names/colors, and meshing set to my liking… kind of a pita to have to keep changing all that type of stuff on a per model basis so getting a good template to suit your typical drawings is a big timesaver.

Thanks, Jeff. I’m guessing you found the Large/Small differences just by noodling around.


not sure… it’s been a while… the first thing i figured out how to do in rhino was change the file settings since its ‘feet’ grids were layed out in 10ths of a foot(?)

but looking at the difference now between large&small object - feet… the grids are the same size only divided up differently… the large object is set at .01 absolute tolerance and the small object is at .001… that’s pretty much the difference between those two files… but like i said, i never use any of those… i’ll often use the default template which opens upon launch but it’s just for roughing out and i’ll look at it as a generic unit instead of actual size of the object… once i get into something beyond messing around, i’ll open one of my templates.

if i were able to suggest a different type of scheme for the templates, they’d include something like Architectural - Feet&Inches then Engineering - Feet (industrial or maybe mechanical/landscape/etc)… like not so much being described by object size but more of the discipline the user might be coming from. (even then, i might be a bit of an oddball in how it have my units… i generally model in inches and have the display in feet&inches… i have good reasons for doing it like that but i’m not sure if anybody else is into it… also, i use a 100’ wide grid divided every foot then the larger grid division every 5’)

[edit] also, look at the notes in the right sidebar when opening the different templates… there’s a little description for each one.

These didn’t exist until V3… Up until then there were just the different unit systems - mm, inches, meters, feet, etc… All absolute tolerances were at 0.01 units. There was a fair amount of discussion on tolerances - especially people modeling small objects at 0.01 tolerance - and the fact that that was considered too loose for those types of objects. So for V3, more templates were introduced, primarily for smaller objects, with .001 absolute tolerance. I don’t remember if it was then or later that the grid settings were also changed.

In Windows, templates are just another file that you can store anywhere (although the default template folder is still a good location, albeit a bit buried) and call up when Rhino starts. On Mac we haven’t got there yet… templates are in a place that is not accessible to the user.

To me the whole Mac system of how it handles files with “Open” is just a nightmare, but I guess I’m just used to the Windows way. Hopefully one day the file handling in Mac Rhino including templates will be as easy and flexible as it is currently on Windows.


fwiw, you can open a file using “new using template” instead of new or open (for “open”, i use the finder then double click the .3dm or drag/drop to rhino’s dock icon instead of navigating to the file from within rhino’s open dialog)…

but if you open one via “new using template”, rhino won’t mess with whatever file you’re opening and instead, it will treat it as a new document… in other words, you can create/save a template file and place it on your desktop… when you open it, use “new using template”… the one on your desktop will remain unaltered and you’ll be prompted to ‘save as’ upon closing the document…

(that’s basically what i do except i put my file in a place which automatically opens when using “new using template”… likewise, you could place template files in finder’s sidebar so they’re immediately available upon using the dialog)

-anyway… i’m sure this will get better eventually without the need for workarounds… this area of mac for rhino has gone unchanged since the beginning of the beta program… once it gets a bit of love, i imagine it’s going to be a lot easier than the current setup.

here’s an easyish way to use a custom template in the current version of rhino…

customize your file to your liking then save it… navigate to the .3dm where you saved it then select it (single click)… press control-command-T which will place an alias (shortcut in windows terminology) of the .3dm in the finder’s sidebar…
now, in rhino, when you use “new using template” you can just click on the file in the sidebar to have your custom settings…

** the control-command-T shortcut is for mavericks… 10.7 & 10.8 it’s command-T (that’s now the finder tabs shortcut in mavericks)

** you can move the .3dm around to a new location and finder will keep track of it…

** if you have more than one template file, put them in a folder and place that in the sidebar… with folders, you don’t have to use the keystroke… you can just drag them into the sidebar.

** drag it out of the sidebar to remove (you won’t be deleting the file… just the alias