Installing Tools (Windows)

This guide covers all the necessary tools required to author Rhino plugins on Windows.

By the end of this guide, you should have all the tools installed necessary for authoring, building, and debugging C# .NET plugins using RhinoCommon in Rhino for Windows.


This guide presumes you have an:

Install Visual Studio

Visual Studio is Microsoft’s flagship development platform and Integrated Development Environment (IDE). Visual Studio now comes in three major “streams”: Visual Studio Code1, Visual Studio Online2, and Visual Studio “proper”3. In order to author RhinoCommon plugins, you will need Visual Studio “proper” (Visual Studio Code and Visual Studio Online are not supported).

At the time of this writing, Visual Studio 2015 “proper” comes in three editions: Community, Professional, and Enterprise. Any of these editions will work. Additionally, Visual Studio Express 2015 for Windows Desktop will work with more limited debugging support4. Other Express versions, such as Express for Windows, Express for Web or Team Foundation Server 2015 Express, will not work.

Note: RhinoCommon plugins can be authored in Visual Studio 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2015 both in C# and VB, and included in Ultimate, Professional, Premium, C# Express, Vb Express and Windows Desktop Express (where available). For the purposes of this guide, we will presume you are using Visual Studio 2015 Community Edition.


  1. Visual Studio 2015 Community Edition is free from Microsoft for students, open-source contributors, and small teams. Details here. Click the Community button to download the installer.
  2. Run the Visual Studio installer you downloaded from Microsoft, in this case vs_community.exe.
  3. Follow the onscreen prompts to install Visual Studio. It is recommended that you install the Typical installation. Depending on your internet connection, this can take minutes or hours. When successfully installed, click the Launch button.

RhinoCommon templates

The RhinoCommon templates contains wizards to get you started creating plugins quickly.


  1. Launch Visual Studio.
  2. Navigate to Tools > Extensions and Updates…
  3. In the left-hand sidebar, expand the Online section, then select the Visual Studio Gallery entry… Extensions and Updates
  4. In the Search field, search for rhino. This filters the gallery list below.
  5. Find RhinoCommon templates for v5 and select it.
  6. Click the Download button. The extension installation should begin.
  7. You must Accept the license agreement by clicking on the Install button.
  8. If the installation is successful, you will be redirected to the RhinoCommon website and the extension should appear in your list of Installed extensions.

Next Steps

Congratulations! You have the tools to build a RhinoCommon plugin for Rhino for Windows. Now what?

Check out the Your First Plugin (Windows) guide for instructions building - your guessed it - your first plugin.


  1. Visual Studio Code is Microsoft’s cross-platform source code editor for Windows, Linux, and macOS. At the time of this writing, Visual Studio code does not yet support the features required to author RhinoCommon plugins. 

  2. Visual Studio Online is Microsoft’s online counterpart to the desktop edition of Visual Studio (referred to as Visual Studio “proper” above). We have not tested using Visual Studio Online to debug RhinoCommon plugins as having a copy of Rhino running would prove logistically difficult. 

  3. Visual Studio “proper” is the desktop version of Visual Studio…we are only attaching the “proper” epithet to distinguish it from the Visual Studio Code and Visual Studio Online. In subsequent guides this will be referred to as simply “Visual Studio.” 

  4. Visual Studio Express 2015 for Windows Desktop (also named “Express for Desktop” on some pages) offers a development platform that has a less strict licensing agreement policy than the Community edition. Please refer to the EULA for complete details, available during installation. In this edition, debugging of Rhino can be started, but the location of the Rhino executable (rhino.exe), usually available in the Project property page, in the Debug tab, cannot be changed in the UI. After Wizard completion, the location of the Rhino executable can only be edited in the XML of the resulting .csproj file, in the main folder of the solution.