Rhino Installer Engine
Windows only

⚠️ This technology is obsolete as of Rhino 7 and has been replaced by the yak format along with the PackageManager.

Overview (Windows)

The Rhino Installer Engine simplifies distribution, installation and updating of plug-ins for Rhino for Windows.

How It Works

File and folder structure

A Rhino Installer package is a zip file with an .rhi extension. The package can include more than one version of a plug-in however all versions must share the same GUID (i.e. they’re different versions of the same plug-in).

There are no file structure or naming requirements. For example the two packages below are functionally equivalent. Both contain versions of “Marmoset” – a fictitious C++ plug-in compiled for Rhino 5 (32-bit and 64-bit) and Rhino 61.

├── Rhino 6/
│   ├── Marmoset.rhp
│   ├── Marmoset.dll
│   └── Marmoset.rui
└── Rhino 5.0/
    ├── x86/
    │   ├── Marmoset.rhp
    │   └── ...
    └── x64/
        ├── Marmoset.rhp
        └── ...
├── Marmoset_rhino6.rhp
├── Marmoset_rhino5_x86.rhp
├── Marmoset_rhino5_x64.rhp
├── Marmoset_rhino6.dll
├── ...
└── Marmoset.rui

You can include anything you want in the .rhi package – supporting DLLs, help files, documentation, toolbar (.rui) files, etc. The entire contents are unzipped to a directory on the user’s machine.

Installation and compatibility

The Rhino Installer Engine examines each .rhp file and extracts the plugin GUID, Title, Version, the SDK used (e.g. RhinoCommon, C++) and the SDK version. This information is used to determine which version of the plug-in will be installed for which installed version of Rhino for Windows; the newest compatible plugin is registered with the corresponding version of Rhino. RhinoCommon plug-ins compiled as AnyCPU will be installed for both 32- and 64-bit Rhino 51.

Since Rhino 6: Where a RhinoCommon plug-in is found that has been compiled against an earlier major version of Rhino than is installed, an in-depth compatibility check will be performed to determine whether the SDK of the installed Rhino still supports the functionality used by the plug-in. If the check is successful then the outdated plug-in will be installed.


  • The Rhino Installer Engine will copy files from the .rhi archive, and will register the plug-ins it finds. No other execution is done.
  • Currently, it is not possible to digitally sign .rhi files in order to verify the source of .rhi files.
  • The Rhino Installer Engine is available with Rhino 5 and later.


  1. Since version 6 Rhino for Windows has been 64-bit only. ↩︎