Starting Out

The needs of your design, your background in programming and your knowledge of descriptive geometry will all probably influence where you start in GDL.

Do not start practicing GDL with complicated objectives in mind. Rather, try to learn GDL through experimenting step by step with all of its features to best utilize them to your advantage. Follow the expertise level recommendations below.

If you are familiar with a programming language like BASIC, you can get acquainted with GDL by observing existing scripts. You can also learn a lot by opening the library parts shipped with your software and taking a look at the 2D and 3D GDL scripts. Additionally, you can save floor plan elements in GDL format and see the resulting script.
If you are not familiar with BASIC, but have played with construction blocks, you can still find your way in GDL through practice. We advise trying the simplest commands right away and then checking their effect in the 3D window of the library part.

Several books and materials have been published on GDL and object library development.

  • “Object Making with ArchiCAD” is the perfect guide for beginners.
  • “Creating GDL Objects” e-Guide gives a basic overview of the object creation methods.
  • David Nicholson Cole’s “GDL Cookbook” is the most popular course book for entry level and advanced GDL programmers for a long time.
  • A more recent learning material is “GDL Handbook” by Andrew Watson for novice and experienced users as well.
  • “GDL Advanced Technical Standards” contains GRAPHISOFT’s official standards for professional library developers;
    this document can be downloaded after registration from GRAPHISOFT’s website:

For guidelines of basic development, see the section called “Basic Technical Standards” in this manual.

For a structured tutorial, start with the Learning section.