algorithmic modeling for Rhino



This is the first release of an add-on which enables the import of GIS data from various sources into the Rhino/Grasshopper environment, located, scaled and cropped based on an Earth Anchor Point and a clipping polygon.  Sources of GIS data include Shapefiles, USGS IMG/HGT Elevation files and ArcGIS REST Services over the web.

The add-on includes eight components in two categories:


  • ESRI REST Service Geocode. Get a Decimal Degree coordinate from an address or Point-of-Interest with the Geocode service provided by ESRI.  
  • Get REST Service Layers. Discover data layers  from various data sources on the web. If the layers are a vector type, they return data similar to a shapefile, with geometry and associated data fields.  To be used with the Get REST Vector or Get REST Raster component depending on the data type.
  • Get REST Raster. Grabs JPGs of imagery from the specified web source.  Once downloaded to a folder the image can be located and scaled to match the boundary in real world units (meters) with the use of the image frame.
  • Get REST Vector.  Queries the web source for geometry and associated data fields.  For instance demographic information from the US Census can be referenced.

GIS Tools

  • Decimal Degrees to XY.  Convert Decimal Degrees to XY coorindates based on the EarthAnchorPoint.
  • Import SHP.  Imports Shapefiles using OGR Libraries. Output is in the form of points (for now) which can then be connected to form polylines.  For Shapefiles with Multipolygons (ie building footprints with courtyards), the component reads mulitple branches of points per Feature.  To get the footprint, you will need to draw a polyline for each branch, shift the branches and use the Boundary Surface component.
  • Import Topo.  Imports IMG and (STRM) HGT files using GDAL Libraries.  Output is in the form of a mesh.
  • Set EarthAnchorPoint.  Runs a macro to set the Earth Anchor Point in Rhino.  This is important to minimize distortion translating from the curved surface of the Earth to Euclidean coordinates.

Special thanks go to the vibrant GH community, the masterful guidance of Andrew Heumann and endless patience of George Waters.

Members: 107
Latest Activity: Oct 23, 2019

Discussion Forum

Publishing the source code?

Hi Brian,I am amazed by how streamlined is the use the Heron plugin for working with ArcGIS/USCensus data.I am interested in achieving similar ease of access to the Dutch PDOK database or any other…Continue

Started by Ondrej Vesely Oct 23, 2019.

Heron Import SHP Error 5 Replies

Thanks so much for these tools! I'm getting an error message using the Import SHP component that has me stumped. Any ideas what this means?1. Solution exception:The type initializer for…Continue

Started by seth denizen. Last reply by alberludo Sep 6, 2019.

output Elevation and sections with dimensions

Hi, please i want to output elevation and sections with dimensions by grasshopper in this 3D wall, can u help me.thanks…Continue

Started by tariq hilmy Dec 3, 2018.


When I plug the US Census Vectors into Get REST Service Layers, I get the error "The Request was Aborted: Could Not Create SSL/TLS Secure Channel."  Any idea on how to fix this?  Thanks!…Continue

Started by Jun. Last reply by Brian Washburn Nov 22, 2018.

Comment Wall


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Comment by Brian Washburn on September 1, 2015 at 3:15pm

For a place to start, check out the comments here:

Many shapefiles I find myself using come from local municipalities like counties or cities that maintain their own GIS websites (i.e., so I would also try searching Google for the area of interest and "GIS" or "shapefile".

Comment by Joel Mendez on September 1, 2015 at 6:35am

Where i can get a catalog of basemaps and shapefiles?

Comment by Nenov Ivo on February 24, 2015 at 10:10am

Thanks for responding so quickly ! 

Comment by Brian Washburn on February 24, 2015 at 7:49am

Some of the data from those website comes in GeoTiff format, which is also an acceptable format for the Import Topo component.

Comment by Brian Washburn on February 24, 2015 at 7:40am

There are from USGS:

or from NASA:

Note, some of the data can be spotty (see

Comment by Nenov Ivo on February 24, 2015 at 2:14am

Do you know if there is a USGS IMG/HGT Elevation files in Europe or it's just for the US ?


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