A modern cross-platform low-level graphics library
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Diligent Engine

A Modern Cross-Platform Low-Level 3D Graphics Library Tweet

Diligent Engine is a lightweight cross-platform graphics API abstraction library. It is designed to take full advantage of Direct3D12, Vulkan and Metal, while supporting older platforms via Direct3D11, OpenGL and OpenGLES. Diligent Engine exposes common front-end API and uses HLSL as universal shading language on all platforms and rendering back-ends. Platform-specific shader representations (GLSL, DX bytecode or SPIRV) can be used with corresponding back-ends. The engine is intended to be used as graphics subsystem in a game engine or any other 3D application. It is distributed under Apache 2.0 license and is free to use.

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  • Cross-platform
    • Exact same client code for all supported platforms and rendering backends
      • No #if defined(_WIN32) ... #elif defined(LINUX) ... #elif defined(ANDROID) ...
      • No #if defined(D3D11) ... #elif defined(D3D12) ... #elif defined(OPENGL) ...
    • Exact same HLSL shaders (VS, PS, GS, HS, DS, CS) run on all platforms and all back-ends
  • High performance
  • Modular design
    • Components are clearly separated logically and physically and can be used as needed
    • Only take what you need for your project
  • Clear object-based interface
    • No hidden global states
  • Key graphics features:
  • Modern c++ features to make code fast and reliable

Supported Plaforms and Low-Level Graphics APIs

Platform APIs Build Status
Win32 (Windows desktop) Direct3D11, Direct3D12, OpenGL4.2+, Vulkan Build Status
Universal Windows Direct3D11, Direct3D12 Build Status
Linux OpenGL4.2+, Vulkan Build Status
Android OpenGLES3.0+
MacOS OpenGL4.1, Vulkan (via MoltenVK) Build Status
iOS OpenGLES3.0 Build Status

Last Stable Release - v2.4.a

Table of Contents

Cloning the Repository

This is the master repository that contains three submodules. To get the repository and all submodules, use the following command:

git clone --recursive https://github.com/DiligentGraphics/DiligentEngine.git

Alternatively, you can get master repository fisrt, and then individually clone all submodules into the engine's root folder.

To checkout the last stable release, run the following commands:

git checkout tags/v2.4.a
git submodule update --init --recursive

Repository Structure

Master repository includes the following submodules:

  • Core submodule implements Direct3D11, Direct3D12, OpenGL/GLES, and Vulkan back-ends. The module is self-contained and can be built by its own.
  • Tools submodule contains texture loading library and Render Script, a Lua-based run-time graphics resource managing system. Tools module depends on Core module.
  • Samples submodule contains several simple graphics applications intended to demonstrate the usage of the Diligent Engine API. The module depends on Core and Tools modules.

Build and Run Instructions

Diligent Engine uses CMake as a cross-platform build tool. To start using cmake, download the latest release (3.13 or later is required). Another build prerequisite is Python interpreter.


To generate build files for Windows desktop platform, use either CMake GUI or command line tool. For example, to generate Visual Studio 2017 64-bit solution and project files in cmk_build/Win64 folder, navigate to the engine's root folder and run the following command:

cmake -H. -B./cmk_build/Win64 -G "Visual Studio 15 2017 Win64"

You can generate Win32 solution that targets Win8.1 SDK using the following command:

cmake -D CMAKE_SYSTEM_VERSION=8.1 -H. -B./cmk_build/Win64 -G "Visual Studio 15 2017 Win64"

If you use MinGW, you can generate the make files using the command below:

cmake -H. -B./cmk_build/MinGW -G "MinGW Makefiles"

WARNING! In current implementation, full path to cmake build folder must not contain white spaces.

To enable Vulkan validation layers, you will need to download Vulkan SDK and add environemt variable VK_LAYER_PATH that contains path to the Bin directory in VulkanSDK installation folder.

Make sure that Visual C++ ATL Support is installed via Visual Studio Installer.

Open DiligentEngine.sln file in cmk_build/Win64 folder, select configuration and build the engine. Set the desired project as startup project (by default, Asteroids demo will be selected) and run it.

By default, sample and tutorial applications will show rendering backend selection dialog box. Use the following command line options to force D3D11, D3D12, OpenGL, or Vulkan mode: mode=D3D11, mode=D3D12, mode=GL, or mode=Vk (do not use spaces!). If you want to run an application outside of Visual Studio environment, the application's assets folder must be set as working directory. (For Visual Studio, this is automatically configured by CMake). Alternatively, you can navigate to the build target or install folder and run the executable from there.

Universal Windows Platform

To generate build files for Universal Windows platform, you need to define the following two cmake variables:

  • CMAKE_SYSTEM_NAME=WindowsStore
  • CMAKE_SYSTEM_VERSION=< Windows SDK Version >

For example, to generate Visual Studio 2017 64-bit solution and project files in cmk_build/UWP64 folder, run the following command from the engine's root folder:

cmake -D CMAKE_SYSTEM_NAME=WindowsStore -D CMAKE_SYSTEM_VERSION=10.0 -H. -B./cmk_build/UWP64 -G "Visual Studio 15 2017 Win64"

You can target specific SDK version by refining CMAKE_SYSTEM_VERSION, for instance:

cmake -D CMAKE_SYSTEM_NAME=WindowsStore -D CMAKE_SYSTEM_VERSION=10.0.16299.0 -H. -B./cmk_build/UWP64 -G "Visual Studio 15 2017 Win64"

Set the desired project as startup project (by default, Atmosphere sample will be selected) and run it.

By default, appplications will run in D3D12 mode. You can select D3D11 or D3D12 using the following command line options: mode=D3D11, mode=D3D12 (do not use spaces!).

Note: it is possible to generate solution that targets Windows 8.1 by defining CMAKE_SYSTEM_VERSION=8.1 cmake variable, but it will fail to build as it will use Visual Studio 2013 (v120) toolset that lacks proper c++11 support.


Your Linux environment needs to be set up for c++ development. If it already is, make sure your c++ tools are up to date as Diligent Engine uses modern c++ features (gcc/g++ 7 or later is recommended). You may need to install the following packages:

  1. gcc, make and other essential c/c++ tools:
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt-get install build-essential
  1. cmake
sudo apt-get install cmake
  1. Other required packages:
sudo apt-get install libx11-dev
sudo apt-get install mesa-common-dev
sudo apt-get install mesa-utils
sudo apt-get install libgl-dev

To configure Vulkan you will also need to:

  • Install latest Vulkan drivers and libraries for your GPU
  • Install Vulkan SDK
    • To make sure that you system is properly configured you can try to build and run samples from the SDK

To generate make files for debug configuration, run the following CMake command from the engine's root folder:

cmake -H. -B./cmk_build/Linux64 -G "Unix Makefiles" -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE="Debug"

To build the engine, run the following command:

cmake --build ./cmk_build/Linux64

The engine's root folder contains Visual Studio Code settings files that configure the IDE to build the engine. You can run applications directly from the IDE. To run an application from the command line, the app's assets folder must be current directory.


Please make sure that your machine is set up for Android development. Download Android Studio, Android NDK and other required tools. To verify that your environment is properly set up, try building teapots sample.

Open DiligentSamples/Android or UnityPlugin/Android folders with Android Studio to build and run the engine samples and Unity emulator on Android.


After you clone the repo, run the following command from the engine's root folder to generate Xcode project (you need to have CMake installed on the system):

cmake -H. -B./cmk_build/MacOS -G "Xcode"

Open Xcode project file in cmk_build/MacOS folder to build the engine and run the applications.


Run the command below from the engine's root folder to generate Xcode project configured for iOS build (you need to have CMake installed on your Mac):

cmake -DCMAKE_TOOLCHAIN_FILE=DiligentCore/ios.toolchain.cmake -DIOS_PLATFORM=OS64 -H. -Bcmk_build/IOS -GXcode

Open Xcode project file in cmk_build/IOS folder and build the engine. To run the applications on an iOS device, you will need to set an appropriate development team in the project settings.

Integrating Diligent Engine with Existing Build System

Your Project Uses Cmake

If your project uses CMake, adding Diligent Engine requires just few lines of code. Suppose that the directory structure looks like this:


Then the following steps need to be done:

  • Call add_subdirectory(DiligentCore)
  • Add DiligentCore to the list of include directories
  • Add dependencies on the targets implementing required rendering backends

Below is an example of a CMake file:

cmake_minimum_required (VERSION 3.6)

project(HelloDiligent CXX)


add_executable(HelloDiligent WIN32 HelloDiligent.cpp)
target_compile_options(HelloDiligent PRIVATE -DUNICODE -DENGINE_DLL)
target_include_directories(HelloDiligent PRIVATE "DiligentCore")


copy_required_dlls() is a convenience function that copies shared libraries next to the executable so that the system can find and load them. Alternatively, you can link against static (as well as shared) versions of libraries using target_link_libraries() command. In this case there is no need to explicitly add DiligentCore to the list of include directories as the targets export all required include paths. Please also take a look at getting started tutorials for Windows and Linux.

Your Project Does Not Use Cmake

If your project doesn't use CMake, it is recommended to build libraries with CMake and add them to your build system. For Windows platforms, you can download the latest build artifacts from appveyor. To install libraries and header files, run the following CMake command from the build folder:

cmake --build . --target install

Global cmake installation directory is controlled by CMAKE_INTALL_PREFIX variable. Within that directory, DILIGENT_CORE_INSTALL_DIR defines the subdirectory where libraries and headers will be installed. Note that by default CMake will be attempting to install to a system directory (such as Program Files on Windows), which is likely not what you want. Use -D CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=install to use local install folder instead.

DiligentCore installation directory will contain everything required to integrate the engine:

  • headers subdirectory will contain all required header files. Add this directory to your include search directories.
  • lib subdirectory will contain static libraries.
  • bin subdirectory will contain dynamic libraries.

When linking statically, you will need to list DiligentCore as well as all third-party libraries used by the engine. Besides that, you will also need to specify platform-specific system libraries. For Windows platform, the list of libraries your project will need to link against may look like this:

DiligentCore.lib glslang.lib HLSL.lib OGLCompiler.lib OSDependent.lib SPIRVCross.lib SPIRV.lib SPIRV-Tools-opt.lib SPIRV-Tools.lib glew-static.lib vulkan-1.lib dxgi.lib d3d11.lib d3d12.lib d3dcompiler.lib opengl32.lib

Vulkan libraries can be found in DiligentCore/External/vulkan/libs directory.

Another way to intergrate the engine is to generate build files (such as Visual Studio projects) and add them to your build system. Build customization described below can help tweak the settings for your specific needs.

Build Options

By default, all back-ends available on current platform are built. To disable specific back-ends, use the following options: DILIGENT_NO_DIRECT3D11, DILIGENT_NO_DIRECT3D12, DILIGENT_NO_OPENGL, DILIGENT_NO_VULKAN, DILIGENT_NO_METAL. The options can be set through cmake UI or from the command line as in the example below:

cmake -D DILIGENT_NO_DIRECT3D11=TRUE -H. -B./cmk_build/Win64 -G "Visual Studio 15 2017 Win64"

By default Vulkan back-end is linked with glslang that enables compiling HLSL and GLSL shaders to SPIRV at run time. If run-time compilation is not required, glslang can be disabled with DILIGENT_NO_GLSLANG cmake option. This will significantly reduce the size of the Vulkan back-end binary.

Customizing Build

Diligent Engine allows clients to customize build settings by providing configuration script file that defines two optional cmake functions:

  • custom_configure_build() - defines global build properties such as build configurations, c/c++ compile flags, link flags etc.
  • custom_configure_target() - defines custom settings for every target in the build.

The path to the configuration script should be provided through BUILD_CONFIGURATION_FILE variable when running cmake and must be relative to the cmake root folder, for example:

cmake -D BUILD_CONFIGURATION_FILE=BuildConfig.cmake -H. -B./cmk_build/Win64 -G "Visual Studio 15 2017 Win64"

Customizing global build settings with custom_configure_build() function

If defined, custom_configure_build() function is called before any build target is added. By default, cmake defines the following four configurations: Debug, Release, RelWithDebInfo, MinSizeRel. If you want, you can define your own build configurations by setting CMAKE_CONFIGURATION_TYPES variable. For instance, if you want to have only two configuration: Debug and ReleaseMT, add the following line to the custom_configure_build() function:

set(CMAKE_CONFIGURATION_TYPES Debug ReleaseMT CACHE STRING "Configuration types: Debug, ReleaseMT" FORCE)

The build system needs to know the list of debug and release (optimized) configurations, so the following two variables must also be set when CMAKE_CONFIGURATION_TYPES variable is defined:


Note that due to cmake specifics, configuration names listed in DEBUG_CONFIGURATIONS and RELEASE_CONFIGURATIONS must be capitalized.

If you define any configuration other than four standard cmake ones, you also need to set the following variables, for every new configuration:

  • CMAKE_C_FLAGS_<Config> - c compile flags
  • CMAKE_CXX_FLAGS_<Config> - c++ compile flags
  • CMAKE_EXE_LINKER_FLAGS_<Config> - executable link flags
  • CMAKE_SHARED_LINKER_FLAGS_<Config> - shared library link flags

For instance:


Below is an example of custom_configure_build() function:

        # Debug configurations
        # Release (optimized) configurations
        # CMAKE_CONFIGURATION_TYPES variable defines build configurations generated by cmake
        set(CMAKE_CONFIGURATION_TYPES Debug ReleaseMT CACHE STRING "Configuration types: Debug, ReleaseMT" FORCE)


Customizing individual target build settings with custom_configure_target() function

If defined, custom_configure_target() is called for every target created by the build system and allows configuring target-specific properties.

By default, the build system sets some target properties. If custom_configure_target() sets all required properties, it can tell the build system that no further processing is required by setting TARGET_CONFIGURATION_COMPLETE parent scope variable to TRUE:


The following is an example of custom_configure_target() function:

function(custom_configure_target TARGET)
    set_target_properties(${TARGET} PROPERTIES

Getting started with the API

Please refer to this page. Also, tutorials and samples listed below is a good place to start.


Tutorial Screenshot Description
01 - Hello Triangle This tutorial shows how to render simple triangle using Diligent Engine API.
02 - Cube This tutorial demonstrates how to render an actual 3D object, a cube. It shows how to load shaders from files, create and use vertex, index and uniform buffers.
03 - Texturing This tutorial demonstrates how to apply a texture to a 3D object. It shows how to load a texture from file, create shader resource binding object and how to sample a texture in the shader.
04 - Instancing This tutorial demonstrates how to use instancing to render multiple copies of one object using unique transformation matrix for every copy.
05 - Texture Array This tutorial demonstrates how to combine instancing with texture arrays to use unique texture for every instance.
06 - Multithreading This tutorial shows how to generate command lists in parallel from multiple threads.
07 - Geometry Shader This tutorial shows how to use geometry shader to render smooth wireframe.
08 - Tessellation This tutorial shows how to use hardware tessellation to implement simple adaptive terrain rendering algorithm.
09 - Quads This tutorial shows how to render multiple 2D quads, frequently swithcing textures and blend modes.
10 - Data Streaming This tutorial shows dynamic buffer mapping strategy using MAP_FLAG_DISCARD and MAP_FLAG_DO_NOT_SYNCHRONIZE flags to efficiently stream varying amounts of data to GPU.
11 - Resource Updates This tutorial demonstrates different ways to update buffers and textures in Diligent Engine and explains important internal details and performance implications related to each method.


Sample Screenshot Description
AntTweakBar Sample This sample demonstrates how to use AntTweakBar library to create simple user interface.
Atmosphere Sample The sample implements physically-based atmospheric light scattering model and demonstrates how Diligent Engine can be used to accomplish various rendering tasks: loading textures from files, using complex shaders, rendering to textures, using compute shaders and unordered access views, etc.


Project Screenshot Description
Asteroids Performance Benchmark This demo is designed to be a performance benchmark and is based on this demo developed by Intel. It renders 50,000 unique textured asteroids. Every asteroid is a combination of one of 1000 unique meshes and one of 10 unique textures. The sample uses original D3D11 and D3D12 native implementations, and adds implementation using Diligent Engine API to allow comparing performance of different rendering modes.
Unity Integration Demo This project demonstrates integration of Diligent Engine with Unity


To contribute your code, submit a Pull Request to this repository. Diligent Engine is licensed under the Apache 2.0 license that guarantees that code in the DiligentEngine repository is free of Intellectual Property encumbrances. In submitting code to this repository, you are agreeing that the code is free of any Intellectual Property claims.


API Reference

Release History

See Release History


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