Install the VSG module

This is a run-time visualization system for interactive 3D viewing of Chrono simulations.

Read the introduction to modules for a technical background on the modularity of the Chrono project.


The VSG module is used to display Chrono simulations in an interactive 3D view. Here are the main features:

  • Supports most visualization shapes specified as assets on Chrono physics objects (bodies, links, etc)
  • The following default mouse and key controls are supported:
    • mouse left button for camera rotation
    • mouse right button for camera x z motion
    • mouse wheel rotation for camera forward/backward
    • press arrows to have x z camera motion, press page up & down for y vertical motion


  • To run applications based on this module you need the Vulkan and VSG libraries
  • To build applications applications based on this module you must have the Vulkan SDK and the VSG framework installed.

Building instructions

There are two prerequisites for building the Chrono VSG module:

  • Vulkan is a cross-platform API for 3D graphics. The Vulkan SDK can be downloaded from Follow the installation instructions specific to your platform.
  • VulkanScenegraph is a graphics library built on the Vulkan graphics API. At this time, the VSG library, its dependencies, and additional related utility libraries must be built from sources. The easiest and most straightforward way of obtaining all VSG prerequisites for the Chrono::VSG module is to build the vsgFramework which collects several VSG-related projects and facilitates their build and installation in one single step.

    The VSG libraries are themselves under active development, and so is vsgFramework. While functional, things do occasionally break down and some fixes may be needed to get the necessary dependency libraries. The instructions below reflect the current state of the vsgFramework code.

    1. Clone the vsgFramework GitHub repository. Assume the sources are in a local directory [vsgFramework_source].
    2. Create a buid directory and an install directory for vsgFramework. Assume these are [vsgFramework_build] and [vsgFramework_install], respectively.
    3. Use CMake to configure vsgFramework. Note that the only components that are necessary for Chrono::VSG are assimp, vsgImGui, and vsgXchange. Enable the corresponding BUILD_*** CMake options and unselect all other.
    4. Set the installation directory (CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX) to be the [vsgFramework_install] directory created above.
    5. Note that vsgFramework can create either static or dynamic VSG libraries. Either type will work on Linux or on MacOS. However, only dynamic libraries (DLLs) work on Windows. Set the CMake variable BUILD_SHARED_LIBS accordingly.
    6. Complete CMake configuration and generate the build scripts.
    7. Build and install the vsgFramework libraries (using whatever is appropriate for the generator you selected in CMake; make, ninja, VS, etc.)
    8. The VSG headers, libraries, and DLLs (if appropriate) installed in [vsgFramework_install] must be made available and accessible to CMake during configuration of Chrono below. If needed (e.g., on Windows), add to the system PATH environment variable the directory [vsgFramework_install]/bin.
    The current version of vsgFramework has a bug where a vsgImGui header is not found.
    To fix this, after step #3 above, you will need to manually copy the imconfig.h header from [vsgFramework_buid]/components/vsgimgui-src/src/imgui/ to [vsgFramework_build]/components/vsgimgui-src/include/vsgImGui/ before you proceed with the vsgFramework build in step #7.
    The assimp component requires zlib. On some Linux systems, installing the default zlib package may not provide a library that is suitable for dynamic linking. You may need to rebuild zlib yourself, making sure you generate position-independent code. In particular, if using GCC, make sure to add the flag -fPIC.

Once the necessary dependencies are installed, perform the following steps to configure and build the Chrono::VSG module:

  1. Repeat the instructions for the full Chrono installation
  2. During CMake configuration, set ENABLE_MODULE_VSG to 'on', then press 'Configure'
  3. Press 'Configure' again, then 'Generate', and proceed as usual in the installation instructions.

How to use it

  • Consult the API section of this module for documentation about classes and functions.
  • Consult the C++ source of demos to learn how to use the functions of this module.