Version: 2021.3
Building plug-ins for desktop platforms
Low-level native plug-in rendering extensions

Low-level native plug-in interface

Native Plug-insA platform-specific native code library that is created outside of Unity for use in Unity. Allows you can access features like OS calls and third-party code libraries that would otherwise not be available to Unity. More info
See in Glossary
in Unity can receive callbacks when certain events happen. You can use this to implement low-level rendering in your plug-inA set of code created outside of Unity that creates functionality in Unity. There are two kinds of plug-ins you can use in Unity: Managed plug-ins (managed .NET assemblies created with tools like Visual Studio) and Native plug-ins (platform-specific native code libraries). More info
See in Glossary
so it can work with Unity’s multithreaded rendering.

Interface Registry

To handle main Unity events, a plug-in must export UnityPluginLoad and UnityPluginUnload functions. IUnityInterfaces enables the plug-in to access these functions, which you can find in IUnityInterface.h in the plug-in API:

#include "IUnityInterface.h"
#include "IUnityGraphics.h"
// Unity plugin load event
extern "C" void UNITY_INTERFACE_EXPORT UNITY_INTERFACE_API
    UnityPluginLoad(IUnityInterfaces* unityInterfaces)
{
    IUnityGraphics* graphics = unityInterfaces->Get<IUnityGraphics>();
}

Access to the graphics device

Use the IUnityGraphics interface, which you can find in IUnityGraphics.h, to give a plug-in access to generic graphics device functionality. This script demonstrates how you can use the IUnityGraphics interface to register a callback:

#include "IUnityInterface.h"
#include "IUnityGraphics.h"
    
static IUnityInterfaces* s_UnityInterfaces = NULL;
static IUnityGraphics* s_Graphics = NULL;
static UnityGfxRenderer s_RendererType = kUnityGfxRendererNull;
    
// Unity plugin load event
extern "C" void UNITY_INTERFACE_EXPORT UNITY_INTERFACE_API
    UnityPluginLoad(IUnityInterfaces* unityInterfaces)
{
    s_UnityInterfaces = unityInterfaces;
    s_Graphics = unityInterfaces->Get<IUnityGraphics>();
        
    s_Graphics->RegisterDeviceEventCallback(OnGraphicsDeviceEvent);
        
    // Run OnGraphicsDeviceEvent(initialize) manually on plugin load
    // to not miss the event in case the graphics device is already initialized
    OnGraphicsDeviceEvent(kUnityGfxDeviceEventInitialize);
}
    
// Unity plugin unload event
extern "C" void UNITY_INTERFACE_EXPORT UNITY_INTERFACE_API
    UnityPluginUnload()
{
    s_Graphics->UnregisterDeviceEventCallback(OnGraphicsDeviceEvent);
}
    
static void UNITY_INTERFACE_API
    OnGraphicsDeviceEvent(UnityGfxDeviceEventType eventType)
{
    switch (eventType)
    {
        case kUnityGfxDeviceEventInitialize:
        {
            s_RendererType = s_Graphics->GetRenderer();
            //TODO: user initialization code
            break;
        }
        case kUnityGfxDeviceEventShutdown:
        {
            s_RendererType = kUnityGfxRendererNull;
            //TODO: user shutdown code
            break;
        }
        case kUnityGfxDeviceEventBeforeReset:
        {
            //TODO: user Direct3D 9 code
            break;
        }
        case kUnityGfxDeviceEventAfterReset:
        {
            //TODO: user Direct3D 9 code
            break;
        }
    };
}

Plug-in callbacks on the rendering thread

You can use multithreading to render in Unity, if the platform and number of available CPUs allows for it.

Note: When you use multithreaded rendering, the rendering API commands happen on a thread that is completely separate from the thread that runs MonoBehaviour scriptsA piece of code that allows you to create your own Components, trigger game events, modify Component properties over time and respond to user input in any way you like. More info
See in Glossary
. The communication between the main thread and the render thread means that your plug-in might not start rendering immediately, depending on how much work the main thread has pushed to the render thread.

To render from the plug-in, call GL.IssuePluginEvent from your managed plug-inA managed .NET assembly that is created with tools like Visual Studio for use in Unity. More info
See in Glossary
script. This causes Unity’s rendering pipeline to call the native function from the render thread, as demonstrated in the code example below. For example, if you call GL.IssuePluginEvent from the CameraA component which creates an image of a particular viewpoint in your scene. The output is either drawn to the screen or captured as a texture. More info
See in Glossary
’s OnPostRender function, the function will call a plug-in callback immediately after the camera has finished rendering.

Native plugin code:

// Plugin function to handle a specific rendering event
static void UNITY_INTERFACE_API OnRenderEvent(int eventID)
{
    // User rendering code
}
    
// Freely defined function to pass a callback to plugin-specific scripts
extern "C" UnityRenderingEvent UNITY_INTERFACE_EXPORT UNITY_INTERFACE_API
    GetRenderEventFunc()
{
    return OnRenderEvent;
}

Managed plug-in code:

#if UNITY_IPHONE && !UNITY_EDITOR
[DllImport ("__Internal")]
#else
[DllImport("RenderingPlugin")]
#endif
private static extern IntPtr GetRenderEventFunc();
    
// Queue a specific callback to be called on the render thread
GL.IssuePluginEvent(GetRenderEventFunc(), 1);

The signature for the UnityRenderingEvent callback is provided in IUnityGraphics.h in the Native Rendering Plugin sample.

Plug-in using the OpenGL graphics API

There are two kinds of OpenGL objects:

  • Objects shared across OpenGL contexts, such as texture, buffer, renderbuffer, samplers, query, shaderA program that runs on the GPU. More info
    See in Glossary
    , and program objects.
  • Per-OpenGL context objects, such as vertex array, framebuffer, program pipeline, transform feedback, and sync objects.

Unity uses multiple OpenGL contexts. When initializing and closing the Editor and the Player, Unity relies on a master context, but when rendering it uses dedicated contexts. This means you can’t create per-context objects during kUnityGfxDeviceEventInitialize and kUnityGfxDeviceEventShutdown events.


• 2017–05–16 Page amended

Building plug-ins for desktop platforms
Low-level native plug-in rendering extensions