The Developer Guide

Write your own importer

In this chapter you will learn how to write your own importers. You just need to implement the #Assimp::BaseImporter class, which defines a few abstract methods, register your loader, test it carefully and provide test models for it.

  • Create a header-file FormatNameImporter.h and a cpp-unit ( FormatNameImporter.cpp ) in the <root>/code/AssetLib/ directory

  • Add them to the following workspaces: CMAKE (code/CMakeLists.txt, create a new source group for your importer and put them also to ADD_LIBRARY( assimp SHARED))

  • Include AssimpPCH.h - this is the PCH file, and it includes already most Assimp-internal stuff.

  • Open ImporterRegistry.cpp.cpp and include your header just below the (include_new_importers_here) line, guarded by a #define

#if (!defined assimp_BUILD_NO_FormatName_IMPORTER)

Wrap the same guard around your .cpp!

  • Now advance to the (register_new_importers_here) line in the ImporterRegistry.cpp and register your importer there - just like all the others do.

  • Setup a suitable test environment (i.e. use AssimpView or your own application), make sure to enable the #aiProcess_ValidateDataStructure flag and enable verbose logging. That is, simply call before you import anything:

  • Implement the Assimp::BaseImporter::CanRead() : here the format detection will be perfoormed. You can detect the format by its extension or by parsing some token of the file content

  • Implement Assimp::BaseImporter::InternReadFile() : Here you have to parse the file fomat and convert it into a aiScene-Instance:

  • Implement Assimp::BaseImporter::GetExtensionList() : here you have to add the provided extensions (for the Wavefront-Files add .obj for instance).

  • For error handling, throw a dynamic allocated ImportErrorException (see Appendix A) for critical errors, and log errors, warnings, infos and debuginfos with DefaultLogger::get()->[error, warn, debug, info].

  • A simple example:

class MyyImporter : public BaseImporter {
    MyyImporter() : BaseImporter {}

    MyyImporter() override {}

    bool CanRead(const std::string &filename, IOSystem *pIOHandler, bool checkSig) const override {
        if (checkSig) {
            // Check the signature and return result
        } else {
            const std::string extension = GetExtension(filename));
            if ( extension == "myExt) {
                return true;
        return false;

    void InternReadFile()       {}

* Make sure that your loader compiles against all build configurations on all supported platforms. You can use our CI-build to check several platforms

like Windows and Linux ( 32 bit and 64 bit ).

  • Provide some _free_ test models in <root>/test/models/<FormatName> and credit their authors. Test files for a file format shouldn’t be too large (~500 KiB in total), and not too repetive. Try to cover all format features with test data.

  • Done! Please, share your loader that everyone can profit from it!

Write your own exporter


Parser tools


To use the XML-Parser you need to follow these steps: - Include the header XmlParser.h - Create a XML-Parser instance - Load the data from an input stream into the parser - Perform the parsing - When this was succesful, iterate over the XML-Nodes:

#include <assimp/XmlParser.h>

void parse_and_validate_xml(Stream *mySteam) {
  // Read the data and parse the XML-File
  XMLParser xmlParser;
  if (xmlParser.parse(stream)) {
     // Get the root node
     XmlNode node = xmlParser.getRootNode();

     // Find one special child node
     XmlNode colladaNode = node.child("COLLADA");

     // Iterate over all children
     for ( auto child : colladaNode.children()) {

You can also iterate over all children nodes via an Iterator interface:

XmlNodeIterator xmlIt(node, XmlNodeIterator::PreOrderMode);
XmlNode currentNode;
while (xmlIt.getNext(currentNode)) {
  // all node will be iterated level wise