Direct3D 12 Programming Environment Setup

Describes the installation, tools and supported libraries that make up a productive Direct3D 12 development environment.

Development environment

The Direct3D 12 headers and libraries are part of the Windows 10 SDK. There is no separate download or installation required to use Direct3D 12.

After you install the Windows 10 SDK software, and Visual Studio 2015, the setup of your Direct3D 12 programming environment is complete. Visual Studio 2015 is recommended, as it will include the D3D12 graphics debugging tools, but earlier versions of Visual Studio will work for program development.

To use the Direct3D 12 API, include D3d12.h and link to D3d12.lib, or query the entry points directly in D3d12.dll.

The following headers and libraries are available. The location of the static libraries depends on the version (32-bit or 64-bit) of Windows 10 that is running on your computer.

Header or library file nameDescriptionInstall location
D3d12.hDirect3D 12 API header%DXSDK_DIR%\Include
D3d12.libStatic Direct3D 12 API stub library%DXSDK_DIR%\Lib
D3d12.dllDynamic Direct3D 12 API library%WINDIR%\System32
D3d12SDKLayers.hDirect3D 12 debug header%DXSDK_DIR%\Include
D3d12SDKLayers.dll Dynamic Direct3D 12 debug library%WINDIR%\System32


To include a header file correctly, use a statement similar to the following:

#include <%DXSDK_DIR%Include\d3d12.h>

To determine the absolute location of %DXSDK_DIR% on your development computer, in a command window type:

set dx

Supported languages

C++ is the only supported language for Direct3D 12 development, C# and other .NET languages are not supported.

Helper structures

There are a number of helper structures that, in particular, make it easy to initialize a number of the D3D12 structures. These structures, and some utility functions, are in the header D3dx12.h. This header is open source, and can be modified by a developer as required - download it from The D3D12 Helper Library and refer to Helper Structures and Functions for D3D12.

Memory Management Library

A memory management helper library is available for download that you can integrate into your app to more closely match D3D11 memory management behavior. As a D3D11 style management library, it is most effective with apps that are still using a committed resource style allocation strategy. In particular, the library should be seen as a stepping stone that will get you most of the way back to D3D11 performant memory management when in memory constrained scenarios (for example, low-end memory cards, 4k, ultra settings, and so on). D3D12 APIs do enable techniques that let you get even better memory efficiency over D3D11, though these techniques can be challenging and time consuming to implement.

Note that this library is a work in progress and may change over time. Use the links below to access the library, and samples.

Supported tools and libraries

The following libraries can all be used with Direct3D 12.

DirectX Tool Kit for DirectX 12A substantial collection of helper classes for writing Direct3D 12 C++ code for Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps, Win32 desktop applications for Windows 10, and Xbox One exclusive apps.DirectX12TK wiki
DirectXTex Use this for reading and writing DDS files, and performing various texture content processing operations including resizing, format conversion, mip-map generation, block compression for Direct3D runtime texture resources, and height-map to normal-map conversion.DirectXTex wiki
DirectXMeshUse this for performing various geometry content processing operations including generating normals and tangent frames, triangle adjacency computations, and vertex cache optimization. DirectXMesh wiki
DirectXMathA large number of helper classes and methods to support vectors, scalars, matrices, quaternions, and many other mathematical operations.DirectXMath documentation at MSDN
UVAtlasUse this for creating and packing an isochart texture atlas.UVAtlas wiki



For a list of working D3D12 samples and how to locate and run them, refer to Working Samples.

For walk-throughs on how to add code to enable particular features, refer to D3D12 Code Walk-Throughs.

Debug layer

The debug layer provides extensive additional parameter and consistency validation (such as validating shader linkage and resource binding, validating parameter consistency, and reporting error descriptions).

The header required to support the debugging layer, D3D12SDKLayers.h, is included by default from d3d12.h.

When the debug layer lists memory leaks, it outputs a list of object interface pointers along with their friendly names. The default friendly name is "<unnamed>". You can set the friendly name by using the ID3D12Object::SetName method. Typically, you should compile these calls out of your production version.

We recommend that you use the debug layer to debug your apps to ensure that they are clean of errors and warnings. The debug layer helps you write Direct3D 12 code. In addition, your productivity can increase when you use the debug layer because you can immediately see the causes of obscure rendering errors or even black screens at their source. The debug layer provides warnings for many issues. For example:

  • Forgot to set a texture but read from it in your pixel shader.
  • Output depth but have no depth-stencil state bound.
  • Texture creation failed with INVALIDARG.

Set the compiler define D3DCOMPILE_DEBUG to tell the HLSL compiler to include debug information into the shader blob.


For details of all the debug interfaces and methods, refer to the Debug Layer Reference.

For overview information on using the debug layer, refer to Understanding the D3D12 Debug Layer.

Educational videos

There are a number of Direct3D 12 and Windows 10 related videos at DirectX advanced learning video tutorials, including videos on graphics debugging tools, and reporting graphics bugs.

Related topics

Understanding Direct3D 12