Ways to learn Hamilton HSL code?

Hello, I’m new here!

I recently got put on my laboratory’s Automations team, and we use Hamiltons for a majority of our workflows. They are mostly the STAR model using VENUS 3 or 4. This is my first experience with the VENUS software.

I find the drag-and-drop editor to be very unintuitive and difficult to read. I’m more accustomed to how “regular” programming languages work, like SQL or Python. In other words, I’m accustomed to being able to scroll down one continuous page of legible code where everything is displayed, as opposed to having to open the properties of each and every step of a method to glean each of their functions. It makes me want to pull my hair out!

I was made aware that Hamilton uses a programming language called HSL, which is based in C/C++, which sounds great to me. Except for the fact that I cannot find any documentation for it. I’ve been literally scouring the internet for anything about HSL, and so far I’ve come up with a handful of PowerPoint slideshows about it, and this forum.

Is there any repository or documentation that I can read to teach myself HSL? Not the drag-and-drop VENUS stuff, but the actual, typed code? I know that there are things like PyHamilton or PyVenus out there, but I want to understand the base language itself, HSL, so that I can work off of a good foundation of knowledge.

I saw that Hamilton offers training courses for VENUS, but it seems like HSL is not the focus.

Please help!

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Actually, I just made an astounding discovery!

If you open the Hamilton HSL Method Editor, then open the Help option, it will show an HSL reference library! All the keywords, functions, syntax, etc.

Damn I wish I could have found this earlier, because Hamilton does NOT make this obvious. I guess it makes sense that it is contained within the VENUS software itself as a help file, since they likely are very guarded about their proprietary stuff.

I think that’s why I couldn’t find any of it online - they likely want only those who purchase the VENUS software to have access to it. Oh well, I’m making some PDF copies of this stuff anyways. Hope that doesn’t violate copyright.


I think it’s a fantastic idea to learn HSL no matter if you are using Venus, PyHamilton, or any other interface. I also didn’t know about that feature of the HSL method editor.

I use VS Code with C++ syntax highlighting to view HSL files. I find this far more appealing than the HSL editor. It would be incredibly useful to introduce functionality of the HSL editor into VSCode, and I bet this is quite feasible.

Attached pic is HSL in VSCode

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The idea that SQL and Python are “regular” languages is making me laugh because I’m old now I guess.



If you’d like to make the standard VENUS Method Editor more readable, you can also switch to View > Icon and Description. That will show more details about each step without having to open each one individually.


This would have saved me so much time


Hi all,

Hamilton Standard Language (HSL) can be a complex topic to talk about and is generally reserved as a means for those who have expertise in similar programming languages, such as C/C++ or C#, to extend the functionality of VENUS in a way that can only be done in a text-based programming environment.

Although there is always room for improvement, we put a lot of emphasis on the Help features in our software to the point that nearly every function has a Help (?) button. The documentation for HSL and HSL Method Editor are built directly into the software with the Help menu. If adding HSL to a Method in Method Editor (rather than HSL Method Editor) you can quickly access the Help documentation by clicking the “Help” button on the bottom right of the “HSL Code” dialog box, which includes topics such as “HSL Essentials” and “HSL Functions” among others.

I have uploaded some materials that you might find helpful as well:

A copy of the HSL Method Editor is included with every installation of the VENUS software. The executable, HxHSLMetEd.exe, can be found in the Hamilton\Bin directory. When you open the editor, you can navigate to the menu and under Help, select Help Topics to bring up the HSL overview help materials.



While I acknowledge that these tools and materials aren’t featured prominently, part of the reason is simply because the majority of solutions can be facilitated using the VENUS software, which is targeted more towards end users and automation specialists. To that end, on the support side, we do not explicitly train our applications or training staff on HSL or author solutions for our customers in HSL. There are exceptions such as when there is a need for a new library or to insert snippets of HSL code into the VENUS method (anyone who has used the assignment with calculation command in VENUS would find HSL a bit more flexible!), but for the most part, you can program what is needed within the various VENUS functions. Because of this, if you venture into the world of HSL programming, your options for support will be limited.

I hope that provides a bit more context and resources for you all!