Should Autodesk ‘PURGE’ AutoCAD Command Line?


Last night when I checked my Twitter timeline, I see an interesting tweet from @projbutterfly. He asked his followers whether Autodesk should add command line to Project Butterfly or not. Because this project is for AutoCAD users, then it is more likely many AutoCAD users will ask for it. I personally think command line era is over. It’s not cool anymore to have it. In this post, I would like share my opinion. I also would like to have your opinion: do you think Autodesk should ‘purge’ the command line from AutoCAD?

Shortcuts are Always Good

Don’t get me wrong. Having shortcuts is always good. I started using AutoCAD since R.13, when they are twins: DOS and Windows version (cmiiw). Many AutoCAD users are command line masters at that time. I also loved having command line to access AutoCAD shortcut. Maybe I could even consider myself a command line ninja or something :) I use shortcut in every application I use, even in my Gmail account. Using shortcut is always good to access our tools faster.

typing fast

When I teach AutoCAD, I always teach my students how using command line. They might not use it, but they need to know it’s there. But keep in mind, I use and teach using command line only because it’s the best option for accessing AutoCAD shortcuts. It’s good but can be better.

Then it came to the time I have to learn other CAD applications. At this point, I’m kind of forced to use other method than command line.

Productivity is not always about shortcut!

However, since I’m focusing on vertical product, I realize that even I access some tools a bit slower, my productivity is better. It takes a few more seconds to activate tools, but with one tool I can do dozen of AutoCAD commands at once. Save me few minutes.


If you have been following CAD Notes, you will find some tutorials to increase your productivity. In the dynamic block tutorial series, you can create common objects like walls, doors, and columns. After you create them, you can place them, modify it, and create a report very quickly.

How you can access your block quickly? Using tool palette. It’s faster than inserting block using command line. You can also draw lines, dimensions, hatches, blocks with a specific properties with just one click. You don’t even have to create layers or styles in your drawing.

I don’t feel command line shortcut is that important anymore. But it still nice to have it for common tools though :)

AutoCAD Based Command line versus Other CAD Application Shortcut

Some people are still insist working with command line is faster. So let us compare how shortcuts work in other CAD applications.

How do we activate line tool in AutoCAD? L then [enter]. In Revit, we press LI.

For dimension, in Revit we simply press DI. In AutoCAD we need to type DIMALIGNED.

Revit and Inventor have one or two character shortcuts. You can list all AutoCAD shortcut, and will find there are many shortcuts require more than two characters. And don’t forget you will need to press [enter] or [space]. This shortcut will grow longer when we use vertical product such as AutoCAD Mechanical or AutoCAD Electrical. Try to see the available command list in AutoCAD electrical. To insert component, we have to type AECOMPONENT. How many characters is that?


We can access tools faster by clicking the palettes or toolbar or ribbon than typing some of AutoCAD commands. The only reason typing is faster, probably because AutoCAD users are used to it. It will be more interesting if Autodesk change the way we can access AutoCAD shortcuts. Probably like in Inventor or Revit. One or two characters should be faster!

^C ^C ^C!

Having common Windows shortcuts will also be easier for AutoCAD users. Easier when it comes to time they want to migrate to vertical products. I found many AutoCAD users are so attached to command line and try to find similar feature when they use other CAD application. I’m also frustrated when they easily press [esc] many times when they feel something is not right. It will close a running wizard -or cancel whatever they did- and make them have to do it all over again.

Imagine if you have created 5 wall layers in Revit wall definition, and press [esc] simply because something is not right. Revit will loose the settings, and they have to repeat every steps all over again. This is frustrating for them and many of them decided it is too hard to learn. And back using AutoCAD. AutoCAD has became a totally different animals for command line lovers. The learning curve is become very steep for them. It’s not their fault. It is just a hard habit to break.

Delete It, don’t Purge it


I understand that command line cannot be removed completely. We need it to test programming routines. The best option is to remove it from default interface, but we can still access it by pressing [F2]. So we can also use it for changing system variables or other command that only can be access from command line.

Microsoft does not provides command console at the bottom of Windows, and certainly does not set the main focus to that console. It needs more effort to use it. It is like deleting all blocks from your drawing, but the block definition is still there.

So what do you think if Autodesk finally remove Command Line?

*This poll is closed. See the result in this post.

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  1. Tannar says

    If you don't want the command line, press Ctrl+9. Don't take it away, always leave it as optional. I'm a keyboard junkie and am ten times faster than anyone using icons or ribbons.

  2. Zippy says

    I haven't used the command line since AutoCAD became a windows program. I've taught AutoCAD products for many years, and find that new users can get bogged down trying to memorize a "vocabulary" of commands when it is so much simpler to point and click on an icon. Remember memorizing weekly vocabulary words in elementary school? You hated it, didn't you? If AutoCAD would just stick to an interface without changing it every year or two, I think we could all get much more efficient at the ribbon/dashboard/toolbars or whatever becomes the convention.

    Speaking of the ribbon, the ribbon idea is harmonious with the Microsoft Office suite, and having a consistent interface style among different software is huge. Now that they are aligned in an interface style, I hope it stays that way.

    Also, regarding command options…you can right click to get a list of the command options and select from a popup rather than hunting for a letter on the keyboard. Keeping your eyes focused on the screen improves efficiency.

  3. Hangman says

    Until AutoCAD can automate the key command so you do NOT have to press enter after the two keys are typed in (like Revit), the command line needs to stay. Pressing F2 to access it for viewing is fine, but it has to be available and operational as you type the information to the software.

    Here's another problem (at least for me it is a current problem using Map 3D 2010), try grabbing a block or an image frame at some point in the model space (not a 0,0,0 point), and moving it to 0,0,0.

    I tried putting an image frame with bottom left corner at 0,0,0 with the dynamic input. It would not move the object to the origin point. If the command line is not available to type in 0,0,0, will we need another button on a toolbar to designate the origin point ?? And for that matter, will we need a button for each point in the drawing so we can move objects to any one of those points ??

    Currently with 2010, the command line is optional. If you don't want it, turn it off. So if it is set to a system variable now, why not leave it like the other 959 system variables they have in there ??

  4. says

    You wrote :

    " For dimension, in Revit we simply press DI. In AutoCAD we need to type DIMALIGNED."

    Me and mylisp :

    " For command DIMALIGNED, I just need to type DA "

    " For edit text, if you using pop menu, you need to click Modify>Object>Text>Edit than click the text. In my lisp using COMMAND LINE, I just type DD and click the text. " Or……double click the text to edit them. Which one the simple work …?

    So, don't remove command line. LEAVE IT AS IT IS…!!

  5. Hendru Lagerweij says

    Autodesk should leave the command line as it is. It allows for very fast drafting due to it's shortcut commands which are fairly easy to customize.

    The main thing about the command line is that when you've learned how to work with shortcut commands, you will be working with 2 hands. I use my left hand to type the shortcut commands, my other stays on the mouse. My pointer stays 80% of the time in the centre of my screen. This is where the speed comes from.

    Without the command line, you would only be working with the mouse. Going from the centre of the screen to the top, back to the centre, and so on. I do believe this will cause Repetitive Strain Injury in the long run.

    • says

      Thank you for the discussion Hendru.

      So your main concern is you can't use shortcuts and can't use both hands after command line has been removed? What if you still can use shortcuts? Maybe not 100% the same, but I believe will be pretty similar.

      Do you think you can accept it?

  6. says

    Autocad's greatest feature is its versatility, there is no need to start completely removing a tool that many users prefer or even depend on. This is the reason we have the CUI , so that we can customize the user interface to an environment we feel most comfortable working in. In my opinion, the "evolution" of Autocad should only result in improvements to current tools, and the implementations of additional choices for the user. Autocad should conform to fit the specific needs of its individual users, it should never demand that its users conform to it.

    • says

      Are you sure by replacing (not removing) command line, AutoCAD will loose its versatility?
      I found that it's not different. In fact, I think keeping command line is only make AutoCAD is harder to be developed… and new features are ignored :)

  7. says

    I do not use AutoCAD anymore as I migrated to Inventor five years ago, but when I did use AutoCAD, I did not use the command line because I suck at typing. I have seen others who were incredibly fast though.

    I use a SpacePlot which puts most of the commands I need right at my fingertips, as well as the single key shortcuts native to Inventor. But in the end, It is becoming somewhat of a moot point with the “heads up” interfaces coming up. Have you tried Inventor Fusion?

    • says

      Yes, I know people can be incredibly fast using command line. However, when we use more complex geometry, I don't feel it's that important anymore.
      For example, after we activate polygon tool… just slightly more complex than line… AutoCAD will ask a sequential options. OK, let's say we define its properties. Then we want to draw the next polygons, AutoCAD will ask us again… sequentially! In Inventor, when you draw a polygon with same properties, you don't have to look at the settings at all. I know we can also press [space] several times quickly to accept the previous value. But it just doesn't look good for me.

      I haven't try Inventor Fusion. But I have seen the video. The 'rose' contextual menu looks amazing :)

  8. says

    for me the command line is realy important because i get realy many information about the things i do or the programm whants from me to do

    and the command line gives me reflektion about what is happend after doing something

    and if some one does not need the command line he can switch it off

    • Edwin Prakoso says

      In most Windows compliant applications, the information is provided in status bar. So should be no problem when it's gone.

      My concern is we need to type commands like in Windows command console. It's not effective for me, and makes AutoCAD totally different with any other graphic/CAD software.

  9. Doug Barense says

    I am a speed-demon with the command line!

    I've used AutoCAD since the mid 80s and I've practically only used the command line. My acad.pgp file is 674 lines long, nearly all of those are 2 or 3 characters shortcuts for AutoCAD commands or commands I've written.

    I suppose they could eliminate the command line but they will never be able to get rid of command input. And I can certainly understand reducing the space it takes up (I find the floating command line feature intrusive – mine is always docked), but eliminating the command line would, in my opinion, kill AutoCAD's effectiveness.

    • Edwin Prakoso says

      I know that using command line shortcut can speed up your work. My point is, if Autodesk remove it and change the shortcut to 'Windows like' shortcut… do you think it also kills AutoCAD effectiveness? It's also shortcut that you can use and customize.