Task 10: Using AutoCAD Customization

I think this is my last post in Work Better with AutoCAD series. We have covered optimizing AutoCAD template, using and managing blocks, and the last topic we covered is managing and sharing your AutoCAD files.

In the last topic, I want to cover the last thing I can think about increasing our AutoCAD productivity: customization.

robot with empty computer window

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Working with Command Alias

The most basic customization I did is modifying AutoCAD command alias. I believe almost every AutoCAD users use command line. We can activate command by typing it in command line. For example, LINE will activate draw line tool. There are some shortcuts defined as the command alias. Typing L then [enter] is the same with typing LINE [enter].

AutoCAD has default aliases, but we use AutoCAD differently. If I’m happy with CO as default alias for copy, the others may use CC for copy (C is for circle). I know it looks ridiculous, but pressing the same key twice is faster than pressing C then O.

It’s easy and useful. But remember, the configuration is only for your computer. When you use other computer (or other people using your computer) it can be confusing. You better make backup of your acad.pgp.

See how you can create your own AutoCAD command alias here.

Working with CUI

The next level of customization is working with interface. You can do it using CUI (customized user interface).

While you can access alias command using command line, you can access customization you made in CUI in ribbon or toolbar.

You can add simple macro to create a custom command, not just using default AutoCAD command.

See example for adding command to toolbar here and how you can add command to right click (or contextual menu).

The interesting about CUI is you can use one CUI file and share it to all of your colleagues. We call it enterprise CUI. If you need more tools, you only need to edit 1 CUI file.

Working with Programming

The next level of customization is programming. At the present, you have many options to extend your AutoCAD capability with custom programming for free. There are several websites provide free downloadable AutoLISP or add-ins. And of course, if you know how to make your own program using AutoLISP or .NET programming, you can make your own.

Finding Add ins

One place that I highly recommend to find an add in/plug in is AutoCAD exchange application store. You can access it from your AutoCAD exchange page. There are many add in available there, some are free, and the others are available to purchase. They are audited and approved by Autodesk, so I guess it’s the best place to start.

See an example from Deelip how to install an AutoCAD add in here.

If you have other site that you recommend, please mention them in comment section below.

Creating your own program

Creating your own program doesn’t have to be a complicated one. Sometimes just a simple few lines of codes can increase our productivity significantly. I’m not good with programming (yet, well at least I hope I can be good one day), but I’ve tried to write some simple code and quite happy with them.

Check some simple AutoLISP sample in CAD Notes here.

If you want to seriously develop your skill in programming, you can learn .NET or AutoLISP by purchasing book or having a training.

Some resources for programming that you can use are:

  1. AfraLISP – very good AutoLISP tutorial
  2. ABC’s of AutoLISP – a printed book, reproduced as online book
  3. VB.NET for AutoCAD 2010 – printed book format. Compatible to AutoCAD 2012, currently out of stock on Amazon. But you may be able to find it on local book store or on eBay.

Do you use AutoCAD customization?

  1. Do you use only vanilla AutoCAD out of the box? Or do you customize it?
  2. Do you share the CUI customization to all users in your company?
  3. Do you install add ins, or create a custom program to increase your productivity?

Do you have other way to increase our AutoCAD productivity?

This is probably my last post about working better in AutoCAD. It should be able to give a framework where we can start to improve some area.

If you have any feedback, or if you want to write article as a guest author about this topic feel free to contact me. Probably we can expand the topic further.

Thank you all for all the great discussion!

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