In the last two challenges, you have tried to minimize repetitive tasks. If you missed our Work Better with AutoCAD challenges, you can read and join the discussions here:
This is the last challenge to minimize your repetitive tasks. You will do some customization.
Don’t runaway just yet. Customization doesn’t have to be a complex programming task. You will explore simple customization that you can do. It’s quite easy to do, even for novice user.
AutoCAD is very easy to customize. You can customize shortcuts to reduce key strokes. You can create macro or script to run sequence of commands automatically. And certainly, you can create custom program to automate your tasks.
Let’s see what you can customize to work faster and extend your AutoCAD capabilities.
Command alias is the shorter version to activate AutoCAD commands. To activate LINE, you only need to type L then enter. You can modify command aliases for your needs. The command you frequently use may not have a command alias yet. Or you probably use some command more than others.
My colleague changed command alias for COPY. He changed it from CO to CC. Because it will be faster to press C twice than pressing C then O!
If you are not familiar with modifying command alias, you can read Brian’s tutorial here. You can also use express tools as explained by Ellen Finkelstein here.
Please share with us, what is your custom alias. We might be able to learn from you.
Creating Command Macro and Scripts
If you perform a drawing process frequently, then you can try to automate it. You can write several lines of instructions to run. When you need to use it, you only need to run it once.
If you want to learn more in details, Paul Munford has awesome tutorials here:
- Learn AutoCAD script to automate plotting.
- How to automate AutoCAD with command macros.
- Paul also shares how to put macro in tool palettes: 11 killer macros for working with AutoCAD viewport.
You can find more samples here. Hai Le shows that even simple macro can be very helpful:
- Adjust dimension spacing automatically.
- Restore standard layers and styles after PURGE.
- Change UCS and change text layer.
I want to emphasize that customization doesn’t need to be complicated. Simple macro or scripts can be very very helpful! Do you have some cool macro/script to share with us?
Another customization that you can touch is CUI, Customize User Interface. Not everyone like command alias. You probably prefer to use toolbar or ribbon. To add custom commands in AutoCAD UI, you need to work with CUI. But CUI is not limited to toolbar and ribbon.
You can also:
- Customize tooltips and quick properties.
- Customize keyboard shortcut combination (it’s not the same with command alias).
- Double click action.
- Mouse click combination.
- Load LISP with CUI.
You need to know macro if you want to create custom AutoCAD command in CUI. If you don’t know about macro yet, it’s a good time to learn.
If you want to learn about customizing AutoCAD CUI, read our complete CUI tutorial here.
Macro and script are basically a series of AutoCAD native commands. If you want to do more complex programming, you need to go further.
AutoLISP is a very popular programming language among AutoCAD users. It’s more advanced than script and macro. While macro and script only execute a series of command, you can make more complex programming with AutoLISP. You can ask for user input, create a formula, using conditional statement and more. A program can be very complex, but also even a simple LISP program can be very helpful.
For example, this simple LISP program will create text on annotation layer, regardless what layer is current. You don’t have to create layer, change layer properties, and switch it to current. Just activate the command then enter your text.
AutoLISP takes some time to learn. Especially if you don’t have experience in programming. However, it can give great benefits to you.
If you want to learn about AutoLISP, you can check these resources:
- AfraLISP, the most popular resource to learn LISP.
- AutoLISP tutorial on Jeffery P Sanders website.
- Basic LISP tutorial on CADnotes.
AutoLISP is a programming language built into AutoCAD. The other option that you can have is using .NET. They are two different programming language. While AutoLISP is native AutoCAD programming, .NET is using Microsoft Framework. I’m not really familiar with .NET. Many other software also use Microsoft .NET framework, so if you need AutoCAD to “talk” with other software like Excel, .NET is probably the better way to go.
If you want to learn about .NET, there are not many resources available yet. Not as many as AutoLISP. One resource that I can recommend is this my first AutoCAD plug-in training from Autodesk.
Find available plug-ins and program on internet
Do you think creating your own custom program is overwhelming? If you don’t want to learn programming, you can still extend AutoCAD functionality. There are many available plugins or LISP you can get on internet.
The first place that I can recommend is Autodesk Exchange Apps. You can find plugins for many Autodesk products there. Many of them are free, but the rest of the plugins need to be purchased. Make sure you try the plugins before you purchase it!
There are many other resources that provide free LISP. Lee Mac provides many useful LISP on his website for free.
As usual, feel free to share if you know other resources to download/purchase plugins or LISP program.
Now let’s discuss this challenge
Many people don’t want to touch customization because they think it’s difficult. Customization is not limited to complex programming. There are many simple things that you can do to optimize your workflow.
Now let’s discuss about customization.
Do you use AutoCAD out of the box, or do you customize it?
If you use it out of the box, do you think you need to customize it? What interest you the most?
If you customize your AutoCAD, what customization you have? Any learning resource you can recommend. Any download resource that you recommend?
How much time do you think you can save by customizing AutoCAD?
You can still win the prizes
You can still win the prizes by completing all the challenges. The winners will be chosen after all the challenges are given.