MCAD Tech News (#325)

12 Apr, 2012 By: Cadalyst Staff

The World of AutoCAD Programming Platforms, Part 1

VBA remains an option, but its days appear numbered. Check out the other choices available for AutoCAD customization.

By Andrew G. Roe

AutoCAD's open architecture has long been one of its most appealing qualities. The freedom to customize menus, add custom commands, and develop add-on programs that run within AutoCAD has motivated numerous users to get under the hood and do some fine-tuning.

With AutoCAD 2013 now on the street, the options for programming AutoCAD remain robust, although the landscape continues to evolve. Autodesk has indicated for several years that Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), a programming environment introduced in the late 1990s, will eventually be phased out. VBA still has a pulse for the time being, but it appears to be on life support, as Autodesk is promoting Visual Studio.NET as the preferred development platform instead.

The .NET environment — which is more versatile and complex than VBA — has gained popularity in recent years, but has left some less-experienced programmers out in the cold. Meanwhile, the growth of mobile devices and cloud computing has introduced new considerations for CAD users and programmers. To better understand this shifting landscape, let's review various customization options, starting with the simpler methods and progressing to more complex alternatives.

Simple Customization

First off, AutoCAD offers plenty of customization options for non-programmers. Custom menus and commands have been achievable since the early days, before AutoCAD releases were tagged by year. Using customization tools from the AutoCAD ribbon, along with some behind-the-scenes work, you can customize the user interface, define external commands that invoke other programs from the AutoCAD Command prompt, create aliases for AutoCAD command shortcuts, and craft scripts to batch-process groups of commands.

AutoCAD 2009 introduced a macro recorder that allows you to automate frequently repeated tasks without typing any code. From the Manage tab of the ribbon, simply click the Record button to capture AutoCAD actions, the Stop button to end the macro recording, and the Play button to execute the macro. Read more »

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Andrew G. Roe is a registered civil engineer and president of AGR Associates, Inc.


PTC Introduces Modular Product Design Creo App and Windchill Mobile

Creo 2.0 includes updated versions of the nine original apps in the Creo family, plus a new tool for building 3D-based product assemblies, while Windchill expands to iOS devices.

By Cadalyst Staff

Earlier this week, PTC announced Creo 2.0, the latest release of its new generation of product design software. This follows the company's introduction last June of the first nine apps in the Creo family, which are intended to enable a wider range of roles to contribute to the design process with a set of integrated, purpose-built tools. With Creo 2.0, PTC introduces a new role-specific app supporting modular product design, and delivers productivity enhancements to its existing Creo apps.

At the same time, PTC announced the latest version of its Windchill product lifecycle management (PLM) software, which is now also integrated with its recently acquired Integrity software system lifecycle management technology. In addition, Windchill Mobile is now available from the Apple iTunes store for the iPad and iPhone. The new Windchill Mobile app gives users access to current product and process information from any location, and includes includes a "shake and break" capability that allows users to explode a product assembly by simply shaking their mobile device to see the internal parts in greater detail. Windchill also now supports Apple users even if they aren't on a mobile device, with support for Mac OS X. Read more »


Mark Your Calendar: MCAD Events


SpaceClaim on the Shop Floor: Tricks for Integrating 2D and 3D Data
April 18, 2012
11 a.m. ET
In this webinar from SpaceClaim, attendees will learn how to go from 2D DWG/DXF to 3D, make a sheet metal flat pattern from an imported CAD concept, and more. Read more »

Injection Molding Design: Solving the Jigsaw Puzzle of Manufacturability, Cost, Time, and Product Performance
April 19, 2012
11 a.m. ET
This webinar from Geometric will look at the ever-shortening lifecycle of product development and provide tips for striking a balance among manufacturability, cost, time, and performance. Read more »

Creating Knowledge Workers for the Greener Product Marketplace
April 24, 2012
2 p.m. ET
During this webinar, panelists will demonstrate and discuss their success stories using Sustainable Minds' cloud-based software for greener product innovation. This will be the first of three webcasts on the topic moderated by Sustainable Minds' CEO and founder, Terry Swack. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to


What’s New at


Cadalyst Poll: How Much Do You Spend on Your CAD Workstation?
Do you ever wonder how much money your peers spend on their CAD systems? Simply scroll to the bottom of the Cadalyst home page and vote in the latest Cadalyst poll to find out! You can even bookmark the results page and come back later, to see how the results change as more voters weigh in.

CADspeed Blog Post:
How Much RAM Should You Buy for a CAD Workstation?

Start with the minimum RAM recommendation for your primary software, then get a feel for how much more memory you'll get with incremental spending. Read more »

Clear Out Junk Files with Wise Disk Cleaner
This free utility will help you remove all those old system files and temporary Internet files cluttering up your computers. Read more »

Autodesk 360 Moves AutoCAD 2013 to the Cloud
Whether you plan on using it or not, you need to explore Autodesk's new cloud solution — it will change the way we use AutoCAD. Read more »

AutoCAD Tip – Fix Gaps and Off-Angled Lines with AutoConstrain
We've all worked with drawing files that included some unwanted gaps, or perhaps some lines that weren't quite vertical or horizontal, even though they were supposed to be. Join Lynn Allen as she shares this means of cleaning up your drawings with AutoConstrain. Read more »

Open BIM Aims to Overcome Collaboration Challenges of Modern AEC Workflows
New buildlingSMART initiative provides common definitions, requirements, and branding for building projects. Read more »

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

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