CAD Manager's Newsletter (#204)

23 Sep, 2008

Programming Topics, Part 2: AutoLISP

Learn how to program your CAD tools, and you'll never have to wait for someone else to program a solution for you.

In the last edition of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I began a series on programming methodologies I think are useful for CAD managers. I'm an advocate of knowing how to program because it has always allowed me to get quick results at the job site (and has kept me employed, I might add) over the years. My logic is that if you know how to program your CAD tools, you'll never have to wait for Autodesk, SolidWorks, Parametric Technologies, or Bentley to program a solution for you because you'll be able to do it yourself.

In this edition, I'll give you a very quick guide on the most commonly used CAD management programming tool, AutoLISP. AutoLISP is still very popular because so much AutoCAD is in use and because AutoLISP's long history means a lot of programs are already written. The Visual Basic and .NET programmers may scoff at knowing AutoLISP, but I've found my knowledge of the language continues to serve me well. Here goes.

What Do You Need To Know?
There's so much to learn in AutoLISP that you could spend years learning it, but the basics for CAD managers lie in the following topics:

  • controlling AutoCAD's startup
  • removing commands from AutoCAD's vocabulary
  • adding commands to AutoCAD's vocabulary
  • redefining commands in AutoCAD's vocabulary


If you know these tricks, you can revise and extend AutoCAD's command set to work any way you like and even make all the AutoCAD machines on your network pull from the same startup files to gain managerial consistency.

Interested? Sure you are. And even if you know AutoLISP basics already, you may learn a few tricks about managing machines around the network that will assist you. Read more »

:: CAD Manager’s Toolbox: Cool Utilities Revisited

Here's a neat tool to help you handle large groups of files — and it's free!

I had a problem in a project this week that required me to splice together a bunch of data files for import into a single spreadsheet for a customer application. The prospects of merging 200 plus files or so manually didn't really appeal to me, so I set out to find some utilities that would help me solve the problem. I found a really neat application in TXTCollector.

You may not have the exact problem I did, but have you ever had to work with multiple script files, batch procedures, or even ASCII-based CAD data like DXF files? If so, this utility could help you just as it helped me with my problem. Read more »

:: Resources

New ISO/IEC Standard Published
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) released ISO/IEC 26514, a new suite of standards developed to address the needs of user documentation designers and developers. Three further standards are being developed that will address the needs of managers; acquirers and suppliers; and testers and assessors of software user documentation. Read more »

:: Events

2008 International CMII Conference
October 5-8, 2008
Orlando, Florida
Aras will host the Institute for Configuration Management's 2008 International CMII Conference, a global event for configuration management and business-process improvement professionals. Read more »

European Aerospace Summit: Simulation in the Aerospace Industry
October 7-8, 2008
Toulouse, France
The summit will address the technical and business aspects of simulation in the aerospace industry, describe current and future simulation technologies, and showcase innovative applications and best-practices. Hosted by MSC.Software. Read more »

Webinar: CAD/CAE Model Clean-Up
October 15, 2008
10 a.m. PDT
Webinar, sponsored by Anark, will discuss new research and survey results related to problems with preparing CAD geometry for CAE applications. Read more »

2008 CADWorx User Conference
October 20-22, 2008
Houston, Texas
Hosted by COADE, the conference includes 54 educational sessions on CADWorkx Plant, P&ID, steel, equipment, ISOGEN, data management, interoperability with CAESAR II, and PVElite. Read more »

3D Systems World Conference
October 20-23, 2008
Charlotte, North Carolina
3D Systems will kick off its World Conference by unveiling and demonstrating its next generation of products related to 3D printing, stereolithography, and selective laser sintering product lines. Read more »

GITA 2009 Geospatial Infrastructure Solutions Conference
April 19-22, 2009
Tampa, Florida
GITA's four-day event will feature more than 100 sessions, half-day seminars, and an extensive products and services exhibition in addition to preconference Knowledge Immersion seminars, user forums, panel discussions, networking socials, and a products and services exhibition. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on