CAD Manager's Newsletter (#206)

21 Oct, 2008

Editor's note: The October 8 issue of CAD Manager's Newsletter included a typo that appeared in several places. In all instances in which the LISP code included the word undefined, it should have read undefine. We are sorry for the error.

Programming Topics, Part 4: AutoLISP

Set up customized AutoLISP code files for all your users without having to work at individual computers.

In the last several editions of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I've been leading you through a methodology for using AutoLISP to control your AutoCAD-based applications. Along the way you've learned to undefine commands, add new ones, and redefine commands to perform custom functions.

This time I'll finish up my CAD manager's look at AutoLISP by showing you how to control many machines over a network using the ACADDOC.LSP file in tandem with a network-based LISP file. I'll also point you toward some AutoLISP reference materials you can use to further your usage of AutoLISP should you choose to do so. For the purposes of our discussion, I will assume you've read the last few installments. Here goes.

ACADDOC.LSP Limitations
As you'll recall from prior lessons, the ACADDOC.LSP file is automatically loaded every time AutoCAD starts up. Therefore, the ACADDOC.LSP file becomes a very handy place to put your custom AutoLISP code. The downside is that the ACADDOC.LSP file is unique to the user's machine and therefore resides on the C drive somewhere. And since the file resides on the C drive, the CAD manager has to visit the user's machine to make any changes to it.

So the CAD manager finds himself in a situation where he has a method to control users' machines, yet he'll have to go to the machine over and over to make changes. Hardly a productive way for CAD managers to spend their time.

ACADDOC.LSP as a Pointer
To get around our ACADDOC.LSP problem, we'll use a trick to stabilize the file so you will be able to customize the AutoLISP environment without going to the user's computer. Interested? Here's how it works. Read more »

:: CAD Manager’s Toolbox: Tough Times for CAD Managers?

To better your chances against looming personnel cuts, try these tips.

With all the financial uproar going on these days, I'm starting to get questions from CAD managers about job security. Leading these questions are "How do I layoff-proof my career?" and "What can I do to prepare for the worst?"

First let me address layoff-proofing yourself. The only way I know to not get laid off is to be so valuable to the organization that management would be crazy to get rid of you. From the CAD manager's position, below are some things you can do to be more valuable to your company.

Optimize Your Value
Make your CAD systems easy to use. This ensures that projects flow smoothly and users get jobs done faster, thus making them (and you) more productive.

Help out during crunch times. If there's an overwhelming CAD push, do some production work so the project gets done on time. In downtimes, it pays to be versatile and be part of the production machine!

Ask your boss what you can do. By partnering with your management, you can help meet goals and position your company for success. You'll never know how you can best help unless you ask. Read more »

Got a cool tip I should know about? Send it to me at If I used your tip in the newsletter, you'll receive a cool Cadalyst prize!

:: Resources

Cadalyst Job Search
Looking for a job? The Cadalyst Web site offers a job search section with extensive listings of CAD-related jobs in the United States. You can do a custom search with your own key words or search the listings by state.

:: Events

Geospatial Applications and Solutions: A Working Model
November 20, 2008
Adelaide, Australia
IMAGINiT Australia will host this geospatial industry briefing. Topics will include geospatial technologies, national solutions, and integration. Read more »

Energy, Efficiency, Sustainability, and Innovation
December 8-10, 2008
Berkeley, California
The Construction Specifications Institute's Building Product Manufacturers Alliance second meeting will include technical sessions, a tour of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, round-table discussions, and networking opportunities. Read more »

Webinar: Automated Code Checking of BIMs in an e-Government Environment
December 16, 2008
2 p.m. ET
Presented by the Construction Specifications Institute, this webinar will discuss how initiatives, such as building information modeling, will change the design, construction, and approval of buildings. Read more »

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