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The utilities listed in the previous section are just a few samples of the many utilities available for AutoCAD. Other sources for AutoLISP utilities are the AutoCAD journals Cadence and Cadalyst. Both offer sections that list utilities written by readers and editorial staff. If you don’t already have a subscription to one of these publications and want to know more about them, their contact information follows:

Finally, the companion CD-ROM included with this book contains some freeware and shareware utilities .

Also on the CD-ROM, I have included my own AEC (architecture, engineering, civil) software offering basic architectural utilities, such as a symbols library, automatic door and window insertion program, and reference symbols. If you’re using AutoCAD’s 3D features, you’ll also want to check out the Eye2eye 3D viewer. Eye2eye lets you easily create perspective views using a camera and target object. For more information on what is included on the companion CD-ROM, see Appendix C.

Putting AutoLISP to Work

Most high-end CAD packages offer a macro or programming language to help users customize their systems. AutoCAD has AutoLISP, which is a pared-down version of the popular LISP artificial intelligence language.

Don’t let AutoLISP scare you. In many ways, an AutoLISP program is just a set of AutoCAD commands that help you build your own features. The only difference is that you have to follow a different set of rules when using AutoLISP. But this isn’t so unusual. After all, you had to learn some basic rules about using AutoCAD,commands, too-how to start commands, for instance;and how to use command options.

If the thought of using AutoUSP is a little intimidating to you, bear in mind that you don’t really need substantial computer knowledge to use this tool. In this section, you will see how you can get AutoUSP to help out in your everyday editing tasks, without having to learn the entire programming language.

Loading and Running an AutoLISP Program

Man’y AutoCAD users have discovered the usefulness of AutoUSP through the thousands of free AutoLISP utilities that are available from bulletin board and online services. In fact, it’s quite common for users to maintain a “toolbox” of their favorite utilities on a diskettd, But before you can use these utilities, you need to know how to load them into AutoCAD. In the following exercise, you’ll load and use a sample AutoLISP utility found on the companion CD-ROM ..

  1. Start AutoCAD and open the 14a-unit.dwg file again.
  2. Choose Tools > Load Application. The Load/Unload Applications dialog box appears. .
  3. In the file list box, locate and select the Getarea. 1sp file from the companion CD-ROM. It is included among the sample drawing files in the \ Figures \ directory.
  4. Highlight Getarea.1sp and click the Load button. The message Getarea.1sp successfully loaded appears in the message box at the very bottom of the dialog box. If you scroll down the list in the Loaded Applications tab, you also see Getarea.1sp listed there, which tells you that it is loaded.
  5. Click Close to close the Load/Unload Applications dialog box.
  6. Now enter getarea.
  7. At the Pick point inside area to be calculated: prompt, click inside the Unit plan.
  8. At the Select location for area note: prompt, pick a point just above the door to the balcony. A label appears displaying the area of the room in square feet.

You have just loaded and used an AutoLISP utility. As you saw in the Load/ Unload Applications dialog box, there are several other utilities you can load and tryout. You’ll be introduced to a few more of these utilities later on in Appendix C, but for now, let’s look more closely at the Load/Unload Applications dialog box.

Managing Your AutoLI$P and VBA Library

The Load/Unload Applications dialog box gives you plenty of flexibility in managing your favorite AutoLISP utilities, You can also manage your VBA and ADS applications. As you saw from the previous exercise, you can easily find and select utilities using this dialog box. If you find that you use a custom application often, you can include it in the History list of the Load/Unload Applications dialog box.

  1. Choose Tools > Load Applications again to open the Load/Unload Applications dialog box.
  2. Click the Add to History check box.
  3. Click the History List tab.
  4. Select Getarea.1sp again from the list of applications at the top of the dialog box.
  5. Click Load. Getarea. 1sp appears in the History List.
  6. Click Close to close the Load/Unload Applications dialog box.

Now when you exit AutoCAD, the dialog box retains the name of the Getarea.1sp utility in the History List tab. When you want to load Getarea. 1sp in a future session, you won’t have to hunt it down. You can highlight it in the History List tab, -then load it from there. You can add as many items as you want to your History list, or remove items by highlighting them and clicking the Remove button. The History list works with all types of applications that AutoCAD supports.

Loading AutoLISP Programs Automatically

As you start to build a library of AutoLISP and VBA applications, you may find that you use some of them all the time. You carl set up AutoCAD to automatically load your favorite applications. To do-this, you use the Startup Suite in the Load/ Unload Applications dialog box.

  1. Choose Tools > Load Applications to open the Load/Unload Applications dialog box.
  2. Click the Contents button or the suitcase icon of the Startup Suite group. The Startup Suite dialog box appears.
  3. Click the Add button. The Add File to Startup Suite dialog box opens. This is a typical file dialog box that allows you to search for and select a file. .
  4. Locate and select the Getarea.1sp file in the \Figures\ directory, then click Add. The Startup Suite dialog box reappears and Getarea. 1sp is listed.
  5. Click Close, then click Close again in the Load/Unload Applications dialog box.

From now on, Getarea. 1sp-will be loaded automatically whenever you start AutoCAD. You can add several files to the Startup Suite list, or remove them by selecting them in the list, then clicking the Remove button.

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