What Programming Language Is Used for AutoCAD?

AutoCAD is a popular software used in the field of computer-aided design (CAD) and drafting. It has revolutionized the way architects, engineers, and designers work by providing them with powerful tools to create precise 2D and 3D designs. Behind the scenes, AutoCAD relies on a programming language called AutoLISP to extend its functionality and automate repetitive tasks.

What is AutoLISP?

AutoLISP is a dialect of the programming language Lisp, which stands for “List Processing”. Lisp is known for its simplicity, flexibility, and powerful list manipulation capabilities. It was originally developed in the late 1950s as one of the first high-level programming languages.

AutoLISP was introduced by Autodesk (the company behind AutoCAD) as a way to customize and enhance AutoCAD’s capabilities. With AutoLISP, users can create custom commands, automate tasks, and add new features to the software.

Why Use AutoLISP for AutoCAD?

AutoLISP provides several advantages when it comes to extending AutoCAD:

  • Simplicity: The syntax of AutoLISP is relatively simple and easy to learn compared to other programming languages. This makes it accessible even for users with little or no programming experience.
  • Tight Integration: Since AutoLISP is specifically designed for use with AutoCAD, it has direct access to all the internal functions and data structures of the software.

    This tight integration allows for seamless communication between your custom programs and AutoCAD itself.

  • Rapid Prototyping: With its interactive nature, you can quickly test and iterate on your code within the existing AutoCAD environment. This makes it ideal for prototyping ideas and experimenting with different design automation techniques.

What Can You Do with AutoLISP?

The possibilities are virtually endless when it comes to what you can achieve with AutoLISP in AutoCAD. Here are a few examples:

  • Create Custom Commands: With AutoLISP, you can define your own commands and functions to perform specific tasks or automate repetitive operations. This allows you to streamline your workflow and save time.
  • Modify Objects: You can use AutoLISP to manipulate existing objects within your drawings.

    This includes modifying their properties, transforming them, or even creating entirely new objects based on certain criteria.

  • Extract Data: AutoLISP provides powerful tools for extracting data from drawings. You can retrieve information about entities such as dimensions, layers, blocks, or even custom attributes assigned to objects.

Getting Started with AutoLISP

To write and run AutoLISP code in AutoCAD, you need to open the built-in Visual LISP Editor. To do this, simply type “VLIDE” in the command line and hit Enter. This will launch the editor where you can write, edit, and execute your AutoLISP programs.

The editor provides features like syntax highlighting, code completion, and debugging tools to help you write error-free code. Once you’ve written your code, you can load it into AutoCAD using the “Load Application” option within the editor. Once loaded, your custom commands and functions will be available for use within AutoCAD.


In conclusion, if you want to extend the capabilities of AutoCAD or automate repetitive tasks within the software, learning AutoLISP is a valuable skill. Its simplicity, tight integration with AutoCAD, and rapid prototyping capabilities make it a powerful tool for customization and automation. So, don’t hesitate to dive into AutoLISP and unlock the full potential of AutoCAD!