My First Plug-in Training

Lesson 7: Learning More

This final lesson is intended to provide you with additional information to increase your productivity when creating Autodesk Inventor plug-ins. You will look at information on API-related help, documentation, samples and – most importantly – where to go next to continue your learning around the Autodesk Inventor API.

Let’s first look at the API resources that can be installed along with the Autodesk Inventor product onto your computer:

Provide Feedback: Please provide feedback about this Inventor Training or this lesson via email: myfirstplugin@autodesk.com

Resources on your System

Autodesk Inventor Software Development Kit (SDK)
The Inventor SDK contains a great deal of useful information regarding the Inventor API. The three main categories of content are: documentation, samples and tools. The Inventor SDK is delivered with the Inventor product as two separate MSI files called DeveloperTools.msi and UserTools.msi. They need to be installed for their contents to be available on your system. The locations of these MSI files are different on Windows XP and on Windows Vista or Windows 7.

  • For Windows XP - C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Inventor 20xx\SDK\DeveloperTools.msi
  • For Windows Vista or Windows 7 - C:\Users\Public\Documents\Autodesk\Inventor 20xx\SDK\DeveloperTools.msi
  • Video: Exploring the Autodesk Inventor SDK

    Documentation
    A good source of information to help you get up to speed with the Inventor API is the Inventor Programming Help. You can search this file for a particular class, method or property, read their descriptions and take a look at associated sample code (if any is provided).

    Samples
    The SDK contains API samples covering many of the major Inventor API topics. Here is the directory structure of the samples. There are samples using VB6, VB.NET, VC++ and C#. The samples are either Standalone plug-ins such as the one you created or there are AddIn samples that run inside of Inventor. It’s well worth searching these samples for code snippets when embarking on a project or trying to solve a particular problem. If one of these samples does what you want, it’s a simple matter to copy and paste it into your own project, adjusting it where needed.

    Tools
    The Inventor AddIn Wizard is very helpful for developers creating Inventor AddIns (which was not a topic covered in this guide, but may be of interest to you, in the future). After you install the SDK you will find the InventorWizards.msi file in the following location that will install the Inventor Visual Studio AddIn wizard.

    • For Windows XP - C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Inventor 20xx\SDK\DeveloperTools\Tools\Wizards
    • For Windows Vista or Windows 7 - C:\Users\Public\Documents\Autodesk\Inventor 20xx\SDK\DeveloperTools\Tools\Wizards

    For more information on the Inventor AddIn Wizard see the Readme:

    C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Inventor 20xx\SDK\DevloperTools\Wizards\Readme.txt

    Note: The InventorWizards.msi file looks for the full version of Visual Studio. It can still be used with Express versions of Visual Studio, but a manual step is needed (see below). If you have a full version of Visual Studio then after the InventorWizards.msi file is run you will find two ZIP files, such as this one, installed to your system:

    As mentioned earlier, it is still possible to use the Visual Studio Inventor AddIn Wizard with Express editions of Visual Studio by manually copying the appropriate ZIP files (VBInventorAddInTemplate.zip or VCSInventorAddInTemplate.zip) to the Visual Studio\Templates\ProjectTemplates directory. You should leave the ZIP file intact – there is no need to extract the files. To use the wizard, you can simply select it when creating a new project.

    Resources Online

    Autodesk Inventor Developer Center
    The Autodesk Inventor Developer Center is a great resource for those working with the Autodesk Inventor API. As well as listing recent API additions and improvements, it aggregates the various other resources available to you. Highlights of this webpage include:

    1. Autodesk Inventor Object Model PDF (this is also part of the SDK - C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Inventor 20xx\SDK\DeveloperTools\Docs\Inventor201xObjectModel.pdf). 

    2. VBA & Inventor API Introduction White Paper (uses iProperties to demonstrate the API).

    3. DevTVs, self-paced video tutorials which show you how to get started developing with Autodesk Inventor. These can be viewed online or downloaded for later viewing at your convenience.

    4. Autodesk Inventor Certified Application Program (Autodesk Inventor Certified products have demonstrated the highest level of interoperability with Autodesk Inventor software).

    5. Webcast recordings for the Inventor API. The courses serve as an introduction to the Inventor API. The download for the Webcasts are listed by date. (Starting March 4th 2010): view the list.

    Mod the Machine Blog
    Manufacturing DevBlog is a popular blog containing information related to the Inventor API, including white papers, discussions on the use of various APIs and answers to many commonly-asked API questions.

    Manufacturing DevBlog
    Manufacturing DevBlog is a new resource for software developers working with Design, Lifecycle and Simulation technologies from Autodesk. 

    Other Online Resources

    1. Autodesk Inventor product download: this can be installed and used without activation for 30 days from the day of installation
    2. The Autodesk Discussion Group dedicated to the Inventor API

    3. API class content:
    4. Autodesk Developer Network (ADN) members can use this online resource to access additional technical content, to submit specific questions related to the APIs to Autodesk products, and to access released and beta software for development purposes. If you are serious about creating plug-ins with the Inventor API – even if for internal use within your company – and are interested in finding out more about what ADN can offer, please visit: http://www.autodesk.com/joinadn  

    This brings you to the end of this guide. We hope this has proven to be a helpful beginning to your journey with the Inventor API. We wish you the very best in your future API endeavors.