My First Plug-in Training

Lesson 7: Learning More

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

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Resources on your System

ObjectARX Software Development Kit (SDK)

In Lesson 1 you downloaded and installed the ObjectARX SDK. This contains the files you need to create plug-ins for AutoCAD using both the AutoCAD .NET API and the C++ ObjectARX API. You may hear some people referring to the .NET API as the Managed ObjectARX SDK or the AutoCAD Managed API.

Video: Exploring the AutoCAD SDK

The docs folder in the SDK contains a set of CHM files that form the primary reference documentation for the API. To open the documentation, double-click on the file arxdoc.chm. This automatically displays the tables of content from all the other CHM files in the folder.

The most important file for you is the AutoCAD Managed Class Reference. Whenever you want to understand how a class, method or property works, you can look it up in this documentation (either by browsing the index or searching for its name). The AutoCAD .NET API is a ‘wrapper’ on top of the C++ ObjectARX API. As you progress, you will find you can gain a better understanding of the .NET API by reading through the ObjectARX Developer’s Guide. This is a comprehensive guide explaining all aspects of ObjectARX development, and covers lots of information on how AutoCAD and the DWG file structure works.

The samples folder contains a dotNet subfolder that contains a number of AutoCAD .NET sample plug-ins. Each sample includes a readme file to explain what it doesn’t.

The classmap folder contains classmap.dwg - a DWG file that documents the combined ObjectARX and .NET class hierarchy. Some people with large format plotters like to plot this and pin it to their wall.

Reference assemblies
The inc folder contains copies of the managed assembly DLLs you must reference from your .NET project to use the AutoCAD .NET API. The DLLs you will most often use are acmgd.dll and acdbmgd.dll.

The inc-win32 and inc-x64 folders contain the Interop assemblies you will reference if you want to use the AutoCAD ActiveX API from your .NET plug-ins.

Other folders
The other folders contain files for C++/ObjectARX developers, so you won’t need them.

Resources Online

AutoCAD Developer Center
The AutoCAD Developer Center collects in one place the links to important information to help you learn and use the AutoCAD APIs. The important parts for you will be the sections on .NET development, including links to:

  1. The AutoCAD .NET Training labs – are a self-paced set of training labs. We recommend this as your next step in learning the AutoCAD .NET API after you’ve finished this tutorial. Posted with the labs is a downloadable set of DevTV video presentations covering the lab lessons.

  2. The AutoCAD .NET Developers Guide – An online developer’s guide containing many code examples, and comparing and contrasting the AutoCAD .NET API with the AutoCAD ActiveX API.

  3. The ObjectARX SDK – You’ve already downloaded and used this in this tutorial.

  4. The AutoCAD .NET Wizards – You’ve already downloaded and used this to create your AutoCAD .NET plug-in projects in Visual Studio.

  5. An API classroom and webcast training schedule – which includes an archive of API webcast recordings.

      Through the Interface Blog
      AutoCAD DevBlog is a popular blog containing information on and many examples demonstrating the AutoCAD .NET API.

      AutoCAD DevBlog
      AutoCAD DevBlog is a new resource for software developers working with AutoCAD and other cross market technologies from Autodesk.

      Other Online Resources

      1. AutoCAD product downloads, these can be installed and used without activation for 30 days from the day of installation
      2. The Autodesk Discussion Group dedicated to the AutoCAD API, including a forum dedicated to the AutoCAD .NET API

      3. 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 AutoCAD API – even if for internal use within your company – and are interested in finding out more about what ADN can offer, please visit:  

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