Keep the Template Simple: Using Custom Commands

This is the last article of this series. The idea of this series to keep your template simple. You only need to have the essential elements in your drawing. And you add the other elements during the design process.

We previously covered:

  1. Keep the Template Simple: Working with AutoCAD Tool Palettes
  2. Keep the Template Simple: Import from External Files

In this article, we cover about using customization. Customization is a very broad topic. You can have a very simple customization but there is no limit what you can make with a custom program. However, in this article, we keep do not cover the complex programming.

However, we do not cover the complex programming here.

Using AutoLISP

AutoLISP is probably the most popular programming language for AutoCAD. You can build many customizations with it. It can be a simple LISP, like adding standard layers as you can see in this AIA layer LISP. There are many things you can do with a simple LISP routine.

If you are good with LISP, you can create almost anything. If you are not, there are many LISP programs are available to download for free. Because AutoLISP program has been used for decades, there are tons of them. You just need to find them.

One of my favorites is the Layer Director from Lee Mac. It allows you to create any object on a particular layer by modifying the table. AutoCAD has dimension layer recently, but Layer Director is still much better. It is a good example how a LISP program can help you to maintain your standard.

Certainly, AutoLISP is not the only option. There is .NET programming. But if you never learn a programming language before, AutoLISP is easier for AutoCAD users.

Unfortunately, AutoLISP and .NET are not available for AutoCAD LT.

Using Macro and Script

Macro and Script use plain AutoCAD commands. AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT can use them. You can use a macro to create custom commands

You can use a macro to create custom commands. For example, you want to create a button to draw a line on wall layer. Another button to draw a line on centerline layer. You can do this using macro like in this tutorial. Macro is not limited to Tool Palettes or command button on your ribbon. You can use it for double click action, shortcut key, and contextual menu (right-click menu) as well. Check this tutorial to get some ideas with using a macro.

AutoCAD Script is a series of AutoCAD command that you save in an external file. You can load it and run it when you need it. You can use it to create layers, create styles, insert blocks, or create other elements for your drawing.

Install Add-ins

This option is only available for AutoCAD. AutoCAD LT can’t have add-ins.

If you don’t want to create your own customization, you can download free or paid add-ins. You can find them on 3rd party website like DotSoft or on Autodesk App Store as the official source.

There are many add-ons that can help you maintain your standard. Layer Library Manager is a free tool that you can use as an example.


AutoCAD has drawing template (DWT) to help you maintain your standard from the first time you start your drawing. However, you need to remember that the settings will be in your drawing until you finish. Too many information can be confusing. That’s why sometimes we use a workaround to keep our standard.

You can use it as CAD Standard file (DWS).

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