I am not a wiz at AutoCAD but have some experience. I do not know how to use lisps and I am a beginner at best in programming. Having said that...
I would like to create a program to automate the process of drawing retaining walls. I would like to create a program in which I can input specific data points (spot elevations) and have lines, text, leaders, etc. and possibly even details generated based on the input.
I currently use a script from excel for drawing the grade lines. Essentially I input points and the script connects the points. However I need it to do more than this.
My basic question is where should I start? I seems like there are different choices - .NET, ObjetARX, Lisp, etc.
I'm not sure if I should try to generate something in excel and try to export and create a .dxf file or if I should try to learn .NET or one of the other 'environments'. I believe I would to create almost a standalone program that can interface or output to Autodesk.
From what you say you want to do, I'd suggest you start with Revit - www.autodesk.com/developrevit
If you really want to do this in AutoCAD ... To find resources for starting learning AutoCAD, start with www.autodesk.com/developautocad. I'd suggest you use .NET.
Try with AutoLISP first, it's a lot easy than .NET, and the only thing you'll need is AutoCAD. AutoLISP has 20+ years, and that means a lot of resources (documentation, forums, examples, and even non trivial complete applications for free) and very aknowledge people wiling to help. Also AutoLISP will help you to obtain a better understanding of AutoCAD internals.
By other side .NET requires some (at least) basic understanding of OOP, and requires additional resources (Visual Studio), the ARX .NET API documentation it's no good at all, and that usually means that you will be jumping between different help resources for even very simple tasks. So why should You go to .NET: power to acces and manage almost everything inside AutoCAD (custom entities being the most clear example of something you can't do it with .NET, only ARX C++), but at a cost.
AutoLISP: Alive and well
VB/VBA: Almost dead and stinking stronger each day
.NET: Growing stronger
ARX C++: Out of reach for mortals
Design Script: Just begining to babble, but deserve attention
To quote Spiderman: "With great power comes great responsibility". This applies to .NET and even more so with ObjectARX ("Out of reach of mortals" ). Both require a firm grounding in programming concepts, and don't respond well to the hack'n'slash "machete" style coding that beginners can get away with in LISP.
Thanks for the responses and sorry for the delay.
I'm thinking I'll start with some of the "my first plugin tutorials" and possibly the AutoCAD 2013 .NET training. Unless you there is somewhere else you would recommend.
However I am interestied in AutoLisp. Is AutoLISP the same as VisualLISP? Is there a good place to start learning this? A quick search finds many different blogs, tutuorials, etc. any in particular that you would recommend?
Many people use the terms "AutoLISP" and "VisualLISP" interchangeably. Some prefer to use VisualLISP for refering to the (vlax...)/(vla-...) functions. Either way, they are substantially the same thing.
For learning, I'd suggest starting with Lee-Mac.com. Lots of examples and code tools for pretty much everything.
I would skip the 'my first plug-in' tutorial because in spite of the fact that it is aimed at those with no prior programming experience, it's centered around a sample plug-in that deals with one of the most-advanced and complicated aspects of programming AutoCAD (overrules) that will leave a newcomer's head spinning.
If I can draw an analogy, It might be a flight traning school that used 747 jumbo jets.
There's plenty of other learning material available that isn't as fast-paced and provides a gentler introduction to both programming in general, and AutoCAD development, and I would recommend those.
@dgorsman - Thanks for the recommendation I will take a look.
@DiningPhilosopher - Point well taken. I sorta had that feeling while watching a couple. It was presented in simple terms but it seemed like the I was not getting the concepts behind it. Do you have any specific recommendations/suggestions?
What you should look for depends on whether you have any prior experience with programming. If you don't, then I would recommend generic training that involves no AutoCAD-specific topics (which will only confuse a beginner, IMO).