Although each release of AutoCAD translates to bigger and arguably better features one thing has never changed; its malleability. In fact some would argue the malleability of the software as being its best feature. Be it the CUI command, LISP routines, or even VBA and .NET applications. Each of these features is included in the software for one reason – user customization. Even still, LISP and .NET customization can be rather illusive for all but a small minority of the AutoCAD user base.

Luckily script customization affords even rookie AutoCAD users a way to automate AutoCAD with endless possibility. While I know the sheer term “Script File” intimidates many, but truth be known, you’ve been writing script files for as long as you have been using AutoCAD. So how is that possible? Well an AutoCAD script file is really nothing more than sequence of standard AutoCAD Commands. Thus if you know how to type commands at the command line, you know how to write a script file.

Let’s take a look at how we might create a script file which creates a new layer named C-ROAD-TEXT, sets its color to Yellow, and then sets the layer current.

The LAYER command is among a growing number of AutoCAD Commands which have both a dialog box version, and a command line version.  By default, AutoCAD uses the dialog box version of a command.  While this is great for general usage, script files have no way to interact with dialog boxes.  For this reason we must explicitly tell AutoCAD to use the command line version of a command.  Generally, this can be done by prefixing the command name with a hyphen (-).  Consequently, rather than typing LAYER which opens the Layer Manager Dialog, we will need to type -LAYER.  This will suppress the dialog, and present the entire command at the command line.

Typing -LAYER at the command line results in the following prompt:

Enter an option [?/Make/Set/New/ON/OFF/Color/Ltype/LWeight/MATerial/Plot/Freeze/Thaw/LOck/Unlock

Admittedly, navigating the command line version of a command can certainly add a degree of intimidation to this whole process. The important thing to pay attention to here is which letter(s) are capitalized.  Looking to the -LAYER command, typing “C” will allow you to set a color, but assigning a material means three characters; MAT.  In looking at the command prompt, you’ll notice that Color is represented with just the C capitalized, whereas MATerial has MAT capitalized.  Using these abbreviations will share you a few keystrokes, but when in doubt you can always spell out the entire option.  Thus rather than typing C, you could type Color in its entirety.

Looking once again to the command prompt, I want to create a layer named C-ROAD-TEXT.  The option to create a new layer is New, and so I’ll simply enter N at the command line.

Enter an option [?/Make/Set/New/ON/OFF/Color/Ltype/LWeight/MATerial/Plot/Freeze/Thaw/LOck/Unlock
/stAte]: N

After specifying the New option, AutoCAD will now prompt me with the following where I will enter my desired layer name.  In this case I’m going to enter C-ROAD-TEXT.

Enter name list for new layer(s): C-ROAD-TEXT

Upon pressing enter I am returned to the base LAYER command, where I can now change the color of my C-ROAD-TEXT layer from the default, White, to Yellow.  To do that I’ll enter C, which we now know stands for Color.

Enter an option [?/Make/Set/New/ON/OFF/Color/Ltype/LWeight/MATerial/Plot/Freeze/Thaw/LOck/Unlock
/stAte]: C

Assuming I use one of the standard 255 AutoCAD colors, I can simply enter the desired number.  As some may know, for primary colors such as Red, Yellow, Blue, even Cyan, I can either enter the colors number or it’s name.

New color [Truecolor/COlorbook] : Yellow

After specifying my desired color, I must now tell AutoCAD which layer to make yellow. I will of course enter C-ROAD-TEXT at this point.

Enter name list of layer(s) for color 2 (yellow) <0>: C-ROAD-TEXT

At this point I have now assigned the color Yellow to my newly created C-ROAD-TEXT layer.  With that, I can simply <Enter> through the command. So what does all of this look like in the form of a script?

-LAYERCommand Line Version of the LAYER command
NShortcut for New
C-ROAD-TEXTMy new Layer Name
CShortcut for Color
YellowCould also enter 2 for Yellow
C-ROAD-TEXTLayer I want to assign the color Yellow to.
 Blank line representing an <Enter>
 Blank line representing an <Enter>

AutoCAD knows to execute this as a script file based on its extension.  For this reason I’ll want to use my favorite text editor (Notepad), do a File > Save As, and be sure to use a .SCR extension.

Naturally, creating the script file is but half the battle.  I now need to execute the file in some way.  Being a keyboard commando, you can execute a script file by typing SCRIPT or SCR at the command line.  The other option is to go to Tools > Run Script.  Both options will launch a dialog where I can then browse to the location of my .SCR file.

The most fundamental way of launching a script file is by typing SCRIPT or SCR at the command line.  This will launch a dialog, where I can then browse to wherever I have saved my .SCR file.