The best feature ever added to AutoCAD is…

LISP. I have now closed the What are the best features ever added to AutoCAD? poll, and the winner is AutoLISP/Visual LISP, by a long, long way. I don’t always agree with the majority view expressed in the polls here, but in this case I wholeheartedly agree. Adding LISP was the biggest and best thing that ever happened to AutoCAD. Autodesk owes an enormous debt of gratitude to John Walker for incorporating the work of David Betz, who was of course standing on the shoulders of John McCarthy. It’s a crying shame that Autodesk has been so terribly neglectful of Visual LISP for over a decade.

Here are your top ten “best ever” AutoCAD features:

  • AutoLISP / Visual LISP (32%)
  • Paper / Model Space / Layouts (21%)
  • Xrefs (20%)
  • Copy / Paste between drawings (19%)
  • Dynamic Blocks (16%)
  • Object Snaps (15%)
  • Layer Visibility per Viewport (12%)
  • Undo (12%)
  • Grips (12%)
  • AutoSnap (9%)

Something interesting I noticed is the age of these features:

  • AutoLISP / Visual LISP – 1985 (significantly improved 1999)
  • Paper / Model Space / Layouts – 1990 (significantly improved 1999)
  • Xrefs – 1990
  • Copy / Paste between drawings – 1991
  • Dynamic Blocks – 2005
  • Object Snaps – 1984
  • Layer Visibility per Viewport – 1990 (improved 2008)
  • Undo – 1986
  • Grips – 1992
  • AutoSnap – 1992

The youngest feature here is 6 years old, the oldest is 27. The average top-ten AutoCAD feature is over 20 years old. What does that tell you?

4 comments to The best feature ever added to AutoCAD is…

  • I can’t believe Lisp beat out Undo. Don’t get me wrong I love lisp, but wow. When I consider the two, I see CAD without undo as a far more grave situation…. But then I make a lot of wrong turns :-)

  • Soopida

    Also think of drawing without Object Snapping in AutoCAD.

  • Albert Kalman

    What does that tell you?
    In the first 10-15 years Autodesk works for us: new product, clever product, very good paper documentation, a lot of detail for programming, fast product, simple, long life cycle for lunch the new product, more stable, (continued in “worst ever” list)

  • What about BATCH PLOT ??? Still doesn’t work entirely correctly for me in 2012 !! Crashes wildly, without reason… The 4th time I try it, it usually works. Most times it plots one or 2 sheets then hangs…
    But that feature would/could be the ultimate timesaver when I’m working with a 60+ page set and need to get PDF’s out…I estimate that when it is working correctly, it could save almost a 1/2 day of work, IF IT WORKED PROPERLY !

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