By Miles Nicholson
AutoLISP was derived from an early version of XLISP. The language was introduced in AutoCAD Version 2.18 in January 1986, and continued to be enhanced in successive releases up to Release 13 in February 1995. Since then Autodesk have mainly developed in VBA, .NET and ObjectARX. AutoLISP has however remained and therefore has become an end users primary programing language for customisation.
AutoLISP code can both extract and input values with regards to objects, data or positional information. It has its own built-in GUI referred to as the dialogue control language (DCL) for creating dialogue boxes within AutoCAD or variants of AutoCAD such as AutoCAD Mechanical, AutoCAD Electrical etc.
VisualLisp superseded AutoLISP from AutoCAD R2000 although AutoLISP can still be used.
Autodesk state “AutoLISP is a programming language designed for extending and customizing AutoCAD functionality. It is based on the LISP programming language, whose origins date back to the late 1950s. LISP was originally designed for use in Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications, and is still the basis for many AI applications.
AutoCAD introduced AutoLISP as an application programming interface (API) in Release 2.1, in the mid-1980s. LISP was chosen as the initial AutoCAD API because it was uniquely suited for the unstructured design process of AutoCAD projects, which involved repeatedly trying different solutions to design problems.
Visual LISP (VLISP) is a software tool designed to expedite AutoLISP program development. The VLISP integrated development environment (IDE) provides features to help ease the tasks of source-code creation and modification, program testing, and debugging. In addition, VLISP provides a vehicle for delivering standalone applications written in AutoLISP.”
Links to the developers guide for AutoLISP can be found in the reference section with further information widely available through the links provided below.