Thursday, April 16, 2009

AutoCAD 2010 - No Longer Comes With Microsoft VBA

AutoCAD will no longer come with Microsoft VBA. This has been mentioned before on other blogs, but I wanted to make sure that I addressed it too. For those of you that already have AutoCAD 2010 and use custom VBA routines within it, you may have found out the hard way. I hope not.
AutoCAD 2010 does support VBA, it just doesn't come with it anymore. You have to download the application separately. Autodesk made sure that AutoCAD could use VBA, and they made sure to make it available to those that need/want it. Follow this link to get to Autodesk's download:

VBA Support in AutoCAD 2010

Once you download it, follow Autodesk's instructions on loading it. If you are using stand alone applications of AutoCAD, it's very simple to install. I did it on my machine and can run VBA macro's now no problem. I haven't tried it out on an enterprise or network deployment, but I'm sure somebody has.

Why would Autodesk stop supporting this widely used feature? Because Microsoft has. Once I learned that, then it made since to me. Of course Autodesk would stop supporting a software feature that will no longer be supported by its creator.

It appears that Microsoft Office products will no longer support it either. Office 2007 was the last version to have it. Don't get too panicked, they (Microsoft) are essentially replacing it with VSTA. No, that's not a misspelled Vista, it is VSTA. That stands for Microsoft Visual Tools for Applications. It is the next step in macro evolution, be it good or bad, that's where it is headed. Does this mean that AutoCAD will eventually support this format? I don't know. As far as I can tell, I don't think Autodesk knows yet either. They are still committed to supporting LISP. Imagine the outcry if that ended!!

There are many people that will not be affected by this. In fact, there may even be people that will be affected and they have no idea! Don't worry. If you are one of those people, and don't feel bad if you are, your VBA macros will still work. You will just have to jump through a few hoops to do it.

Here's a question; If you used VBA for custom macros in AutoCAD, will you still use those macros, or will you rewrite them in LISP? Obviously you won't have to for AutoCAD 2010, but what about 2011? Will Autodesk provide this download for that release? Who knows? Maybe the 2010 download will work in 2011 and 2012. It may not in 2013 when the traditional DWG revamp will likely take place.

It seems obvious to me that it would be good for users to start making the move away from VBA in AutoCAD as soon as possible and head the .NET direction. But who knows when that will go away. Maybe users are better off sticking with LISP. Script files are still great, and there is always the Macro Recorder in AutoCAD!! Laugh all you want to, I think it has potential. Not like LISP or VBA or even SCRIPT files, but it has its place.

That is one of the big issues with technology, it is always changing. Once you feel you have a good grasp of something, BAM they take it away, or change the interface to a ribbon!! Change is constant in software, get used to it. I remember when I could program anything in BASIC on my Commodore 64! Man that was a long time ago, especially in software years.

Well, anyway, no need to panic just yet. Autodesk was wise and started the process of weaning its users off of VBA. Perhaps they should have started last year with AutoCAD 2009, but perhaps there were enough surprises in that release with the Ribbon. And AutoCAD 2008 came too soon after the 2007 announcement from Microsoft. Oh well, it is what it is and I think Autodesk is doing the right thing here, as frustrating as it might be. Especially to me because I just bought a VBA for Dummies book about 8 months ago!

Happy CADDING

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