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Blade Basics

I would greatly appreciate some training on how to leverage the benefits of the new BLADE program interface.

This is coming from someone who has been programming in LISP (off and on) for a long, long time. I saw the potential for increasing productivity through the use of AutoLISP very early on in my career. My only training took place 30 years when I took a four day course offered by an AutoLISP expert who was travelling the country running a course on AutoLISP. From this course and leveraging Compuserve forums and materials from writers such as George Head, Bill Kramer and others I was able to create some pretty decent routines (in my humble opinion). I remember how utterly amazed I was to see my first program in action. I was hooked.

I used the VLIDE interface in AutoCAD but never understood the nature of its usefulness aside from the "pretty print" feature which managed to improve the readability of my code. In hindsight I now regret not pursuing how to use of VLIDE more back then. Since moving to BricsCAD I have been using UltraEdit.

Well I'm now pushing 65 but I am not ready to give up learning but time is becoming evermore precious to me so I want to make the best of that which is left. :)

So, forgive my ignorance but I would greatly appreciate some insight into how to properly use BLADE. An online course, Help files & Tutorials are so wanting and would be so appreciably received.

I think if more young CAD operators take the time to investigate LISP programming they will find, even in today's world of vertical applications and addons, the tremendous power available to them and the potential they have to increase their own self worth and their value to the company they work for.

Torsten Moses, you are amazing. The work you've accomplished to increase the potential of BricsCAD to become a major contender in the CAD marketplace and still have time to answer questions from lowly programmers such as myself is truly a gift of God. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Phillip Rutledge


  • edited May 2018

    Dear Phillip,

    too much of good words for me :smile: Nevertheless, I'm happy if users & developers get advantages and improvements for their work and their programs :smile: That's the driving force
    (besides > 10 years of bothering me for a Lisp IDE)

    I'm working to get the "Lisp Developer Support Package" extended for the (very big) BLADE documentation ... not difficult, but a tons of work to descibe all the possibilities, features, details and so on (besides that BLADE will get major improvements with each BricsCAD update);
    so the docs are coming (and LDSP docs are incorporated into the official BricsCAD Online docs).

    As much as I hope that most editor + debugger details are (somewhat) self-explaining - there is 1 major non-obvious detail for the debugger :smile:
    To start debugging a Lisp function/file, first start Debug mode (F8), then load the Lisp file containing the code you want to debug.

    Background : when loading Lisp code from file, while Debug mode is active, creates a bidirectional connection between editor/debugger, and the Lisp engine core ...
    Lisp code loaded before Debug mode has started will perfectly work - only, you can just not "debug-into" such preloaded code, as the bidirectional connection (for that code parts) are not present ... such code behaves like built-in core Lisp functions
    (attempting so, the Debugger will provide some feedback about missing code - so you can demand-load uloaded Lisp code, just on-the-fly) ....

    In first sight it might look a bit complex ... but I'm very sure, once you got the 2,3 little tricks, it will be very easy and comfortable to debug with BLADE :-)

    wish yopu a nice day & many greetings !

  • Thank you Torsten for your timely reply. I realize you much on your plate. Looking forward to the next release of LDSP and every new version of BLADE and forthcoming docs. I don't know if it's possible but if I can assist even in some small way I would be pleased to help.


  • Phillip, Totally agree on your compliments to Torsten.
    I've programmed in the VLIDE in acad for years, and it does these awesome things:
    1) lets you check paren closing by double click before or after a paren "(" or ")".
    2) Lets you "check text in editor" to see if any errors. It's report is clickable. THe cyan highlighted text takes you to the error area.
    3) If you have several files involved in one program, you can set up a project which is a list of the files. Then each project has a little list window.
    You can double click on an item in the list to go to or open.
    You can click a button at the top to "load all lisps in project"
    You can use Find, and say to look in "all project files"
    4) You can compile many lisps to one .vlx, and automatically protect any global vars from other lisps using "separate namespace" (awesome!)
    5) You can set a breakpoint with F9, then choose Tools->Load text in editor. When you run a function, it will stop there and you step through with F8, shift-F8, and can also fast forward to other break points with green arrow on debug toolbar.
    6) While in debug, you can select a variable, right click, and say "add watch" to see its val.
    7) In debug, you can select any var or expression, like (strcat "wow " "this " "is great"), and right click "inspect" see the result in a window that stays "pinned" with the val, even after you stop debug.

    Using those things, you can debug huge complicated projects. My Civil3D replacement program is over 100 lisp files, and has .net dll's it works with too. Its the same ideas as simple use though, just lots of it.
    Now, I say all that as the same things can be done in the BLADE, though slightly differently for some.
    New things the BLADE offers are:
    1) Code Folding.....!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! yes. Compact functions into one line with + at left to expand like visual studio
    2) Auto Break - breaks on any function loaded while in debug mode. Handy if you are unsure what is running when.
    3) a real human, Torsten, to help with bugs or improvements. We used to have Peter Funk with Autodesk, but he is gone from them.
    4) more too, like save and restore settings, searching, and others I'm still discovering.
    I'm still getting used to the BLADE too, and check out blognauseum for tweaks to get close to VLIDE look.
    To see vars and expressions in debug, hover over, or copy and paste to console to see the return.
    Note that you can type VLIDE in bcad too, if BLADE does not roll off your fingers, though it sounds way cooler.

  • Wow James, Thank you soooo much for taking the time to share this outline with me.

    I have NEVER been a fan of proprietary devices/programs (unless it was my own I guess, lol). My career for years centered around the land surveying industry. As Drafting manager for a company at the time we purchased AutoCAD and along with a 3rd party survey package. I wasn't keen on how they handled some things. I read about this programming language called AutoLISP and set out to see if I could use it to customize AutoCAD to our own liking. As I mentioned before, after taking a four day course on LISP in 1988 and was hooked.

    It sounds like we've had similar career paths, only you've taken yours to a higher level. Kudos to you.

    30 years later the base program I built then lives on and now consists of 85 programs compiled into one DES file. 21 years ago I went out on my own doing custom programming, computer and CAD support for one of the land surveying companies I used to be employed with. Since moving them from conventional drafting to CAD my programming remains relevant. I've also done work in several other disciplines (automotive and hydro utility companies)

    The one thing I regret is not delving more deeply into VLIDE years ago. I am sure it would have made my life easier. Well, I have great admiration for Torsten and all that he's accomplished. I don't plan to let his hard work go to waste. Besides, learning is good for the "grey matter".

    I am hoping that the good folk at Bricsys will spend some time making a few tutorial movies on BLADE but regardless I look forward to using BLADE. You're right... BLADE sounds way cooler.

    I saw that article from blognauseum but since have little ties to VLIDE I figure I will work with BLADE in its native configuration. I will continue to monitor that site for additional tweaks.

    As I move forward from here would you mind if I pick your brain a little from time to time?

    Thanks again for your help James. I hope this conversation might be encouraging to young CAD operators out there to delve into BLADE and LISP programming.

  • James, how many of those VLIDE features already existed in Vital Lisp when Autodesk bought it, as opposed to Autodesk adding those features post-acquisition ? I can't think of anything off the top of my head that Autodesk added to it, but that has been ±20 years ago.

  • How is the documentation going, I was at the London Blade event and we saw some really good descriptions, unfortunately, I heard that the video of the talk failed, is there any information anywhere about the various options that are available in Blade, I can find nothing other than a few screen shots of Blade but no clue as to what it all does. I'm waiting with anticipation for Steve Johnsons spots on the Bricscad Blog, which is still a couple of months away, but a reference book with a bit more detail would be something a lot of people could use.

  • I agree Steve

  • Dear All,

    I'm working on a comprehensive BLADE documentation as part of the "Lisp Developer Support Package" (as CHM, HTML, PDF doc) ...
    I hope to have it end of February, and will post a notice here then.
    many greetings !

  • Hi Torsten, that will be great, I really look forward to it, on a side note have you considered trying to redo the talk you did in London with a good video, it really was impressive?

  • @Steven_g said:
    Hi Torsten, that will be great, I really look forward to it, on a side note have you considered trying to redo the talk you did in London with a good video, it really was impressive?

    Agree. Maybe come down and do it in Australia at the conference for us :smile:

    Jason Bourhill
    CAD Concepts

    Come to the Australasia BricsCAD Conference

  • Hi Torsten,
    Your efforts are greatly appreciated. The talk you did in London seems to have impressed folk here. I too would like to see that. :)
    Keep up the good work my friend.
    I wish you all the best in 2019.

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