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I am interested in developing an AutoCAD plugin and am trying to understand the relationships between several different types of AutoCAD plugin files:

  • Managed DLLs that ship with AutoCAD plugins
  • ARX files that ship with AutoCAD plugins
  • CUIX files that ship with AutoCAD plugins

From what I can tell these three files are all inter-related and work together to initialize and load a plugin, I'm just not seeing the forest through the trees as to what information each file type contains, which files loads or depends on the others, etc.

It sounds like a plugin's core functionality is supposed to go inside the ARX file, and written in C++ and compiled for the native/target platform.

It also sounds like, at startup, AutoCAD loads its plugin DLLs, which are all managed .NET libraries (typically written in C#), and in turn they invoke their native/compiled respective ARX files. As to where the CUIX file comes into play, I still have no idea.

Can anyone help explain the relationships & dependencies of these files, and what types of code/logic/data goes inside of them? Thanks in advance!

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According to Autodesk's website, an ARX file is basically a DLL but with a different extension. It is a plugin developed with the ObjectARX API. I don't really know if there is a significant distinction from a DLL, I have only ever written plugins using DLLs and loaded them using the NetLoad command.

A CUIx file is just a user interface customisation file. When you customise you UI elements and workspace, you can export this file to use on other PCs or as a backup for future use.

You can, however, control the CUI programatically in order to provide contextual UI updates to augment the user experience of your plug-ins.

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