Lesson 1 -- The Basics

This lesson covers the following topics:

Introduction

Welcome to the DataCAD Developer Network DCAL tutorial.

This lesson will introduce you to the powerful macro language that is known as DCAL. You should already know some of what is possible with DCAL macros since all of the macros in your Toolbox menu in DataCAD are DCAL macros. Macros can be very simple or very complex. They can be made to perform a specific task or to be a general editing tool that can be used in many ways. You can write macros to do almost anything that you can do in DataCAD. In fact, you can only access certain functions of DataCAD through DCAL. If you have ever wanted to simplify a complex or repetitive task that was beyond methods such as keyboard shortcuts or toolbars, then DCAL will probably be able to help.

DCAL is a very powerful tool and it will require some effort to learn to use it. We will assume that you have no formal programming knowledge. If you have a knowledge of another programming language it will help, but it is not required. If you are familiar with DataCAD and know your way around your PC, then you can learn DCAL.

If you do work along with this tutorial you will be rewarded handsomely. Along with the difficulty of mastering DCAL there is great power and potential. We will start at the simplest level and work our way up. While the basics will be mandatory for learning DCAL, you may not need to grasp every advanced concept as it is discussed. Come back to topics as you need to use the information.

There will not be any formal testing or 'homework' assignments, but like any complex task, learning will come through use. You will learn faster if you try to put what you are learning into use. It is one thing to read through a source code listing and think you understand it. However, it is better to compile, edit, tweak, modify or otherwise hack the source code listing to see what you can make it do. As with any learning, you will only get out of it what you put into it. Do not expect to simply read this tutorial and go out and write a complex macro the next day. It will not happen. Programming is one part art and one part science. We can teach you some of both but only through use will you truly understand what is possible.

This tutorial is presented in a 'teach yourself' fashion. You can come and go from this tutorial as you wish. To help you with questions and answers we have setup a forum to support DCAL. Do not be afraid to ask a question. Chances are if you are unclear on a subject someone else is as well. The only stupid question is the one not asked.

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