Shapes are objects that you use like blocks. First you use the LOAD command to load the compiled shape file containing the shape definition. Then you use the SHAPE command to insert shapes from the file into your drawing. You can specify the scale and rotation to use for each shape as you add it. AutoCAD SHP fonts are a special type of shape file, and are defined in the same way as shape files.
Blocks are more versatile and easier to use and apply than shapes. However, shapes are more efficient for AutoCAD to store and draw. User-defined shapes are helpful when you must insert a simple part many times and when speed is important.
You enter the description of shapes in a specially formatted text file with a file extension of .shp. To create the file, use a text editor or word processor that enables you to save in ASCII format, and then compile the ASCII file. Compiling a shape definition file (SHP) generates a compiled shape file (SHX).
The compiled file has the same name as the shape definition file but with a file type of SHX. If the shape definition file defines a font, you use the STYLE command to define a text style. Then, you use one of the text placement commands (TEXT or MTEXT) to place the characters in the drawing. If the shape definition file defines shapes, you use the LOAD command to load the shape file into the drawing. Then, you use the SHAPE command to place the individual shapes in the drawing (similar in concept to the INSERT command).
To use a Type 1 PostScript font in AutoCAD, you must first compile it into an AutoCAD shape file. The COMPILE command accepts both SHP and PFB files as input and generates an SHX file. Compiled versions of PostScript fonts can take a lot of disk space, so compile only those fonts you use frequently.
AutoCAD cannot compile and load every Type 1 font. The PostScript font facilities in AutoCAD are intended to process a subset of Adobe fonts. If you receive an error while compiling a PostScript font, the resulting SHX file (if one is generated) may not load into AutoCAD.
In the Select Shape File dialog box, you can select a shape definition file (SHP) or PostScript font file (PFB). After you select the file name, compiling begins. If AutoCAD finds an error in the shape descriptions, a message is displayed telling you the type of error and the line number. When compiling is complete, the following messages are displayed:
Output file name.shx contains nnn bytes.