About Symbol Tables (AutoLISP)


Symbol tables are used to store non-graphical information in a drawing’s database.

The symbol tables that exist in a drawing database are:

Symbol tables in each drawing database

Symbol table name



Registered applications


Blocks (named and anonymous)


Dimension styles






Text styles


Named User Coordinate Systems (UCSs)


Named views


Named viewports

Symbol table entries can be manipulated using the following functions:

Symbol Table Limitations

The following rules apply to symbol tables:

Accessing Symbol Table Entries

The tblnext function sequentially scans symbol table entries, and the tblsearch function retrieves specific entries. Symbol table names are specified by strings. Both functions return lists with DXF group codes that are similar to the entity data returned by entget.

The first call to tblnext returns the first entry in the specified symbol table. Subsequent calls that specify the same table return successive entries, unless the second argument to tblnext (rewind) is nonzero, in which case tblnext returns the first entry again.

In the following example code, the function GETBLOCK retrieves the symbol table entry for the first block (if any) in the current drawing, and then displays it in a list format.

(defun C:GETBLOCK (/ blk ct)
  (setq blk (tblnext "BLOCK" 1))      ; Gets the first BLOCK entry.
  (setq ct 0)                         ; Sets ct (a counter) to 0.
  (textpage)                          ; Switches to the text screen.
  (princ "\nResults from GETBLOCK: ")
  (repeat (length blk)                ; Repeats for the number of
                                      ; members in the list.
    (print (nth ct blk))              ; Prints a new line, then each
                                      ; list member.
    (setq ct (1+ ct))                 ; Increments the counter by 1.
 (princ)                              ; Exits quietly.

Entries retrieved from the BLOCK table contain a -2 group code that contains the name of the first entity in the block definition. If the block is empty, this is the name of the block's Endblk entity, which is never seen on occupied blocks. In a drawing with a single block named BOX, a call to GETBLOCK displays the following. (The name value varies from session to session.)

Results from GETBLOCK:
(0 . "BLOCK")
(2 . "BOX")
(70 . 0)
(10 9.0 2.0 0.0)
(-2 . <Entity name: 40000126>)

As with tblnext, the first argument to tblsearch is a string that names a symbol table, but the second argument is a string that names a particular symbol table entry in the table. If the symbol table entry is found, tblsearch returns its data. This function has a third argument, setnext, that you can use to coordinate operations with tblnext. If setnext is nil, the tblsearch call has no effect on tblnext, but if setnext is non-nil, the next call to tblnext returns the symbol table entry following the symbol table entry found by tblsearch.

The setnext option is useful when you are handling the VPORT symbol table, because all viewports in a particular viewport configuration have the same name (such as *ACTIVE). If the VPORT symbol table is accessed when the AutoCAD TILEMODE system variable is turned off, any changes have no visible effect until TILEMODE is turned on. Do not confuse VPORTS, which is described by the VPORT symbol table with paper space viewport entities.

The following processes all viewports in the 4VIEW configuration:

(setq v (tblsearch "VPORT" "4VIEW" T))         ; Finds first VPORT entry.
  (while (and v (= (cdr (assoc 2 v)) "4VIEW"))
                                               ; ... Processes entry ...
  (setq v (tblnext "VPORT"))                   ; Gets next VPORT entry.