AutoCAD selection sets in IronRuby

Using selection set filters in the AutoCAD .Net api has always been less than enjoyable. Take, for example, this bit of code from the online .Net Developer's Guide

using Autodesk.AutoCAD.Runtime;
using Autodesk.AutoCAD.ApplicationServices;
using Autodesk.AutoCAD.DatabaseServices;
using Autodesk.AutoCAD.EditorInput;

public static void FilterSelectionSet()
  // Get the current document editor
  Editor acDocEd = Application.DocumentManager.MdiActiveDocument.Editor;

  // Create a TypedValue array to define the filter criteria
  TypedValue[] acTypValAr = new TypedValue[1];
  acTypValAr.SetValue(new TypedValue((int)DxfCode.Start, \"CIRCLE\"), 0);

  // Assign the filter criteria to a SelectionFilter object
  SelectionFilter acSelFtr = new SelectionFilter(acTypValAr);

  // Request for objects to be selected in the drawing area
  PromptSelectionResult acSSPrompt;
  acSSPrompt = acDocEd.GetSelection(acSelFtr);

  // If the prompt status is OK, objects were selected
  if (acSSPrompt.Status == PromptStatus.OK)\
    SelectionSet acSSet = acSSPrompt.Value;
    Application.ShowAlertDialog(\"Number of objects selected: \" + acSSet.Count.ToString());
    Application.ShowAlertDialog(\"Number of objects selected: 0\");

The thing that bothers me the most is having to build that ugly TypedValue array

TypedValue[] acTypValAr = new TypedValue[1];
acTypValAr.SetValue(new TypedValue((int)DxfCode.Start, \"CIRCLE\"), 0);

Being an old LISP hacker, I know most of the DxfCodes (8 for layer, 0 for type, 62 for color, etc) or I can find them easily. But why am I forced to remember those codes at all? If I know that I want to filter on type or layer or color, why do I have to either know the appropriate code or cast the enum member to an int. And why do I have to keep up with the index (ie, that 0 just after \"CIRCLE\"), )? Why can't I just do something like

filter =
filter.Layer = "my_layer"
filter.Type = "Circle"

Well now I can. I have extended my acadhelper to include a new class called SsFilter

class SsFilter
  attr_accessor :data
  def initialize
    @data = {}
    @elements = {:Type => 0, :Text => 1, :BlockName => 2, :LineType => 6, :TextStyle => 7, :Layer => 8,
                 :StartPoint => 10, :CenterPoint => 10, :EndPoint => 11, :Elevation => 38, :Thickness => 39,
                 :TextHeight => 40, :TextWidth => 41, :Rotation => 50, :Oblique => 51, :Color => 62}
    @keys = @elements.keys
  def filter
    typed_value = Ads::TypedValue[]
    new_filter = System::Array.of(typed_value).new(@data.size)
    i = 0
    if @data.size > 0
      @data.each_pair do  |key,value|
        new_filter.set_value( @elements[key], value), i)

  def method_missing(method_name, *args)
    if method_name.to_s.match(/(\\w+)=/) && @keys.include?($1.to_sym)
      @data[$1.to_sym] = args[0]\
    elsif @keys.include?(method_name)
      return @data[method_name]
      super(method_name, *args)

This new class uses a bit of method_missing magic to create a very friendly and readable way of creating a selection set filter.

The C# code above can now, using other methods from my acadhelper gem, be written as

require 'rubygems'
require 'acadhelper'
include AcadHelper

def filter_selection_set
  filter =
  filter.Type = "Circle"
  ss = select_on_screen filter
  result = "Number of objects selected: "
  result += ss ?  ss.count.to_s : "0"
  alert result

And I did have to make a minor change to the selectonscreen method to support the new filter class and still allow for hand-built filter arrays

def select_on_screen( filter_data=[])
    if filter_data.is_a?(SsFilter) #new test
      filter = filter_data.filter
      filter = build_selection_filter filter_data

    ssPrompt = ed.GetSelection( filter)
    if ssPrompt.Status == Aei::PromptStatus.OK
      return ssPrompt.Value
    rescue Exception => e
      puts_ex e

The new class has been added to the gem on github but it does not yet support logical grouping or relational tests. Those are coming soon

Written on December 1, 2009