Autodesk Developer Network

Autodesk Inventor

Autodesk Inventor software serves as a flexible development platform for building specialized mechanical design applications, as well as for interfacing with upstream, downstream, and enterprise applications for manufacturers. To learn more about Inventor, visit the Autodesk Inventor product center.

Inventor exposes its programming interface using a COM Automation interface.  You can access this interface using most of the popular programming languages available today including Microsoft Visual C++®, VB, C#, and Delphi. Autodesk Inventor includes Microsoft’s VBA, the most popular programming environment in the world.

My First Inventor Add-in:

Video: Overview of My First Inventor Add-in Guide
"My First Add-in" is a self-paced tutorial guide for a smooth introduction into the programming world. This is a "one-stop shop" learning path for users who know Autodesk products but are absolutely new to programming and are thinking about taking the plunge. In this guide, you will be working with the Autodesk Inventor COM API and the Visual Basic programming language.

Click here to start your very first Add-in


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Discussion Groups
Take part in active API discussion forums moderated by Autodesk software engineers.


Autodesk Exchange Apps for Inventor: Easily extend the power of Inventor using apps created for the end user community.


Documentation and Samples
Learn more about Inventor’s API through Inventor’s Programming Help that is delivered with Inventor.  It includes overviews, detailed descriptions of the objects and functions, and sample program. The API help is accessed in the help menu as shown below:

DevTV: Introduction to Inventor Programming
A self-paced video tutorial demonstrating how to get started developing with Autodesk Inventor. 
View online | Download

RegistryFree Inventor Add-ins - Illustrates how to set up registry free AddIns for Inventor, and also how to format the install folder ready for publication in the Store.

Training Material
You can also take advantage of the Inventor API training materials stored in our github repository:


Inventor SDK
The Inventor SDK is installed by default when you install Inventor.  It contains additional sample programs and tools to use when programming Inventor.  The SDK is installed in one of the following locations:

  • Win7 - C:\Users\Public\Documents\Autodesk\Inventor <version>\SDK
  • WinXP - <Inventor install folder>\SDK

When installed, the SDK folder contains three files; DeveloperTools.msi, UserTools.msi, and SDK_Readme.htm. To access the SDK information you need to install one or both of the .msi files, which can be installed by double-clicking the .msi file in Explorer.


The DeveloperTools.msi installs additional sample programs and some tools intended to help developers write applications using the Inventor API. When this component is installed, it creates the directories that contain the DeveloperTools sub folder which contains the following subfolders.

This contains an object model diagram chart that can be useful in understanding the relationships between various objects. This folder also contains some guidelines to use when creating the user-interface for your Inventor programs.

This folder contains several header (.h) files that are primarily intended to be used by programmers using VC++. Occasionally information in these files is also useful in other circumstances.

This folder contains a utility that is currently only used internally and is now obsolete with registry-free add-ins.

This folder contains many larger programs written in several different language that demonstrate various ways to access and use Inventor's API.

This folder contains two programs that are useful utilities when working with Inventor's API.

The first, called EventWatcher, allows you to specify and watch certain events as they occur within Inventor. This tool is very useful when you're writing a program that will be using events within Inventor. You can use this tool to better understand the event behavior so you can know how to take advantage of it within your programs.

The second, called ThumbnailView, is a small component that lets you extract thumbnail images from Inventor documents without having to go through Inventor. There's a readme and some samples that describe and show its use.

This directory no longer contains the wizards installer but now only contains a readme describing the use of the wizards. For those familiar with the previous additional step to install the add-in wizards, the separate wizards installer is no longer needed because the wizards are installed as part of the SDK installer.

The wizards are used from within Visual Studio to create skeleton Inventor add-in projects.

The UserTools.msi file contains several add-ins and standalone executables that help automate certain tasks for Inventor users that are not available in the Inventor product itself. When this component is installed, it creates the directories for the tools that include add-ins and standalone executables. The dll and exe files are installed so you can immediately use the tools without having to compile any source code. The source code for the tools is also installed which you can use as a sample and also can modify to change and extend the behaviour of these tools.

The user tools installer includes the following add-ins: DrawingTools, GeneralTools, DerivedPart_SP and AutoCustomize. It also includes the following standalone executables: ColorSchemeEditor, CopyDesign, PartNumberModifier and UpdateThreadDesignation. A UserTools subdirectory is created in the SDK folder and the programs are installed there. For more details regarding these tools, please refer to the individual "ReadMe.txt" file associated with each tool.

Autodesk Inventor Apprentice is a free COM server enabling standalone applications to have query access to Inventor Documents. Access includes assembly structure, solids topology and geometry, plus query/edit access to file references and document properties. Apprentice is installed as part of Inventor and is also installed as part of the freely available Inventor View which can be installed from here. Documentation and samples are included as part of the Inventor SDK.

Object Model Chart
The Object Model Chart is very useful in understanding what objects are available and how to navigate the object hierarchy to get a desired object. The latest version can be accessed from the SDK: C:\Users\Public\Documents\Autodesk\<Inventor version>\SDK\DeveloperTools\Docs>

Training and Support

If you need more professional customization support, consider joining the Autodesk Developer Network.

For more information on API Training please visit 

Autodesk Inventor Certified Application Program

Autodesk® Inventor™ Suite leads the industry in the breadth, depth, and quality of third-party companion applications. Not only is Autodesk Inventor the best-selling 3D mechanical design software, it’s also the leading platform for providing specialized 3D design functionality. More than 100 Autodesk Inventor Certified applications are currently available, with more coming every day. Become a partner and unlock a new market for your Autodesk Inventor companion products. Partner products bearing the Autodesk Inventor Certified Application logo provide the highest level of interoperability because they use the Autodesk Inventor API (application programming interface) and meet Autodesk’s quality guidelines and testing criteria.

See here for more information about the program.

Porting your application from SolidWorks to Autodesk® Inventor™?

We’ve produced two guides to help those developers already working with SolidWorks, but who also want to support Autodesk Inventor.

Firstly we have the SolidWorks to Inventor migration guide, which highlights the similarities between the two APIs, and provides examples outlining the changes that are likely to be required to move from the SolidWorks over to the Inventor platform. The guide also highlights the key differences between the two products from a developers perspective.

Solidworks to Autodesk Inventor Guide (zip - 2459Kb)

One of the differences between SolidWorks and Autodesk Inventor lies with the way graphics are manipulated by an AddIn application, so we’ve also produced a second guide that introduces Inventor’s Client Graphics system.

Client Graphics in Autodesk Inventor (zip - 1624Kb)

If you’re considering migrating your application to Autodesk Inventor, please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or queries.