You want quickfort.You want macros. They're surprisingly powerful, but surprisingly little-known.
I agree. For some very simple jobs, macros can work fine, and I use them every day. Macros aren't the correct solution for laying out my forts, though.
I personally tend to plan my forts before I ever strike the earth, and with QuickFort I can do anything from simple rooms, to laying out massive multi-z-level complete forts if you want to. You can set up something, and have to automatically designate down (or up) z-levels. You can have it rotate your designs, and have them auto-repeat in any direction (N, S, E, W, up and down).
The macro editor in DF writes way too much code. I personally find it limited, and not very clean.
But, again, I agree with you. Depending on what you want to do, Macros could be a solution.