Area & volume reporting

Even when we work in millimetres as our base unit, we often want to know answers in metres. This is especially so in determining areas and volumes. But we tend to be presented with answers in the base unit and without separators which makes things difficult.

In the example below, the area is shown as 2955262013 mm². If that were shown as 2,955,262,013 mm², it would be much easier to see that it is 2,955 sq.m. But there’s possibly an even better solution. Why not have a drop down arrow beside the box that allows you to select the unit?


I realize this has been requested before, as here: Volume / Area readout, but if we go on asking…


Agree, except that comma (and point) never should be used for digit grouping as it’s also used as a decimal separator. A short space is recommended.

Setting volume and area units in Model Info > Units could also work.

Yes, gaps would achieve the same thing.

I have a shortcut for invoking Model Info so that I can change units but it would be much faster to be able to do it in the manner I suggested with a drop down box. The Layer box above already has just such an option.

The layer dropdown is a dropdown for changing layer of the selected entity. I don’t think it is a good idea to control a model wide unit setting from Entity Info. Even if the dropdown just changed the units used in Entity Info, and not a model setting, it would be quite confusing to mix inputs that change the model with inputs that change the UI.

Of course its shouldn’t be required to open Entity Info each time a volume or area is to be read but I think digit grouping or a separate are/volume units, controlled from Model Info, are better approaches than controlling unit from Entity Info.

Way above my pay grade so I defer to your advice!

Agree per model-wide setting.

BUT, it might be interesting if an entity could have it’s own display volume and area units.

There would need to be some kind of indicator that the displayed value was in entity units and not the generic model units. (Maybe the dropdown button is grey when in model units, and blue in entity units ? Or… maybe an icon precedes the value? … or perhaps the field label is in parenthesis when it’s entity units?)

Taking this further, entity units could mimic entity materials where primitives settings override group / component parent settings, but the parent settings display for any child entities not set. If the parent is unset then children display in model units.

Thoughts ?

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I just don’t see how that would be useful. When would you specify that a certain entity uses a certain unit, and another use another unit, within the same model?

On the other hand it would be quite difficult to design an indicator and other UI elements that are intuitive.

Again, way beyond me. But I notice that if you use the Text tool on a surface, you encounter the same problem. So any solution really needs to operate in all circumstances.

This problem occurs in Autocad as well so maybe it looks a simple problem but really isn’t?

Could it be solved by a small plugin that gave various bits of info depending on what was selected? It could display in alternative units and might allow you to choose multiple areas, for example? Or multiple lines when you want to know a perimiter length, say?

I am just thinking out loud here.

As I remember, It is one of the most often requested features to do with units in the past. So others have already thought of the benefit.

I once was asked if I could create a units extension to have part of a model in one unit and an older part in ancient units. (There are many archaic unit systems that were used to build ancient buildings that need to be modeled because of restoration work, or they need to interface with new additions in modern units.)

So imagine a project in China, where a new addition needs to be made to an ancient building. The ancient part could be in a group. Imagine being able to set the ancient group to have it’s own “local” units set to one of the archaic local chinese unit systems that would be in effect whenever working within the group.

Currently users have to work in a separate file in say meters, and then scale it or a component instance inserted into a large model file down or up to the “special unit” using some scale factor.

[FYI. The requester wasn’t willing to fund an extension, he wanted it to be a SketchUp native feature.]

For example the model generally may be done in cm, but flooring (tiles, etc.) might be calculated and purchased in another square unit. So modelers often have requested the ability to “tag” certain surfaces to display in the unit which they’ll use to buy the covering (tiles, flooring, paneling, siding, etc.)

In the U.S. the building modeling units are “ft-in” but the surface area units are usually decimal square feet.
But it is has been the metric users that have said their area and volume units differ the most from length units.

Another example is concrete volume which is ordered in cubic yards in the U.S.

Still another example is roofing and siding materials. In the U.S. they are calculated and ordered in squares. (1 square is 100 sq. feet.) Material rolls are 3 feet wide and 1 square total area (33-1/3 feet long.) Singles are typical in 1/3 square packages.

Some modelers could get by with a global setting in Model Info > Units, others might like more control.

To be fare, it might be done in a plugin, … the unit and value kept in attribute dictionary.

Windows has an established style for controls that are set as the default but can be changed. It is not an insurmountable problem.

I cannot see how a “Local Unit” dropdown control in the Entity Info panel is “difficult to design” or in any way not “intuitive.”

Simon’s idea is that the right portion of the Area and Volume boxes are dropdown unit selector controls.
I don’t think it’s all that bad of an idea myself, and it serves to condense the info panel. I believe it would be absolutely intuitive if a unit choice control follows a value, that all users would understand that changing the unit in the control will affect the displayed value that precedes it. (They would be in reality separate side-by-side controls.)

Or perhaps the new “Special Attributes” could serve as the repository and display place for special units.
The “special units” would display down in the special attribute list and be easier used in LayOut documents where the information is more useful (or Reports.)

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Yes, this could be very useful, a simple dropdown in the entity info to select the units would set the preferred context units.
A general setting of preferred units for each entity could also be in a masking format eg.
would set the length units in millimeters (precision 0) , the area in M2 (precision 0,00) and the volume in hectoliters (precision 0,00) in the model.
This should be set in the Model info (or template)
In general, people do not have problems switching in units and precision when communicating with each other. Are you there, @simoncbevans ?

Yes, I’m here!


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thankgod, you are awake!:joy:

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