Benefits of working with only components

It is for groups. That is what groups are for.

Whilst I like the Edit Flag, it could certainly be improved. It doesn’t need such a large dialog box and I would prefer it if it didn’t pop up on top of icons I make regular use of (meaning I have to close it or move it). Also, it has a safety feature built in that prevents you from immediately interacting with your component without first clicking on it again. I would like to be able to turn that off as I find in unnecessary and quite irritating. According to Sketchucation, the plugin has not been updated for five years so maybe it’s time.

I think it has already been pointed out (quite gently) that you don’t really need the plugin if you use the native tools properly. Keep Entity Info always in view and it tells you whether you are working with a component or group and how many instances exist.


I fully agree what Dave has written.
I use groups only for one purpose. To subtract or intersect two groups to create a new entity.
Even when a “constructed” group is created it is converted to component immediately for the reason described by Dave.

A warning that you are editing a component should ideally not be modal at all, just a small text in the corner of the screen. It would be enough to shift the graphical center of gravity, meaning you notice it, but not be disruptive.

Extension developers have long asked for a way to draw to the viewport like this outside of an active tool, but so far nothing has happened.


I don’t understand the term modal but I wonder if this is possible? When you open a component for editing, you select it with the cursor arrow and double click. What about having a small context popup off the arrow as a warning?

A modal window is a window that coves its parent window and prevents any interaction with it (and pauses execution of the thread). If you enter “UI.messagebox(“Text”)” in SketchUp’s Ruby console a modal window will show up.

Maybe the window you are describe isn’t truly modal but it sounds similarly distracting.

Here’s a screenshot of it. As I said above, quite clunky.


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@eneroth3 Julia, I wish I had your facility to write code. All that is needed is a modest notification when you open a component to remind you that it is a component. The word component would do. You don’t need to be told how many instances because Entity info tells you that. You certainly don’t need a window taking up so much real estate with traffic lights etc. Any such notification should disappear automatically as soon as you start on the next command as it will have served its purpose by then.

But I make my cabinet doors/drawers open with “on click”. I think using Components is the only way to do that. I just created a cabinet with opening drawers as a Group (I exploded the components). Believe it or not, when I copy/paste the group it STILL is linked to the original (opening a drawer on the one opens the original), UNTIL I open it once. Then it becomes a unique group but with the same name. Quirky.

Another reason I use components is to export a parts list, though it no longer works since SU “upgraded” the “Generate Report” (no longer puts each part on it’s own line).

In any case, the simple solution is to keep an eye on the number of components in the “edit info” panel (or use “Edit Flag”.

There is a trick that I regularly use when I work on several versions of a project in the same model :
I lock previous versions (select> right click> lock)
So sketchup systematically asks me if I want to make unique, even for nested components.

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Use group by:

Thanks Mike! That solved my problem. I didn’t realize I could control the “concatenated” strings that way. I was able to separate parts that we’re different in one dimension (x,y or z).

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Very clear explanation - thank you!

Thanks Dave. The main drawback of all components is forgetting to make a unique instance and inadvertently altering the components throughout the model. Very annoying. Otherwise I would definitely make everything components. For the file size if for nothing else.

That has never been an issue for me. Since I know everything is a component and a glance at the Entity Info panel tells me how many instances there are, I can stay on top of it.

I have learned (somewhat the hard way) that using Components is usually the best way to go. I have 2 exceptions where I have not:

  1. When I bring together all the pieces of a large model, I may group them, as the model itself is not intended to be duplicated. (DaveR does lots of furniture models, which could very well be used repetitively in other models, so it makes sense that he always uses components for the whole, as well.)

  2. When I use a plugin to create geometry, I’m very happy to have the plugin create groups rather than components for the internal bits, so it doesn’t clutter my component browser with all the bits that I don’t even recognize. I have downloaded components from the warehouse that have added quite a lot of bits to the component browser, and I really don’t like that…

So I recommend paying heed to the advice of the sages on this forum (in this case, the advice to use mainly components), because they really do know what they’re talking about!

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This is a good point. There are some cases where extensions can use components. It would make sense of Advanced Camera Tools allowed you to select a camera from the component browser and place it to create a scene. In most cases though groups are to be preferred. The camera frustrum from ACT is a good example. You want them all to be unique and controlled individually and having them as components would litter the Component browser.


Does this add significantly more to your file size? Correct me if I’m wrong but your projects seem to have smaller scope than, say, a detailed house model. I am wondering if this is the correct approach for me to be including in my workflow having maybe a few hundred groups for organizational purposes.

I see the benefit to your approach and it intrigues me but I need to practice some economy with my file size, do you have any input on this thought?


I don’t find that my workflow significantly increases file size. It may do so because components have a wee bit more overhead than groups usually do but for me, the benefits of using only components far outweigh any minor file size increase that might cause.

My projects don’t cover the kind of square feet a house would but they are typically highly detailed anyway.

As for whether or not my workflow would be a benefit to you, I guess I’d suggest you try it.

One way you might look at your modeling is to think of it as a sort of finite bank account. Every edge, face, or texture you add costs file size. Where do you need to “spend” your file size? Does the fridge or dishwasher you put in the kitchen need to be anything more than a door? Does the sink really need a strainer in the drain? Does the fireplace need a grate and logs or could you just use an image as a texture? You probably see where that is going. Just don’t add things that really don’t have value in the model for the way it’ll be used.

What do you think?

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Yeah, I defiantly keep my polys low, I learned that from my asset creation days for video game models. I just want to be sure my workflow is spelled out before I have it reviewed by my firm to implement at all work stations. I just wasn’t sure how much a component would add versus a group. I will try this out on a smaller project before moving forward. Thank you for your input! very much appreciated.

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