Great question to ask. I’ve definitely been sharing a huge amount more since lockdown.
Collaboration means my staff or those at other companies I work with (some are less experienced in sketchup) dont screw up my “master model” which is really large and complex (and if it’s screwed up, would cost a fortune to recover)!
Right now Im working on a really big masterplan for a community , and I work alongside ecologists, surveyors, engineers, landscape architects, urban designers, town planners, etc. Some work in SketchUp, others work in different software and send DWGs or IFCs, but I connect everything into the same 3d sketchup environment - then I can host design workshops with our clients (over Teams/Zoom) to review the design in a holistic manner.
Here’s an idea:
A “Tour mode” for SketchUp.
the purpose is to share our model over a Teams/Zoom environment (or even on a data projector).
It would share only the modelling window (could be a seperate Window and dragged into a seperate screen?)… but on our screen we would see the full interface (a bit like Powerpoint, where the presenter has notes and menus, but the viewers do not) .
In Tour Mode, using the WASD or Arrow Keys, and maybe the track pad, we could acheive SMOOTH fly-through animation (no 'stepping" in the scrollwheel zoom), or 3d-mouse-like capabilities, plus functions such as Strafe and up/down movement.
Tour Mode may even have an option to hide certain parts of the model from the viewer (eg I may have some text prompts in the model as Leader Text, which i dont want to be visible in the Tour). Or I could have the model edges visible on my screen, but not theirs.
Collaborating over top of the tour (eg whiteboard) would also be very cool. This is not unlike Trimble Connect, but would ideally be quick to generate from SKP itself (uploading to TC and rendering takes time, and it’s not editable).
Anyway, down to some specifics. I have 2 workflow issues.
These aren’t new ideas, and others have touched upon them, but I’ll try to explain them as thoroughly as possible.
I think we need a robust reference manager for SketchUp - something that we can save out pieces of a model to other staff, and then easily re-sync them. I do use the Re-load function, but im talking about something better.
First - The Component Browser’s “in model” viewer needs improvement - Most of the info is there currently but it’s tedious to use if you have 500 components in your model. We need quick visibility of thethe Loaded Component’s file name, date, last modified date, size, author… right in the first tab of the detail view. I also want Loaded components to appear at the top of the “In Model” list, and next to each item have a handy button to reload it quickly. (much like LayOuts reference manager).
Second - We need a more reliable way to send out and receiving pieces of a SKP model for editing by others. Right now we can only work on the same “master model” in one of two ways:
Current Method 1. We can export a single component as a SKP file that want somebody else to work on. This method doesn’t preserve any context, scenes, tags,or component hierarchy from the “master model”. It doesn’t even preserve the master model’s 0,0,0 location (so, when I reinsert it, it doesn’t go back in the original place)!
Current Method 2. We can send somebody else our entire model and they can edit just a part of it. This takes a lot more admin, file transfer, and explaining what they can edit and what they cant (eg don’t edit my tag names! or create duplicate materials!.) . Once editing has been completed at their end, we can’t just resync it easily as a reference file.
Im not 100% sure what the solution is to this challenge, but the current workflow makes me very nervous about collaborating on SKP files with other staff - there is so much that can potentially go wrong (and go unnoticed until it’s too late, causing significant liability risk). When you add in some fairly complex LayOut referencing and style-by-tag manipulation, it all gets a bit “too hard basket”.
Future State: I imagine being able to assign a number of entities within my model as “issued” (lets say 5 components, 2 groups and a number of Section Planes and a JPG). These could be provided to somebody else to edit t, and then I can seamlessly re-load them back in to my model later. I’d like the person who received my Issued data to be able to see the whole model (and update it from my source), except that non-issued parts of my model wouldn’t be editable (it would be locked).
At my end, once I have issued parts of my model to others, those entities would appear Locked (or “frozen”) to me. From time to time, each of us would need to be able to re-load/Sync the other’s information into their file.
This would happen across nested components, and include other types of data such as groups, jpg images, DWG imports, etc.
I sometimes do use Trimble Connect, but mostly just as a markup/viewer and commenting tool - since our industry doesn’t use it so I’d be the only one in my firm. As a viewer/collab tool, it’s pretty cool, though I think it would be great if users (our clients and their staff) didnt have to sign up to a Trimble Account just to see the 3d render and add basic comments etc. Some sort of Guest sign in would be awesome. Having to sign-up puts most people off using it, as it’s not something we use all the time.
We import and export files to other companies - and use DWG and IFC.
(SKP 2022 added the “export selected” feature which is a real lifesaver!)
DWG and IFC files are the commonly traded format in the AEC industry, but SketchUp doesn’t have good capabilities in this critical area. To assist interop between other staff, we need some type of compatible geolocation. It seems like all other AEC software seems to be able to work at a “real” coordinate, or a common project datum reference. SketchUp can’t move it’s origin basepoint without placing geometry too far away (and causing other issues) - so how about a 2nd type of basepoint that’s purely utilised as a reference (not the model origin, but a point entity placed within the model) (ps I know that this issue can be worked around by maintaining a second SKP file with a shifted origin, but this is a clunky workflow and few people know about it).