Creating Hierarchies in Outliner

I have just started using Outliner for the first time to organise a large complex model.

In the Outliner Help files is the following instruction: “You might want the Roof group and the House group to be on the same level, so that the hierarchy reflects that the roof is somewhat separate. Simply drag the Roof group to the desired position, as shown in the figure.”. This sounds exactly what I want - to be able to drag and nest groups into a meaningful hierarchy.

But try as I may I can’t get it to work. When I try to drag a group to a new position I get the blue insert line and can navigate this to where I want to move the group. But when I release the mouse button nothing happens. The group stays resolutely put where it is!

I have “Sort by Name” turned off, because this is presumably going to override any hierarchy, and the groups I am trying to move are not locked.

Am I missing something embarrassingly obvious here?

I don’t know what to tell you. It works as advertised for me… You do have to be careful to get the insert line at the right place so that the line for the component that is to become the parent turns dark blue. If you miss and sort by name is turned on, the component will indeed snap back to its sorted place.

Hi - You have partially solved my problem. Following your instructions I can indeed drags groups in and out of other groups and nest them. This is already a big step on the way. Thanks.

However this is not what I was trying to do or would like to do. I attach a very simple example. It is the Outline of a model of a sofa bed. You can see the model is broken down into meaningful sub groups (in terms of sofas that is). It would be nice if I could arrange my outline to conform to a similar logic. In the case of this rather silly example that would be floor at the bottom, then feet, then body, then arms, in ascending order with cushions at the top. A kind of mirror of the real life object itself from the ground up. I appreciate that in this example this is rather trivial and unnecessary but in complex models to be able to arrange following a real life logic would be a very useful way of keeping the drawing organised.

This implies simply changing the list order by dragging items up and down. This what doesn’t work. If I try and move ‘Floor’ to the bottom as shown in the attached screen shot it doesn’t work.

Now, thanks to you, I have discovered a bit about how the Outliner does work, I suspect that I am quite simply expecting it to do something that it isn’t intended to.

Is there any way of achieving what I would like?

I think you are right.

You can sort them in alphabetical order but not rearrange the order. You could append the group names with numbers to put them in the order you want.

I’m not sure whether it was meant to work that way or not, but @DaveR is correct: you can’t rearrange the order in which the components are listed, only choose whether it is alphabetical or based on some undocumented SketchUp internal ordering.

Thank you both for confirming what I had guessed.

It’s basically the same problem as the layers palette. Alphabetical naming makes perfect sense until you come back after some time to a complex multi layered model and try to remember what the hell you called everything. This is where a bottom up ‘what joins onto what’ logical order can be useful and quick to follow. I guess I am conditioned to this from years of Photoshop.

I had wondered about numbering. I already do this in the Layers Palette sometimes to impose a ‘logical’ order rather than an alphabetic one. The difficulty is that if you want to insert a new element that exists in the middle of the ‘Logical’ order it is difficult unless you leave gaps in the numbering or start adding ‘a,b,c …’ suffixes to the numbers. The solution quickly gets more complex than the problem!! Given that the outliner is way more complex than the layers palette I think this would quickly become the stuff of nightmares.

Looks like I need to dream up a consistent naming strategy that is easy to trawl through logically when I can’t remember the actual name itself.

Hmmmmmm …

Thank you both again.

I use the outliner for architectural projects. I use sfb code as a prefix for elements. Probably every region/continent will have something similar as well.

Yes. I am not an architectural professional. I am a movie lighting designer and director of photography trying to get to grips with a private architectural project. So I am slowly devising my own prefixes which are meaningful … well to me at least … ;o)

I use sfb so I can, when my 3d model goes to others, just refer to the sfb instead of having to explain the hierarchy & names. Makes it more easy for them as well if they use the same.

Sorry to be so dumb … can you tell me what you mean by sfb?

sfb classification. See the list in English here:

I use the numbers as a prefix for my own description to keep everything a bit more organized.

Very interesting. Well worth a study. Thank you!!

I actually qualified at the very university architecture school where CiSfb was developed in the late 60’s - only a couple of years before I joined [yes, I am that old!]…
I have use it for many years in production information [CDs] - for naming layers, objects and sheets.
However, the codes must be learnt and are not intuitive, whereas the AIA four-character code system is easier to understand [at least if you speak English].
Many UK architects’ offices use a combination of the two systems - where the numerical start [often mandated by larger clients etc] is given an allowed suffix, based on AIA…
So if it ends with some text containing “-WALL” you know it’s to do with walls etc…

Thanks TIG. Amazing what you learn here.