Feedback & requests for SketchUp to LayOut book

Hello, for those who don’t know who I am, my name is Matt Donley, and I run, and I wrote SketchUp to LayOut and co-wrote SketchUp & LayOut for Architecture with Nick Sonder.

I am currently in the thick of writing the 2nd edition of SketchUp to LayOut. I’m starting to see, overall, what the book is going to look like, but I’d like to open a conversation and ask what would YOU really like to see covered in the book?

One of the most important things to me with this new edition is to include a comprehensive beginners section, so that anyone can pick up the book without ever having used SketchUp before. This adds about 100 pages of content to the beginning of the book. When I wrote the first edition, I omitted a beginner’s section because I felt like there was enough info out there to get people started. But I like the idea of having a complete guide all in one book, that way all of the readers are guaranteed to have a solid foundation.

Other updates I am making to the book:

  • I am generating all new images for the book in much higher resolution.
  • It will be formatted much better for various ebook formats, as well as print.
  • I will be updating the information to all the latest features and workflows, as well as retiring some of the workflows explained as workarounds for older versions.

So what advice do you have for me to help me write the best beginner’s book about SketchUp and LayOut? Are there any concepts, tools, or workflows you’d really like me to include?

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I’m a landscape architect and while I use SketchUp alot I do find it overly object focused. I would find it helpful therefore if you would add a section on setting up a landscape - importing levels data, setting up in true orientation, setting up base axies and such. I know that there is Daniel Tal’s books (I have it and yours), but I dont think he covers this off that well. Great that you are looking to do the update. Thanks Neil Challenger


I’ve been using Sketchup since v6 and got quite good at it.

I’ve tried Layout a few times but not found getting started with it easy, and as a consequence usually avoid using it at all.

I’ve learnt a good bit about it from Dave Richards in particular (thank you, @DaveR, for a one- to-one hands on tutorial some years ago, and frequent useful posts and tips since) but I still don’t find it easy.

I’d welcome a section about getting properly set up in Layout: for example (I’m sure I’ve left important things out from ignorance!)

Customising a few templates for regular use, with page size and orientation, and custom title block or blocks

Setting up viewports linked to SU Scenes (thanks to @DaveR for emphasising the importance of this, and of not modifying the Layout viewport or the SU model in it in Layout itself)

How Layout Layers differ radically from SU layers, and how best to set them up

How to transfer results from Generate Report or CutList plugins to parts lists or BIM elements in LO.

When to dimension in SU and when to leave it to Layout

When and why to overlay viewports in Layout

Known ‘gotchas’ in Layout: for example, buggy export to PDF in vector mode, and workarounds

Automatic text carry-over from SU to LO - I know it can be done, but don’t understand what can be auto-filled from SU into LO text boxes, or how best to set it up

Managing revisions and labelling them appropriately

Performance killers in LO.

Those are just the things I know I need to know - what else should I note?

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When you say “importing levels data”, are you referring to importing contour lines from CAD?

Thanks for the feedback. I’m happy to say that most of what you’ve described is already in the book, which is great. I am going to have a section about how to use generate report, and how to import that into LayOut as a table. I’d say the only one I’m not too familiar with is the buggy PDF export, but I can explore that a bit and see what that’s all about.

Hi @Matt, buggy pdf export, might be a reference to recent diagonals, sometimes appearing since 19.2.

Matt – As an Lsp Arch my typical work flow is to set up a base plan which I then work from and this includes levels, major vegetation, major site features etc. Sometimes I import the levels from a CAD file (and that is a problem because in SketchUp only the contour lines are imported and the text info such as actual heights of contour lines is dropped off which makes manipulating levels hard to do knowingly), or I might trace contour lines off an imported PDF. Either way , I find it challenging to set up the base plan in terms of axies, true north and such. I realise that there is the import site function (where you geo-locate), but it is often such a low resolution image that the data provided is of little value, while if a high resolution aerial photo is imported SketchUp turns it into a low res image which greatly limits its value and means it cant be shown to the client.


Naku noa, na

Neil Challenger, FNZILA


Ph 021 188 6680

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Clarify & simplify the “modified” scene problem - make a clear “do’s and don’ts” list to avoid this pitfall.

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There have actually been a lot of changes to how this behaves. For instance, since 2019, new viewports will be set to whichever scene you last had activated, instead of going to Last saved SketchUp view. But I’m definitely covering this topic in the book. Thanks!