Frustrating dimensions in Layout

There have been many posts about how basic the dimension options in Layout are. But my chief concern is about intuitiveness.

When you select points to set a dimension you next have to select an orientation (horizontal, vertical, off axis, etc). Dimensions are chiefly used in 2D representations where you mostly want horizontal or vertical dimensioning. But far too often getting LO to give you what you want proves a real hassle, jumping around from one thing you don’t want to another, seemingly never finding the one you do. Or that’s how it can seem.

Even now, after using it for some years, I somehow think I should be able to use the Shift key to lock an orientation or the arrow keys to determine it. These feel intuitive because they work the way SU works. But they don’t work in LO. Does anyone know if they could in theory or is there some software limitation that means computer will always say no?

Does this bug anyone else?


It does bug me. Mainly, everything that works one way in Sketchup should work the same way in Layout. That seemed to me obvious yet it’s not like that for Layout.

Another thing that should be fixed is how dimensions in Sketchup and Layout should work well together. I mean if I dimension something in Sketchup, because it is easier, why can’t I style it exactly the same in Layout. As I cannot, it’s either Sketchup or Layout for dimensioning when they should be complementary instead.


You’d think, wouldn’t you?

I have always wondered about the separation of SU and LO. Some part of it must be commercial in that LO is only available with paid for versions of SU. Some of it may be to do with technical issues way beyond my comprehension. But anyone coming from the AutoCad ModelSpace/PaperSpace ecosystem, that seems superficially similar, must wonder why we have to have two packages.

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I like that it has two packs. I just think they should have the same tools.

You can import two or more models into Layout because it’s a separate software.

You can have different users working in Layout and Sketchup.

In the past, you could have free Sketchup 8 and some Pro versions for people using Layout.

I also think that despite the distinct nature of Sketchup and LayOut, how some tools like the “dimension tool” work, make potential new users decide to migrate to other programs instead of Sketchup + LayOut.

For me, after years of using these two programs, everything is natural and obvious, but I know many people who still prefer to choose AutoCad instead of LayOut because it is so different from SketchUp or starting from scratch in Revit after some studies in SketchUp , since they think it is easier to place the dimensions and extract tables of quantitative.

Sketchup not only loses users for other programs (Revit, AutoCad, Archicad …) but also loses its own users precisely because of the discrepancy between these two programs! Precisely Sketchup, the program that is based on intuition and ease of operation, even for a child.

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“Obvious”: known to me but not to you.


That’s a cynical definition along the lines of “the devil’s dictionary”. Meant as a joke…


Ok :grinning:

Either way, Sketchup continues to lose potential users :disappointed_relieved:

I think Layouts short comings are a very big deal. Anyone doing serious work knows incorrect dimensions can be a big liability. The whole process of slicing and exporting line work is tiresome and should be unnecessary. Given Layouts role as a tool for documentation users should be able to lock horizontal and vertical dimensions in orthographic views. Also users should be able to force the dimensions to read the distance only in the same plane as the view regardless of weather the points snapped to are in the same plane. I believe layout sometimes reports the distance of the diagonal distance between 2 points that are out of plane. This is BAD.


This is not bad, this is destructive. I made several posts focusing on that issue.

Unless for perspectives, which are bound to no rule or standard, dimensions are not 3d, they are 2d and the distance they must read is their own line, with a scale factor.


Agreed! Now lets hope somebody who can do something about it is listening…

Just trying to be a bit constructive here, does this idea have legs?

SU/LO must “know” if a scene is being displayed in perspective mode or parallel mode. If it is in parallel mode, I can see no occasion on which anyone is likely to want anything other than flat plane measurements. So could measurements made for those scenes be automatically locked to a flat plane? You might have more latitude with perspective scenes. What do the techies call it? Context sensitive or something?

A jump to LayOut would be if you could put dimensions in perspective, as is possible in SketchUp, when the viewport is in perspective mode. In that same sense, also being able to do scaled drawings in isometric mode would be a good one!

I’ve been building cabinets from SU for the last couple of years. Early on I gave up on LO dimensions. I put ALL dimensions in SU using layers to show them only in a given scene. Then I use “Create Layout files from Scenes”. The only thing I use LO for is to add a title border and to create multiple (3 mechanical) views on one page. I then export to PDF for the architect.

Here’s a typical recent project that has all the dimensions in the SU model:

It sure would be great if somebody could find a way to make a dimension ONLY show in the current scene. While I’m dreaming, how about text and leaders that stay where I put them?

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Okay, everyone has their own way of doing the job, but that’s definitely not how I do it. Do not you use the dimension tool in LayOut?

No I don’t use LO dimensions at all. I use only the SU dimensions. I like to make sure they update correctly when I change a cabinet size (while I’m still in SU thinking about the change, not later in LO). Originally LO’s dimensions were not really linked to SU. I think they are now. I’ve never had the diagonal dimension problem in SU (as described above in LO). Mostly I like to know which file is my final design. It bugs me to have to combine the SU file and the LO file to get the final product. In an ideal world I would give the architect the Sketchup model, not PDFs. I should probably go back and try LO again as it was intended to be used.

If you (and others) end up using SU to dimension things when they have LO at their disposal, that’s an indictment of LO right there.

I have always assumed that you can dimension in SU mainly because some people do not have LO. But LO is designed as presentational software and is the logical place for annotations and dimensions to live. Dimensioning really ought to be very much easier and more user-defined in LO.

The lines between SU and LO are being blurred all the time, especially with the recent addition of Scaled Drawing in LO. It seems to me that there is a slight danger that people will start to get confused about why there are two packs of software in the first place (although I absolutely take @JQL’s points in post 4 above).

I’ve briefly looked at your model (:+1:) but have noted following: you have several dimensions that are not associated to the(ir) geometry anymore. That could lead to unnoticed incorrect measurements when making changes to the model.

Some examples:
R Wall sec 2 (right most two dimensions)
Plan Bay ct (right most dimension)
Plan Bay toes (right most two dimensions)
Plan Bay up (left and right / several dimensions)

Maybe it helps to have checked at all times (in all scenes): Window > Model Info > Dimensions > Expert dimension settings > Highlight non-associated dimensions


Thanks Wo3Dan for reminding me about “Highlight non-associated dimensions”. I used to use that, then forgot about it. In fact I now remember that’s the reason I didn’t used to use red dims to highlight things. I really should be fixing those.

Does LO have an equivalent dimension checker?

simoncbevans: Thanks for your comments on LO. It makes me feel more sane. I will take another look at dims in LO. It’s been a while. Personally, though, I don’t see any plus side to the separation of SU and LO.

As far as presentation goes. I’ve done presentations to clients in meetings with SU and they LOVE it. I usually try to get the job supervisor to “drive”, so it becomes a bit of a game. I can open all my doors and drawers and appliances (and toilets). Something about opening a door and looking inside makes the whole model really believable. In those meeting, I do have dimensioned drawings in my hand to answer questions about dimensions (and because architects are still addicted to 2D drawings).