Groups vs. components


I understand the difference, no problem.

However, it seems that the tutorial videos say that as soon as you have the object (board, cylinder, molding shape, whatever) created, you should save it as a group. Or a component. In fact, one video says group, but the onscreen view shows that he made it a component.

It’s obvious to me that something should be done, almost as a reflex action, but which one?


My workflow has always been that if I know I’ll be duplicating the object around the model I make it a component. If I know there will be only one, or I’m unsure I make a group.
I tend to default on groups when I’m unsure in order to avoid the Component Browser to fill up with too many items that I know I won’t be reusing.

It should be said that I also keep my Component Browser and Material Browser in list view instead of thumbnail view because I find it too hard to visually find the correct item if I have many similar ones.

Also, when you have Groups, you can right click them to make them components - but not vice-versa. If you want a component as a group you need to open the component, select all, group it, then explode the component - yuck.


Uh, @thomthom, doesn’t this component/group tip belong on the beleaguered skill builder thread :wink:


I got into the habit of always using Components because there have been some strange bugs with Groups in the past, particularly if you copy them. The copies sometimes remained strangely entangled with the original. I only use Groups for (duh) temporarily grouping a bunch of items to move, scale, etc. them as a unit.


When using the API you mean? There was a bug there, yes, but that should be fixed now.


Yeah, as I mentioned, it got to be a habit and now I’m fixed with it :flushed:


Thanks for the thoughts.

So, let me run this by you, and see if I’m thinking straight:

I want a simple cabinet: 2 sides, top/bottom/shelf, a door.

Create a board for the side, make component. Copy and move for the other side.
Create a board for the bottom, make component. Copy and move for top and shelf.
Create the door, make component.
Select assembly, make it a group.

Now, if I place that group next to another group, I can still work on them without them “sticking together”.



It sounds like your procedure will work perfectly. You may want to include the cabinet back as part of your component and you also may need to model the door handle(s) as part of that component. Whenever I include handles within a model, I make them a separate (sub) component within the door component.


Basically, yes. A couple more thoughts:

  • when you copy/move the side to the other one, also flip it along the direction you moved it. That way you will get the right symmetry in any joinery such as dados, rabbets, etc.
  • depending on how the carcass is joined, you may want the shelf to be a different component than the top and bottom, and you may want to flip the top with respect to the bottom.
  • the ComponentInstances in the cabinet Group are still instances of the same ComponentDefinitions, so if you edit them inside one copy of the Group you will also affect the ones in any other copies of that Group. In other words, each copy of the Group is distinct and you can do certain things such as add more contents and move contents, but Grouping did not make the contained ComponentInstances unique. That’s a potentially confusing point, so I hope I explained it clearly enough.


I’m fine on the first two points. I’ll chew over the third!


Just to illustrate the 3rd point for you.
This is a group containing two components and a loose circle.
You can see how the components are edited in both groups but the raw geometry isn’t.