I think we're outgrowing sketchup

We are at a crossroads and I just wanted to hear some opinions (I think :yum:) Our firm has an interior, engineering and design “team” and we all collaborate on one model. Its almost impossible to keep each other up to date on every little shift and change. We’ve tried a collaborative model but then someone needs to comb through it to make sure it jives. I desperately need a tool in Sketchup which we can all be in the model at the same time.

The only tool I’m seeing that has this is Revit.

This is not a bash on Sketchup, I think we’ve just outgrown its capabilities, I’m really just asking to see if anyone has the same issues that we do and if they’ve found a way to make it happen (because that is what I ultimately want). I love Sketchup but my documentation/collaboration life is so hard right now.


i’m a single person “team” but i break down my “model” into a bunch of sub-models: starting with the baseline template which contains floorplans and interior surface shells. this is included in each submodel and the “master” (which contains all submodels which is where you can spot any conformance issues).
so: foundation, walls, ceiling, electric, plumbing, hvac, interior finish, trim, etc etc are all submodels. when i’m done editing a submodel, i simply refresh to master model (and if i’m rendering, the render model(s) which have most internal structure bits not included as they’re not needed in most renders), and also the “details” models which may have some specific combinations of submodels in order to highlight the details for how things fit together.
this arrangement let’s me build the models in a logical way + keep things organized by “discipline” and not step on other aspects.
presumably if using this approach in an actual team, you’d want a “build” master assigned to manage the baseline template (which can sometimes need updates), the initial set of submodels and the master. this person is responsible for periodically updating the master model and refreshing any layout projects.
for me, separating out the different aspects lets me work much faster than the old way (10 or so years ago) when i tried to keep it all in a single model which often just felt cluttered and hard to edit. anyways my 2¢…


There have been a couple of attempts at a form of XRef’ing over the years but they never really matured. I doubt they failed due to apathy on behalf of us users but most probably due to the way SU is structured.
I’ve only just upgraded to SU24 from SU22 and only because I was worried about 22’s ongoing support, otherwise I’d have stuck with 22. I see almost nothing feature-wise between the 2 versions.
An XRef like toolset WOULD be a worthy upgrade of a version bump unlike the new (unreadable) icons and a mirror, sorry ‘flip’, tool.

Check further down this thread, the amazing Fredo has made an XRef plugin!


yes, reference in this way is what we have implemented. The problem is when you’re not a one man team and trying to communicate changes to other disciplines.

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While collaborating in Revit is perhaps more outlined, it does not have a live sharing feature, yet.
A central model should be hosted in the cloud ( €1000 subscription per user extra) and worksets (who gets to work on what part of the project should be managed. Participators then download a copy of the cloud model to work on their set and manually synchronize the progress. Other participants get a notification and then the cycle starts again.
A lot of data traffic.
Before the cloud option (BIM360, Autodesk Cloud ir whatever the name is), there was an option to use a Revit Server, where one could mimic the same behavior in a local network.

There is a live collaboration option in Tekla 2024 version, so at least you know of one software that has this capability:)
Anyway, I think there is a need for live sessions where one could nail some current issues in a session, but not always. Sometimes you need to get away from the problems, walk the dog and get an idea of how to solve an issue.
Perhaps an investment in a large screen and using the share functionality could bring the team on a higher level?

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Archicad too has a server-based collaboration option. Been using it at work for years. Users work on the same model and reserve parts of it to modify, and save their updates back to the central file. I don’t know how this compares to the Revit alternative.

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Sounds the same…
As said, collaborative inside the SketchUp Universe will take some discipline and manual labour….
A true ‘live’ solution inevitably hosts the resulting model in a cloud solution, in a gaming kind of way, where the triggerhappy folks would reign.
(I always lost when trying to participate in my son’s gaming adventures online:)

Other collaboration software:





195/M for total footage of 25.000 m2-78.000m2

You don’t have to use the Autodesk Cloud solution for central models with Revit. They can be saved on shared folders on a local server. Revit Server still exists but you don’t need that either unless you are sharing models across a WAN with poor bandwidth. We have gig fiber between our offices and it works fine. We used to run Revit Server but don’t need it anymore with the faster bandwidth.

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Correct, but the OP talked about ‘live’ modeling together in one session.
The workshare method (either on Revit server or on your own network) is basically a streamlined version of the ‘divide main model in separate smaller junks (components) and then reload in the main model method’ .
If there will be a true live collaboration in Revit, my guess it will be hosted on their cloud solution (and not free)
I understand the need for a more ‘project’ based approach within the SketchUniverse, though.

You might want to have a look at Speckle - you can collaborate multi-platform across multiple modelling and data platforms…
Whether it’s SketchUp, Blender, Revit, Rhino, Excel, ArcGis.

it’s free outside of all but the most complex enterprise setups

Speckle - The Platform For 3D Data


I wasn’t commenting on live vs. workshared. Your post seemed to imply that you had to use BIM Collaborate Pro and Revit Server was discontinued and I wanted the OP to know that wasn’t the case.

It’s about using the right tool(s). Not what tools you like or love, but the ones that get the job done.

While there may be some workarounds or changes to workflows that could resolve your teams’ issues, unfortunately it sounds like moving away from SU might be your best option. Just try to consider what you’ll lose in the transition: you and your team will have to adjust to a new system in terms of productivity and features. But it is only you as a group that can decide how the change - and any gross increases/decreases in efficiency and effectiveness aimed at the job - will impact the team, and determine value from there.

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At my company we use CAD to do the drawings and sketch up more as a design and visualization tool. Each department uses XREFs to keep the drawings organized and then one designer works as needed on the SketchUp model. Sometimes the design is done in the model then the model is used as a reference to get it drawn up in CAD sometimes the design is drawn up in CAD and then modeled up in sketch up. I think working with a large group of people all in the same model could get very confusing and mistakes could easily get made and changes missed. We don’t use Revit but I do think if you are looking at everyone being in the same model then that is probably the way to go.


Thanks for your feedback. Managing your model can definitely be cumbersome when you’re trying to collaborate with multiple colleagues. We’ve been cooking up some new workflows to help ease this burden. If you’d like to hear more about them or catch an early preview, please send me a private message and we can talk!


Is that workflow related to Ifc format?

I couldnt agree more, a XREF based workflow would set a huge improvement. And in addition, the same logic of blocks applied to DC’S, i think most of us may work ith out own library of components, and every time you change it, it wont update automatically on the designs.

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I think even with Sketchup’s current limitations, it wouldn’t be the hardest thing to at least set up a more clean collaboration system. I wouldn’t mind a “check-out” option where you could open one isolated part of a model, which would be locked from outside influence in the combined model until you officially sign it back in to release it, or the admin user/owner of the main file takes it back. Version history of each sub-model would be vital.

In my mind that component would stay locked while being edited but would update and show the changes with each save/autosave. It would also make sense to have the ability to SEE BUT NOT EDIT the greater context from within the component, either as an x-ray “Ghost” or as locked geometry, an option that would cut down on accidentally breaking the overall design. Working on an isolated sub-model has some significant limitations otherwise, and I’d want to reference the colors, textures, reference points/lines, copy components from elsewhere in the model, etc.

It might not be as seamless as, say, a Google Docs-style collaborative process with instant edits, but it would be better than the current state, and would really only be adding a few automatic safeguards, niceties and TrimbleConnect zest onto a process that’s already 90% achievable with a Dropbox free account and some annoying manual processing. I’m

Ditto on the icons, several of the old ones were easier to parse in a small format/with bad eyesight. Especially ones that used to have individual/skeuomorphic colors. That pink eraser, yellow tape measure, orange/yellow paint-in-a-bucket, and the red+green orbit tool (Separating it visually from the rotate tool) all come to mind. The consistent color scheme is pleasing to the eye but takes some instant-read discoverability out of the design.

On the other hand, I can’t disagree with you more on the flip tool… I’ve been enjoying it and use it constantly. It’s a huge upgrade from the old commands especially now that it’s got more options for flip direction and plane.

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@AndrewNVKB I’ve no problem with the flip tool but it was basically the only feature that came with 2023 other than the icons and I most certainly wouldn’t call them a ‘feature’

2024 has given us the new graphics engine which is a worthy justification for a version bump but I can’t use it because it draws so much memory on my RTX card that I can’t render with it enabled.

So far I personally haven’t experienced any difference between 2022 and 2024 other than the icons and less screen real estate due to the larger font size in the tab panels. I know Layout has finally seen some attention but in my current role I don’t use it.

I’m going to have a sessions at 3D Basecamp this year in Vegas on exactly this topic. It’s called “TeamUp 2.0: The Art and Science of Collaborative Modeling”. I presented this at Basecamp in 2022 in Vancouver, and attendees found it incredibly helpful.

I work for a firm that designs massive themed entertainment projects (theme parks, aquariums, destination attractions), and we often work on teams with 10 to 40 internal staff, plus scores of consultants, coordinating massively complex projects.

Collaborative modeling is NOT an impossible thing to achieve with SketchUp. It takes a lot of planning, a lot of organization, and a some technical prowess, but it CAN be done.

We have people working in SketchUp, Revit, 3DS Max, Rhino, Zbrush, Unreal, and more, and we all work together, share models, and coordinate massive projects.

I hate to say “you just have to come to Basecamp to see”, but it takes me an hour to explain in a session. I’m not sure I can do it in a post in a forum.

I hope this helps. I’m not sure it does.


I have the same reaction, except for Match Photo and measuring existing conditions. I certainly want to attend your talk in November.