Identifying a particular component within a large model

I have a large model with many components that I’ve been working on for a few years. As I’ve honed my SU skills, I have evolved the way I use components, and I’m generally cleaning up and improving the model over time. When I view the statistics for this model, I see many components just listed as “Component #…” because I didn’t have the good sense to give them a meaningful name when I created them. Is there any way that I can easily find out which component is represented by a particular number?

Assuming the component isn’t nested inside other components, you could go to the In Model Components panel, right click on the component and choose Select Instances or you could go to Outliner and select the component(s) and see them selected in your model.

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So this is generally helpful, but I’m a little confused. For a given component, I must first select one instance of it in the model before right-clicking to see “select instances” in the components tray (otherwise “select instances” is greyed out. But for some components, it may show some instances, but not all. These are components I have verified by noting they are all selected when I edit one–so why do some get missed? And lastly, “select instances” remains greyed out for other components no matter what I do. These are components that may be nested within a group, but I have made sure that they are not nested within another components. So I’m not understanding something in the way this works.

You shouldn’t have to do that. I didn’t have to do that in my GIFs.

It won’t work to select them in the Components panel if the components are nested in groups or other components and if you aren’t in the same context as they are.

It it possible they aren’t used in the model at all? Try purging unused first.

Nested in groups is the same as nested in components. You would need to have the group open for editing to be able to select the components inside. You’d have to do that to select them directly in the model space, too.

Why not share your file so I can see what you are working with? I’d be able to give you more specific help with your file in front of me.

I get your pain–I, too have been honing my SU skills over the last few years–mostly on the same large construction model. I think the component browser is one of the weakest elements in SU. DaveR’s explanations are right of course, but that doesn’t answer why it works this way and why they don’t improve it. The fact is that you have to go hunting to find your components and they’re difficult to organize and keep track of–even if you name them perfectly. I disagree about the often advised solution of purging unused components, without first confirming that you really don’t want them. I think that’s a crutch and shouldn’t be the goto solution for trying to locate and organize your components. I keep variations of components in my model because I swap them in and out and haven’t decided yet. In order to keep them in the browser without falling victim to purging, I created a tag for “Unused Components” just to keep my variations handy but hidden. Plus, this allows me to keep a component–like an alternate light fixture–in place and hide it using tags. But apparently that’s an odd practice (though it has proven to be a good workaround for me).

DaveR is also right about utilizing the outliner to help find where components are nested. I find I need the browser, outliner, and tags tray open when I’m trying to find something (although the bounding box of a component will show up when selecting instances even if the tag is off). Like you, I’ve created components without naming which makes it harder to find later. But this is where applications are supposed to be more helpful without requiring so much typing. I work in audio and video editing programs with thousands of “clips” (like components) and rarely name them because the programs do a great job of keeping track of them by showing and highlighting the connection between the clip in the browser with where it lives in the project. It doesn’t matter if it is nested or turned “off”, the application always makes it obvious where the elements are. Furthermore, these browsers allow you to easily sort and organize all these elements within the project without needing to create external folders. And last but not least, if you want to purge unused items in other programs, they will highlight the elements to be purged first thereby allowing you to deselect ones you want to keep.

Advice in these forums is helpful in learning how to navigate components, but you are not wrong about how difficult it is to keep track of them, or sort them, or even see which ones are being used at a glance. I don’t know why more people don’t call out the component browser for the dog that it is.

Oh, I was way too literal when you mentioned “assuming the component isn’t nested in another component,” and didn’t take it to also include nesting within a group. Issue solved, thank you.