Issues with layout has me investigating sketchup alternatives

I have been professionally using sketchup for over 17 years and am coming to the realisation that I am going to have to leave this software behind for another one that actually just works. I use sketchup for architectural modelling, visualisation and documentation. I have been trying to use it as my sole architectural software (for modelling and documentation) but I have found layout to be the bane of my existence. It is a terribly slow program and I have had the worst time with snapping just not working, which makes creating accurate dimensioned drawings impossible. I have also found the progressive improvements of the software over the years to be very minimal, not much has really changed in the 17 years I have used the software, yet Trimble have moved to a subscription model which locks you into continuously spending money on a program that just never evolves and really gets any better. I think the best thing about sketchup is the community behind it and all of the wonderful plugins that have been made by you all. I am looking at moving to Shapr3D which has an affordable subscription model and also has the ability to solid model product and furniture too. It however does not have the community that sketchup has though which is a little sad. I am writing this post because I really hope that Trimble actually invests some effort into making sketchup a seriously better version of itself. But I just feel this will never happen.


I think there are quite a few Pro users who feel much like you do. But most of us haven’t got as close to the edge as you have and just reluctantly accept the risk/reward ratio SU offers.

Layout is quite clearly the SU Pro Achilles Heel. It’s very good in many ways but not really quite good enough in so many others. But Trimble must be well aware of this, not least owing to the many, many posts here moaning about it (some of them mine). So, given the length of time this has gone on, you have to come to the conclusion that Trimble either can’t or won’t do much more than tweak Layout to keep it going, rather like a superannuated car in the developing world.

I hope you stick around long enough to tell us whether Shapr3D is a suitable alternative. It is probably only the advent of serious competition that will persuade Trimble to up their game (or maybe get out of it altogether!).


It is a Sisyphean task to try to repair a Damocles’s sword with Occam’s razor.



There’s no mention on the Shapr3D website of architecture but that’s not to say it would not be suitable.

As for pricing, apart from the monthly subscription option, it’s the same cost as Sketchup Pro…?

ok – there is an argument made by people that Trimble don’t seem to care about Layout.

You seem to do what I do albeit I do small scale domestic projects – Layout is super fast for me and allows me to create great construction documents.

1 Like

I would be curious to see one of your sketchup and layout files. Can you post a link to one of each.

I have used Sketchup and Layout for many years and have had no speed problems. my layout files are easily dimensioned, no snap issues.

Maybe my work is not as complex as yours.

Nice. Except that I have to challenge your references.

Sisyphus was condemned to keep carrying out the same pointless task over and over. Is it perhaps more of a Herculean task?

As for Damocles and his sword, surely that is a cliffhanging situation? The task for Trimble is more of a wipe slate and start again, no?

As for Mr Occam, does Trimble need to pare to the bone? Could there not be an argument that making something truly of current professional standard could entice new subscribers, lock in existing ones, and be a worthwhile investment? Or is that a Pandora’s Box?

Using the classics incorrectly is more fun than using them as they should. The razor would cut the hair that the sword is hanging from.


Fair enough. Let’s just agree that the task before Trimble is an Augean Stable.


This is a useful article: Review: Shapr3D - AEC Magazine

One thing revealed is that it is based around using an iPad for design. Not everyone will want to move away from their desktops for serious design work. It also says you should only really use it for conceptual work but that it is a great product for that limited purpose.

Shapr3D now has released a Windows version that works with mouse, touchpad or graphics tablet for input. No windows 2D drawing capability yet. Coming Soon!

I´m thinking the Layout situation is not Trimble´s fault, but rather a stubbornness, or hangup, within the Sketchup/Layout group. I can use Layout quite effectively by applying all I have learned through time, and through this forum, but still I meet challenges. Learning Layout in and and out certainly takes some time.

If sketchup have brought some real innovations on inferencing, why not leverage that in Layout, and not make it work strangely different?
If we learn how to operate the tools of sketchup, (move tool), why have us use a different toolset in Layout?

It is certainly easier for me, still, to make some 2D something in sketchup than doing that in Layout, even though Layout is inherently made for 2D. It is strange they go down this road of really unneeded problems, so I think it is old-fashioned stubbornness.

I think it is more the hand they were dealt by @Last Software. More recently the development of the iPad version appears to be a response to the Shapr3D product.
It would have been great if that effort was spent on Layout issues. Somehow I think Layout has a major underlying issue that is the root cause. I agree that a good workflow will avoid most problems with Layout. I have no issues with Layout. In the past, I experienced major lags etc. I also believe some of that is due to computer issues.

It’s much easier for me to draw 2D in Layout than in SketchUp! :wink:

Or perhaps it could be said that Trimble expecting everyone to use and accept Layout with it’s limitations for all purposes is a Procrustean task.

If it’s a 2D thing and Layout, that’s where I still haven’t given up PowerCADD for sophisticated drafting. It’s hard to recommend it at the moment, because it’s not currently usable on MacOS versions beyond Mojave, but if the rewrite emerges as promised, it will be a powerful alternative. I like Layout well enough for simple drawings that aren’t much more than putting a viewport on a page with a few notes and dimensions, but for a drawing of any greater complexity, I go back to PowerCADD.

I´m curious:
Have you found a way for Layout to accomplish the very basic 2D operations of extend to / fillett for two lines that are not vertical/horisontal?

Do you mean this…?



Long time since I used AutoCAD 2007 – I don’t miss those commands for extend and fillet.

About alternative for documentation, the new Affinity version 2 import DXF/DWG. Dimension tool is missing for the moment but it is expected and requested by users.

Can you draw to a scale in that application (i.e. 1/4" = 1’-0" or 1:50)? Would love to keep supporting the company.

1 Like

Also needs a DWG export, but upgraded all three affinity products to V2 regardless because it is a great company and DOES NOT USE THE SUBSCRIPTION MODEL !