Layout 2018 - not up to par with other drafting software



I know this subject has been discussed but my architectural firm is currently in the process of trying 3d software (moving away from AutoCAD) We love the flexibility of Sketchup but LayOut seems so far behind the technology out there (in terms of speed)

I have implemented the tips to speed up the workflow in LayOut, and yes, it does speed it up slightly but doesn’t compare to other CAD software.

Our workflow is dramatically slowed down when we need to enter the dimensioning and labeling phase of our project because LayOut seems very very sluggish. Is there any reassurance that LayOut is being improved? My main concern with LayOut is the performance, it’s unbearably slow and eats into our productivity.

Pardon any ignorance I may have, I am solely looking at this software from a consumer stand point when comparing all the options out there.

Just as a reference, here are my specs:


File Still So Slow!
What’s up with SketchUp Make?
What’s up with SketchUp Make?

I fully agree and have the same doubts …
Will in a short time the layout will become a more profissiomal tool? The user experience is bad, definitely. Whenever someone says that, soon after, a user appears always quoting Nick Sonder, as it seems that he is the only one that can withstand such an inability.
Sketchup is amazing as a whole, but targeting a company to this platform is still questionable.
For me (and for many), the bottleneck, is still the productivity of DC’s.


hi josh, there are some very recent discussions on this very topic. I use Layout every day in my architectural workflow and it is indeed dreadful (yes dreadful) in terms of speed and responsiveness when it comes to any real model complexity. Dimensioning, labelling, tracing, overlaying graphics etc is very slow & sluggish unless you are working in raster mode - which personally, for me , in my workflow, with the quality I seek to achieve just isn’t practical. Its not hardware related, I’ve just gone from a 2013 i7 retina MBP to a custom Hackintosh with an i7 8700k, tons of RAM and GTX1080Ti card, and yes it is faster in Layout but not appreciably (its ALOT faster in Sketchup).

Thing is, I love SketchUp, its fantastic, I genuinely look forward to sitting in front of it each day and using it, I actually like Layout, the quality of output & communication you can achieve from it is astounding, I can live with the feature set, I can get mostly what I want out of it with a few exceptions but the journey…

I don’t want to use any other software - I’d just like layout to deserve the ‘Pro’ moniker.


LayOut isn’t specifically a drafting program. Maybe your comparison needs to take that into account.


I don’t think the terminology is the issue. The use description is exactly what layout is meant to do. It is slow and sluggish in doing so.


I agree, LayOut isn’t drafting specific but it means to present the “drafting” side that is sketchup.


Trimble even refer to drafting on the layout product page


Decide for yourself.

View the last 9 YEARS of LayOut’s (~12 year) development history on the Release Notes page:

  • SketchUp Application Release Notes

  • Each release usually has a LayOut section describing improvements and fixes.

  • FYI, LayOut 1 was released with SketchUp 6 Pro in 2007 [1],
    but the posted release history only goes back to v7.1 (2009).


don’t use Layout as CAD. If you already use autocad then maybe switch to autocad LT, if you only need 2d in cad, and use sketchup for 3D. This is a common combo that works good.


Yes, layout is always being improved, this year was a step forward with scaled drawing and more ‘SketchUp’ like tool behavior. Undoubtedly the biggest essential improvement that needs to happen is speed for it to be able to perform as expected. There has been lots of useful discussions on the forum about possible ways to do this with involvement from the SketchUp team.


I don’t anyone uses layout as cad except for small details using the scale drawing tool released for this version. It is certainly not a CAD application. It’s presentation / annotation / communication output app for SketchUp models.

Although if anyone does use it for CAD I’d be interested to hear about it


Agree, LayOut is not for traditional CAD… we section and detail everything in sketchup and present it in layout.


I used to use Sketchup with Vectorworks (for the 2D CAD Drafting portion) but recently switched completely to SU 2018 and Layout. Used the Plug In from Birghtman Designs called CONDOC TOOLs for Industry Standard CAD graphics for your 2D drafting (Permits, Details, Construction Documents etc). The learning curve is slightly steep but once you have set up the work flow as per CONDOC TOOLS you will not go back to AUTOCAD OR Vectorworks.
Beauty is that any change in your SU 3D model is automatically updated in your CAD drawings.


I used to use condoc tools extensively but they did not give me the design presentation control I needed / sought hence my switch to Skalp - which I love.
However, I did adopt Michaels, SketchUp Workflow for Architecture - in terms of model organisation, it just clicked for me, and I still use it, it’s deeply ingrained in the way I organise my models. The book is an excellent read and method, it’s also very good in communicating SketchUp’s layers/ groups/ components concepts which can be confusing for people but really unlocks advanced use of model visibility control in SketchUp


LayOut 2018 has plenty of issues that rarely get discussed, because its deplorable lack of speed dwarfs everything else. The software cannot handle much more than one ArchD page with one or two portholes without bogging down.

All in all, LayOut 2018 is unusable in a professional environment. What the developers and the various sages don’t seem to understand is that since Sketchup on its own does not have the capacity to generate monetizable materials such as construction docs, LayOut is absolutely a critical part of a professional’s workflow. Only it miserably fails.

Sages have opined ad nauseum that (a) LayOut is non-essential to many users, (b) LayOut is not a big factor in most users’ decision to shell out the big bucks for SU Pro, and c) if critics were not so spoiled they would realize that LayOut is just fine anyway.

Instead of blaming the victim, armchair pundits need to realize that if users can’t publish (and get paid for) their work, pretty soon it is Trimble that has a problem.

Yes, SketchUp is a fantastic program. However, if you are serious about seeing it get traction in professional offices - and gain market share from entrenched dinosaurs - it is imperative that LayOut be brought up to par with other DTP. Generating a construction doc set should not have to be an ordeal.


I have seen several posts suggesting that Skalp is not able to be contacted for support these days.

Is Skalp Dead?


Although I am not in complete agreement with your arguments, I will readily concede that LayOut still falls short in satisfying needs of the professional market.

I too have found it somewhat cumbersome in producing condocs having many drawing sheets…but if one is committed to making the software work, it can be done. It requires the user to learn how to make productive application of the program. Currently there are many professionals who successfully employ SU/LO as part of their everyday workflow.

The obvious examples that come to mind are Michael Brightman, Matt Donley, Paul Lee, and Nick Sonder. There probably are many others who have adopted their own specific work process but may not have published the result. I will send a request to members of the SU Team to ask for assistance in documenting other SU/LO methods to upgrade (or at least improve) professional performance that may not be widely known to most users. Bear in mind that such a repository may not yet exist in a single place, but it certainly would seem to be a worthwhile undertaking.


The folks you mention clearly produce professional quality work and indeed, they do say they do so with LayOut. It would be interesting to understand how they manage.

They might keep separate LO files for each page, print each as a PDF, then bind the single-page PDFs into a set with Acrobat Pro. Since printing seems to be the only way LO is capable of mustering a PDF anyway.

They might employ an unpaid intern to do the tedious editing work.

They might use LO’s Excel portholes (which work great, by the way) in lieu of native text boxes which are just excruciating to edit.

I am sure workarounds exist and I am willing and interested to learn, but the larger point is, there should be no need for tricks because the program should work in the first place, period. Most DTP software packages out there work far, far faster and better than LO. Scribus is one, in spite of the fact that it is free and open-source. Of course, it lacks LO’s brilliant Sketchup portholes. On the other hand, LO is a far cry from being free.


I use both SketchUp and LayOut professionally and I find LayOut to be very satisfactory without any workarounds or unpaid help. There are features I’d like to see added but they don’t keep me from using LayOut.


We also use both SU and LO for architectural presentations and CDs. Clearly techniques must be learned and utilized like any tool, however, I would never describe them as “tricks”. Our most recent project resulted in approx 120 ‘D’ sheets. We like to limit our LO files to about 30-40MB for manageability on our hardware setup, equalling about 7-8 sheets each in most cases. We then export to pdf, combine into manageable pdf blocks for emailing, cloud storage and printing.

We of course recognize that there is a lot of room in LO for improved optimization, reduction in viewport updating time and improved dimensioning and call-out creation and revision.

Lastly, at the present time I would not compare LO to other 2D drafting programs (while recognizing the new tools and capabilities in 2018), LO in my mind is a complement of SU to create 2D presentations.