Layout 2018 - not up to par with other drafting software



Design and Document a house in 4 days?


I’ll be the first to admit LO is a P.I.T.A. I have a love / hate relationship with it. The only reason I use it is because of how much I love Sketchup and am sick to death of Autodesk after 30 plus years of using their products.$$$$$

I have managed to create some pretty good looking plans with layout but I know I could have done the same work in a fraction of the time in my Autodesk Products. I have managed to get my door, window and room schedules through the report generator and import them into layout but it’s cumbersome. I also am able to tag some objects like my doors, and windows by using the “Instance” and the leader to extract the instance number. But I have no way of controlling the shape of the tag without more intervention.

I think we need to remember we are comparing a program that’s costs what $695.00 plus $120.00 a year. To a beast that costs north of $5000.00 and a forced subscription model with the learning curve that’s practically vertical.

I hope Trimble is listening too.


Imho the real value of LO is how easy it is to design in SketchUp.

I’m not saving time with it, but I am doing better than I used to in CAD because of SketchUp. I wouldn’t be able to use Sketchup without layout.


I’m going to be perfectly honest here and perhaps be branded a heretic. Even though I use SU for my 3D modeling and rendering, and have been writing SketchUp plugins now for over three years (and full time for the last 6 months), I still fall back to AutoCAD LT or Draftsight when it comes to creating actual 2D construction/working drawings.

I’ve played with Layout enough to know that it is just not there yet, at least for me. When it comes to 2D production drawings it is really hard to beat AutoCAD, I would like to make the leap but Layout, as this thread’s title suggests, is still not up to par.

I am really hoping that Trimble can put a lot of effort into Layout in the next couple of years and make the SU/Layout combo a force to be reckoned with.

An improved Layout along with some specifically tailored plugins will make SU the dominant player in the residential and commercial design world and eventually overtake other major players like Chief Architect and Revit, to name a few.


No, write an import/export extension for Powerpoint files…a lot cheaper and a lot more universal than Adobe


yep, I agree… I remember posting in Google forums when Layout was first released encouraging them [pleading almost] to make it the 2D equivalent of Sketchup and if they did they could blow Autocad out the window… I feel it was a huge opportunity lost…

Personally I go straight from SU into Powerpoint for most of my work, use Draftsight [Pro] with my old Autocad customisation just to handle other peoples dwgs.

I would love to see LO progress , but it is just to quirky for me to bother with… I can present my SU work much more quickly, efficiently and universally with Powerpoint or Twinmotion 2016


With my plugins I am very tempted to write a routine that will analyze the 3D geometry that they create and then automatically generate a DXF file (ie. floor plan) that can then be opened up in AutoCAD or Draftsight (or name your favorite drafting program). This would leverage the SketchUp’s awesome 3D modeling ability while completely bypassing Layout.

P.S. I am looking into this a bit further. My ideal is to offer the users of my plugins the ability to use Layout if they wish or export to DXF or just export to PDF.


Same, but different for me.

In 1989, I chose NOT to follow the Autocad path and went with PowerDraw instead. Now called PowerCADD, I’m coming up on my 30th anniversary of using it as my primary 2D drawing and drafting tool. Unlike most people’s comments regarding Autocad in this thread, I’m not unhappy with my 2D program. It would take something fantastic to make me want to switch, and I’m currently underwhelmed by Layout. I made myself give it a real try at 3D Basecamp. I appreciate what it can and should do for me, but what I already have is such a great tool, why abandon it?

If you feel like spending the time, leaf through the pages of testimony and examples posted in Engineered Software’s “Drawing Room”. You have to click on people, and then click on their thumbnails to really see example drawings. I’m one of the people featured.


No Skalp isn’t dead. We only had to focus more on our architectural work last year to pay the bills. We will releasing a new version together with the new SketchUp 2019 version with some nice new features…


Thanks @Guy for responding to my earlier post. I’m sure that many SU users will be happy to learn this.


I believe that this thread and the LayOut API thread go hand-in-hand. (Sorry if somebody already stated that.)


Hi again. I’m not on here often enough, I know.
Layout can be fast. The methods I use work for any type of project.

Obviously we all got our start with some type of CAD program, typically ACAD. I’m going to date myself, but I was trained in hand drafting until ACAD first came out. My first foray was with version 2.3. I used ACAD until version 2004. My one recommendation that I still stand by today is to forget what you learned with ACAD if you want to be proficient with SU and LO.

SU and LO are very simple programs which is their greatest strength. I of course want to see improvements in speed, but I don’t want the simplicity to change. ACAD, DataCAD and Revit are the complete opposite.

Someone commented on the use of multiple models being a recipe for disaster. Yes I use multiple models to convey different drawing types, but there is only one model that is edited. The other files contain the main model as a reference and the only thing you are doing in the sub-models is placing section planes and setting scenes.

Also, setting up your standard templates for both SU and LO is extremely efficient so you aren’t starting from scratch each time. Each template has your scenes, layers, font types, dimension styles etc preset and ready to go.

Scrapbooks are very powerful and can be used to set up so much more than just standard notes and symbols.

Typically the biggest problems I see users do are the following:

  1. Too many layers and not understanding nesting groups.
  2. Not setting up scenes correctly and how to use the attributes to toggle parameters between multiple scenes with a single click ( like aligning scenes for viewport stacking)
  3. Loose geometry and not modeling everything on layer 0. Only assign groups to layers.


  1. Uncheck auto update. This will fix the issue of switching pages until you manually update the model.
  2. Don’t try to vector render the whole model. This would bog down any software that vectorizes 3D geometry. A wall is not 4 lines it’s 12 with 6 faces.
  3. Organize and use scrapbooks.

As crazy as it may sound, I know for a fact that I can produce a more detailed set in 1/3 of the time or less, than I could with ACAD, and I used ACAD for 25 years.

SU and LO will continue to evolve, but the simplicity of these programs hopefully, never changes.

I have samples of my CD’s on my website if you care to have a look:



This is my basic workflow as well. It’s interesting that I haven’t seen much information trading between users about recommended techniques for drawing and organizing 2D details that are drawn in Sketchup. Maybe I should do it :wink: or we should start trading notes.


Thank you for your post.

Another issue is with 3D warehouse imports. Some models from the 3D warehouse are bewilderingly and uselessly complicated. Adding enough of them to your model can weigh it down significantly and dump a bunch of unwanted layers into your layers list, making it confusing to navigate. It is not uncommon to “peel” an object from the 3D warehouse and find one group, 3 components, another group, 5 or 6 components, etc. sometimes nested down 8 or 10 levels.

When I import a model, I first paste it in an empty corner of my workspace (i.e. away from the model and with just “empty sky” behind it) and I right-click > explode it until it is completely flattened. Then I select the whole geometry, create a new component, and move it into place. As an added bonus, flattening the model makes it easy to resize, which is often necessary because many models are sized metric, or maybe you found a 30" fridge you like but you need a 24" fridge, etc. Hope this helps


I open 3D warehouse elements in a blank file to inspect it.



With all respect, I know you help Trimble with promotion of SU so obviously you try to bring some sunshine into this topic, but I’ll tell that loud : SU is a joke at this point at the current price, release of 2019 adding basically line types to layers was even more of the joke after a year of working on the software, SU is a great tool or could be but the current performance of that software just sucks, excuse my anger and language but I hope some people from Trimble read this and it will shake someone or something over there. So … first of all we shouldn’t be talking about tricks or ways to speed up the software, SU performs well once you have a small house or furniture but it is terrible when model grows, beach ball is rotating forever, I have a newest iMac Pro (2018 $5000 desktop) and it sucks, I was working 20 years in Revit on big BIG models and SU it’s not even close to Revit performance, Vectorworks or ArchiCad, stuff like drafting should be smooth and super fast as it is in Revit or other drafting softwares, it’s a freaking 2D operation and we are in 2019 not 1991so shame on Trimble, working on complex model just takes forever, I know all the tricks about components in stead of groups etc, but the software is not just there, I wish google would keep it, we would see huge progress, Trimble is just trying to change marketing face each year selling the same product with little changes, wake up Trimble… just hire better software programmers or shake your department, performance of the software didn’t change last 8 years, it’s a shame, they take subscription now for what? just to milk the cow? As I said google did great job on seeding the idea but Trimble just took it to make money not to make a product better, at least so far, I hope it will change



Couldn’t agree more! It’s sad but true.


Well, everyone is entitled to their opinion. All I can say, is I know for a fact I can produce a more detailed set of plans in less time than my competition who use Revit, DataCad or ACAD, and the time as well of level of detail, isn’t even close. My structural engineer went through the same thing and now converts everything to SU and LO even though they used ACAD and Revit for years.

What I do is not a bunch of “tricks” to make the software work better. In fact I only use 2 plugins. What I do, is utilize the built in features to the best of my ability.

Most of my designs are residential, but none are simple boxes. They are very articulated with many custom details. So while I understand your frustration, the problem generally stems from people being so used to the Autodesk Industry standard, they can’t let it go. I’ve said this since my first interview with Google…“Thank god Sketchup is not like ACAD”. It is different and needs to be approached that way.

For the record, and I would have hoped that was clear: I do not work for Trimble or Sketchup and never have. I do not get paid by Trimble or Sketchup unless I am presenting at a conference (and it is not that much, and only every 2 years) I volunteer my praise as the software has allowed me to compete in a field of very skilled architects, with full staff, where I have none - just me.

There is nothing wrong with wanting more out of software or requesting improvements. I know the team appreciates that. Instead of simply bashing the software, maybe take a harder look at how you as the user are implementing it. If you are approaching it like a typical CAD software, you are respectfully, doing it wrong.

Speed of Layout

Nick, you are responding to a post about 3D Warehouse models. I think perhaps you meant to reply to someone else.

That said… I have been known to bash LayOut :slight_smile: It is dog-slow unless you extreme-zoom on a small area at a time. It is also pretty features-basic.

My references are not Autocad and Revit but desktop publishing programs, which is what LayOut is marketed as and, in my view, what it should be used as.

For what it’s worth, I am impressed (and perplexed) by the complexity of the documents you produce in LayOut.


Sorry about that. It was in response to the post above yours - Marcinpilot68.