Layout 2018 - not up to par with other drafting software



I’d actually be quite happy if Sketchup was only tweaked slightly, with 90% of the development going into improving Layout, for the new release.

At the moment, my Sketchup runs fine, but Layout is unbelievably slow.


indeed. doubling down on performance (LO) and stability (SU) would be a huge step forward.


Hi Nick, you producing some impressive work and thanks for your videos.

I think the workflow you have adopted is very much suited to your (fairly rare) circumstances - one person leading both design and drafting/documentation, and houses that are 99% resolved prior to the documentation stage (or that’s how it seems). Our time budget to design and document a house is about 4 days (granted they are not luxury custom homes, but simple dwellings and terraced houses).

My team are struggling with a workflow that allows us to produce documentation at various stages of the design process. We typically go through 8 to 10 iterations of a design, each needing to be documented so that clients, engineers, planners, surveyors, etc can import them and feed the information into their workflows.

The idea of using multiple sketchup files/layout files is daunting to say the least. We’ve been through that with Autocad’s horrible xref system. Splitting things up into bits doenst seem to allow a holistic model to be developed and refined.

If a multi-file process is required, then we need a multi-file project manager interface that clearly shows the master project files, the dependencies (including components linked to a really sensible component library) the outputs (layout and PDF), etc. Sketchup fiules also need Scene managers. and we need a MUCH improved 3d/2d file import/export function (specifically designed to work with revit, 12d, civil3d, vectorworks, architcad, etc.)


Actually. Autocad Xrefing was they only thing I liked


The problem we had is that people tend to jump in and edit an xref (maybe not knowing what else may be affected), or they’ll work with a select number of xrefs to suit their task. That sounds OK in theory but , as an example, the engineers would never import the xrefs with the soft landscaping and so would place roads, carparks, etc, over top of where the trees were supposed to go. Then we’d embark on a process of conflict detection. The Same happens with Nick Sonder’s method of splitting a SKP model ointo bits (and lot sof layout files also). Try that in a team environment with a project that stretches across many months or years with dozens of design iterations…it wont end well unless you have incredibly strict discipline.

Trimble Connect, Navisworks, etc, are beginning to solve things from a project management/digital-paper-trail perspective, but people in the BIM space, like me, are using Sketchup to bring everything into one place in 3d to check it all…a master 3d model, if you will. And of course a lot of new design data is created directly in sketchup (for example, I will model the stairways, patios and fencing that occupies the space between a building and the adjacent sidewalk…it’s a complex little area that crosses the boundaries of several disciplines…structural, architecural, civil/roading, landscape architect, construction contractors, etc.)… Sketchup is by far the best tool i’ve found for this stuff, becuause the design is quite bespoke - it can’t be copied from a BIM/IFC/Structures library. it’s far more creative than that.

So…back to the topic…The real difficulty is in getting this information out of SketchUp into 2D files or PDF documents, or back into the DWG/etc formats where it originated (or at least something broadly compatible with it). Even if I send a colleague a 3D file (skp or dwg) and they are fine with it, I find that clients, council staff, project management (non technical) staff and others need to see it in 2d, with nice coloured lines, annotations, legends, etc like they are used to seeing. Even experienced technical staff struggle to understand sketchup’s layering/grouping system (not to mention scenes/model views/paperspace!..and the lack of a useful geographical co-ordinate system!).

What I’ve learned to do is use Colour by Layer, and place geometry on various different layers to acheive a CAD-like appearance… This is painful because first i need to group things by the colour i want them to be. But that doesn’t work if those things (line) are connected to other geometry. Worse still, I end up drafting extra 2D lines that float above my 3d model just so they can be visible when I export to 2d.
My fallback method is to separate and grouping bits of the 3d model, creating scenes for showing each group at the right view/scale/orientation, and then export each of them as 2D lines which I then put onto layers, with line colours and hatch styles and annotations using either Autocad or Adobe Illustrator. So LayOut is not part of that equation.

yes that’s a bit of a rant but i hope it gives somebody an insight into what layout might be used for, if it functioned more like a legit CAD program and less like Powerpoint.


A trick I started using is to export the Sketchup drawing to Layout, then export it to Autocad. When Layout exports to Autocad it generates a folder with .png images. Delete the .dwg file and import the .png images directly to model space in Autocad. Turn off the image layers and voila, scaled line drawings with active lines. Use Autocad as you normally would. A bit of forethought into setting up layers in Sketchup helps here as the lines from each layer translate to different layers in Autocad as well.


Splitting a project over multiple separate models is a recipe for trouble even if the process is managed by one person. Keeping it in one model is, I believe, the only way to manage changes (and more importantly stay on top of their unintended consequences) effectively.


I typically have my building and my site in separate models. It looks like a number of others do this as well including Nick Sonder and Michael Brightman after attending their talks at 3D Basecamp.

Nick’s detail sheets aren’t much more than just stock details, of which he’s collected a large library. Not much different method than what we all used to do in 2D CAD or hand drafting before, but now beautifully done in 3D in SketchUp. It still has the same old issue of relying on the draftsman to make sure it matches what’s happening in the project in question.


SketchUp just needs to partner with Adobe and write a plugin for Illustrator that will link model objects. I tend to use Illustrator for more than anything and its vector capabilities far surpass that of Layout.


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.


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.)