Layout 2018 - not up to par with other drafting software



I’ve worked on my script in SU which automatically places dimensions and Cabinet numbers. It’s not too bad.

Plan view In Sketchup

Plan view in Layout


Every time I tried Layout I come to a screeching halt because dimensions do not update. Is this still the case? Without that feature it is useless for my work.


as from SU2018Pro I believe the dimensions in layout get linked to the geometry it snaps to in the referenced SU model


It’s as @Julian_Smith says and it works great!

I was suspicious of the feature but it usually only fails if you delete geometry. However the failing dims will be highlighted and you can reconnect to the new geometry easily either manually, or if your new geometry is at the same place you can use the automatic “reconnect to model” function.


Hey folks! Lots of great, constructive criticism here that certainly helps the LO team!

Every version released has gotten better in terms of performance and features and I hope that continues. I only use SketchUp and Layout for all my projects. The key is to establish the system that works for you. Thankfully, it’s not like ACAD, Revit or like any other drafting program. If you expect it to work in a similar manner, you’ll be disappointed.

As for speed, I just recently completed 8 custom homes with each CD set containing 55-90 sheets 9D size). These projects were started in November 2017, and all are permitted as of June. So, efficiency can be achieved given I’m a one man operation.

Here are a few things I do;


  1. Multiple models for specific drawing types, all linked to a “master model”
  2. Simplify your layering…not like CAD.
  3. Set up your scenes smartly. It is painfully easy to stack scenes with identical camera positions - 1 click in the scene manager.
  4. Group or make a component of everything - no loose geometry.
  5. Assign data to all your groups and components in a way that you can use this data in Layout for your notation.
  6. Purge often.


  1. Create separate files based on drawing type. Don’t try and place a full CD set in a single file.
  2. Think about what you want to vector render vs raster or hybrid. Vector rendering your entire model crushes performance. I use a combination of isolating simple things to vector such as the section cut, and render everything in raster that is past the cut.
  3. Use a hot key so you can quickly turn on and off object snap. Otherwise, layout is constantly looking at every point, intersection & face in the model…this is a giant boost in speed and performance.
  4. Use scrapbooks.

Obviously there’s going to be more improvements down the line. LO is in its infancy compared to the other programs out there that were all derived off the back of ACAD.

Sorry I don’t get on here often. I’ve been pretty busy with my projects. For anyone attending Basecamp, i’ll be there presenting some new approaches only possible with the release of SU 2018, along with a class dedicated to architectural detailing.

Cheers, Nick


Thanks for this tip Nick. Didn’t know (or forgot) this option exists.


Since last version (I think) you can work with raster and export to CAD with vector.

Object snap is needed a lot. It should be interesting to have toggles for object snap to layout space and model space where turning off model snap would still allow you to accurately align stuff in the layout sheet.

I often have a group, based on my section cut face group and within a specific layer that I use exclusively for area tags. Updating faces in the group will update areas. It’s one of the most handy features in Layout when comparing to CAD but it’s a shame layout doesn’t allow other methods of retrieving areas and export them to, for instance, excel in a table.

Layout should be able to retrieve any kind of data from the model and export it in organized tables. Maybe insert that data into tables that have been inserted into excel and then linked back to the original document. It would work in a more specific and useful way than the SU generate report tool.


Great Nick. I switched to Sketchup on all my projects too. Not to demerit Autodesk products but. Sketchup is my best and almost only. Despite some issues you mentioned, layout is great too. For all my architectural, 3D printing models, mechanical, CNC and many other.
Arch. Alberto Trejos


Dapted, I am no computer guru, however, I do employ them. After reading through your response it sparked a distance memory where I had one of my the developers dedicate one core specifically to Sketchup5 or 6, back when large models were slowing me down and I did not know the best way to optimise my work flow, geometry and texture sizes, and my computer had less power than a Nokia 6110.

I just googled how to dedicate one CPU top a program and I found the following instructions… To be clear my computer runs Layout just fine so I have not tested this out, yet I hope it helps those who are having troubles. Let me know. Sorry I do not use Mac but I am sure it can be done there as well. Basically, the instructions enable you to dedicate one core to one program, and this may give you that extra power required to save you some time.
credit to **Author**
_Joshua Phillips_
Setting CPU Core Usage

Press the “Ctrl,” “Shift” and “Esc” keys on your keyboard simultaneously to open the Task Manager.

Click the “Processes” tab, then right-click the program you want to change the CPU core usage on and click “Set Affinity” from the popup menu.

Check the box next to “CPU 0” or “CPU 1” to assign only that CPU core to that program. If you have a quad-core processor, there are two additional “CPU” boxes: “CPU 2” and “CPU 3.” You can assign one to three cores to a program with a quad-core processor. If you have a single-core processor, such as an earlier Pentium model, you cannot set the core affinity.

Click “OK” to set the core affinity. You must do this each time you close and reopen the program.

Guys, we have thousands of users using our Plugin, they are delivering plans through Layout for council submission and I have to say, I do hear similar issues, yet it is only from on or two of our users.
If I had to take a guess why some are having issues and some are not I would assume it has to do with some imported content from 3DWH or similar 3d model databases, where some of the content it has been created by people who do not do large projects and their prioity is photorealistioc rendering and not plans set delivery. This content works fine if you are doing a bathroom or a kitchen, yet adding a 7 meg kitchen sink or Spa to every room in a 20 million dollar project will grind Layout or any software package to a halt.
Disclaimer, I am no Layout genius, I am no computer genius yet sometimes I come up with a good idea or two. Please don’t shoot the messenger, I am happy with constructive criticism though and happy to admit when I am worng… just ask my wife.
I hope it helps out guys.


Interesting thought assigning specific cores… I will give it a test… anyone else tried this???


gsharp, how did you go? Did it make a difference?


It is true, she always tells me😃


This seems a good detailed explantation

Re me - I have a pretty good notebook [32GB, i7 7770 and GTX 1070 so

after reading the article a possible 5% gain did not seem worth the mental overhead :slight_smile:


Better yet, improving your method has greater impact then the machine…


I have a few things to add to this discussion I hope they are not already suggested.

1: I have been discussing what could be done to implement multi-core processing to speed things up. To be clear I am not a programmer but talked with a close friend who is. What if each window ran as one core? Or allow rendering on one core and allow dimensioning and text on another core.

2: How about a progress bar for rendering. If it is going to slow me down at least give me tools to manage my time and workflow.

3: This is a added feature request not related to performance. I want to link single excel cells to dimensions in Lay Out. The nature of what I do many times requires that a drawing not be changed but dimensions changed for the shop to make our regular product. The advantage of this is I can have the formulas set in excel for input and then the shop drawing would update in Lay Out leaving out math errors and typos.

Last, just a thought through what has been said so far on this thread. Some have suggested that this was really more like CorelDraw style program and then has been pushed into construction document territory. This push comes in part from Trimble and that is frustrating at least for me. I wanted a CAD system and that is what I thought I was getting. I like Lay Out and want it to be the serious program that I thought I was getting. Trimble please make this the program we know it can be.


Sorry, but that’s nonsense. Could a driver win a Grand Prix in a poor car if he merely decides to drive better (if that’s even possible)? No, he can’t. The machine and it’s software are the only variables here when most of us are already very experienced and operating at pretty efficient levels (on great spec machines), much as the driver is. Mike Brightman has some great ideas but they are (and we are) hamstrung by the nightmare that is LO so they’re not going to make much, if any, difference to our speed and efficiency. And yes, I have tried his methods out…As I’ve mentioned before, my current machine runs Revit 2019 super smoothly, so there is zero excuse for LO to be the clunky, slow, (often) random swim through treacle it currently is. Since it’s (badly planned) inception, no one has truly got to grips with it and genuinely sorted it out in terms of speed and efficiency, let alone adding in missing essential features.


It seems like setting processor affinity isn’t quite such a simple task. I’m on Win10Pro.

Setting process affinity via the Task Manager only works for the current session, if you close the program and launch it again, you have to set it again. Thus not really a productive option.

I tried the method of setting affinity via command line of a shortcut to the executable, that way it would be set permanently every time I start the program up. I tried a number of permutations, following instructions form the Microsoft website and other sources. It didn’t work.

Then I searched the net for apps, there are some and below some feedback on what I tried:

  • RunWithAffinity: This dates back to 2011 with no newer version available. The interface is easy enough and I was hopeful. It created the shortcuts automatically, but they didn’t work.
  • Bill’s Process Manager: This dates back to 2014 with no newer version available. Original language (and only help file language) is French, but interface is available in English as well. The interface is simple enough and was easy enough to navigate and set affinities. Unfortunately, it didn’t work.
  • Process Lasso: This is current and actively developed, comes in 32-bit and 64-bit variants and a Freemium and Pro (paid) version, the paid version obviously has some additional features that may/may not be useful to the average user. The interface is intimidating, but looking around carefully and not fiddling with any other things other than the affinity of SketchUp and Layout was successful. Be careful though, this software is quite powerful and you could end up breaking things if you don’t know what you’re doing (ie. messing around with priorities, etc.) but affinity profiles should be safe enough.

So, using Process Lasso, I’ve set CPU affinity of SU + LO to “Single Threaded Performance” which basically sets affinity for any of the physical cores and disables ability to run on HyperThreaded cores. I’m not sure if there would be a further benefit of setting these to specific physical cores, but if doing so will probably be wise to set them to different physical cores for the times when using both SU + LO simultaneously.


If your LO is slow, take a look at “BLOATED” SKPs. Models with Hi-Polygon count and unneeded/unused Components or Materials. Memory is cheap but doesn’t relieve processing TIME. Free Components downloaded from 3-Party artists with convoluted textures and super high poly-count will inevitably catch up. I’ve been presented with 18MB SKP files that needed no more than 3MB to achieve results. On the 18MB file, the toilet alone took 3MB itself.

Don’t blame LO for inefficient SKP model management.

This is the BEST set of Architectural Drafting Tools I’ve been exposed to in the last 35 years.



@ninoalva how many have you tried?

I use Layout exclusively but I don’t consider it a good enough drafting tool as I have a really hard time drafting with LO’s tools. Therefore I draft inside Sketchup. The drafting tools are hard to master at best not at all like sketchup’s with or without plugins.


  • I have a hard time displaying if my projects are complex enough;
  • dimensions on off axis projects fail which I have to circumvent with hard workarounds. So in these cases I only dimebsion accurately on decisive stages or I loose too much time on ridiculous tasks;
  • pdf looks great but dwg export is still troublesome.
  • it lacks a lot of tags that should be availavle out of the box: roof/ramp gradient tools; height tags for plans and elevations; area tools that are easy to use (the area tag requires a lot of setting up on sketchup);
  • much easier section management.

So I use Layout for these reasons:

  • it’s the only software which seamlessly integrates a Sketchup model;
  • it’s been evolving though at a slow pace;
  • in the end I can deliver and the output looks great;
  • i really trust the team behind it though I feel trimble should dedicate a LOT moreresources to it.
  • i love sketchup and the ease of use and speed i work with it, mitigate the frustration layout produces some times.


Point Taken.

I “was” proficient in A-Cad and GraphicSoft Archi-Cad. Can conceed my statement fell into Generalizations. SKP covers the needs on a high percentage of jobs depending on the “scale”, complexity and collaboration required with other disciplines. SKP can be limited in Collision Detection or as a venue for Structural Calculations among others but LO’s Purpose and Use is much more undervalued by those that have not gotten to explore it.

Point I was trying to make is that we may not find SketchUp/LayOut in a small/medium sized firm only because its professional CAD capabilities (SKP/LO) are either unknown or underestimated but; I have yet to find an International or Large Firm that lacks a copy of SketchUp. If they only risked a small investment in Layout, how much more would be uncovered!

A small/medium size Consulting firm CAN be run solely on SKP-Pro and LO except for the occassional need to open files generated in obsolete software packages only because other consulting partners get stuck in their “old ways” and refuse to elevate skills and knowledge in SKP/LO.

If SKP has a major flaw, it’s that it is SO intuitive to use that end users, early on reach the conclusion that its capabilities have been maxed out and nothing else can be attained off a $600 software package. In most cases, they have yet to explore what LO can do. Response is to invest $5k+ per seat with $1k annual maintenance fees on a CAD system packed with “value drained” features that may/not be used at all in the course of a Professional career.

And that’s where these Premium CAD Packages fail. They are so expensive to use, maintan and explore (learning curve) that their end-user “base” gets strangled to a reduced number of avid customers. Point-In-Case; let’s look at the number of so-called SKP installs and the WIDE use of disciplines dependant on SketchUp not to mention the collaborative strength and wide range of participants in the SKP Community.

Fascinating to unwrap the Consultant’s answer to the question “what is the CAD Platform used in their office?” They will almost always name the Hi-End package while at the same time “forget” to mention that Design Concepts and Schematics start on SKP because that’s the only piece of software the firm Principals are somewhat proficient with (if any).

In conclusion, when I question if SKP/LO is capable of surmounting a given challenge, for the Vast Majority (perhaps not all -no generalizations again) of the cases, YES IT CAN! Before closing the door on SKP AND Layout, critics need to invest a bit more time on the solution or continue to dish out the $ and get somebody else to solve their tasks. Like said, the Power in the SKP/LO Community might be subestimated. Then again, no one can expect to be an Expert on ALL features and capabilities currently available in OUR CAD Platform of choice. Example: I may be proficient in SKP modeling but not so in Dynamic-Compos, Ruby Scripting or LAYOUT to mention a few. Morale: “No One is an Island”.

We could project a similar line of thought with Rendering Engines but that’s a different sbject all together.

Really Appreciate your vote of confidence and TRUST placed on the Trimble/SketchUp Team. We need more of “them” than they need of us.

Regarding some of the limitations you mentioned, don’t have the specifics on the workflow challenges encountered. Could speculate there’s a need for a wider range of ScrapBook objects. If I understand correctly the Off-Axes challenge in LO, I temporarily switch the SKP Style currently being viewed in LO for an Axis-Aligned Style (on SKP) that does not make use of Section-Fills to insert those off-axes Dimensions and Tags. DWG-Exports; Yes, it’s cumbersome and has inherent peculiarities like Vector VS Raster/Hybrid Rendering which need to be switched back for Presentation-Grade documents. Needs some maturing but so much better than the exports off SKP alone we were doing 5-years ago.

Your FOR Points to use LO are Spot-On.

Looking forward to an upcoming Base-Camp (it’s an Even-Year!). Can bet Dollars to Donuts that Base-Camp announcements in 2020 will be that much more exciting than 2018’s

Kindest Regards