Layout 2018 - not up to par with other drafting software



BlockquoteNot everyone needs SU Pro (the package of SU & LO) hence why there was SketchUp Make, now Sketchup Free. But the people that need SU Pro expect it to behave and Perform like a Pro application, currently 50% of the Pro package performs in that manner, the other 50% does not. It’s not bells and whistles and bloatware that most people are looking for, it’s efficiency and productivity in the tool.
People are making a living with LO so as far as I am concerned pro it is. It is not the programme’s fault that some people can’t get properly organised around it and make it work for them. After all there are demonstrably plenty out there that produce great content and do make it work.


Lots of people are making it work for them because they love the software and what can they can accomplish with it. It’s the journey to the end goal that is the frustration. I’m sure that ‘some people’ can’t get organsised around and is probably true of any software but for the professionals using this day in, day out and pushing the the envelope of what this Pro software can achieve these are very real issues and not simply a question of organisation.


I also grew up drafting on film, letraset, stencils and razor blades. The people we compete with for work now are on computer, maybe vectorworks, revit, autocad, archicad whatever. Being competitive with them is not being spoilt, its a necessity.

From what I’ve seen in the posts above from anyone who does anything at all complex is that, rather than layout being implemented pretty well, everyone seems to be using various workarounds to compensate for layouts comparatively lacklustre performance compared to sketchup itself. They are saying they have to split documentation into many smaller layout files ( a workaround ), dumb down components to super low poly counts ( a workaround ). If whats great about sketchup is being able to arrive at a well presented model with sufficient detail to be able to show and convince a client of the merit what is proposed, and ketchup itself can handle that model and all its detail perfectly well from working on it, to presenting scenes and animations, then why would anyone then want to dumb down that model rip out all the detail to get to a low polycount everything so that layout can cope. The fact is Layout can be forced to work to some degree with various compensatory measures applied in recognition that it cant handle the sketchup model anywhere near as well as sketchup can.


I am finding the same. There is one really annoying lag, which is when you go from one page to another in Layout. This could be 3-4s for me on my late model CPU and GPU computer.


It seems to me we need to exercise our choices. Quite obviously LO is not hitting the spot for some. So go elsewhere and use whatever is. To be fair there must be some fundamental reason why LO is the way it is else Trimble would have ‘fixed’ it by now - surely?


Re: Lag(ing)
I wonder how many that experience chronic lagging are leaving active/linked models OPEN in SU while working in Layout.

And if the autosave function in Sketchup is the major contributing factor in the lagging being experienced while working in LO.

I just mention this since I typically only have the linked SU model(s) open temporarily for edit should I need to…save…and close…I then of course associate lagging on page change with the updating of the linked model(s).



I believe the engineering team have been concentrating on SU as it just gets better and better, in the 5 years since I made the switch I’ve seen huge improvements.
I honestly think LO is next, even for 2018 there were some excellent changes bringing the toolset in line with SU behaviour, before that the tool behaviour differs significantly. That says a lot about internal engineering priorities.

In terms of making a choice, people on this forum have already made it. There is very little whinging or carping, there is however a lot of serious debate and contribution about functionality within workflows and where people hit walls and are discovering deficiencies. This is a good thing for the product development cycle.

Everyone here wants to make a positive contribution to the evolution of SU and SU pro an find help from people with similar workflows, again, a good thing for product development, it’s sector specific feedback and discussion directly from their vested target audience.
Trimble and the SU team obviously value this as they facilitate this official forum.
To suggest people make a different choice and go somewhere else because they find issues and deficiencies in software is not a good thing for product development and can lead to stagnation and damage the business model.


Layout obviously works. I rarely exceed a dozen pages A3 anyway, create specific view files of SU for LO and try to maintain low poly etc. This helps a lot and is good practice within SU. But I am also quite happy to go to other apps to achieve results be it ACAD, publisher or whatever when necessary. Any extra work involved is nothing compared to what we had to contend with before. I believe from what was implied at the original launch- (beta SU6Pro) that LO is probably fundamentally incapable of being developed into what the ‘power users’ now want. It was never intended to be more than it is. But who knows Trimble may just pull that rabbit out of the hat.


Nowadays those “power users” think they’re entitled to fast text edits and lag-free page changes in a $795 piece of software, Luckily the tiny number of spoiled users who make such demands can go buy themselves some newfangled software that will make them happy.

There will always be someone arguing that horse and buggies aren’t that slow, and that we did just fine before there were sewers.

We are having this converaton because we love SketchUp. We do deplore the absence of a software layer that can effectively create presentation documents out of SketchUp models. If it weren’t for our love for and the potential we see in SketchUp, we wouldn’t be here, but we are, and we want LayOut to support the SketchUp we love and do a serviceable job of it. But it does not.

It is fine for presenting a chair. You may be able to generate construction docs for a wood shed without running into the program’s limitations. Then you might tell yourself, well it works just fine, what’s the big deal.

But to support professional users who actually work on complex projects, it is imperative that LayOut deliver at the most basic level. Some of the workarounds that have been discussed in this thread can help to some extent, no doubt, but a) they introduce a lot of inefficiencies in the workflow, b) they never elevate LayOut to the standards of a fully functional, pro-level software, and c) even if they did, why do we have to bother with cockamamie tricks in order to get what should come right out of the box? Why does a person have to twist themselves into a pretzel to generate something as basic and essential as the plan set they need for work?

This is 2018. LayOut costs $795 with Sketchup thrown in. Yet the astounding mediocrity of LayOut’s performance is without peer in the marketplace, paying or free. The way in which it bogs down and slows to a crawl under moderate / light load has not been experienced since the days of Windows 95 running on an old Pentium P5.

The naysayers and the apologists would have us think this is normal, but it is not. The names of so-called “super users” surface regularly, touted as examples of what we could achieve if only we went back to work instead of whining. And to be sure, some of these folks do seem to produce complex, intricate doc sets using LayOut. If some of them follow this forum, it would be interesting to hear whether and how they are able to switch pages quickly or edit text boxes without lag.


I cannot speak for the other users, but we are using Layout in our workflow because we require the iteraction between sketchup’s 3d model and our 2d output. We are permanently going back and forth between the two as we design.

We have found a LOT of workarounds for getting things done, without which layout would be unuseable. Any way you want to present it, Layout is needed if you want a sketchup model to stay in sync with 2d.

There are other softawre that does that sync between 3d and 2d but not with a sketchup model… and sketchup is the best for modeling architecture.

If it wasn’t, nobody would use layout whatsoever at it’s current state. We would be modelling with revit, archicad, rhino, vector works or any other 3d app and we wouldn’t feel the constraints we feel on 2d as we do now, with LO… That’s why most people using sketchup are still using AutoCAD! (Yikes!)

Layout isn’t fit yet, imagine if you’d model in vector works. Would you get your model imported into sketchup just for you to be able to use Layout?

I don’t think you would.

In all the above 2d+3d apps the transition is seamless and most tools work well. However sketchup beats them all in what modelling is concerned while Layout (still) is under par. In SU+LO we can make it work and it will look good… until we hit a bottleneck which is currently in LO side. But sketchup was much more limited before and LO too. Nowadays we can do much more stuff with them but, unfortunately it’s still far from what we’d wish and we want it to be better.

What’s the harm in that? We need it! Having a need for software is the basis for it all. That’s a good thing and it should motivate Trimble to focus development resources on LO… Pro users have a right to demand it!

Even so, for many of us, sketchup and layout combo compensates. For me it really does as 90% of my work is done with SU and only the remainder in LO.

With a strong Layout, sketchup would rule them all and I’m thrilled to read this thread because I feel I’m not alone on seeing the potential of LO.


Over to you Trimble…can you really address all the power users’ needs and turn the SU package into the world beater it clearly could be?


I am curious why the SU team can not discuss future developments and work in progress whereas

ENSCAPE and AFFINITY DESIGNER are very clear on what there development priorities are with development schedules or BETA software public reviews

ENDSCAPE - Development Agenda


provide BETA versions of their software for user testing…


I thinks it’s genuinely due to the rules governing future product plans of a publicly traded company in the US.
I’ve seem some threads on this before around the geolocation functionality change after Google stopped providing the API.


With the usual “I am not a lawyer” disclaimer (and willingness to be corrected by anyone who is a lawyer)…

I believe that a company, including a publicly traded company, can publicly and officially announce anything they want about future plans or an upcoming product. But there are rules about where and when constitutes “publicly and officially”. I doubt that a posting on a forum such as this meets the rules unless it is after such an official announcement, as not everyone knows about or has access to this forum and there are other places such as press releases and Trimble’s websites where people might expect to see the official info. “Leaks” in a forum such as this could trigger an ugly mess of insider-trading investigation.

But also, it comes down to company policy. As an example, Apple is notoriously secretive, yet sometimes announces a product long before its actual release as a means to “freeze the market” (see this article from MacWorld for examples). The key is again where and how they make the announcement.


My company is publicly traded but we (employees) are not allowed to talk about anything we are working or planning to release in the future (In fact I am sure it’s a one strike and you’re fired policy).

This is mainly due to competition I gather, if you have a good idea and you announce it a few months before release, nothing is stoping competitors that are nimble enough to re-tool and beat you to market, or at least compete a lot earlier than they would be able to if they did not know said feature was coming.

@gsharp SketchUp will have a Beta testing group but it will be closed rather than public, this is most common in software testing.
For example I was for a while on the Adobe InDesign testing group when I worked at a large Publishing House but everything was super secret and you could only participate with personal invitation by Adobe, no way to apply. By doing this and by signing individual NDA’s then can keep the secrecy around the product before release, something that’s impossible with a public Beta.


SketchUp Free was beta ( for more then a year. It was no secret that it was beta and many employees were contributing and literally asking the users what direction they would like it to develop. What they internally discuss or how they prioritize different requests is, luckily, not public. In the end, it should fit in Trimble’s ‘way to transform’ the world, I guess.
I think, (hope?) that the developers have a pretty good overall understanding what the user might need, I hope (think?) they will sometimes come with something I did not knew I needed it!


And… already occupied by squatters !


I have to say that I’ve never experienced the LO crawl and lag that others describe.

I try to keep my SU models as small as possible, really only so that I’m not emailing clients large model files.

A while back I installed an SSD and whilst performance wasn’t bad it did improve. Also something I didn’t know for a long time was that opening the SU model directly from LO meant that LO automatically updated any edits to the SU model. What a revelation that was!

I’ve read the Sonder and Brightman books and invested some time in creating my own workflow from the ideas in the books.

The recent 2018 LO update that allows you to draw scaled drawings, for me, is a massive improvement.


There are users in this thread who say they have no problem with layout, we all get that. But that does not mean they are trying to do the same thing. That someone one can do something simple does not mean anyone can do anything complex. There is nothing simple about good and complete construction documents for any sizeable projects, and outputting a chair or table is not that, and outputting a page with a non dimensioned and notated raster rendered image is not that. You can do 13 A3 pages so alls fine, but thats clearly not outputting full construction documentation of a sizeable project. I can get 13 A3 pages out of layout easy, raster perspectives or plans, one a page, not a problem. What I cant get is what I need to do even a portion of a decent document set. Cant get 10 1=50 elevations on an A1 page rendered in Hybrid so theres some decent line work, emailed that file to another user in this forum who thought they could work around the problem, neither could they. It fell over on their windows the same as it falls over my mac. I am not arguing that at $750 layout should be able to do everything that pro cad software does, but if it could at least be able to reliably get out good documents of good models, then I’d be able to pay more as I wouldn’t need to also be paying for the expensive Vectorworks I pay for also now to compensate for layouts inability to output 2D documents other than basic raster views a few a page max. We are not bagging sketchup, we love designing in sketchup, its just a shame to not be able to get that model out into 2D documents in any reasonable way. I am currently exploring importing the sketchup model into vectorworks as a 3D ( which comes in perfectly ) and then doing the 2D docs from within vectorworks a a method of avoiding layout altogether. So in my case using sketchup as sketchup and vectorworks as layout. So as you say we can go elsewhere and use whatever, and pay for 2 sets of CAD software, just a shame that layout fails and requires that. I would prefer to just use Sketchup and Layout ( if it worked well ) and dump my other cad, and be happy to pay more.


Does vectorworks look like providing you with a solution? Could be the answer certainly in the short term for big projects.
There is a Google LO launch video worth watching from an SU basecamp still on youtube which seemed to suggest that it is best implemented at A3 and modest sheet quantities else it will simply bog down and bog down really seriously with large files. It was promoted as a presentation companion for concepts rather than a tool for fully fledged 2D construction work docs.

Probably the only solution would be to create a new and completely different animal = costs and hard work. Is there sufficient incentive for Trimble to invest when SU+LO as it stands fulfills the concept role?