Layout 2018 - not up to par with other drafting software



@JQL @bifterx

TLDR: I am a bit OCD so my system is very complex but allows for flexibility while retaining output control.

Let me clarify a little bit.
My reference models are for presentation purposes only, not modelling.

My main model is where all the work takes place and has a complex layering system and usually 3 section cuts; plan, cross section, longitudinal section, which I move around and use for modelling purposes. I label them as “working sections/plans” (this is a similar workflow to the one I developed in Revit to manage complex models with 100+ views and sheets). This means I only have about 6 scenes to deal with in my working model at any one time.

When I need to present a section/plan I reference the working model into “presentation model” templates that are setup for the various drawing types. Recently I discovered that the plugin from the link I posted before streamlines this very well.

Within this presentation model I position the templates pre-existing section planes as required and update the pre-exisiting scenes. As my layer/material system is consistent across templates each scene already has the layer, shadow, style and section fills from Skalp (still need to perfect the skalp link but section cut plane plugin can be used with a bit more work) pre-assigned. This model is then inserted into layout where the scenes are placed and the drawings completed.

I’m extremely fussy about how my drawings look when printed, I’m quite OCD about it in fact, so I tend to use stacked viewports a lot to achieve the variation in line weights and colours etc. This means that a single section or plan may have 3 or 4 scenes associated with it (unfortunately sketchup has yet to implement a system that can achieve what I want in a more efficient way) resulting in a very scene heavy model if I contain them all in one file.

The flaws in this workflow are:

  • You have to figure it out! It’s difficult and requires the creation of many template files which need to be tested. which is a bit of a mind bender.
  • My layering system is quite complex in comparison to others (cant remember the exact number but probably 40+ layers, my first iteration was somewhere north of 120 lol, too many even for my level of crazy).
  • You have to be consistent with how you model because components/groups must be assigned to various layers like an onion. This becomes more crucial when moving from design into construction modelling.
  • Stacking viewports is a pain, but until the system is improved I’m stuck with it (@sketchup please something like the ability to assign styles to layers will solve this problem).

The benefits are:

  • Keeps the number of scenes per model/layout file to a minimum
  • The layer system allows for complexity to be added to a model as the project evolves. Meaning I can take a model from conceptual massing to construction drawings with the exact same layering system.
  • The layer system can be applied after the fact, meaning that I can quickly explore design options and then assign the system to the best modelled option afterwards (something that is difficult to do in other programs).
  • Using the same layer system means I can create template files with placeholder referenced files, section cuts, and scenes, where the correct, layer, shadow, style settings have already been applied for each drawing type. These dummy files can be linked into layout templates where the stacked viewports are already placed etc. (the layout template is slightly more difficult as different projects require different arrangements but it helps to speed things up a bit).
  • This template system means I can quickly go from working model to presentation drawings by simply updating the references in each file.

For an example of where it works very well is for RCP drawings. The working model is referenced and mirrored as appropriate in the RCP template. As the RCP template is generated from the Plan template the RCP scenes will match the normal plan scenes when incorporated into layout. If I update the working model I just have to update the reference in the RCP and Layout files.

Does all this sound ridiculously complicated? Yes.
But in practice it is much simpler and flexible than it sounds as I am constantly looking to refine it to be more efficient and simple (I’m currently working on version 3). It combines the ridiculous control of revit’s automated drawing output with the freedom of quick modelling that we love sketchup for. It’s the best of both worlds in my opinion.

So while it is not perfect, it fits my way of working very well. As I said above I’m OCD about my drawings and need a system that fits the way I work.


There are a lot of workflows for Layout that are elegant and simple. They fall over when:

  • You have to make a lot of design changes throughout the process (eg after documentation phase and all annotations are done) In theory it works, but sometimes it doesnt (usually when you have a major deadline :stuck_out_tongue: )
  • You are working across multiple networks or within a rigid file management system (referencing issues)
  • You are working in collaboration with other people who don’t understand complex layering systems of have access to your extensions (eg Layer Organizer).
  • You model almost exclusively in 3d, therefore can’t utilise a lot of 2d versions of components, therefore your layout images and outputs are very complex.


  • Does Layout need to become a 2D-centric version of SketchUp? (eg drafting on a fixed plane, with lineweight and style control), and use symbol versions of complex 3d components for vector output?),
  • Should Sketchup have a few more 2d tools (scene/.style managers and drafting mode) allowing Layout remains a focussed annotation/doc production tool?

(or both!?)


I model exclusively in 3D, and I would rather not incorporate any more 2D in my process than is strictly necessary to generate paper plans. A 2D-centric LayOut feels like a nod in the wrong direction, toward the dinosaurs such as Autocad that we are trying to move beyond.

The sooner 3D becomes the standard in design and construction, the shorter the learning curve for the general and the subs, the fewer mistakes in the field, and the better we will all be. That and replacing with metric the antediluvian idiocy we call standard system.

I’m not holding my breath though. And sorry for the off-topic :slight_smile:


[quote=“benoldays, post:121, topic:64802”]
It combines the ridiculous control of revit’s automated drawing output with the freedom of quick modelling that we love sketchup for.[/quote]

I did not understand where and how you used Revit in your workflow, could you clarify for us? I’m desperate looking for a definitive solution to my DC’s.


This is pretty much the same in any “BIM” programme and will be until the output for ACE is a pure 3D model as opposed to printed paper. While certain programmes are better at dealing with this than others; it is often more time effective to make the changes as they come in rather than try to allow for all possible changes while modelling / producing the drawing set as this has a tendancy, particularly with revit, to be more trouble than it’s worth in the long run.

In sketchup I model all the important things in 3D, but this depends on the level of detail required at the time. For example during the concept development phase a timber bevelback weatherboard wall will be a simple box with a sketched material on one side. As the design progresses the material will become a photo material that can be used in simple renders. Towards the end of design development the wall will become a full 3D modelled weatherboard cladding system. I’m not talking about perfect representations of the selected weatherboard profiles but representations that will look correct in sections, elevations etc. Controlling the level of detail is something you learn quick in the revit world.

I like to comprehensibly model in 3D because it helps me to identify problem areas that I wouldn’t normally have discovered until the contractor identifies it onsite. When this happens I view it as a failure on my part. As a former builder I know the value of an architect who knows their building.

Because this is the way I like to work it then becomes important to put a system in place that will allow me to achieve this process in the most time effective way possible. I think my current system is on its way to achieving this.

I think layout is heading in the right direction, it just needs performance enhancements and should have a similar tool set as sketchup, i.e move & rotate commands, components etc. And sketchup needs a few changes so that both programmes work more effectively together, things like scene managers, native skalp functionality etc.

The biggest issue is the lack of lineweight and type controls for geometry referenced in layout. I think the simplest way to achieve this would be the ability to assign styles to individual sketchup layers. This means you could draw a line on the “dashed line” layer and have it show up dashed in sketchup and control the line weight in layout. While not the best solution, it wouldn’t be too far outside of the current function of sketchup.


Hi Rodolfo.

I didn’t mean that I use Revit in my sketchup workflow. I don’t. I have tried to make this work in the past but it is not very effective. If you want a better sketchup to BIM workflow you should look at ArchiCAD. I think that these two programs work more effectively together. ArchiCAD sits somewhere between sketchup and revit.

My sketchup workflow is based on the things I learned from my time working in revit. I have applied some revit logic to sketchup and layout to enable me to be more productive without sacrificing the freedom of sketchup modelling.

I currently use 3 different workflows… at my day job I use AutoCAD and/or Revit depending on the project, but for my own practice I use Sketchup & Layout.
Hopefully by the end of the year I will be full time sketchup working for myself.
Time will tell.


Anyway we put it, OCD or not, it’s not simple to manage contruction documentation or just standard architectural output from sketchup+layout.

That is not mainly due to lack of features in Layout but of not having streamlined workflows between SU+LO.

So, pour beloved combo has:

  • excellent modelling capabilities;
  • nice integration with render engines;
  • excellent output;
  • difficult workflow for documentation;
  • difficult drafting tools;
  • unneficient or slow 2d rendering output.

Solve this bridge between sketchup and layput, give us nice 2d drafting tools in Layout, and increase Layout’s rendering speed and we have the best.


You sure nailed that down. I was a Plans Examiner in a previous life and if it can’t be reviewed and changes are a huge issue you might as well forget the learning curve and draw it by hand. You can then pdf it and print it.
The whole idea of REVIT was revise instantly through all layers. For those of us that want to generate professional drawings and hate the PC/Windows and use Mac; it appears that Archicad is the best, not perfect, solution.


For Mac, yes. It is, however, one of the most expensive applications I know of (7440 € + 880 €/year).


There seems to be a huge disparity in price with Archicad. I can “rent” the full version for $149/month US in California and they have all kinds of training and support.
And yes I switched over to Mac and don’t want to run any Windows programs. Every time you change a hard drive in a Windows machine you have to buy a new version even if you have one you purchased. Apple has a much better system.


Here is a simple example of what I deal with while using layout. A simple move/copy command becomes burdensome when having to do it 100 times per page. (Note the large lag while moving a line.)


Just to make sure I’m seeing what you intend: the “large lag” is between perhaps 1/10th and 1/5th of a second or so, as the blue line chases the mouse around?


Correct, as opposed to maybe something like AutoCAD which is instant and follows our fast paced thinking. This pace looks great when creating a tutorial and moving at a slow pace but in reality I need that line to be on my mouse the instant I click.


Ummm no? Or by hard drive do you mean an OEM system like Dell or HP etc?
I’ve been running the same purchase of windows from 7 through to 10 (10 was a free upgrade for current owners) across 3 different computer rebuilds with 3 different hard drives, over the last 9 years.


Yeah layout is a laggy beast at the best of times.

One option I use is to draw things in sketchup (even 2D items), send that scene to layout, place it on a page to scale and explode it. Then you just have to assign line weights, types and colours to the exploded lines.

I try to avoid drawing in layout for the most part.


Yup, avoid drawing in Layout all but the simplest things.

However, if you have to, then zoom in as close as you can and lock layers you’re not usong, specoally viewports.

Note also that layout gets much faster if you draw without snapping turned on (even if there’s no point in doing it).


Exactly. This, for me, is THE biggest issue. It just isn’t snappy enough on any level. And, has been said before, it’s as if it’s only ever been developed for use with tiny projects (a lamp, table etc). As soon as you introduce multiple viewports and a few sheets it just grinds to a buffering, stuttering halt (7th Gen Core i7, 32GB RAM etc). Hilariously, I use full Revit 2019 on a complex project on the same machine without so much as a stutter. It’ll even run Revit’s built-in renderer without issue…there is a fundamental programming issue with LayOut which Trimple (nor Google) has ever got to grips with. Fix that and it would fly…with the addition of control of zoom wheel speed and the switchability of middle-mouse button to pan, if you could.


Personally i wish we had more control of dimensions and leaders etc. in sketchup … i swear there is a secret for developers not to make any dimension plugins or it would have been done by now
i am not as well versed in different cad programs as many of you are but i will never agree that dimension’s and all annotation should be part of layout and not sketchup for CD’s, its not how the different programs i have used approach that.

further more dimension and leader text should import/export or be substituted like most cad programs


I almost agree with you, would it not be that dimensions in sketchup clutter the sketchup model itself and are an extra burden to manage on an already hard to manage scene/layer/section/section healing workflow and it’s bridge to layout.

What puts Sketchup dimensions out of business to me though, is how their style can’t be controlled from within Layout, how the way we set them in Sketchup, without knowledge of the placing of other texts, tags, room names, areas and whatnot, is not effective, how they are so different from Layout’s own standards and finally how they export to DWG exploded.

Apart of that, anything I can do within Sketchup instead Layout is a time saver. Though it’s a fundamental piece in my workflow, Layout is slow and hard to work it and has it’s major flaws too but I cannot escape it’s dimension tools (which have many flaws indeed)


The part where you mention the style attributes in sketchup that cannot be controlled is part of my point.
why is there a million amazing plugins, yet nobody has made a better set of dimension tools ever, is it code related?