Layout 2018 - not up to par with other drafting software



Yes, it’s considered best practice to not open viewports in LO and treat them as 2D drawings, and yes most serious LO users do this. But this behavior is a product of the LIMITATIONS of layout and the complications that are introduced by manipulating of viewports. Embracing this workaround as the new “2D” standard would be a step backwards for me. Why not solve the true underlying problem and abandon the link to SU scenes. Just give LO viewports the power to control all the same options as scenes but from within LO. Imagine a SU document with no scenes and an accompanying LO doc with 45 scenes all referencing the raw geometry of the SU file. Updates to the model are pushed to LO but the layout viewports all keep their qualities like scenes. Want to change shadows, want to try a different style, toggle off a section plane or layer, don’t open SU, just do it right now in LO. That would be a powerful program.


Maybe because Layout doesn’t fully support Sketchup dimensions? If it did I think dimension plugins would be more interesting…

Anyway I said I almost agree with you, I just think, from experience, that there are even more unsolvable issues with Sketchup dimensions than with Layout’s.


This is what I think needs to happen too. The ability to control the visual aspects of the sketchup file from layout without breaking the link. At the moment it is a flawed workflow in that respect meaning I have to set X number scenes for simple 3D views.

What I really want is the ability to assign styles to individual layers, and/or elements. This would allow for line weight, line colour and line type control without needing to reinvent the basic functions of sketchup.

Structural elements can have one style that has thick cut lines, lining elements another, line heavy elements (like keyboards) are halftone grey with a black outline etc. I hate it when i see drawings with no thought given to visual weight, and while i can achieve this in sketchup/layout at the moment, getting to that point is far more convoluted than it needs to be.

Colour by layer?
How about style by layer?


I think that is a possible approach. I’m not against it in any way. I just don’t see Layout as being able to manage 3D in a fast way and I’ve witnessed with my own experiments that it’s a zip at managing Sketchup 2D files.

With current engine, and based on the principles that we architects need 2D output and sketchup scenes represent just that, the easiest thing I can see being developed is a Sketchup 3D to 2D batch scene exporter and a direct link to Layout to each of these scenes. With what we have right now it would result in a fast Layout which is probably Layout’s priority #1.

EDIT: I also want to state that I wouldn’t like to turn what is currently a workaround into standard workflow. I just simply cannot find a better one…


What happens on the occasions where we want to reference multiple SU documents in a single Layout file.

At the very least links solve that ability to access multiple .skp files from within a single Layout doc. Without links, what becomes the binder between… the only thing I can think of would be to resort to a common project folder.

But that causes other issue in terms of file management. Mainly having to have copies of a master file should it be used in multiple Layout docs… maybe aliases work as well w/ no copies needed… but then how do they link?


To be clear, I’m not advocating for abandoning the link from a LO viewport to a sketchup file. The link is crucial and what makes the SU LO combination great. Just divorce viewports from specific scenes. Link to the raw geometry of the file but put all the options we are used to managing with sketchup scenes into layout. Updates to the geometry of the file would still be updated in the linked viewport, but my style, shadow, layer, etc choices would be set within LO and persist through an update.

No problem with presenting multiple files, each viewport would be linked to a sketchup file. Different viewports could be linked to seperate files, why not?

I do agree that LO is slow already and maybe just not ready to handle this yet, but I would love to believe we could be headed toward a future with this kind of efficient workflow.


I agree with you. Period.

I like Sketchup scenes and I like how they translate to Layout too.

I’d start by speeding up the relation between current scenes and layout viewports. Imho that implies 2D export and bridge with external files to a viewport in Layout. (or a vector image import with a clip mask and a link to reload when updated? Imagine the current dwg import but it would be skp instead and working flawlessly. Add to that svg, pdf, flawless dwg and illustrator and it would be great!)

I’d then develop scene management inside Layout for a Sketchup model, in parallel with keeping support for the same scene management inside Sketchup for Layout (current method) and a way faster Layout render engine or multicore support.

So, solve what’s not working now and address future hard development for an even better workflow after.

It’s only rational and reasonable and probably effective.

2D Skp export.


Just had a bash with infinity designer for less than a hundred quid …loads layout and SU generated pdf files perfectly and zooms in and out at lightning speed. So must be either the live SU windows or bad programming that makes layout so slooooooow…might be good alternative workflow for CDs


I agree with Novurba.

I’ve been using SketchUp for over 10 years and have not installed Acad for over 8. Line weights are a legacy throwback to B&W pen and paper drawings. You could say that it is even further back to Clay tablets and Sticks when Stone Masons designed Cathedrals… [on a side note; I still see Acad people using Model Space for annotating rather than using Paper space…That is a DOS Legacy. and I hated to have 3m letters in Model space, to scale correctly on a site plan. At the time Paper Space was so cool you could pick your sheet and font point size and never worry about it again]

There are many things I feel Trimble could improve on: Layer control; Freeze/lock a Layer and all objects in it; Section fills like Skalp [which seems to be dead]

2D modeling? The term is an oxymoron. Currently we have to Flatten everything and present it as if it were 2D. I get that. I’ve even had contractor’s tell me they don’t want any colour, just B&W. Then tried to put in a change order when they were the ones who clearly read the plans wrong.

We have to slowly train the masses to think the same as they see; in 3D-Colour :wink:


Is there another piece of software that works with Sketchup to be able to document efficiently?
We recently had a company meeting to weigh the pros and cons of Trimble’s system for creating CDs and as much as we love Sketchup, layout is slowly eating us alive. Its getting harder and harder for me to defend layout to my colleagues.


Autodesk release their roadmap for Fusion 360…

I’ve only used 360 a few times but one of the things that really appeals to me about it is that the development is super fast and that there are regular updates with significant improvements (based on user feedback / wish lists like this one). Surely Trimble could put something like this in place?

@slbaumgartner, as you say

I get that Trimble want to keep development under wraps but it does mean that users being left in the dark and subsequently disappointed that their burning issue hasn’t been addressed in a new release, with no information about when it might be resolved in the future or even that its on their agenda.


I’ve only just starting with Layout and it has a lot of room for improvement and performance before it can compete with the big guns out there.

I realize that Trimble/SketchUp are pretty tight lipped about development but it would be really nice to see some sort of road map or something that lets us users know what direction we might see in the near future.

When it comes to BIM and 3D, SketchUp is the best, is we could somehow couple that with a solid 2D document engine SU would completely dominate the architectural market within a matter of a few years.

Dassault came out with Draftsight a few years ago, basically a lite version of AutoCAD LT. SU and Trimble should be taking a hard look at this and in my mind could certainly learn something from this. Imagine if you had all of the speed and functionality of AutoCAD LT within Layout.


Fusion 360 is one of the best pieces of CAD software I have ever used. Slick, polished and refreshingly awesome for something with Autodesk on the box. In my opinion its probably the coolest software in the Autodesk stable.

If Sketchup adopted some of their development methodology I would be happy. The future of software development has the users heavily involved from early on. Who better to test new things before they are officially released? Plus we will do it for free!


@benoldays, yes certainly is pretty strong, it doesn’t feel like an autodesk product which is really nice! But its predominantly for product design. The point that a lot of other folks have made (and I agree) is that SU has a loyal following because its a seriously versatile product that can plug into a HUGE range of industries. You add the plugins you need to make it do what you want it to. That was one of the biggest reasons that I dropped Vectorworks 9 or so years ago; the app wasn’t ‘tailorable’ enough and there wasn’t much support or info from them if you needed to do something different. Also, the learning curve with Vectorworks was huge - it took me years to get good on it and I found that could output models and documents within a few months having started using SU / LO. I tried modelling in Sketchup and drafting in Vectorworks (using and imported SU model) but just found it a pain - it may well be better now.

While I really enjoy using SU I do (sometimes) find LO very frustrating because;

  • move / copy can be infuriatingly slow and inaccurate (as demonstrated by @josh4)

  • text handling is very poor (as mentioned by @designnest (there is so little control over text and the text totally reformats when you click out of the text box,

  • selecting the correct item on the page is very difficult as the cursor sensitivity is like having your hand in mitten, even when you are SURE you have clicked on the item you want something else gets selected!

  • updating documents with lots of scenes can take a huge amount of time

  • There isn’t enough ability to control the SU model within layout - @endlessfix, Im 100% with you on wanting to be able to keep the link to the SU model but to have more control. Having a scene for every single view soaks up a lot of time, clutters the model and makes creating LO docs take longer. When I used it last, Vectorworks had a FANTASTIC way of controlling what’s visible in viewports and I see no reason why the same thing couldn’t be implemented into SU / LO. The live link between the model and the page is essential - I definitely do not want just a static raster image to show views and i definitely don’t want to have to create scenes for every view I want to use. I use the viewports to generate callouts that are linked to parts in my model (as can be done in Vectorworks, Inventor, Fusion etc). The model is very much alive in my LO pages. I generate scenes with specific styles but no camera and then I define what view I need in the LO page space. Having a static image in place of a live model viewport is a poor substitute. Not to mention that when working on different systems with different monitors / plugin layouts that updating viewport cameras can throw your views out.

  • The section tool within SU doesn’t give users enough control and as many people have mentioned, Skalp seems to be dead which, if true, is a real shame :disappointed_relieved:. I use Skalp extensively and think (with continued development) it is a strong tool. But this can also be a little frustrating as having dimensioned a section view, if one makes any changes whatsoever (even just saving and updating the model) all the dim snaps disappear meaning that you have to endlessly re-dim sections. I used Fusion for a simple project recently and was amazed that all my section dims just updated with every save - and they were ALL accurate.

  • The raster view is not much use for anything other than visuals. I’m not saying it doesn’t serve a purpose but its just not accurate enough for drafting as opposed to visualising and the hybrid and vector views can be very slow to update on large files. Only being able to show hidden edges in raster is a serious shortcoming I think.

  • There is no way to link text and viewports. Fusion and vectorworks are very strong when it comes to this and both can auto-generate / auto-update names, scales, section numbers etc. Updating drawing labels in LO (given that text editing and selection are both clunky) take longer than it should and can result it my mouse getting launched across the room (when you think you are selecting a drawing label but you end up clicking into a viewport… :face_with_symbols_over_mouth: )

  • 2d drafting on the page space in LO is still not terribly easy due to the clunky selection and snapping. I end up making seperate models of items that can be 2d in Sketchup, importing and then exploding them which is a bit long winded. IOn the plus side, I am loving the ability to group items in LO and do scaled drawings :+1::+1::+1: - a step in the right direction.


There are (judging by my experience and the various posts and LO wish lists) still a lot of issues to resolve / things to improve in LO but I think a lot of that is down to the fact that Pro is reaching further out into different market places and being used for broader applications, by larger firms and on bigger projects. Despite my grumbles, I do think that SU and LO offers a very powerful, adaptable and reasonably priced set of tools that can be put to works on a huge range of applications. As other users have pointed out, having spent some time reading around, buying various books, running tests and refining my workflow have achieved some noticeable time savings on projects.

I see lots of people grumble on here about LO not being a ‘professional’ application, but I have used it ‘professionally’ and have generated ‘professional’ drawings that have earned money (for myself and the businesses I have worked for) and increased market share and profitability. My clients feedback has generally been very complementary and people have commented on how much better / clearer / the drawings and presentations are and how much seeing coloured views (iso / ortho / perspective / section) rather than flat line drawings has made complex projects easier to understand for clients and contractors alike.

Having drawn up a few things in Fusion I can say that while the modelling side of it is amazing, the drafting side of it lets it down too. There are several projects that I simply couldn’t have completed in the native drafting space of fusion that were easily achieved in LO. In order to get what the output I needed I would either have had to export images and use something like InDesign to format presentations or would have to export a ‘dead’ dwg / dxf to annotate in AutoCAD LT (shudder). I do however KNOW that the Fusion team are on the case with resolving some of the issues with the drafting space because they release and regularly update their development road map, :wink::wink: so Im keeping my eyes peeled…

I’d love to see / know what the future plans are for LO and SU. There are many points raised here that have been raised time and again on wish lists (some of them mine) and I’d love it if users were able to have more input into the application’s development - after all it’s the paying users that are funding the development and its the users who are applying it to achieve our end goals. I think if Trimble are listening, they should be acknowledging this a bit more and keeping users in the loup…?


No you do not, I just added a NVME.2 storage device, put my OS on it, then changed my MB and processor. Windows is activated with the same product key I started with, no charge.


In the end we use it because we need it but it is far from perfect.

The need of it though is what justifies having Trimble on Layout with way more force than on Sketchup imho.



YES, totally! There are too many long standing grumbles and complaints that just haven’t been dealt with…


or stop LO, create a live linking w/ an existing 2D CAD package and focus on improving SU 8-]


This is the best solution. We do not need to reinvent the wheel, we just need a plugin that links the SketchUp model with other consolidated software.


@SketchUp3D_de @RodolfoST

Couldn’t disagree more… No CAD would do what Layout does. We need Layout but streamlined, not have to rely on CAD please.

We also need it to export to CAD flawlessly but that is another issue to add on top of the first one.