Layout 2018 - not up to par with other drafting software



Yeah I agree it is a bad idea, not to mention difficult. As someone who tries to cross pollinate software it never works as well as something built natively.

Layout just needs to be reconsidered by people who know what good documentation requires and some serious programming resources put on it for a year or two.

If layout worked as well as standard CAD packages it will literally take over small architectural practices. Sketchup is the most popular software at all the architecture universities in my country so grads are coming out fluent in it. The majority of local architects I know love it and use it during the design phase, but abandon it for other CAD packages during development, most of which are far more expensive than Sketchup pro.

Make Sketchup / Layout as efficient for producing construction documentation for an equivalent price and it’s no contest.

I just hope Trimble can see the gold mine they are sitting on.


I agree. I’ve held my breath because of the natural bias of this forum.

My disappointment with various BIM packages I’ve tried over the years has been summed up by the old adage of “Jack of all trades, master of none.” When it comes to 3D modeling, their not the best modeler you’ve seen, and when you have to do drafting, they’re not the best drafting tools you’ve seen either.

I’m not wild about using a software package that’s mediocre at everything. That’s why I chose PowerCADD for 2D drafting, and SketchUp for 3D modeling, because I felt each was the best tool for their respective tasks.

What I want is a better way than DWG from PowerCADD to SketchUp and back again. Everything people currently like about Layout, I already have in PC. Everything on everyone’s wish list, I already have it PC. The ONLY thing Layout offers me that PC does not, is placing a live link to scenes in a SU model.

That wish isn’t far fetched either. A few weeks ago I had a long phone conversation with Alfred Scott, the developer of the Wild Tools plugin for PowerCADD. He has already proposed an open standard he calls Open Clip, which allows copy and paste from one program to another via the clipboard, thus avoiding DWG altogether. He’s already implemented it between PC and Form-Z, so he’s proved the concept. He stated getting SU views back into PC is a goal of his, but right now, getting everything updated to 64bit is occupying their time.

Making a better way for SU to play well with others isn’t as big a programming task as trying to reinvent the best 2D drafting program from the ground up.


Your problem could be solved with a batch export of scenes as vector files from sketchup (svg with colors, textures or gradients, dwg with background images, pdf files…)…

powercadd could also import a sketchup model and xref it.

In the meantime, there are users paying for Layout and it should work better.

I don’t want layout to draft, I want it to document. I do my drafting inside sketchup and there i have everything I need except linestyles which I learnt not to need so much…


The less 2D drafting I have to do the better. I would prefer if all drawing/modelling work was done in sketchup and layout translated that information into the presentation format that I need, that includes line weights, line types, line colours etc. without the need for stacked viewports.

90% of what I do in layout at the moment is placing notation, symbols & hatches. All of which can be automated to a certain degree with a good sketchup model.

In my head if i’m 2D drafting over a sketchup viewport for more than 10 minutes i’m modelling wrong.


My take on modelling is the opposite:

  • I model as sloppy as possible with the least amount of info I can;
  • I use stacked viewports and section cut faces to draft into (main lines and hatches);
  • I annotate, dimebsion make leaders in layout and draw the least amount of lines I can.

The most problematic stages of my process are the laying out of viewports because of viewport render speed; the difficulty of dimensioning off axis drawings (which i have a lot); room areas aquisition and dwg export.

I’ve managed to circumvent most issues. But these ones kill my workflow…


Notice how this thread is being superbly ignored by Trimble staff and “sages” despite having (so far) 165 comments eloquently and painstakingly documenting grave usability issues with LO.

I think the roadmap is being kept confidential because dev resources are working hard to port SketchUp to the Web, and users might be displeased that their problems are not being worked on because Trimble thinks it’s more important to start charging everyone’s VISA every month.


I’ve suggested the same thing before, however given the few hints we’ve glimpsed of Trimble’s corporate culture I doubt any open source / open standard solutions are ever going to happen.


Could not agree with you more. Bring layout up to speed with other similar CAD packages and SU will dominate the residential design market for years to come.


True that; good results can be had using LayOut. But at what price.

Here are two workarounds I use:

  1. Zoom in as close as you can to the object you’re working on. For instance, you can edit text almost normally when the text box occupies half of your screen. Of course, LO’s zoom functionality is extraordinarily sluggish.
  2. Leave as many details out of plans sets as possible to cut drafting time. Hope the plans examiner doesn’t call it.

JK! Sarcasm alert. Sort of


Maybe its already been mentioned, but under “document setup / paper” it helps a bit with performance to have displayed resolution set to low. The output can be high.


At the same time High resolution is too high in most cases and Low resolution works fairly well in most cases.

And, if you work on Low and Export on High, it will have to regenerate every viewport on export, having export take a long time.

So, what I do is work on med settings and export on the same settings, because I have reasonable (in LO terms) viewport regeneration times, and no export delay at all, with good results for everything but the most Hi dpi demanding presentations (like competition presentations and that sort of stuff)


I believe you’re wrong:

At the price of pushing your work inside of Sketchup instead of Layout as much as you can, and at the price of giving up on line styles as much as you can, also at the price of having a superior 3D model that comes along with your full construction documentation, which cannot be in full sync with documentation if you throw it away to move on to a CAD document.

I have found that with Sketchup and Layout, my documentation can adhere to standards when needed, can be free from standards when needed, and my workflow that I can only have with Layout and Sketchup can give me documents and models that help me a LOT in construction site, with clients and design iteration.

The question for me is: at what price would I give up on SU+LO? At what price would I adopt Archicad or Revit? What would I gain and what would I loose?

If we would resume everything to one objective factor which is price (money money) I know one thing: there is a HUGE price difference between Sketchup Pro and (supposed to be better) alternatives. In my small office we would need to spend 10000€ on software to transition to one of the other packages. That would be the price of a small project that I can easily do with Sketchup and Layout.

Layout has to be streamlined so I don’t have to even think on that choice as the only issues I see with Layout are the ones being pointed on this thread: all solvable!

Then Sketchup and Layout have to work on their potential too so, when we get bigger we don’t need to move on to other architectural software for full fledged BIM solutions.


Okay. Which is it?


Indeed, I have mine on the default med/med settings but threw this out there in case it made a difference for some users.
I guess the discipline would require that these settings be low for the working part of the process and changed after the grunt work has been done for output? At least the wait for a better render only happens once at the end and not consistently through the process?
Hopefully the sluggish nature will get improved.


Yes, it’s true, but I had a case where 18 pages took 30min to render. To work faster I would turn off auto-regen of the Sketchup model, reload model and export to pdf and it would regen all pages so I could then move forward and back between them. I was constantly exporting pdf files and sending to consultants so when the export was done and the work was done too, it was a zip to export it.


What do you mean?


@JQL In your 1st post you say you “model as sloppy as possible [in Sketchup I assume] with the least info you can”. Then, in your 2nd post, you recommend “pushing work into Sketchup instead of LayOut as much as possible”.

It seems that you could do one or the other, but not both. Unless I misunderstood what you were trying to say, which is entirely possible.


OK. I understand your interpretation of what I said and it’s a fair one.

So, in my workflow there are 3 intertwined stages:

  • Modelling: where you model conceptually first and increase detail until the point you need which in my case is construction documentation. Here, for me the objective is to find means of modelling fast. I care about the visible and the invisible complexity of construction I don’t usually model (sometimes I model some structures and infrastructures but mostly I do not);
  • Drafting: However construction is not only about visible stuff, it’s about the complex amount of layers you need to compose and the amount of details that are required to compose to make it all fit together and be built. I started doing 2D details in CAD and that’s still how I like to think. So drafting could still be CAD, or could be Layout, but I do it in Sketchup and it is as accurate as can be. Doing it in Sketchup also allows me to adapt the 3D modelling (visible parts) to the details I’m working on 2D. I use section cut faces for this and those help me mask the sloppy models too.
  • Finally there’s documentation: linestyles (the least amount I can, and sometimes faked in Sketchup), dimensions, areas, levels, labels numbering of elements… All of this I do in Layout but not more than this.

Whatever I can push into Sketchup, I push but anything related to text, honestly I cannot. If you do it in Sketchup it doesn’t adapt well inside of Layout and doesn’t export as text from layout to CAD. So Text is all in layout.


Got you. This pretty much describes my workflow too. I create as much detail as I possibly can in Sketchup, then I set up a huge number of scenes, each one corresponding to a viewport in LayOut. After that I only have text and dimensions to add in LayOut and not much else.

I too wish that text and dimensions created in Sketchup “travelled” better into LayOut.


Agreed. It’s been a while since I tried, but when I last did, label text drawn in SU went all over the place when imported into Layout, whether specified by point size, or by height. I was really disappointed at how bad it was - either HUGELY oversize, or vanishingly small, with no rhyme or reason I could discern.