LayOut (and SkUp) vs Bluebeam

How should SketchUp and LayOut users regard Bluebeam (the “super”-pdf-software) - as a SkUp-,LayOut-killer or as a usable extra tool, primarily for 2D-drawing.

Seems like Bb has lot of symbols and templates to create 2D-drawings(pdf) easy and quick, but so has LayOut, including export to pdf. I am not very experienced in neither Bb or LayOut. It would be interesting to hear what people who has used both software has to say about a comparison/work flow integration here.

Just a couple of questions. How do you get a SketchUp model to Bluebeam? What gymnastics do you have to do when the SketchUp model gets modified to update the document?

I suppose the “gymnastics” could be to import the SketchUp model into a LayOut 2D-document and then export it from LayOut to pdf. When the SketchUp model is changed I think there is an “update” function in LayOut, after which it is just to export to pdf again.

But my real question here is: As SketchUp and LayOut users - do we really need Bluebeam at all, does it add anything usable to our work flow?

Yes there is. If you do it correctly, the update is automatic.

I just see it adding another step, more complexity, and another place to introduce errors.

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This sounds similar to me to sending SU or Layout output to something like Photoshop to enhance the image in some way. If there are pdf effects or edits you need that SU and LO don’t provide, then why not? But I see it as post-processing, not clearly part of the model-building workflow.

The reason why I started this topic is the fact that Bluebeam since a year seems to explode on the market, as far as building, architecture and MEP is concerned. As an architect, I am a bit disturbed if I will have to install, learn and update one more software, that to me just seems to do LayOut’s job.

If BB is just a competitor to LO, though working entirely in pdf, i only makes my work flow more complicated. It would be problematic to me if BB now is occupying the position as an emerging 2D industry standard software, kind of a new AutoCAD. I simply don’t understand what is going on here. Maybe LO could compete here if Trimble allocates same resources to global marketing and country specific symbols and templates as BB seems to be provided with.

So, if there is anyone with a little deeper knowledge about BB and LO, it would be interesting to see what is coming here.

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I have not used Bluebeam but taking a quick look at their website made me think that their products are more competitors of Adobe Acrobat than drawing/illustration/desktop publishing applications per se.

In my current workflows everything seems to get converted into PDF at some point, and I find a PDF editor an indispensable tool, but I wouldn’t bother trying to replace my CAD/modelling/BIM applications with one. Acrobat Professional, too, can do quite many things to a PDF file but I would rather not use it to create documents from scratch.


Well, after so many wise words from all of you, the SketchUp Sages, I don’t have much more to add here. It will be interesting to see how Bluebeam will develop in the future. According to what is said above, my Adobe Acrobat Pro seems to be sufficient for all my possible post-processing needs. But it seems as Bluebeam also targets the total document management in big complex producing environments (distributing, version control etc), but then again there is the Trimble Connect for this. The only thing that puzzles me is that the big building companies, like Skanska, now is implementing BB and I haven’t heard anyone of them talking about Trimble Connect or LayOut (yet).

It has been a privilege to hear your thoughts about this, so thank you very much for this.


I think of Bluebeam primarily as a design review and coordination tool, and LayOut as a drafting tool. In other words, you would prepare your documents in LayOut, then share them with your project team for review, markup, reference and approval in Bluebeam.

You can review drawings in LayOut, and maybe you can draft new drawings in Bluebeam… but it isn’t really what either application was designed to do.

Trimble’s closest competitor to Bluebeam at this time is Trimble Connect, which as of last week includes some simple drawing markup and review features. Here’s a screenshot of a LayOut document, shared via PDF format, into the new Connect reviewer.


Thanks, jbacus, for your competent answer. It seems to confirm what I guessed - that SkUp-LayOut-TrimbleConnect could be the preferred combination for us native SketchUp users, but we sadly have to be prepared to also handle the big competitors like Revit, Bluebeam etc., depending on what’s used in the project teams.

I use Bluebeam and SU and don’t see the issue here. If you have Trimble Connect and it can markup and work with pdfs that others have sent you I don’t see the problem. Admittedly I have an older version of Bluebeam, but markup and review (not drafting) of construction drawings is its primary function. Bluebeam is simply a glorified and somewhat construction specific version of the Adobe Acrobat program. .

I use BB since release 6 or so. Loved it at first use in a similar way I loved SU at first sight. If I would offer a comparison, I would summarize it like this: BB is to Adobe Acrobat what SU was to Acad. In other words, BB is an intuitive collaboration tool geared towards the AEC Industry. It offers robust mark-up, estimating and real-time document online collaboration tools that are easy to use and learn, and most importantly, escalable to any size project,hence the explosion of its use in the Design/Engineering and Construction markets.

As an SU user, I wouldn’t think of BB substituting LayOut at all. Its strong use is in drawing review, project collaboration and mark ups (shop drawings, punch-list, etc), not in document production or drafting.

Hope this helps,

So far I think this thread has been really clarifying about what BB really is. Thanks for that! The only “problem” I see here is that as consultants (architects etc) we tend to need to install and learn more essential software products every year- but on the other hand, that’s what we can get payed for too, so why not. And learning BB and Trimble Connect give us even better key competence in digital project management.

It seems like BB and Trimble Connect are the two main competitors on the market here - anyone who has a little deeper knowledge about booth of them and can give us a brief comparison?

I"m not sure why you are comparing BB to LO to begin with. They have two COMPLETELY different functions and purposes. You cant use LO stand alone as a PDF viewer and editor and you can’t publish SU models direct to BB.

I wouldn’t go so far as to day LO is a drafting tool though. I cant imagine making a schematic or a wiring diagram in LO.
In my mind I see that SU is similar to Model Space in A-Cad and LO to Paper Space.

BB does however replace Acrobat. BB is far superior.

I saw the ability to import 3d Bluebeam PDF files into Bluebeam. This means full 3D dimensioning capabilities from a SketchUp model. I think it is wild that you can easily and quickly draw to scale drawings inside of BB. I would be interested to see how this goes in the future. I love the simplicity and intuitive nature of SketchUp, but Layout on the other hand…

Check out the link below.

That’s pretty cool, and doubtless you’ll find many ways to use this. The video stopped a bit short of a full description of how markup is handled (what happens if you orbit the view after placing a cloud markup?)

Here’s a quick video showing how 3D markup is done in Trimble Connect, for comparison.

personally i think adobe hacks my image hatches i use from LO, BlueBeam renders pages much nicer other than that i am going with the mass here Blue Beam is a viewer/ markup collaboration tool that blows away adobe,
you can add scaled drawings i thought the theory that LO 2018 implemented were pretty much the same principle.

BTW is there a pdf editor that you can manipulate line style and weight other than illustrator? that would be cool

I need to check out the 3d import, thanks for the tip! Bluebeam is my primary software at work. As an estimator I do everything in Bluebeam and have 100’s of markup tools in my library. When in a rush (seems I am always in a rush) I create sketches using SketchUp and Bluebeam. Draw in SketchUp, create scenes, use the snipping tool to copy and paste the scenes to a shop drawing template in Bluebeam. Add notes as needed, share with co workers for there notes and comments. Very quickly you a a slick looking sketch for a meeting. Need to get faster with layout as my Bluebeam sketches are not to scale or very complete.

I think Bluebeam could offer a much quicker and smarter annotation function than SketchUp currently has. It would be interesting if BB made a plugin for SketchUp which could link all scenes and generate pdfs which could be annotated in Bluebeam rather than layout. Layout is disappointingly slow. The room tags, wndow tags tools and ability to quickly draft in BB seem like a waiting opportunity to really improve using SketchUp for full CD sets.

Actually, I issue a lot of my signage documentation in PowerPoint…(A3 to A1 size). using image captures from either Autocad or SU as backgrounds ( master slide layouts) and then adding notation in the slide/s themselves… why?

Well, maybe at heart I am lazy… if I issue my work locked in a format only special skills can edit it means I will be troubled by every trivial change that needs to be made to them in the future…

If I issue documents that are universally accessible to edit (PowerPoint is virtually on every PC and it’s basic operation almost as universally understood ) it means my documents also have inherent value to my clients for them to edit / adapt / evolve into their own needs as the project progresses.

Of course I also include a PDF to snapshot clearly what was my work at time of issue .

Here is a link to a powerpoint sample [redacted to remove company ident]
as 1 picture is worth 1000 words which shows how powerpoint master layouts can work.

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