Layout efficiency - my story & question

Good morning. This initial post is likely to be in-depth and detailed (hence a bit long). I feel to do it this way, so that the reader and the larger SketchUp community can hopefully feel my experience. Primarily to assist with potential solutions but secondarily to perhaps spur Trimble into some targeted action regarding Layout.

Before proceeding with my story it’s perhaps helpful to know that I have an i7 machine with 16gb ram and 2gb dedicated NVidia graphics cards. An old machine but still quite effective I think. Running SketchUp 2019.

I am attempting to enroll into tertiary education once again (17 years since my last stint there) and upgrade to an honours qualification in architecture, as a stepping stone to Masters. This past Saturday the applicants were given an entrance assessment and 8 hours to complete it, with a strict 16:30 deadline. Without any consideration for alternatives I implemented the tools I love and know - primarily SketchUp.

Without wasting too much time on the details of the brief, I realised that the roof form would require a good portion of the time allotment after an initial site assessment. Having confidence that my workflow would not disappoint, I threw myself into the design and gave a large proportion of time to the roof design as it demanded. The live rendering package that I use was AMAZING and really showed it’s value under a deadline. Even with multiple iterations of the design being refreshed, I still only needed about 20min to get a decent conceptual 3D perspective. Fit for purpose in my opinion (see image attached).

At 3pm, still confident in my workflow, I realised I had to start compiling my presentation, which perhaps was not enough to really give it a great graphic feel BUT should have been more than enough to prepare at least a decent presentation. Enter Layout.

Inserting the SketchUp model took about 20 seconds. “Ok, there are a fair amount of faces and edges, be patient.” Change to the required, preset (in SketchUp) view…another 60 seconds. Change from Raster to Vector…another 2min. Now for the other 4 pages that are required. Repeat process - lose +30min. Using the native tools in Layout - text, dimensions, symbols had no problem, except now I have 30min to my deadline because of all the multiple 60 seconds and 2min of lag on certain commands. To conclude I manage to click send on my (pre prepared) email at 16:31. (I’m not sure if I will penalised for 1 minute). However I certainly won’t have a great review of my final presentation which essentially was some sketches slapped onto paper with a couple of key notes…very poor in my opinion. Instead of using the remaining time to work on a presentation that might be somewhat decent, I spent most of that time fighting with software that is grossly inefficient.

FIRSTLY - I know @Sonder has some great material for setting up layout templates but is there any basic settings in Layout, that one can fiddle with, to begin with the most efficient Layout? For example, instead of loading with ‘raster’ as the default option can one setup Layout to open with using ‘vector’ as the default? (Seems to me that Vector is more efficient). Any other initial settings that can be set at program level that will assist with efficiency?

SECONDLY - with reference to this post Layout too slow to use efficiently (not being the only one of course),*when will SketchUp actually create a version of Layout without all the lag? Even if I had created a default efficient template (my bad for not having one), I would still want the flexibility to change those defaults and efficiencies on-the-fly without having to wait 2min per mouse click.

I kinda feel you. As a word of comfort I have to say that Layout DID get noticeably speedier in 2020 and again 2021, so that might be the solution you are looking for. I tried and stopped using Layout ever since its inception and was always disappointed but approx. a year ago the tides changed for me and it was “good enough” for my workflow (and we do quite complex books with about 50+ pages on any given project).

Vector-Mode is a bit of a killer, so don’t use that for complex projects.

My tipp for a workflow (really just two):

  1. Build a good standard Sketchup-template file and a corresponding standard Layout template. I have certain views, styles, etc. already set up in my Sketchup scene so when I plug my model into layout the first 15 pages are already filled and ready to go.
  2. Go to Layout early. This is really important. As soon as you project is kinda set up (like you have your groups / components for that roof set up - take a break - set up your layout, make sure that your sheets work. Why? First of - it helps you avoid that deadline stress - you already have something that you only need to refresh - second - it’s usually faster to set up the Layout-Document when the geometry is not too complex yet, so if you set it up early Layout reacts with a lot less lagging.

So - don’t give up on it - update to 2021, and keep pushing the fine folks at Trimble to make the Layout even better (there still is A LOT of space for improvement!) Extensions, anyone?..

Awesome roof, btw! :slight_smile:

It’s good that you have read some of Sonder’s work. Sonder will call his system the “Donley Method”. @Matt of mastersketchup helped him write the book and there are some very key elements in that book that really help this issue inside Layout.

I haven’t found that Raster vs Vector saves too much time. What @napperkt is saying about getting to Layout early is one of the chief things that I have started doing. I have a pretty well defined Layout template (although it’s not yet setup like @napperkt says where pages auto-populate). I do move pretty quickly to setup of scenes in Sketchup though and get those inserted into Layout early on. Populating a full model takes a great deal longer than just updating an already placed viewport. It doesn’t have to redraw every line, just the changes.

I honestly think that that is the key to Layout issues calming down. If you really understand your scenes and styles in Sketchup and have those dialed in, the problems, for me anyway, will be minimized. I think it is worth noting as well that you need to be very aware of which groups and components are entity rich. Make sure that if those groups don’t have to be on in a scene to keep them off. This will reduce the amount of data the viewport in Layout has to draw.

This is where I have seen a great deal of improvement for myself. Learning how to manage what is visible in any scene. I do mostly interior millwork drawings which allows me to break a project up into rooms. Each room is on it’s own layer and then I have a tag tree that all objects get assigned to. When I do a scene, i turn off all other rooms and even objects in the same room that aren’t visible in that particular scene/elevation/plan. The less data the scene has the faster it will draw in Sketchup and the faster it will populate in Layout. And yes I understand that Layout has tag control now, but I believe this was causing part of the problem for me. Adding a viewport with the entire model every time is going to be a performance hit. Build the scene in Sketchup get that entity count down then import it into Layout. It will render faster.

**Looking at your image, I can tell that that roof is a very high entity count. I might have tried to have a scene that was saved with the roof tag turned off. Get that scene into Layout with the roof off. Leave it off until you have to have it on. Put your tags and dims in and then turn it off again until you are ready for final printing. This means Layout doesn’t have to draw it every time it loads the page. Just a thought.

It brings a change in workflow I think. Most of us want to do the design work first and then build the presentation. Follows the architectural education I got for sure working on drafting boards. But the software, if you really love the development process of Sketchup, demands that a change be made. Design and presentation are built together. Build a checklist, work it out. You should see improvements.

It’s funny, after all the complaining I have done in all the threads about this issue, I now can see that this problem has forced me into a much needed deep understanding of the correct workflow. I know I understand the system way better then I used to now. Still hoping for Layout to get more attention from Trimble, but the more threads like this the better because it helps me know the system better.