Layout - why don't they combine Layout and Sketchup into a single program


I’ve been using Sketchup for many years at home designing house renovations and many woodworking projects. Primarily I have been using the free versions. Now and then I would install the latest Pro version with Layout to see whether it’s something I could benefit from. All this time I’ve been waiting for Layout to mature, become more intuitive and more integrated with Sketchup.

One thing that has always puzzled me is why they keep Layout separate from Sketchup since Layout is really meant to be used in conjunction with SU. One of the main reasons I’m interested in LO is because I’ve had difficulty with printing in SU particularly with dimensioning. Why on earth they don’t put a little development time into SU printing is beyond me but so be it.

Why wouldn’t they combine the two programs, this would go a long way to making LO more efficient and easier to use. After numerous attempts at trialing LO and wanting it to work for me I have to say, it is one of the most unintuitive programs that I’ve ever attempted to use. Literally everything on LO functions differently to other packages, marry that with the inefficiencies introduced by the separation of LO from SU and it’s no wonder why it’s a constant disappointment and the sole reason I have not forked out the $$ for SU Pro over all these years.

Whist the two programs could be fully integrated it doesn’t mean that LO would need to be available to the free users, perhaps a scaled back integrated version could be made available for a more modest $150 - $200 price range but I digress, that is another source of frustration. I’ve just tested the new free version of SU and I can’t believe what I’m seeing. Surely they will give us another option (with some LO features) between the higher priced Pro option and the next to useless free web option.



SketchUp is a 3D modeling application. LayOut is a 2D documentation creation application. They do two very different things. When used correctly, working between SketchUp and LayOut is very efficient.


But Layout is designed solely for use with Sketchup right? Or not…


No. You don’t have to include SketchUp with LO projects. LO can handle a number of other file types as well as the SKP files. You can insert images, text files, tables, CAD files… You can use the drawing tools in LayOut to draw things, too. My invoicing template is done in LayOut and it only has text, an imported image and some borders I drew in LayOut. No SketchUp files at all. I leverage Auto Text for some of the text fields and since I’ll have LO open anyway, it’s a no brainer to do the invoice there, too. Export to PDF and send it off with the other LayOut-generated PDFs.

I’ve created proposals for projects using LayOut and rendered images–no SketchUp files–and brochures, CD covers, booklets, and other things where SketchUp doesn’t come into it at all.


I for one prefer the way things are. Consider the performance cost have having all that functionality under one hood.


I don’t believe that you can purchase Layout separately from Sketchup, I might be wrong. It seems that Layout is primarily designed for use with Sketchup no matter whether it can be used in other ways. It adds functionality that seems vital to producing a final product from Sketchup. Just because it works in a 2D context doesn’t mean it can’t be integrated as the presentation part of SU, the part that makes the 3D drawing consumable for printing or viewing in a 2D context.


I don’t believe integration of these two packages needs to necessarily impact performance. There are 1000’s of programs that are orders of magnitude more complex that SU/LO and they function quite nicely on a Windows PC.


You’re right. It’s only available with SketchUp Pro.

I think you’re looking at it incorrectly. It is designed so that if you are creating a document that includes views of your SketchUp model, you can maintain a dynamic link from the SketchUp file and tools like Dimensions and Labels in LayOut can reference the model. This adds functionality over using some sort of word processor application.

Yes. It does. But documentation isn’t the only final product option from SketchUp. The final product could be 3D printed objects, CNC machined objects, photo-realistic rendered illustrations, etc.


Here is one of the official descriptions of the Layout functionality:

At some point in most 3D projects, you’ll need to turn your model into a drawing set that gets the point across. LayOut in SketchUp Pro lets you add model views to pages, choose drawing scales, adjust line weights, and add dimensions, callouts, and graphics. Make a change to your SketchUp model, and find it reflected automatically in LayOut. And when it’s time, export pages as PDFs, images and CAD files.

It seems to me that all that could be achieved many times more efficiently if Layout was fully integrated into Sketchup. The dynamic link across programs wouldn’t be necessary, we would simply need to click on a ‘Layout View’ of the scene ( or what ever, there are many ways to implement it ) and another tab would appear from where we could create the 2D view for presentation, or save to PDF and etc etc…

The fact that Sketchup can create objects for 3D printing certainly doesn’t preclude it from having a fully integrated 2D presentation layer. It appears many users have experienced deficiencies in Sketchup when it comes to printing and 2D output. These are primary functions for a drawing package and I don’t believe that Sketchup has adequately developed that functionality on it’s own, without the use of Layout.


I’m just going to say I fully agree with @Ccaponigro and leave it at that.

Once you’ve actually had experience using LayOut, you might change your mind.



I’d rather have 2 separate programs.
And this for a very simple reason: The same Sketchup file can appear in several Layout files. Or multiple Sketchup files can be in a single Layout file.
And this is easy because the 2 programs are separate.


I have attempted to use Layout on quite a few occasions and that is why I’m making these comments. As per an earlier comment, I found it to be one of the most unintuitive software programs that I’ve ever used. Not only did I find it unintuitive, I found that it was (I hesitate to say buggy) but inefficient and half baked programs I’ve ever used.

Not only would the workflow efficiencies improve but it’s entirely possible that we would see speed and performance improvements if both programs were integrated into the same EXE file.


That is just a function of the GUI design and could easily be programmed for with an integrated approach. The same goes for access to multiple Sketchup files within a Sketchup Project.

None of this is difficult, and the efficiencies would be considerable.


On MS Windows, application processes have memory limits. Shoehorning both applications into the same process would likely cut the accessible memory (available to user workflows) in half.

Since you mention it. SU and LO are designed and maintained by separate teams, and used different GUI programming frameworks. It would be quite a job migrating one to the other.

Most heavy users understand that SU is like ACAD’s modelspace and LO is like ACAD’s paperspace.

It is possible a 3rd utility could be created that runs SU and LO as child windows. Users might switch between modelspace (SU) and paperspace (LO) using tabs similar to how ACAD user do. This might give some users more comfort especially those coming from years of traditional CAD use. It’d feel like one integrated application, but still leave things as they are maintainability wise.




That explains a lot… perhaps they should get together more often… re combining or separate… I am have no strong preference to either way

even though I know nothing about Autocad and my opinion is worthless… I vaguely recall it has paperspace [aka layout] and can import multiple files [Xrefs]… and conceptually that all seems to work fine…in one software package… and has at least since pentium 286 computers…


There never was a pentium 286 processor. The generations went 2086. 286, 386, 486, Pentium(586).
As AutoCad and computer generations go, I think the XREF system was introduced at the time the 386 processor was current. And it was very slow.

To me it is rather irrelevant whether SU and LO are a single application or two separate ones. I see their unclear and partly contradictory roles in the workflow as the main problem.

In AutoCad the workflow is simple: you “model” in modelspace and control all the aspects of the finished document in paperspace.

This is what you ought to be able to do in LayOut too. How the LO document ends up ought not to be dependent on scenes, styles etc. that have been predetermined in the SketchUp model. That you cannot save the changes you make to views on the LO page is counterintuitive, and the source of 98% of the LO woes people bring to these forums. Yes, you can use the current workflow but it really is the result of some sloppy programming that makes LO seem like a quick and dirty add-on to SU.


Well I was really just saying Pentium 286 = “a long time ago”

nevertheless I think we are on the same page regarding how LO should be :slight_smile:


An interesting subject.

I’ve always got on really well with SU-LAYOUT, like most software applications, its all down to the driver, but have newer found it that difficult to master in producing Architectural Design finished drawing sheets for planning design plans & more complex construction plans. I tend to use SU just for the drawing side of things & LAYOUT for all text & dimensions with some overlay masking if needed.

One of my bug bearers with LAYOUT, is that a project typically involves many drawing sheets & can be of various sizes, i.e. A4, A3, A2 & A1. So, unless I’ve missed something, I believe one can’t change drawing sheet sizes in one session ?

Anyway, back to the subject in hand, yes why not ? Unless there’s some IT difficulty preventing this, then I could live with it inside SU or as it currently stands, I’m not really fussed.

However, as you can import DWG plans into LAYOUT & other formats besides, I guess LAYOUT could be sold separately as stand-alone basic drawing package, is SU-HQ missing a revenue stream in this regard ?

What other functions would LAYTOUT benefit from ?

Over & out,


LayOut was always a ‘presentation’ application. 2D representation of of 3D model. The thing is, your computerscreen is and has always been a 2D representation of a 3D model as well. In fact, SketchUp has always had more ‘presentation’ features then LayOut in itself (besides more text and dimension possibilities, not the posibilty of using text(labels) and dimensions)
Can you make animations in LayOut?
As @Anssi mentioned, almost all questions derive from the dreaded (modified) indication and yes, if you follow a strict and structured plan, which include almost 12-18 steps, as often mentioned by @mbrightman of ConDoc -tools, you can get it to work properly.

I think LayOut would gain a lot if you could control layers of 3D models per viewport.

About being seperate apps, I think there could be more separate apps, even!
SketchUp Modeling
SketchUp Building
SketchUp VR
SketchUp Animation
LayOut Presentation
LayOut Documentation
LayOut CNC cutting
All with and in collaboration with the top extension developers out there.

Trimble could introduce a ‘Trimble Unit’ with say the value of SketchUp Shop ($120) and charge you for each of these apps, when used.

SketchUp Model could be two units, as well as LayOut Presentation, but the rarely used StyleBuilder only one. (Who uses StyleBuilder, anyway?)

One could even use the Trimble Unit for the complete range of Trimble software. ( provided a company would have purchased enough Units)
Off course, this would imply some online ‘license management’ system, but think oof the possibilties it could offer:
Companies could easily switch to more complicated tasks once the modeling is finished, or even rent the hololens app (now the hololens app is 1500) or have Sefaira do some analysing.

The ‘pay what you use’ model is a fair system and opens a lot of opportunities.