Live Components Graph and Node UI Suggestions

Hi Sketchup team,

I am excited to use live components and i wanted to give some feedback based on my experience so far. I come from using node graphs in other softwares like Cinema 4D and I am finding that the graphs in Trimble Creator are taking a lot more clicks to setup and make connections. And they are a lot harder to read and see what is happening since we have to click each nodes input or output to expand it before we can see attributes that are connected.

I have now come to appreciate the ability to collapse or expand nodes in some of the other software i use, and I am hoping the sketchup team will consider adding an expanded node view as i think it helps a lot when building a graph!

One other feature that would be really helpful, is the ability to group nodes together and label them, or some other system to leave comments (like you would leave when scripting).

These are just a few things that come to mind as i dive in. I love the potential live component offer and I am excited to see what what you guys have planned for it. Thanks!



This is a screenshot of a database We can add color comments with title in the background of the nodes The rectangle is in z -9000 to always be in the background.

What do you think ?

Yes! Something like this will help keep a graph organized. Here is a screenshot from cinema 4d of the xpresso node editor. You can see all of the node inputs at a glance and follow the data flow easily. The screenshot also shows a node group, but a simple background like your screenshot would already be a big improvement.


Hi team,

Just weighing in to say, keep up the discussion! We always lurk here and the feedback is great. Reducing clicks and maximizing productivity and readability is certainly something we strive for!

Thanks for chiming in Keith. Good to know the dev team is listening in. :smile:

Personally, i would prefer non uniform nodes with all the inputs and outputs expanded over the uniform graph that we have now. Granted, the graphs do look pretty cool when zoomed out. They are like a mini city or metro map. :smile: But these esthetics have no utility at the moment, and from my experience make it much more difficult to build than it should be.

These are my 2¢, others feel free to pitch in.

I like the idea of everything being visible, but next to that the graph would take on colossal dimensions with a lot of scrolling to link the entries.
I like how Filemaker Clarisse handles this problem for the database graph
The nodes would have 3 possible states:
Minimal like today.
Active links only.
All inputs outputs visible

Switching from one state to another would be accessible by right-clicking on the node.
Once the parts of the graph have been verified, we can minimize them. In the current graph area, the nodes would be maximized.
A node would default to a maximized state.

It’s a good compromise. What do you think ?

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@simjoubert: I do really like this idea, and it is very very similar to the Cinema 4D xpresso node system too. In Cinema 4d, you double click the node header to switch between two modes.

When nodes are created, they come with the most common inputs and outputs already visible on the node. However, you can click the left or right boxes at the top of the node to add additional or less common connection points. Or you can right click a connection point and delete the input to keep the node clean and efficient.

I think both what you described and the cinema version have similar concepts, and i am sure the devs take on them could be a big improvement the Trimble Creator UX.

For the sketchup team: And this is off topic a bit, but is it planned have the ability to add additional inputs to nodes? For example, the “add” node has four inputs, is there a feature planned to allow us to create additional inputs?

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Another issue that may be solvable with node grouping is that the Parameters dialog becomes quite long and unorganized when there are lots of parameters. Grouping nodes in the graph could maybe also be used to create “input groups” in that dialog (e.g. with a border around those, as in HTML forms).

And it would be great to be able to re-use node groups. We could then just insert some new geometry, paste a group that we created earlier, and then easily connect those to do something to the inserted geometry. Would be a nice way to modularize workflows.

While we are talking UI, can you implement drag and drop re-ordering in the Parameters dialog?

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+1 to a better way to organize the parameters dialog. Drag and drop to re-order and parameter groups would be a nice improvement! Maybe the parameter groups can be used to hide options that are children of a previous parameter. I do this now to each individual parameter just to keep the parameter window cleaner, but it takes a lot of wiring to make it happen.

Hello i open a post with suggestion for the dialog box
Suggestions for improving the settings dialog


Just pitching in here.

Re: exposing inputs/outputs.

We’re trying to strike a balance between compactness, readbility and usability. We’re biasing towards compactness, at the cost of (generally) one extra click for a connection. The idea being that encourageing compactness and orderliness of graphs will lead to more sharing / reuse, and (on average) more readable/maintainable graphs.

Grasshopper, and VFX node graphs are more targeted at single-user use. Graphs in those applications are generally sprawling and fairly unshareable. Also, any time saved by one less click here and there is lost panning :slight_smile:

Exposing in/outputs on all nodes all the time also affects performance and causes unnecessary visual clutter. Compromises are possible, and some of the solutions you’ve raised here are valid.

We’d like the community know that this is a constant topic of discussion for us (including some of the very specific solutions proposed in the thread). Our group here has extensive experience with other visual graphs, like Grasshopper, Dynamo, but also a slew of VFX tools, like Nuke, Houdini, Maya hypergraph etc. We’d like you to know we’re not operating in a design vacuum, from scratch. We’re standing on shoulders of giants.

Yet we also have quite different goals than existing solutions. There are other vectors to developing a graph than just straight usability, some tied to our specific goals for Trimble, and we’d be silly just copying existing paradigms to the letter. We’re sticking our neck out a bit.

Growing adoption in our specific context is our goal, and that means some level of usability can be sacrificed to other motives, like maintainability and shareability for example, which a lot of the other graphs mentioned are not really focusing on. Ideally not, but in practice these things are not fully orthogonal.

Note that we’re not done here at all. As an example you noted above, node grouping (or rather ‘framing’) plays into our maintainability/readability, and is on our near term roadmap.

As Keith said, we’re keeping a keen eye on this forum, and every comment here puts a bit of weigth in one scale or another.

Keep it going!


Thanks for the detailed response! Of course my feedback was based on the current experience, and the solutions suggested are just few of many possible solutions. I am excited to see how this develops, and to be honest i just happy to see devs in the forums interacting with the community. :grinning:

I hope I didn’t suggest in any way that the dev team was operating in a vacuum. You all have created something unique for sure, and I am glad to hear you are approaching it with an open mind and not just copying what has been done before, as that is the best environment and approach for creativity and innovation!

I would love for more users from the community to jump in on this conversation. :+1: