Managing plugins for a classroom

At our SketchUp ATC we have been teaching a growing number of SketchUp courses that each require a different set of tools and plugins. Managing all the plugins has become increasingly more difficult, as I have to enable, disable and position in place all the necessary plugins before every new class.

So far, the best solution I have found is creating plugin sets in the SketchUcation Extension managers. The downside is that the plugin position is not remembered, so I still have to spend 2 -3 minutes for each computer to position them properly.

It would be great if SketchUp’s own Extension Manager could incorporate the ability to manage plugin sets and remember their position.

I’m a bit curious what kind of student you teach. Is it classes on some sort of school where student stay for years or is it SketchUp courses people take for just a few days or so?

My own experience as a student at architecture school is that it’s easiest and best to let each student manage their own extensions. School has for some reason installed a few extensions for all users, of which some are quite half baked and just feel annoying to have installed. Previously students couldn’t install our own plugins so we had to load them manually from the console each time we wanted to use them. A few years back SketchUp was updated to store plugins in appdata instead of program files which by default allows everyone to manage their own extensions.

I don’t know what your situation looks like, how mature the students are or if they even have their own personal user account with its own appdata folder. If the situation is similar to what it was on my school the solution could be to leave extension management to the students. Extensions are a huge part of SketchUp and very useful to learn.

They are mostly professionals or students from various fields - architecture, interior design, woodworking and other enthusiasts. No kids. 3-6 day training spread across 1-3 weeks, so I tend to have an overlap.

For the main courses I have plugins set to:
SketchUp basics - no plugins at all. Toolbar position not set.
SketchUp advanced - a few best ones pre-installed and students get to try and install something from the warehouse. Toolbar position not set
SketchUp for furniture design - about 20 plugins. Toolbar position is already set.
Visualization with V-ray for SketchUp - Just two plugins. No set toolbar position.

About to create another new course next year for landscape architecture, so that one will need a another set of tools.

I tend to be precise about the toolbar positioning, so that’s why I want them to be saved somehow. Here is a preview from our furniture design course.

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On windows machine you should be able to backup the Registry hive and restore it. From my understanding This could be batched in Powershell.

On Windows the settings for which extensions are switched on, and where toolbars are positioned are kept in a user hive of the registry (as Jim said.)

It seems that (since you are setting up the interfaces) that students are using a pre-created user account on each machine.

Therefore your answer is simple. Instead of having a “Student” generic account, you create an account on each machine, for each class, ie:

  • SketchUp Basics
  • SketchUp Advanced
  • SketchUp Furniture Design
  • SketchUp V-ray Visualization

etc. And then the user just chooses the class their in, and they get the extensions all setup the way you have done so.

As you do each class (on the first machine,) you can save out the SketchUp key from the User hive (regedit32) and write it to a .reg file on a thumbdrive. Then run those files on each of the other machines, in each of the appropiate class acccounts, in turn.