Not Loathing the community forums anymore

Did you get an answer? On the default material thing? Did you ask it here?

My pet peeve is Lay Out. It frustrates the hell out of me, I could do it in a heartbeat in AutoCAD.

There is a “real” manual for SU. I’ve been trying to find it for you. But honestly, if you have questions this is the best place to ask. No matter what your experience level is.

This is a good forum, with good people.

And you might not know it, but John Bacus is the head of development for SU and has been there since @Last, Google, and now Trimble, and he at least tried to give you an answer.

So don’t give up on SU or this forum.

It is good to know someone like John B still reads the posts. It would be even better if he put his team to work to actually support the program instead of coming up with pointlessly clever pages that do nothing. I am 54 and i can still remember when programs really took pride in thier Help Menus. That was how I learned CAD and so many more. I will use this forum if I actually have something interesting to ask. I appreciate that SU tried (and succeeded) in creating something different than CAD but they also sacrificed the professional functions that i need. I have no need for Layout or the others and with all the dysfunctionality of SU I have 0 interest in learning it. If CAD was better at quick modeling I would never even consider SU. Since my current firm has all the Autodesk licenses I am motivated to use thier modeler and avoid the annoying protocols and the lack of support in SU. Thanks for your replies and advice. That is why the community forums have value. But it is no replacement for basic documentation. Send along that link for the technical manual if you find it.

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I’m 67 and have drawn on vellum and mylar with tee-squares, parallel bars, and drafting heads, there were no online instructions then. Be thankful it’s become this easy!
Try inking with a Rotring Rapidograph pen sometime.
Anyway welcome to the forums.


Oh yeah, my first design documentation class stressed the importance of hand lettering, get that stroke right and keep it tight. I was also the first in my school to use CAD for a construction document. I had to explain it to my professor.

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The SketchUp User Guide actually first begins on this page …

The page John B linked is the Help portal page. From that page if you open the “Help With…” drop down menu, it shows all the individual links to the various SketchUp family of products both desktop and online.

They are in a certain order which becomes more evident with use.

However, I find it (the Drupal system) to be difficult because the chapters are collapsed except for the current one. It is easier to find what you want when they all can be expanded at once. Also sections are not shown in the right side navigation list, you have to often open the first page of a chapter, and sometimes scroll down to see the section list of links.

The built-in search for the help has been complained about for years, with the oft answer that the Trimblers themselves often instead use Google to search their own help articles.

There have been several topic threads complaining about the help articles and system lately …

This is that “peek-a-boo” thing that pops out of the right side. Most ignore it, and there have been recent complaints about that as well in the Meta category.

SketchUp does have a built-in Instructor panel that will display help and feature instructions for all native tools and Ruby extension tools if the coder authored them. At the bottom of each instructor page there is usually a direct link into the online User Guide that should bring you to the article for using that tool.
In addition, at each state of the natives tools, the status bar displays concise help and modifier key usage.

BTW, this thread belongs in the Meta category.
(Thank you to @TheOnlyAaron for reassigning this to the correct forum category.)


I created a couple of index-like wiki posts for the Dynamic Components part of the User Guide.

@Locis, Take a look, and tell us which (or both) kind of thing you would like to see officially expanded for all of SketchUp (and perhaps all products) by the Trimblers ? (Ie, I posted in the forum and I’m not an employee, so it wasn’t “official”.)


I agree that the SketchUp folks have never been as good at writing technical documentation as, say the folks who wrote “Inside Macintosh” back in the 80s. But I do love their software!. So I bought a few books:

  1. Best book I ever read about SketchUp is “the SketchUp Book” by Bonnie Roskes, PE. Working through the hands-on examples brought me up to speed fast, and gave me a solid foundation that still holds up well. It was written for version 5, and is now out of print, but it’s still the best intro I ever found.
  2. These days, “SketchUp for Dummies” by Aidan Chopra and Rebecca Huehls is a good starting book.
  3. When you’re ready, Google “Automatic SketchUp” and download that PDF book (free) to learn how to program SketchUp using the Ruby API. That’s where SketchUp gets its superpowers from.
  4. Finally, do what Revit users do: Scour the forums, ask questions, share hacks and best practices. Because no software developer will ever really grok what it’s like to do what you do, but others in your field just might!

The version 6 user guide in PDF format posted in the thread linked below is still a good resource:

Most of the basic functions remain identical.

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I’d also be happy if there was a properly indexed ordered manual you could read front to back, starting with basic concepts and gradually moving into advanced techniques or special features. Unity and 3DSMax have it, just to name two, and it has been very useful for me.

However, I don’t think you need to worry about wrong answers in the forum. I very rarely see that and when it happens other people are very fast to correct it. I’d argue you can get better answers in the forum where professional trainers, extension developers and people with other perspectives can fill in each others answers.

One person might say the difference between groups and components is that components can share a common definition if they are identical, which allows you to edit them all at once as well as keeping down the file size. If I’m not mistaken this is how the help center puts it. However, in the forum someone would be quick to add that groups also share definition after being copied, until they are opened for editing at which point they are implicitly made unique. The former might be a more pedagogical way of putting it that most people are happy with, but the latter is the actual behavior of the program, and allows you to do a few useful things like converting identical groups into components with a shared definition at a later point. The point is that the forum gives you both perspectives.

For systematic information about the program itself, I’d ignore the help center where topics can span vaguely defined tasks, and use the status text and instructor inside of SketchUp. These sources should cover everything a tool does in a very consistent and concise way.


I love forums like this, you get the answer you want precisely rather than wading through unhelpful pages that aren’t related to your specific question. There’s probably room for both. My only dislike of forums is when some people ruin it with a bit of an unwelcoming attitude, but that’s life too.


I’d say this depends on the situation. As a beginner you often don’t even know what questions to ask, and having structured information to read (or at least skim) front to back can be immensely useful to get a wide overview. When you have specific questions the forum is great though.

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the latest as PDFs of version 7 in our SU download archive.

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Lee has a point… but an extended documentation (in multiple languages) needs dedicated pros doing it… which is expensive.

@trimble this looks promising:


Usually disappointed with a SU Help Center search. Would usually look there to refresh or look at a feature I never used before. Search results are usually totally unrelated to the common SU terms used.
Of course it is also no help if you want to learn how to use the program.

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Welcome to the world of Computers and their use. Have fun!

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RLGL you sound like you have been beaten down and have accepted the absence of reasonable accountability. That is sad. I have been using computers since day 1 and it is not something to be seen as commonplace. The information is there and it is completely reasonable to expect it to be presented in a professional way. Try to break out of you submission and stand up for yourself.

I must be in a different universe. Most of the stuff I use does not have good docs to go with it. This even goes back to the software I used in my working days, here it is go use it and figure it out on your own.

A good example is Vray. It has excellent, incredibly detailed, searchable, indexed documentation, choc full of interactive examples.
But the forums with experienced users and chaos group staff are the go to place for answers on implementation and nuance.

This SketchUp forum is one of the most active, helpful and useful communities I’ve ever been involved with. Using this forum is like having industry specific experts on tap (in fact it is industry specific experts on tap) and gives insight and answers usually within hours if not minutes!

Don’t think I’ve ever bothered with the official documentation (such that it is) apart from some layout thing a couple years back.

A decent reference manual would be good though.


I agree! And have several hundred dollars worth of books from Autodesk Press, because even the documentation they provided with their high dollar programs was insufficient by itself.

Of course they will be happy to provide you with a tutor, if you want to pay for it.

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