Problem in scenes, an entity not visible is marked as visible?

Making an animation of the steps that constructing a 4’ addition to a deck would require. One of my scenes takes the existing decking material off the deck to reveal the joists and joist hangers in place, so that it will be understood that is the way we will build the addition. (The people helping my friend are not professional contractors.) So I wanted to insert a scene that would put the existing deck back while I show new posts, then the skirting boards around the new addition, then the new joists, and then I have a NEW deck, which replaces the old decking because it has a square hole for a centered post in it, and I want to show that we aren’t leaving that hole there, nor are we filling it, but we are replacing the boards that have it in them. It was easier and more seamless to replace the entire deck in SketchUp, while in the real world they would only replace two boards, then add new ones across the addition.

So when I go to the scene before the existing decking reveal, and select the existing decking, the Entity Information says it’s called, “DECK-existing.” When I click on the next scene, which shows the existing decking removed, the scene has a check mark under “Visible!” But it’s not there! Worse, I wanted to turn it on, and put it back, to show it was just a quick reveal, and now we are continuing with the show as planned, but I can’t put something back that is already supposed to be there – since it says it’s visible! I have gone up and down my names for things, I have clicked on everything else it could have been named before, or be in also, and nothing else shows up. There is no explanation for why an entity that is off, i.e., not seen, has the box under “visible” checked! Can anyone help? How can this be fixed?


I expect there’s a simple explanation and fix. If you share the .skp file with us, I’m sure we can help you get this sorted in short order.

Not entirely sure how to attach it? Maybe this upload icon?

I should make a few things clear here. There are a whole bunch of layers that I didn’t create. Not sure if they came with items I got from the Warehouse (I have contributed in the past, so I’m not taking without giving! :smile: ) I didn’t eliminate them because I was afraid I’d ruin something in my model.

Also, this is a request from my tenant. I have two small apt houses, with five units combined. This woman is my best tenant, and she has asked that if she could furnish the labor, would I allow her, and pay for the materials, to enlarge her deck. She knows everyone in town and is related to at least half of them. She lives on her deck in the summer, and always has company. How could I deny her this reasonable request? And no, I will not raise her rent!

I’ve already closed the file in order to prevent any uploading problems, and didn’t take note which two scenes are the ones in question. But if you watch the animation first, you’ll no doubt find it. At the moment, there is no scene for the one I want to insert – the same scene after the existing decking is removed, with it put back on. I suppose I could just have copied the “slide” before it. But these aren’t slides… no, I had to put the decking back on, and then take another scene of it! The furniture at the end is for my tenants sake, so she can see how big a table the new deck will hold.

Thank you so much for taking a look at this!

Oh no! I’m getting errors trying to upload – twice now! Is there a file size limit?

Upload to Dropbox, or similar and share the link here.

I uploaded it to Dropbox (which informed me I’m too full (while showing less than ten images!), and when I went to look at it, it said something went wrong, there, too! It opens up fine for me in SU! Should I removed it and try again?

If you got it successfully uploaded to Drop Box you just need to share the link to the file, not to Drop Box itself.

That was supposed to be the link, so you could see what I see. Sorry, it didn’t do that right, either.

I simply copied the URL while looking at the “something went wrong” notice in Dropbox. Evidently they want you to “share…”

So just so you can see the project (though this one wasn’t right yet, either), I have the one I put on YouTube, yesterday. I had added text and it was invisible on the Scenes, so nothing is explained with captions.

More explanations – the posts have footings & concrete piers – but I only show three and they are different, because I want the builders to choose one with which they are familiar. And yes, everything is to scale, and that stair IS that long and shallow! 16" treads and 6-3/16" risers.

It appears the problem you have is due to incorrect use of tags…
Screenshot - 4_8_2021 , 7_02_22 AM
ALL edges and faces should be untagged.

You have some strange object nesting going on. For example in the “new skirting board” group you have the one shown in blue (reversed faces) as loose geometry while the vertical pieces and the lower horizontal are grouped together.

In that lower group you then have the long low skirting board as loose geometry with the shorter pieces as groups.

This mixing of loose geometry and groups in nested groups makes managing the model and the visibility of these parts difficult and clumsy.

The new joists are another example of this with the joist hanger components and loose geometry inside the 2x10 Joist component.

Another problem caused by this sort of modeling practice would come if you wanted to create a materials list for the project. These joists would not report in a cutlist. The hangers would show up but not the joists.

You mentioned not being able to show replacing just the deck planks that have the square hole in them. If you’d modeled the deck planks as individual planks rather than a large panel with lines drawn on it, you could do that.

Another problem is that you have groups like the one I show selected in which a face of the building wall is included with a skirting board. I’ve pulled a copy of it out away from the model. If you were to make the “Deck % skirting existing” tag invisible, the wall face would go with it.

Like this:

Notice that not all of the skirting board geometry is hidden.

Incorrect use of grouping

By the way, it wouldn’t hurt to purge unused stuff from your models once in awhile.
Screenshot - 4_8_2021 , 7_04_48 AM

This reduced the file size by 85%!

What version of SketchUp are you actually using? Your profile says 2020 Free (Web) but this file doesn’t look like it came from that version.

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Wow… I am stunned! First, by the fact that you even got this! Where was it? Every upload to this forum, and to Dropbox, told me it had failed! So I’m glad you saw it – but which one of my attempts worked?

Then of course, you are finding things I don’t even know about! I thought that by grouping things and making components, I was saving file size. I was completely unaware that there IS such a thing as “loose geometry” vs. components. Where can I go to learn how to do this better, and end up with a more efficient file?

WOW! You reduced the file by 85%! Where do I go to find this magic purging business?

And I’m not sure I fully understand about the joist hangers… “report on a cutlist?” SketchUp can generate such a thing? I’m gobsmacked! As they say in the U.K.

Evidently I need more education. But in truth, I just adore SU and use it only for fun. I’m retired now, but spent 25 years mostly as a contract interior designer, specializing in corporate interiors. I worked first by hand at a drafting board, and later almost exclusively with AutoCAD. Loved ACAD, but when SU came along, I was hooked immediately. But I never got to use it for my job – I got sick for five years and wasn’t working before retiring… so I haven’t needed it for the kind of rigor this project needs.

I did see that the house wall and board got connected, and they were in a different group or component, and since it wasn’t affecting anything I wanted to do, I just didn’t bother correcting it. I mean, nobody is checking my work!

But what about that visibility thing? The actual issue I wrote about? Did you see the YouTube version? No, you have my actual file, here…

Oh, final answer. Yes, I did sign up for the web-based free version. I hate it. The tools are not in the right place, and the buttons are tiny, and Trimble is so focused on looking lean and minimal and modern, that they’re taking away from the functionality that I’ve gotten used to! I want to go to one button, be able to see it, and not have to hover over a button to see other buttons! Instead of making it simpler, it makes it more cumbersome. So this was created on 2017.

Thank you soooo very much for all this insight! I will try to learn more when time allows. I love learning, so those aren’t hollow words – but I am very busy, too.

Thank you, thank you, Dave!

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Forgot to address the tagging, that you talk about first. I don’t even know what that means! So another thing to learn…

Your second link did work. Maybe Drop Box was telling you that you’re at the max upload because they want you to buy more storage. :wink:

Making components and copying them to make multiples can help to keep file size down but it needs to be done correctly.

Loose geometry is what you have before you gather it together into a group or component container. So the geometry that makes up the joist hanger was loose geometry until the component was created.

You could start with

Right here, I guess. You can purge unused stuff from your models by going to Window>Model Info>Statistics and clicking on the Purge button. I use TIG’s Purge All to do it because it gives the report window which is useful for showing how much stuff went away.

There are extensions that can generate a cutlist from a model. I use one called Cutlist 4.1. It will give you a list of all the components/groups in the model and their dimensions. Of course you need to build up the model correctly to get useful info out of it. The cutlist extensions report the lowest level components/groups in the model. Everything above that bottom level is ignored. So in the case of those short joists, the hangers would get reported but not the joist itself. If you look at Outliner, you can see how the lowest level components are the hangers although they are called Component#1.
Screenshot - 4_8_2021 , 7_49_09 AM

Here I’ve fixed that by making a component containing the joist geometry and giving the hangers a name that would make it possible to identify them in a list.
Screenshot - 4_8_2021 , 7_52_27 AM

Here’s an example of a cutlist generated from a model I made.

As for the visibility thing, it comes from incorrect tag(layer) usage as well as the way you have things grouped. Did you see the images I put in my previous post that show the wall face disappearing? That’s a good example of how the odd grouping is causing problems.

Layers became tags a few versions back. Since your profile said you are using the web version, I used ‘tags’. With 2017 they are ‘layers’. Same thing, different name. In SU2017 ALL edges and faces should have Layer 0 assigned to them. Only groups and components should get other layers assigned to them.

Dear DaveR – I can’t even begin how much you’ve taught me in one conversation. I am convinced that I now understand that I should really build it as if I was BUILDING it! I actually make every 2x4 and 2x10 as if they are real, and group them as such, or better, make them components and give them a name! That way, every group of those objects will have no “loose geometry” floating around in it, getting cought up in large wall pieces that shouldn’t have had loose geometry, either! So I have already benefitted a lot from all the generous time you’ve spent here! I hope others will come and read this stuff and learn from it, as I have in the past, in earlier SU forums.

So I will also say that making this an animation had already started teaching me things. Had I known what I know now, I wouldn’t have made earlier mistakes. Some of my “layers” were in larger groups, and weren’t going to be able to show how I want them to build it, because they were connected to things that were staying, or things that weren’t supposed to happen, yet. I had posts together with skirting boards – and yes, they could have been shown that way, but it was much clearer to separate them out and take it one step at a time! So coming from tripping across that necessity, I see the rigor in what you say as absolutely necessary.

That Trimble made this decision to call something millions of AutoCAD users having been calling LAYERS for decades (I learned AutoCAD in 1987 at Parsons School of Design in NYC – there was no Microsoft yet, so no Windows yet, no mouse, we worked on a blue DOS screen and typed the commands in, including what the starting point of a line was, and where the end was, and at what angle! Yeah, it was a slow process, back then!), is unbelievable. If the word was more descriptive, I could understand! But it isn’t. I know they aren’t layers in the same way ACAD uses them. But it’s a cognitive sibling! Tagging? The first thing that comes to mind is the street game kids used to play, when they still went out to play in the street. Then there are toe tags on dead bodies. I don’t know where they get this from. I am not terribly thrilled about some of their decision-making. But I’m the generation that’s on its way out, so I will just have my say and trot away.

The last thing you say is extremely helpful! When I use 2017 anything that has edges (boundaries?) and faces should be on Layer 0. Only groups and components on other layers. That alone will force me to be rigorous about all the things you pointed out I was missing!

Thanks for clearing up where you got the file! I was so puzzled! And Dropbox is still not letting me see it! I’m still getting the “something went wrong” message. So that I’ll buy more space…

I have looked at a lot of tutorials, and I know I’ve gone to as well. Maybe I’ve skipped over the kind of intro ones that I thought would only go over what I already know? Or maybe I’m not paying attention to things I don’t understand? I’m from Germany, and couldn’t speak English when I arrived as a twelve-year-old. When you first understand nothing, you hear, or get, nothing. Then you know a little, and you pick up those words. After a while, you are picking up more and more meaning, but there are still words among all the chatter that are meaningless to you. You learn to “overhear” them – not in the usual sense of the word, but you let them fly over you. You can’t help it. It’s the same thing as when you understood nothing, and it all flew over you. So I might have been doing a version of that, with this new stuff I was learning.

Thanks awfully also for your beautiful construction drawing, with the materials / cutlist! I see how much sense it makes to treat each piece of lumber as the separate and sovereign thing it is! Man, the architectural drawings I worked on weren’t anything like this! This is astounding. In the interior design capacity I worked, we started working with a drafting program called GIZA, which allowed the sales people to put together a workstation, generate a 3D plan, and the computer would spit out a bill of materials that would have taken hours to do, doing a manual “take off” by counting pieces and parts, by a project manager. And they were human, and made mistakes! But I also knew that this meant fewer jobs for people like me! I knew an architect who got a job doing costing for a large general contractor. All day he stood in front of plans, and generated materials lists! I bet he didn’t think that’s what he’d be designing, in school!

Anyway, way off topic, but at least kind of aligned.

You have been so helpful! I wish I could send you a fruit basket or bottle of wine! But you could be anywhere on the planet. All I can do is thank you immensely for all of this golden information. I am in your debt! Much appreciated, thanks, DaveR!

All my best, stay safe, and have a good day / evening / morning…

I think that’s a good idea at least for the parts of the project that need to be built.

Exactly! And of course you the correct sizes for the lumber. A 2x4 will be 1-1/2 x 3-1/2.

Start with the walls of the building. Concentrate on getting them modeled and make a group or component before you move on to anything else. Add the ledger boards, each as a named component and continue on. Don’t start another piece until you’ve made a component or group of the one you are working on.

As for the change from layers to tags, I think it’s a good thing. But then I’ve spent more than 15 years retraining AutoCAD users to use them correctly in SketchUp instead of trying to use them like Layers in ACAD. Long ago I lost track of how many files I’ve fixed for others who had screwed up their models because they were using layers incorrectly. The word ‘tag’ makes sense. It’s something you put on an object (toe tag if you like, I prefer to think of things like expensive artisanal jams and peanut butter and honey. The tags go on the jars, not the contents. And if you want to make an expensive, artisanal peanut butter and jam sandwich, you only show the peanut butter and jam tags while the honey is left hidden in the pantry. Now I’m hungry.

Yes! And it might be better to think about giving layers to objects.

I’m glad I was able to help. Have a great day!

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And if you haven’t done this yet, try the plug-in Wood Framing from SketchUcation Plug-in store. It will draw your posts, skirting and joists in as few as 3 clicks for each piece, and name them with the timber size and length.

I designed it and Steve Baumgartner did all of the difficult parts of the programming.

Hi, Dave,
You might be able to persuade me to rethink the “tagging” thing. The Layers in AutoCAD were more like real sheets of transparent paper on top of each other, which SketchUp “layers” never were. So I stand corrected, and will try to remind myself. Just don’t be surprised if I occasionally still call them “layers” in conversation. Old habits die hard.

As for the 2x4 being 1-1/2 x 3-1/2, if you measured mine, you will see I did that. I’ve been teaching people about why we use the “nominal” dimension when naming them: that the post-kiln dimensions can vary so much depending on species and other factors, but the cut size remains the same. It is interesting that nowadays they do get it closer to 1-1/2 x 3-1/2, so that we who design things using them can actually depend on the dimension being thus!

Toe tags and artisanal peanut butter and jam! What an interesting discussion! Well, if it sounds too off-topic, it can be defended by the fact that it’s helped me understand what used to be “layers.” Now, they are really just names of components. And if it got me there, who should complain about the method, eh?

I see why some of what you pointed out happened. When I put one skirting part onto the “Deck & Skirt Layer” and then another group within the Layer – it was because I was thinking of them as the paper sheets! It didn’t matter if they were groups of one board or a group of six connected boards – for the the point was only to be able to make them disappear and reappear together! It was about not understanding what Layers are, and having them be “Tags” instead might help in that regard, as well. Certainly they’re not the same as sheets of paper to make invisible or visible… They ARE the entirety that I collected together for the purpose of having things disappear and reappear in the animation! So any set of entities that had to disappear together, should have been in a group or component to make that happen. And what I call them, that is the “tag!”

I will have to get this animation finished and to my tenant, before she goes away on Sunday, so I may not be able to recreate everything before that. Need to also make plans and elevations, and haven’t decided what to use for that, yet. Anyway, I am very grateful!


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Dear john_mcclenahan,

That sounds like a sensational plug-in! You designed it! Awesome – so useful!!! I haven’t used plug-ins much in SU. Once downloaded the one that makes a potato chip… don’t remember why that was interesting to me, I don’t even eat them! Anyway, on another computer, long gone, I believe wiped out completely by a Staples technician after my having begged them NOT to format the hard drive; that I cared more about my data than having a working computer… nobody paid attention. So currently have no plug-ins.

However, I did occasionally visit the SketchUcation discussion forum, and the name Steve Baumgartner sounds familiar. Yours might, also, though you can understand how a German name might resonate longer with me… :smile: I will surely go check it out! Three clicks, huh? Wow!

Thank you, all!


+1, that’s almost always the best way to approach the process of building your model.