SketchUp in 2019: where great ideas get to work

If an extension simply adds a tool/function that is missing and results in new geometry, then there is no issue.
But many extensions enhance the way a model is organised by adding properties to entities or organizing the interface or adapting the workflow. It’s those things that aren’t visible or transferrable between users.
eg render properties for a material, layers organized by Layer Organizer, schedules generated by profilebuilder or cutlist, etc.

I don’t expect everything to flow perfectly 100% of the time, but when the average Pro user has 35+ extensions, and when those extensions are relied upon for core tasks such as scheduling, so its a big area of concern to get the interop right.


I know the feeling, switching between software is like trying to ride one of these bikes:


Takes about a year?

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The trick is to ride it only on its back wheel! Not sure if that is applicable to software though.


It’s exactly those plugins I’m talking about. If you open a model without having the renderer installed, edit it and save it, all properties that renderer created should still be saved to the model. Sure, new materials wont have render specific properties, but if the properties are lost from the old materials something is broken in the renderer. If a layer organizer can’t handle the user manually adding layers or groups from the SketchUp UI, there is a problem with the design of that layer manager and if a reference manager can’t handle the user reloading components using SketchUp’s native reload feature there is a problem with the design of that reference manager.

Or swap left and right hands…

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Or sit backwards? :stuck_out_tongue:


Use S (scale) > -1 on the :biking_man:


Exactly. And something not yet mentioned (that I could see) is that when many of the best and most useful extensions are paid-for extensions the costs quickly add-up on top of the core software purchase (now each year). Another reason why Trimble should embed some of these extensions into vanilla SU or create their own versions at the very least.

Trimble have been let off the hook for far too long.The results of the their labours are almost invisible (new UI anyone?) and without the altruistic support of the devs SketchUp would have sunk some time back. Trimble rely so much on the devs it completely excuses and masks their woeful efforts at developing the software. There are some almost comically bad issues with SU (not to mention LO) yet Trimble have sat on their hands knowing the devs will do nigh-on all the heavy lifting for them (as I’ve said before). It’s close to criminal and they should have been called out a long time back for their very shoddy efforts.

As an example; when you have ThomThom and Chris Fullmer (two amazing devs) now ingrained and actually embedded within the Trimble development team why have Trimble not taken their free plugins and coded them into vanilla SketchUp to add to it’s standard set of tools? It’s because they’re happy to let things ride along as they are with minimal effort. It’s the old mantra; max output for minimal (acceptable) input.

Frankly I’m appalled at what Trimble have offered up over the last few years. A genuine software development company with a passion for the software would have taken SU to a whole new level. Instead we having something which is stuck in the 2000’s and trading on past glories and something which will very likely get overtaken by Blender (with arch packs) or similar in the not too distant future. And at that point Trimble’s management will only have themselves to blame.


Some of these plugins try to improve native features, e.g. Editable Text, and could be added as native features. There is no reason for native 3D text to create non-parametric text that cannot be edited later, or even saves what font is used so you can re-cerate it.

Other extensions are really outside the scope of SketchUp. I use maybe 5 of TT’s extension and one or two of Chris’, but I wouldn’t want my SketchUp to be bloated with the other 50 or so features that I don’t use.


I think power users need to be reminded that a lot of users, including many paying clients, use SketchUp quite casually, e.g. to design stages for photography, simple volumetric models for testing architectural ideas, testing what can be seen from a surveillance camera and the like. While a lot of things can be improved it needs to be done without bloating the program. SketchUp’s strength is is minimalism and ease of use.


I don’t get your argument about them bloating up the software. In what way? AutoCAD has thousands of native commands (WAY more than SketchUp) yet you can set it to up look and feel easy as pie for a beginner. This argument is moot.

I’m refereeing to essential plug-ins which mask the inadequacies and incomplete nature of SU, such as Skalp (£70), Cross Reference Manager (£34), Profile Builder (£61) and your Reference Manager (£40) etc etc (and yes, understood some of them are one-of purchases, but still costs nontheless). And that doesn’t include Vali’s superb (subscription only) extensions and Meedek’s (paid for/subscriptions) extensions. It all adds to the original and (now) ongoing costs…but this isn’t the main issue here. That is that Trimble have massively relied on devs to save their bacon time and time again. So much so this policy must surely now be part of their ongoing business plan. It’s the only explanation I can see as to why they would leave SU almost untouched during their tenure.


From what I can see AutoCad is full of unclear toolbars and icons that are impossible to get a grip of unless you watch a tutorial or take a course. Same with Rhino. Same with revit. Same with Photoshop. SketchUp is one of few programs I know of that you can just start up and know quite well what the buttons do just from looking at them. A lot of people rely on being able to start working with simple things right away, without a long introduction. In a lot of professions where 3D modeling isn’t the main task it’s invaluable to not have a bloated program. That said these other programs all have their uses, but they are not SketchUp’s main competitors. The reason why SketchUp can’t do everything out of the box is not laziness, but that it isn’t the intentions behind SketchUp.


My kids have a simple drawing package on the computer which does much the same. Having childish icon buttons images to suggest what the command does is not at the top of my required list. Most (all) of the people I know who use SketchUp are grown ups (they shave, drive cars, wear make-up, can dress themselves without their Mum’s help, most of them at least) so they don’t need to be spoon-fed what’s contained within the command by the button image.

Again, maybe when you’re very first using the software but after 15 mins of use most of us can remember where most of the commands are, again without the need to be spoon-fed.

ANY profession using SU (and hoping to not lose money) will not be just picking up SU once a year to use it to create something meaningful and require prompting (by button images etc) what a command does. With that little amount of regular use of SU they would almost certainly not be able to build a meaningful model within the allotted fee-based timescale. No, they’re way more likely be using SU as part of their daily/weekly workflow and as such they know exactly where the commands are and what they (mostly) do so don’t need prompting. SU appeals to (or at least is aimed at by Trimble) mostly professionals who, by definition, have a certain level of competence and understanding of the software they use, or they simply wouldn’t use it. And therefore they don’t require cartoon graphics to remember where the commands are or how they work.

As I said before, none of this (to me at least) is an argument on any level. It’s merely a detail at best.


In order to compare SketchUp’s interface to let’s say Rhino, the should have the same kind of functionality. It is very easy to maintain a clean interface just with 1/4 of the commands that you actually need. That’s what SketchUp does, it is simple and nice at the beginning but then you need to start looking somewhere else to find functionality that is essential to 95% of the users.
Do you think that navigating lots of forums and webpages it’s easy and smart. I know from experience that most beginners and many intermediate users get very anxious just hearing the word Plugin. I know that you can not have everything in the software, but come on SketchUp has almost nothing.
And don’t let me start with Layout, a drafting software that doesn’t have an extend, trim tool …

In Rhino I can do 95% percent of my job with no scripts at all. And what’s the problem of having a tool in your toolset that you don’t need it? If I don’t need Grasshopper I don’t open the window and that’s all.

Really, the problem in SketchUp is not that it may became bloated, the problem is that developers are working in other things and not in new features.


This completely misses the point. The reason why SketchUp is so much easier to pick up is very much because it isn’t bloated with functionality that most people wont use anyway.


I completely disagree. You are not including those 50+plugins that you need in order to get the tools you need! Every time I see a YouTube video with 5 or 6 lines of extensions I just got dizzy.

And you say that SketchUp is easy to pickup, what do you think about having to scale your component by 1000x to be able to get intersections? Do you think that is a well designed software??

Don’t get me wrong Christina, I really value your effort to make SketchUp as good as possible without losing what makes it special, but it’s about time that developers start developing for the real SketchUp user.


I agree and for a long time I was ok with mainly under-the-hood changes in SU. But V19 changed my perspective. I now also think they use that mantra just as an excuse to not address SU pro issues and just move a big portion of available dev time (pro-revenue) into non-pro stuff.

Meanwhile, every single day I’m facing the same bugs/annoyances - breaking the workflow / ease-of-use - loosing time & money.

The UI and many features were created long ago and never touched again. Never touching isn’t minimalism to me - its lazy. And ease of use could be much better as well without bloating the software.


I also go dizzy from seeing all those toolbars, just as I go dizzy from seeing how native Revit looks when you first open it. Then thing about SketchUp though is that non of those 5 or 6 lines of toolbars are there when you first start using it. You can easily get an overview of what is there, add something new, learn it, add something new, learn it, and repeat the cycle of incremental learning. Personally I never even fill the first line of tools as I can’t work in a cluttered, noisy environment.

This is a technical issue and not a design question. I would be happy if SketchUp could either change the precision or scale up and back down again under the hood, making intersect just work. I’d much rather see the team working on such bug fixes than adding new functionality that is already covered by extensions.


Hold on…hold on let me grab some popcorn…