Startup dialog boxes

A lot of extensions create dialog boxes that open automatically every time you load SU. But you don’t necessarily want them cluttering up your workspace. OK, so it only takes a moment to go round shutting them all down but it’s still a nuisance you might rather not have.

Is there a simple way to tell SU which dialog boxes open on startup?

Individual extensions maybe has a setting for not showing a dialog on startup. Perhaps the dialog wants you to enter som info, e.g. a license, and then disappears? Otherwise the only way can think of is to disabled/uninstall the annoying extensions, or contact their developers and ask them to make their extension less annoying.

What extensions does this?

Well, here are two of them:


I see that one of them does seem to have an option not to display the dialog box. The other, Solar North, doesn’t seem to.

One of the most annoying ones is probably not an extension at all. It is very large and has a big red diamond which I presume is something to do with the Extension Warehouse. That doesn’t always appear though.

That would be Fredo’s update dialog. If you click on it it opens and shows you what fredo plugins you have that need updating. You can set how often it check or turn it off completely.

Right. Do we need it if the Ext Manager does that anyway? Mind you, EM keeps telling me to update Trimble Connect and that never seems to work.

Those too are toolbars, not dialog boxes. There used to be a bug in SketchUp about toolbar not restoring after SU restart and the commonly used workaround, that I think even the SU team recommended, had the side effect that it showed the toolbar even if the user had explicitly closed them.

Regarding Fredo updates that is just a badly designed interface. It could have been designed like a dialog box clearly explaining what it is, why it shows and how to solve it. Instead it is just an image of a ruby. The image can be clicked to proceed but it doesn’t look like a button so it is hard to know.

Sorry, yes, I meant toolbars I guess.

Whilst I do like the SU concept of a basic program that does all the basics but then allows others to add functionality with plugins, it does lead to a certain messiness. Toolbar control is only one aspect. Where extensions add menu items, there is no way of distinguishing them from native SU items. Some extensions have names (like Wisext) that seem to have no bearing on what they do. All this means that finding them can be hard.

Also, some extensions use icons, others just have menu items. There doesn’t seem to be a basic protocol that everyone follows. Maybe it would be unfair to impose one given that most developers are producing extensions for free. Mustn’t complain too much!

At least the Extension Manager improved things by gathering everything in one place and making updating more straightforward.

There are plugins with great functionality but quite horrid interface out there and most developers have no schooling in design. Some have a feel for it and some don’t. I wish SketchUp could release some UX guidlines for plugin developers, and perhaps even a list of basic design principles like e.g. the principle of least surprise or how to create a visual hierarchy.

I think the modular approach of SketchUp is really nice though because it lets you remove the annoying and badly designed clutter, even if it is shipped with SU like Dynamic Components are. It also to some extents allows us to create new versions of existing extensions with a better interface, even if this is hard if the extension is closed source.

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What you say about Dynamic Components is interesting. Does that mean it was developed outside of SU but shipped ready loaded? That might explain quite a lot about why such a potentially powerful bit of kit is in many ways poorly designed and why it has never been updated.

Whilst I wouldn’t even know how to start writing any kind of plugin, I very much agree with your sentiments about the need for some guiding principles. Is there anything to stop someone such as yourself from putting forward a list or a framework that others could hopefully abide by? It may even be that SU would take it on board formally.

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The Extension Manager would only tell you if one of the few of Fredo’s extensions hosted in the EW needs updating. The majority of Fredo’s extensions are not hosted in the EW. All of his extensions are hosted on Sketchucation, however. Clicking on the big red ruby checks to see if any of his extensions that you have loading have updates…

If you don’t want to keep his extensions up to date, you can turn it off. I have it set so it pops up once every 15 days. I hardly think that’s a problem.

Update the Trimble Connect extension and it will stop telling you that it needs updating. Download it from here and install it using Install Extension at the bottom of Extension Manager.

DC is an extension but that doesn’t explain its awkwardness. Extensions can be made to feel just as polished and integrated as native features and native features can be made to not fit in.

Take the native Solid Tools for instance. Their icons aren’t very clear, the color differs from the color of other native tools, the status bar text is nonsensical (“Select the first solid” - does that mean the solid to subtract from or subtract with?), they don’t honor components and the list just goes on.

I don’t know what happened but I think some really good design people left SketchUp quite early. The original features are among the best design I’ve ever seen! It has a top menu that you already know how to use, it has a context menu on right click (not panning or a programmable command), you can import images and other sketchup models simply by dragging them into the viewport.

At some point this changed and later features aren’t at all this well designed. Still we can’t install extensions by dragging an RBZ onto the viewport, while this in my view should have been implemented right away when RBZ support was first added.

Turns out, so do I and I didn’t even realize it! Why would a developer choose to use Sketchucation rather than the EW? Seems odd to have two competing systems.

You’d think. But that’s what I try to do and it still ends up telling me it hasn’t updated. Is this a Mac thing?

Sketchucation existed a long time before the Extension Warehouse and even this forum. It’s not a competition.

Do you still have the old version of Trimble Connect in the Plugins folder? If so, remove it.

It’s partly historical: the SketchUcation plugin store predates the EW and some developers are loyal to it (there are also other plugin repositories from long before the EW). It’s also partly freedom: the EW imposes greater burdens on developers regarding qualification, code review, etc.

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…which on the other hand ensures a higher quality of the extension.

Didn’t mean to imply otherwise, only that some developers don’t like bureaucracy of any sort or having others tell them how to write code.

Does this tell you anything?

Not so much but while you’re there, delete the folder and the rb file. Then install the downloaded version. That’s how I updated it and I don’t get the message indicating it needs to be updated.

Done that. I get this (why is what I always get I think):

Did you download the file I linked to and use Install Extension to install it?