Styles v. styles.... a good way to explain?


I am putting on a workshop for some graphic designers and I am struggling with a succinct way to explain the difference between standard “toolbar” styles and Style Builder built styles… If you had a couple of sentences how would you explain the difference to someone who is new to SketchUp what the difference is between toolbar styles and the other kind of styles?

What I am struggling with compressing to a description is how the non-toolbar styles are saved in scenes by default but the toolbar styles are not…


What I can say is the toolbar styles act on the content of the model itself. The Styles from the Windows tab affects the content of the entire canvas that is displayed. Almost as if working with Note Pad and simple plain text, you can change fonts and pixels sizes-amounts. As compared to Word were you are creating a template for en-riched text documents. Were the toolbar styles helps you view what you create or design. The other is to help the viewer fully interpret and grasp your idea.


These same styles are identified as “Face Styles” on the View menu, a reasonably apt description that does a better job of distinguishing them from the “other kind of styles.” I find it inexplicable that the toolbar is not also identified as Face Styles instead of just Styles.

If I recall correctly, a shorter list of these same attributes appeared on a dialog called “Display Properties” on version 5 and earlier. That, I think, is what really distinguishes them from the other kind of styles. They can be thought of as properties of the display, maybe slightly akin to the OpenGL settings: strictly workstation dependent and installation-specific. The “other kind of styles” are attributes of the model and are portable from one installation to another.



Style is managed via the Styles Browser and there is only one Active Style in a model.
The Styles Toolbar is merely a convenience for applying quick nonpermanent changes to the Active Style.

Style changes via the Styles Toolbar (and the View menu) alter the way the model is rendered onscreen.
However, they do not permanently alter the Active Style.
One must update (I.e. save changes) to the Active Style via the Styles Browser.


With the advent of Back Edges (an edge setting), not all Styles Toolbar options are face settings.


But it is a face setting: the faces are styled to transmit hiden lines. Edges are unaffected by this setting.

Whether you buy into this or not, it’s pretty hard to justify the ambiguity of the interface regarding the concept of “styles.” As I said earlier, I think the old “display properties” terminology was much more descriptive and didn’t create this conflict.

And come to that, why add a hidden line drafting convention into an environment that in all other ways staunchly insists on disregarding the value of long-standing drafting conventions in the presentation of a 3D model?



I wholeheartedly agree with the notion that there have been some ‘unfortunate choices’ made in changing the name of existing features and in naming new ones.

In this instance, the name Styles Toolbar creates some confunsion,

To wit…

There is only one Active Style in a model and no “other kind of styles”.
Styles Toolbar and View Menu options make changes to the Active Style.
They are merely shortcut means to make changes to the Active Style.

Style changes via the Styles Toolbar and View Menu are immediately reflected in the Styles Browser.
The three are hardwired together; a change to any one is immediately reflected in the other two.

The concept new users need to learn is that creating a Scene is not WYSIWYG unless the Active Style is updated first, thereby incorporating unsaved changes they have made to the Active Style.

Updating the Active Style can only be accomplished via the Styles Browser or the Warning - Scenes and Styles dialog.

Recollecting questions here in the Forum, it seems many new uses don’t understand the warning and agree to the default setting, •Do nothing to save changes, only to be surprised when they revisit the scene.
Apparently some become so annoyed by a warning they don’t understand that they tick the box to turn it off.


Thanks for the feedback everyone! I am glad that I am not the only one who thinks “styles” could use some clarification on SketchUp’s end. @Geo, I forgot about the whole warning window… When I give my class I know that is going to pop up on everyone’s screen and I will need to explain that as well.

@Gully_Foyle, I agree that “Display Properties” is better terminology for the toolbar and what is found under the View menu. Changing that but keeping the “Styles” browser (or dialog) under the Window menu would make things less confusing.

The sad thing is the style-builder styled styles (newer styles, not toolbar Face Styles) are really cool, especially in newer versions of SketchUp where they redraw REALLY fast. The user adoption of those styles is, I think, hindered because of the moat of confusion that needs to be passed before you can really use them easily and effectively.