SU as LO replacement - a mockup

This is a simple (as simple as I could make it in a short time) mockup of how, with simple Trimble development, we could leverage SU as a LO replacement.

Most of the features needed already exist, and the workflow would be possible already with some plugins.

If Trimble would ease the workflow by fine tuning the tools they already have, plugin developers could then find a lot of ways of making this HUGE.

If Trimble does nothing, I don’t think Plug-in developers would be enough to make this simple system happen.

  • It would need batch export of scenes as 2D Sketchup components - there are plugins that explore this but not in batch scene export. See plugins by @ene_su @Fredo6 and Curic
  • It would need better management of xrefed components - @ene_su already has a plugin for that
  • It would need better dimensioning - there are some plugins that help a lot with dimensioning in SU but they were mostly developed when Layout wasn’t here. This could create the momentum for revisiting that sort of development.
  • it would need better ways of handling Sketchup Exports to DWG, PDF, Raster and so on, but, @Guy Curic, and others have also dealt with that and I bet they would be willing to further develop this
  • It would also need better handling of a per object linestyle and linewidth. The profile/section/regular edge widths aren’t enough

So, Sketchup and Layout teams, why don’t you give this a thought?

Please take a look at the drawing:


Take a look at the CONDOC tools from Brightman Design. It does a batch export of scenes automatically. I am not currently using the plug-in but next project that requires construction drawings and I will re-subscribe. There is a 7 day free trial and Mike Brightman has some really great video tutorials. Plus it works with other extensions like Flextools and Medeek Engineering.

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Batch export of scenes as 2D skp files?

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Yes it does.

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Interesting. Thank you for your suggestion.

I’ve investigated condoc but that’s a fully automated solution for a lot more than what I need. I don’t think it would fit my needs.

Also it exports for Layout and you still have to use Layout. I have a lot of problems using Layout and the 2D exports were only part of my mockup.

Yes, I would like bulk export of scenes too! And better capabilities

I’ve experimented a bit with doing more drawing tasks inside SketchUp and less in Layout. For one, SketchUp for Schools being a web version doesn’t have Layout at all, but when I taught with it a few years ago, I came up with a way to produce a classic three view drawing entirely within the app and posted about it here:

So, then I played with that same idea in SketchUp Pro. The reverse of drawing to scale, I scaled up my paper and standard title block for a 1/4" scale drawing (1:50 being closest in metric), made a component of the building, (which I do anyway for insertion into a separate site model) and placed four instances of it for each elevation:

This actually has synergy with my method for casting 45° shadows on elevations (posted here) so all the elevations get 45° shadows on them regardless of geolocation.

in 3D this is what it looks like:

Each instance is set back in a way that won’t cast shadows on the others, but you don’t see that in orthographic view. It works very much like Layout, except instead of saving the file and updating the link, you save the (house) component and reload it in the other file and all the views are updated. It was an interesting experiment and proof of concept, but I didn’t end up making it my standard workflow.


i do something similar - create a scaled outline of a box for the elevations/sections and place the plan source model into it. i use LO to reliably scale it in views. but the mode itself is imported so the edits on the component is then updated across all other “display models”. and if i’m doing things where i need to export to ACAD format, i use a template of the construction doc (often provided by the architect of record or their team) which is scaled up to properly place the models on the “page” then export 2D.
and i often use the SU “boxed” versions to export (via animation as jpg or png files) all scenes are rendered (turn off transitions first :-)) typically both the 2D and 3D scenes.

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You’d need:

  • a reference manager for imported photos/assets.
  • text and paragraph styles and settings (numbered lists, autotext, etc).
  • paper sizes (the use of Artboards, eg Adobe Illustrator would be practical) with line weight recognition and templates.
    -tables and reports

It’s a big task!

Text and artboards floating around in Illustrator is workable…but in 3d space? with the perspective camera? I’m not sure that’s even technically viable (sketchup struggles with even basic 3d leader text).

There’s a forum member (forgot the name) who uses SketchUp to create 2d training slides, sort of like Powerpoint…I think that’s the closest known implementation of what I am imagining your idea to be. Microsoft and Prezzie are other tools (“the endless whiteboard”) are similar.

Trimble could achieve a LOT more easily by “fine tuning” layout with better alignment to SketchUp (menus, tools included).

Another approach might be to make the full Sketchup interface work inside layout - so if you edit a SketchUp view, you get access to the SketchUp model AND all it’s tools and extensions within LayOut.

Not trying to drag your topic off track (sorry), but there is yet another an alternative… - and where I think the future lies - is a “direct link” between the SKP and LO (the same as Enscape has), so a change made in SKP is automatically streamed to LO. We’d be working with the two programs open side by side, just without the annoying need to constantly update scene, save SKP, update LO view, re-render, save LO and then export.


Not defending no progress :neutral_face: doesn’t this already happen ? if one opens SketchUp via Layout any changes made to the model are automatically updated in Layout.

My own workflow utilises this - make changes in my SketchUp modelling scene ( all other scenes of course update ), hit F1 ( I have F1 remapped to ctrl+s ) and move back to Layout and the change is pretty much instant.


The two major benefits of the mockup would be not having to work with Layout and being able to work exclusively with SU for 2D drafting.

People can avoid LO if they export DWG files to CAD.

But I would like to use Sketchup instead of CAD as drafting with it is very straight forward. Working with SU is always 10x faster than with LO.

Avoiding LO while using Sketchup isn’t too far off and we could do a lot of workarounds like exporting DWG files and open them in Sketchup (I do that in some situations).

I also do that 3D to 2D trick in Sketchup, with window, door and cabinet schedules, but then I use LO to set them in a page.

I know some development would need to happen, but if you think about it it’s not that much. Texts and linestyles are the biggest issue.

The biggest development advantage is that if we would use Sketchup instead of Layout, the amount of development we could have access to, from plugin developers would allow us to boost Sketchup for 2D drafting in a blink of an eye, while LO is exclusively being developed by Trimble.

I guess fine tuning what we need from Trimble, in order to achieve this 2D Sketchup would bring shorter term benefits that would be much more visible than Layout and a much faster development pace with plugin developers and their plaethora of tools.

I admire your perseverance but I have no confidence that TRIMBLE is ever going to do any major improvements to Sketchup / Layout…

I think that ship has sailed already!

the only hope is they sell it to a more enthusiastic company.

Everything you say is correct and TRIMBLE had the opportunity to take action years (almost a decade ago) eg, remember the API for Layout !

For me I an going sit on my 2021 release and bide my time waiting for a more innovative product to appear in the market from someone else!.. eg (AFFINITY… EPIC etc.) SU / LO is becoming antiqued…

the basic core of SU was developed by a small start up company… it can and will happen again!

Furthermore AI will most likely change the whole paradigm of software development and design processes in the next 5 years anyway!

PS… I would love to be proved wrong … SU has been my professional life!


sketchup shouldn’t and I think it won’t become a 2D software, I don’t find Layout annoying to use, its very intuitive and easy to learn, the three features I wish sketchup add are the option to have multiple viewports like rhino, where you can divide the screen in four viewports, having different views on three of them like top, left/right, front/back, and the 3D model on another, and having also the possibility to go back to the entire viewport just for the 3D model whenever you want, the second feature is to incorporate Layout in sketchup, like AutoCAD that has the model space and layout, the UI is different between the different spaces, so you can go to layout just by clicking on the tab and the changes you make on the model space would update automatically without having to save, and the last one is a feature requested by a lot of users, its the dark mode, almost all the softwares have this option, I know you can change the colors of the viewport on the styles tray but you can change the colors of the entire UI, maybe the last one isn’t hard to add, or it is, I’m not a developer, anyway if Trimble doesn’t add this features would make me change of software, sketchup and layout are great tools that make easier my work, those features would just make sketchup a bit better in my opinion but they’re not something necessary yo add.

Those features already exist. It’s a matter of fine tuning and have plugin developers do the rest. Having Sketchup paper space it’s a whole new software. Layout does that already.

So either you keep Layout and fix it as well as port all SU tools into it, or you allow SU to be used as paper space with only small tweaks.

Because all I’m asking is mostly there already.

Watch the video where he creates a set of drawings in an hour. You might get some tips on using layout


Can you post a link to the video please?

Thanks :+1:

how do you set that? i always need to either update in the references settings or press the refresh button once i select the model. is there a setting to auto update the content?

On layout right click on any viewport, then select open on sketchup, it will automatically open the file linked to that viewport and the changes too make o it will automatically be updated o layout, but you must save the file after doing it.


SketchUp Extension | Automated Professional Workflow



Look at any or all of the videos on this site.

Also in Document Setup>References you can highlight the model reference and click Edit.

The model will open and any changes made will automatically update in Layout.

My work around for layout not really being a productive tool is to use Autocad as Layout. Works pretty good and I am super familiar with Autocad. Autocad is super customizable and there are even a couple cheap Autocad (Bricscad is one but I need my dynamic blocks) clones out there that support Autolisp. The time consuming thing is I export a DWG and a PNG for each elevation view (to get shadows and actual line work but I have gotten used to it.