Update the UI for SU Pro 2020

I’ve said this before, but the SketchUp UI is really quite dated, and SU 2019 did nothing to change it. There are things on there that have been made somewhat redundant as a result of other changes in the past. I really hope that the SketchUp team looks at a complete root and branch review of the UI system for SU 2020

A well designed UI is about making one’s work more productive. Here are some suggestions and pointing out of problems:

1. Scenes
The Scenes tab is the quickest way to switch from scene to scene. It serves an important purpose, and the Scenes pane is generally ok for more advanced scene control. My scenes are getting cluttered up big time with the number I need. There are simple ways to improve this: Managing scenes in SU - #7 by TommyK

2. Layers
I have so many. I am sick of navigating through them. Just copy what Vectorworks does and group layers by prefixes (characters preceeded with hyphen). Simples. More discussion here: Make SU 2018 the "organised" update

3. Component Browser
This pane really needs attention. So many issues:

  • get rid of the “search 3D warehouse” - it is obsolete with the new browser
  • search bar should filter components in model, and search the local library instead of looking up 3D warehouse
  • have the ability to show the selected component in the view in the Component Browser panel. At present, if I want to edit certain

4. Search, auto complete, etc. on all lists
When you have large complex models, scenes, layers, components, groups, materials - they all can get difficult to find. I love how the layers autocomplete in the Entity Info pane - it’s time to apply that idea to all panes that list things - scenes, layers, components etc. This might take the form of a search box at the top of each pane, which would filter the list of objects that appear according to the search term.

5. Entities Info
Yes, this has had some additional attributes added, which is good. However, given that SketchUp is used in so many ways by so many different kids of people, would it not make sense to make attributes that appear on this pane customisable? I made a plugin some time ago that attempted to add this functionality, but I think it should be a core feature.

6. Fog pane
Ability to be more accurate with the fog distances please. Perhaps with actual numbers representing the fine distances of fog? Take a leaf out of Eneroth’s Fog tool. I think for a start it should be two adjustable nodes on ONE line - more intuitive than what is at present.

7. Materials pane
This is such a pain on the Mac. No search function, therefore no point in naming materials, which is actually a really good housekeeping thing to do on large models.

8. Component Options / Attributes / DC"
So I never have these panes open because it doesn’t work well with my other panes. I would probably use it a lot more if they were better integrated.

9. Outliner
I never really got into the habit of using this pane as it cause lag and crashes - is this generally fixed now? The principle of searching and filtering using this pane is actually what I want for all other panes!

Please, please get Vixay, your UX guy, on this please! I know he’s been working on the other Sketchup products, but we really need him on the desktop app! Sketchup could be so much more productive if a little more time was spent on redesigning the UI.


A very good idea! I believe you are not the only who thought this.

The (for me) more common use case is that I have components already in a model, and am interested to list/inspect/manage them. The components in model should be the default view. I know when I need a component from within the model and when to go to 3DWH search. This is one of the major differences of Open Source and commercial softwares: The commercial ones have often marketing interests (3DWH) that they put over users’ functional interests. I like software that is simple, minimal, clean, free of ads and has no other intentions to put into my way other than helping get my job done.

These are not native features, but implemented as extensions (thus webdialogs). Give inspector windows to extension developers, and allow developers to make their webdialogs dockable to the tray like inspectors!


may I suggest

10. Site
While you can nest SketchUp models inside SketchUp models, there is no UI to facilitate this or algorithms to harmonize data sets of exponentially different scale. A CAD program I used decades ago had this functionality and I believe it would be a very useful improvement to the SketchUp kit.


I would echo the sentiments of the OP.

Here’s another thing that I find tricky on a Mac. When you want to customize your toolbar, you are presented with a huge array of icons seemingly randomly distributed making it hard to find what you want quickly. At least if you could order them alphabetically you might stand more chance. Also, what’s the point of showing icons that are already on your toolbar? I can’t think you would want two instances (but maybe I’m wrong about that). It would also be handy to have icons relating to a particular extension more obviously grouped together, say by having a dotted line fence around them.


I find that Mac UI horrendous to use compared with the PC version which - as we are discussing - itself can be improved greatly with these above changes. Good words @TommyK


My 2 cents in this would be “better unify the GUI on Windows and Mac”. I realize that due to OS libraries and user conventions they will never be identical, but that’s not an excuse for failing to even try! The SketchUp GUI on Mac has been largely untouched for years despite numerous complaints.


I would add nested components so that you don’t need to wait for every single component to load. They should be expandable just like outliner.


Interesting notion! But I see an issue: the components browser shows the component definitions whereas what is nested is actually a component instance. The semantics of the component browser would become quite muddy.

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Surely if a component is nested within a component you can have a + to expand … ok now I’m seeing the issue… one component can have 50 instances of a single component

Still wish there was a way to group them and give the a hierarchy.

Yes! Well spoken @TommyK, thank you. If the past indicates the future, delete “2020” from your thread title. All of your GUI suggestions (except perhaps no 8) are valid, needed, or sorely needed, and worth pursuing in some form.

Just as an example, Entity Info is a dialog panel one cannot live without, especially when solid modelling, e.g. for 3D printing. Just a few quick tweaks would enhance its information value considerably. A simple thing like always reporting the active selection’s number of groups and components that are solid and are unsolid would be most helpful. Why does Entity Info not do that? But then again, maybe “one text row ought to be enough for anyone”.

Granted, many of us relish lingering on in the early noughties. The GUI:s may have been somewhat crude, perhaps, but still they had a kind of hand-made, grayish je ne sais quoi. Wasn’t life somehow sweeter back then?

– Hey boss, how about this quick UI concept?
– Not so fast, junior. Let me first test it on five cuboids… Sure, it works. Just ship it.

Then, nothing is so permanent as a temporary solution.

Anyone who has tried serious work on even the most well-organized and well-instanced hundreds-of-megabyte, multi-million-edge, several-ten-thousand-group skp will realize that a positive answer to the question “Can I do that in Sketchup” is contingent on patience, and an almost biblical deal of it. Methuselah may rejoice, but files like this are the bread and butter of many a firm. Here, it may take a good ten seconds waiting for the group command to successfully group a cube. I once did a boolean subtraction that took 45 minutes (it came out successful). The snail is in the works because legacy intersect insists on checking everything against everything, instead of doing a simple initial space hash and a fast reject of irrelevant geometry. Ho-hum.

So, one underlying explanation as to why these GUI and performance improvements are still lacking in Sketchup is simply:

Trimble product managers do not routinely use Sketchup to solve pressing, difficult, real-world problems applied to complex models.

But this is exactly what we average Joe users have to do.
If product managers had to, too – they would have fixed this long ago.
Or they would have gone as mad as we are.

@jbacus Thank you. However – it is not that there aren’t limits to the amount of model complexity that a 3D modeler can handle. It is that other 3D modelers can display and edit complex models much faster. We just want it in Sketchup. Sketchup’s basic premise is excellent. It’s gold. Sketchup works great on simple models. But neither its performance nor its UI handles complexity gracefully.

And this has almost nothing to do with Sketchup’s basic premise. It has to do with its current core geometry engine and lack of attention to UI polish, as they relate to managing complex models.

Sketchup should feel like child’s play when creating geometry – but like a jetpack when managing it.

For me, this is what the sad forum rage concerning “subscription models” and “ecosystem junglification” is ultimately about. From a user perspective, as long as the API is good – modelling performance and UI polish should be Trimble’s big focus for Sketchup. Take a long hard look at whence you came. And, give us this.


Please let me know if I can help.


This kind of exists. Components that are solely used within components that are linked to external files are by default hidden from the In Model view. You can show them though by choosing to expand the list.

I agree 140% with what has ben said here.

You may want to change the title though so we don’t get the monochrome UI with indistinguishable icons and compulsory fly-out menus for all drawing tools in the desktop version too though :stuck_out_tongue: .


Layers can now be ordered by color on Mac, giving you an Ctra possibility to organise. An improvement, but still a long way to go…

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I would love to see a total overhaul of the Layer system, if the UI is in for significant changes. From the years-long wishlist thread:

Although I haven’t taken much time to think through how this might be affected by the new Dashed Line layer type. That being said, “layers” aren’t really layers and this also feels like an old, outdated system of organization, even if strictly in name.

Additionally, when it comes to UI, I’m dying for system-wide organization.

(I’m about to move setups again, not looking forward to rebuilding all my preferences for the third time in 12 months…) (And not to mention, switching between Mac and Windows. So many small unique menus!)

As an aside to styles and UI, I think the Style Maker/Materials Editor could use a serious upgrade. I’ve never really understood how they integrated and I have spent a significant amount of my time materials-editing saving and resaving versions where I accidentally had the wrong settings.

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A monochrome UI could easily be worse than the current multi colored one.

It will take some clever design innovation (and lots of iteration) of the UI to integrate all the interesting extensions.

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I was referring to the web interface, which would be a disaster if added to the desktop version.


Single-compact window UI, just like AutoCAD or iWork suite on macOS

you read my mind… could not agree more on each point!!!

only if it’s ‘single screen’ aware, and allows splitting when using multiple monitors…


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Exactly, just like AutoCAD for Mac, you can drop off a “panel” (let’s say, layer window) from the main window