What exactly is the purpose of outliner and hierarchies?

I am now tagging (aka adding layers) my groups and I came to this sketchUp help link

But I’m still confused in how this could help me in my models. Many components from 3D warehouse have many many nested elements (I think that’s the right way to say it, right?!). What does this mean? Is it bad? Can I delete some of these elements? Also, the things are not named properly so a bunch of them just says “grouped” (translated from portuguese). Apparently if I tag my group and name it, it does not change the name in the outliner, that means that I must name all the things in the outliner as well?


Tagging groups doesn’t name them as you alllready found out. You can use the outliner or entity info to rename your groups. Or you could create components instead of groups. Make component brings up a window in which you can give it a name and set some other properties…

1 Like

That’s correct.

It depends, sometimes it is usefull to group a set of groups and/or components. But common practice sais to much levels of nesting is hard to work with. the outliner can be of help with that. instead of double clicking many times to enter a group/component for editing you double click on it once in the outliner…

That depends on what you want. deleting a group also deletes everything in the group. If you only want to “remove” some nesting you can explode the groups/components.

The outliner shows the structure of everything inside your model, exactly like a folder structure that you might use to organize projects on your computer.

It allows you to see an overview of common entities/objects and their name and how these are structured.
In this example here I have my groups so they are nested inside each other in a logical way based upon 2 Core parts that make up the Chair (the backrest and the base)

In this example I’ve based on the order that I might assemble them in real life if I was making the object from a flat pack.

Lex_Chair_PMP_Furniture.skp (5.0 MB)

One great thing about the outliner is that it allows you to move your groups and components between groups and components.
Perhaps I wanted the backrest to be a child group of the seat group - (because you attach the backrest to the seat after you’ve built it right?) Well then I can actually drag the group into the group
This will change the structure of my model so that the backrest group is now inside of the seat group - try clicking through the groups in the model itself.

The outliner also serves as a neat way to rename groups/components (hover over the name and click once so you can keep your model organised.

Perhaps you’ve got a large model with lots of things inside of it, but you want to find one specific one to edit - well you can search by name

You can select the objects inside of the outliner or even select multiple

Double clicking the name will go straight into that group/component to edit it

Beyond it being a navigational and organizational aid, you’ll find that many other 3D packages will understand these structures and even some renderers such as Twinmotion will actually use the heirachy that you’ve created for the same reason

1 Like

Nesting is physical, part-of hierarchy. It is how you convey the idea that an object is an assembly, collection, or container of inner objects that can be manipulated (moved, scaled, etc.) as a single thing. It is not bad per-se, though an object that contains nothing but a single nested object serves no purpose and should be exploded. Also, excessive nesting can cause a model to be difficult to work with, as you have to drill down through the levels to get to the inner ones to edit them.

Some properties of a container objects dominate those of its contents. For example, making a group non-visible makes its contents non-visible. That’s one reason it is not necessary to attach the container’s tag to its contents too.

In a few cases a property of a nested object may dominate over the container’s. For instance, if a nested object is itself hidden, its container can not cause it to be visible. Also if a nested object has a material applied, that is shown instead of the container’s material.

The Outliner shows the nesting hierarchy and allows you various ways to select, open for edit, hide, etc. objects directly, which bypasses the need to open them recursively in the model view as noted above.

Tags attach a non-structural “what is this?” category to an object. A object can have only one tag applied. The primary use of tags is to turn on or off visibility of multiple related objects at the same time. Tag folders allow you to create a what-is-this hierarchy.

A group is a special case of a component, and they share most of their properties and behavior. Both have an underlying definition that specifies what geometry makes up the object and have concrete placements of that geometry in the model, called “instances”. Groups use a small amount less memory than components, but that shouldn’t be the basis for choosing between them, as the difference is usually a small fraction of the total. The main difference is that groups are meant to be singular, unique objects whereas components are meant to have multiple copies that share most of their properties. Also, components are able to be saved out to a separate file for reuse in other models.

A potentially confusing aspect is that a group may also have multiple copies. The difference is that editing a copy of a group automatically separates it from the others, whereas editing any instance of a component immediately makes the same change in all the other copies. So, copies of a group should be reserved for static, unchanging things.

Another difference is that naming is handled differently for groups and components. In both cases, the definition has a name. But for groups the name is internally generated by SketchUp and can’t be set by the user. For components, the user can supply a definition name, though SketchUp will automatically assign one if you don’t. Also in both cases, each instance can have a distinct name set by the user. The instance names let you keep track of which instance is which in the model.

If a group instance has a name, the outliner will display it. Otherwise, it just shows “Group”. So, if you don’t name instances, it isn’t possible to tell which group is which in the outliner. If a component instance has no name, the outliner will display the definition name. The auto-generated ones are like “Component#27”, which isn’t of much use. But if the instance has a name, outliner will display both the definition name and the instance name.


So, in conclusion, what I need to know right now for me to do my things is: outliner works by identifying drawings that you turned into groups or components. And you can also check if there are groups within groups or components within components which can sometimes be unnecessary. But also useful! I have also learned from Dave that it’s a great idea to check the 3d warehouse models in a different file before adding it to the model (talking as an interior design student), meaning that there may be unnecessary geometry or layers that could be deleted. It’s nice to clean everything up before adding the beautiful furniture you picked or created.

1 Like

Always remember that!

1 Like

So I’m trying these things and I am amazed to discover that there is wood work under the bed sheets which will never be seen. lol But probably for someone who will actually build the bed, it could be useful. But then, there is no need of sheets and pillows. This 3D warehouse is weird.


True, very true!
There are a lot of beautifull models out there. But it depends on what you are modelling if something from the warehouse is suitable for your model…
There are numerous examples here on the forum where people have downloaded and filled their model with a lot of stuff from the warehouse to experience a non-workable model. Sometimes it only takes a couple of napkins to bring you computer to a grinding halt…

1 Like