What is wrong with the Community?

Ever hear this statement ?

Nobody goes to the hardware looking for a drill bit, what they really want is a hole.

It’s a lot like this group and its approach to the newbies and amateurs, maybe the majority of visitors, who seek help on this site. They often just want a floor plan floor for their dream home, or something simple. They are usually using SketchUp as tool to complete a specific task. The program is free (Make) and it seems easy. It’s even advertised as “easy”.

It is not easy on their terms, and not free in the cost of the hours and dedication required to master it in any effective way.

I have witnessed an enormous number of hours spent in frustration by people trying to use SketchUp in my adult education class, because they think, or were told, it’s easy.

This group, and the current owners of SketchUp should resist calling or considering this program “easy”. This group should advise all Newbies that Sketchup is a 3D modeling program and requires many hours of study, practice and patience and a good outcome will only come with a lot of effort, practice and study.

A recent thread about drawing double line walls in 2D sparked an argument resulting in the comment about the poster, obviously an amature, “not getting it”. Telling people they don’t get it is an insult.

Suggesting they make their drawing by hand, the old fashioned way with a drafting board would be better. Doing that would save them a lot of time and frustration and money.

That would be the right thing to do.

With all due respect, I believe you make SketchUp appear more complex and difficult than it is. True, proficiency with SketchUp comes after some effort and practice. But that’s the case with any rich computer program. In my experience teaching and demonstrating SketchUp, I find that some people–usually those who have been using some other CAD program for years–are bamboozled by SketchUp’s intuitiveness. They can’t believe it’s that simple. Others, in my experience, haven’t yet grasped some basic good practices necessary to get anywhere with SketchUp. These include working with components and drawing elements in place. To suggest that people who don’t get it right away should revert to pencil and paper does them a disservice. I learned mechanical drawing from my father when I was about 8; I’ve retired my T-square because I know that SketchUp can do more for me and more more quickly.


I have not heard this one, but it is a fair question to ask! Although, I would rephrase it to say, what can be better in our community? There is ALWAYS room for improvements. It also sounds like you have no positive, constructive feedback to give us to help make this community better. It would be great to see you commenting on ways to improve it, and helping keep these conversations positive. Or you even be the one to take the initiative here and (corny warning) be the change you wish to see.

I am assuming some of this is stemming from the conversation around your Sketch-EZ tool. I think you should still encourage your students and people you know to come here to get support, because this is a GREAT resource for SketchUp users and the strength is that we have amazing super users & sages who are very knowledgeable. Your-EZ tool was very different from what SketchUp is, and represents, so you can understand the reason why people took the sides they did. You even apologized for it being off topic.

Some people prefer hand drafting, some people prefer SketchUp. We tried to make SkecthUp as close as we could to hand drafting to try to make that a smooth transition and respect and pay homage to where we came from.

Even using a computer can be hard for folks! But, compare SketchUp to other CAD programs and you will see that there is FAR less of an “onboarding” process and we have abundant resources for folks and support systems. Now, some people can get to beginner and even intermediate within a few days or weeks, but everyone is different, and have different learning styles. We try to support and provide for all the nuances, and that is also why WE are here. To help people. Some people need to approach it using SketchUp differently, and one can actually be using SketchUp “wrong”, if you will.

Now, if you think someone was criticizing you, not your comment (as outlined here by our guidelines) please just flag it and we can take care of it, that is why we are here.

Most things that are worth doing take time and practice, especially those around achieving mastery of a skill. We have a mix of people who use SketchUp, as you mentioned, to do small projects or as a hobby. But, we also have a community of VERY advanced users who use it professionally. Sometimes it’s hard to balance how those two talk to each other, but again, that’s why we are here :slight_smile: We unite under our love and use of SketchUp.

As mentioned earlier, we expect our community to criticize thoughts, not people. Sometimes there are good and better ways of approaching things in SketchUp than others. I hope you do not take it as an insult, it is a little harsh and I will talk to that person about it, but I think they were trying to teach you something about SketchUp and where they were coming from in that conversation.

To each his own. When you want to start using SketchUp, please do come back.



I started with SU when version 8 was ending and 2013 just started. I wasted 6 ~ 8 months wondering why I could not do what was being posted on You Tube. What is easy is drawing a circle, rectangle, line and so on. Most, MYSELF for the most part skim the User`s and Concepts Guide and jump right in. So blind they dont realize it was a 1000 foot cliff they jumped off of. I thought I was smart enough to figure it out but then started to ask the questions. Why wont this do this for me, how come this tool wont work?? I have read individuals ranting that this programs learning curve was not what they expected. Plus how it should be easier for for them to manipulate the tools to create or demonstrate their ideas. Today’s majority of people are lazy and expectant… Just look back at how may years were involved with hands on training to develop the basic skills to remember the alphabet and color inside the lines. Yes I could model a nice bird house in a few days of installing SU. Starting out most dont feel the need to invest twice as much time in the theories behind it. Their results show in their disgust with the program… Shame on them (ME!!)

Of this forums main and most experienced users, I would estimate that they have a minimum of 5 years hands on practice as well as a complete knowledge of the two included guides resources. As well as other software programs knowledge.

The basics will not determine how far you will be able to go. Though they do control the amount of time needed for you to get there.

How bad do you want it and what are you willing to apply, give up or sacrifice to complete it.

You and me both, but I am not talking about you and me here.

I am talking about my students who come to me with the idea they are going to spend a few hours learning SkehchUp to design their, addition, garage, kitchen, bathroom, house, cabin. It’s an easy to use, Free 3D drawing program, and they want to get the job, sometimes NOW, they want a plan to show the wife, the kids. They don’t have the slightest idea of what they are doing. DA!
So that person sometimes goes online and ask stupid questions and I know you know what I mean here. They don’t get answered at all sometimes. Sometimes they get dismissed because they really should have read the instructions.

That guy is looking to you for answers every day in This Group

Lets say: Joe wants to build an addition, he can draw it. Joe downloads “Make” Joe U-tubes a few videos. He starts drawing a floor plan and everything goes wrong. You and I both know it will go wrong! But joe is determined because he wants to start building his addition. Printing a floor plan at scale with Make - he’s lost. Even if Joe owned Pro and Layout, getting a floor plan scaled, section details, elevations and site plan–the drawings he needs for the building department would not be easy. It would be real slow and frustrating for Joe. As a building official I saw a lot of Joe type drawings.

Joe is not going to use SketchUp, Joe should be told it is a 3D modeling program. He should be told it is not a good tool for the drawings he needs for a building permit. Joe should be told the truth.

Joe visits this group every day, who knows, maybe every hour

If you are wanting 2D, you should use LayOut! SketchUp Make is the free version and does not come with LayOut, so if he wants floor plans, he should use SketchUp Pro.

But, if he designs his house and uses the section tool, he doesn’t need to “draw” the floor plans.

Also, I must add, a lot of people draw in SketchUp from images of floor plans they import. So that’s another easier way to do it.

There is a learning curve, but I am sure it would be worth it. What are his other two options? 1. hand drafting (which they may not take) 2. Paying someone 3. Learning a different CAD program (which would be way harder) …or 4. use SketchUp!

Those people are our bread and butter! We love noobs here and are waiting to help them!

You ask the question, “What is wrong with the Community?” This a community for SketchUp users. Some of the users solicit help with using SketchUp for some reason or another. Some of the users provide answers to the questions which helps people on their way using SketchUp. Some of the other users simply like hanging out here because of the overall warm-and-fuzzy atmosphere.

And when they get there, the helpful hardware store person asks them what sort of hole are you looking for? Is it in metal? Concrete? Dirt? Wood? Blind? Through? Threaded? If the person happens to answer, “Well, I’m not sure …” then the helpful hardware person may suggest that they go home and think about it and then come back when they know what kind of hole they’re looking for.

On the other hand, if the customer responds with something like “I need to mount a sign on my block wall and it has four 1/4” holes in the corners." In this case, the answer is going to be quite different. Maybe even helpful.

The term “Easy” is relative, of course. Compared to all of the CAD (and CAM) systems I’ve used over the last 35 years, it’s definitely the easiest to use for 90% of the design projects most users use it for. The other 10% is not easy at all and may require learning to use plugins to achieve the desired results. Or even writing your own. But this was true 35 years ago when I had to write my own FORTRAN programs to surface-model screw threads.

I long ago learned that not everyone can “see” things in 3D. SketchUp is a wonderful tool to help bridge the gap for those who have difficulty “seeing” in 3D. The traditional trade school approach has always been to break things down into 2D plan: sides, front, back, top, and bottom views to describe what is actually a 3D shape. While this is most easily done with pencil and paper, it is not the primary thrust of SketchUp. There has been a paradigm shift in design to manufacture in the past few decades. No longer do you have to reduce your 3D design into 2D views that are then (mis)interpreted by some moldmaker or machinist down the line. You simply create your design in 3D and send the file to the manufacturer.

[WARNING] Nostagia note: In the late 1980s, I built a mold for these 3D glasses using CNC driven by a CADKEY file sent to me by the customer.

This was the first time I didn’t have to deal with laboriously constructing 3D geometry from blueprints in order to create the G codes for the machines. I simply imported the file, added some surfaces to the CADKEY wire-frame and the customer had injection molded ABS parts in a little over 3 weeks. Since then, most of the mainstream has now moved into 3D printing where it is now the norm to design a 3D model and upload it to be printed (or print it yourself).

Throughout all of my 3D modeling efforts, I generally start with a hand-drawn sketch on paper. I prefer a #2 pencil and any handy scrap of paper I have around. If I need a straight-edge, I fold a piece of paper over and use the creased edge. I like the idea and implementation of your invention and I sincerely hope for your success in getting this into the hands of people that need and would benefit from it. However, I don’t think it’s something that will interest most of the users of this community.

BTW, have you heard the one where someone walks into a 3D CAD community and says, “Who wants to buy a portable drafting board?”


It may be helpful to have the “Getting Started with SketchUp” tutorial videos located at the following links available for your students to explore.

(There are many more tutorial videos as well)

If new users invest some effort into learning basic operating procedures, much frustration can be avoided. Always wise to “read the manual” as it were.

There are no stupid questions, and everyone who is able to ask a question (most of the times this is the real problem) will get an answer here I think (and if the question was answered dozen times before, a link to those answers can be enough answer).

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My personal motto has always been to RTFM before I do anything. Almost everyone I know, however, dives right in and starting plugging in things and clicking on things and trying to figure it out from there. I spend most of my day reading instructions and then assisting those who should have read them, but, for some reason or other, didn’t do so. Personally, I think it’s terribly unfortunate, but I don’t try to push my own philosophy on anyone. Besides, I like helping people solve problems.

There is a very nice and complete instruction manual for Windows SketchUp 6, but it is 390 pages long: ug_sketchup_win.pdf (3.0 MB) While I might take the time to read it before even downloading and trying to use SketchUp, I don’t realistically expect the average person to do so.

IMHO, if I were teaching SketchUp, I would assign reading material from the manual alongside class/lab work. I would also start with the basics and work through simple examples for each type of SketchUp tool available. Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt to actually RTFM.

I don’t see any reason to perpetuate that myth. Of course there are stupid questions: I’ve asked more than a few beauts myself, which, in retrospect, even I must admit were pretty dumb, ill-considered, and better left unasked.

I sort of hate to encourage people to ask shoot-from-the-hip questions that don’t even make sense, even at the risk of not appearing “nice.” As we’ve seen many times, a carefully considered question usually results in a short, successful exchange of information, while an unintelligible question or comment that represents the first half-baked thought that entered the questioner’s mind usually results in a train wreck.


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Of course, “easy to use” and “intuitive” are relative concepts. For instance, this is what Archicad, that I (have to) use quite a lot at work, looks like, and that is what its producers call it, too. Sorry but I couldn’t capture the menus:


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There are two loosely connected trains of thought running through this topic: whether SketchUp is “easy to use”, and whether the members of this community are rude or insulting to questioners who didn’t find it easy.

Regarding the first, Duane has a valid point. There are so many factors that influence how quickly and readily someone learns a complex tool, that it is almost pointless to say “easy”. It reminds me of the old Señor Wences line “For you easy, for me difficult!”. Personally, I find SketchUp easier to learn and use than other CAD applications I have tried, your mileage may vary. But the “easy” claim is marketing hype (which almost by definition means BS), so let’s not get carried away. It is a complex application, and takes effort to learn to use well. Expecting to just sit down and instantly “grok” SketchUp is naive and arrogant.

Regarding the second, it is true that on occasion a helper’s patience is exhausted and some frustration leaks through. It can sound (or be) condescending. We try to avoid that, but all of us are human. It is effectively impossible to answer if you can’t make sense of the question, though, and there are numerous cases in which the question takes multiple counter-questions before it becomes clear what was really being asked. That tries patience severely.

People posing questions here need to bear in mind some basic facts about this forum: It isn’t a tutorial site or training course; it is fair game to refer you to somewhere else when your question shows basic lack of understanding about SketchUp. This also isn’t a free “do it for me” facility, though sometimes when a problem catches someone’s interest they effectively do that. Finally, the questioner didn’t pay anything to post here and the majority of responders are unpaid volunteers.


Like many similar things, the phrase “SketchUp is easy” is relative to context. As compared to AutoCAD, SketchUp is indeed easy. On the other hand, as compared to Punch Home Design, SketchUp is difficult. The context must also include the end user’s abilities to conceptualize and visualize as well as there knowledge of design and computers, etc.

I learn much from studying those who know more that I do. Most of what I learn comes from forums of different disciplines because they discuss issues that are beyond my current comprehension and skill level. Often times we confuse expertise with teaching abilities. Not all experts are teachers and not all teachers are experts. Don’t blame those who frequent and use this forum because they don’t coddle the newbs, many of them come here to learn from those who know more and by comparison make SketchUp easy.

Today with Google and YouTube it is almost impossible not to be able to learn SketchUp because all levels of teaching and skill are available to everyone for little more than the cost of time.

What do I know, I’m just a guy who started using SketchUp on 06.01.15 and today spent over an hour on the 3D Warehouse looking for a door and, when I could not find one I liked, spend 90+ minutes making my own door with frame, casing, jam and threshold. I’ve seen others on YouTube make it look easy, drawing a door in less than 15 minutes and I aspire to be one those guys soon. Until then I continue as a newbie looking to learn from impatient experts on this forum.


With regards to SU being easy:
Drawing is easy - you take an implement and make shapes on a surface until you get a representation that resembles the focus of your attention. Building is easy - you take one material and attach it to another until you get the structure you want. Carpentry is easy - you take some wood and fashion it into the form you want. … No?
Perhaps that is a bit unfair: you have an idea and want to convey it to other people. If you lack the skills/time/inclination/resources to draw, build or sculpt the idea in reality then the solution is to create a representation of it in 3D space. This is the easy solution in comparison to finding the resources or learning the skills to produce a physical model.

So you want to learn how to use a tool to create a representation of your idea? If you lift a pencil you can draw a line. If you lift a saw you can cut some wood. If you install Sketchup you can make 3D models.
The “problem” is not with SU or even the marketing - it’s with the global assumption that computers do everything for you. That everything just works and understands your needs with a single touch. The closer to this ideal a program becomes, then the easier it is to use and the less the end user needs to know about how it works. SU is easy to use because it is very intuitive. Other programs can make 3D models but they are not as intuitive - they are hard(er).

For myself, I learned by watching others build models, then trying to work out what (& how) they were doing it. I think the tractor speed build was the most inspiring: SketchUp: Modeling a Tractor - YouTube


I am on this group because I love SketchUp. I am a fanatic in fact. It’s
the greatest tool ever conceived by man in my opinion. I make a living

I want to contribute to making it better, an enduring product. Not like the
other 15 CAD programs I bought, learned, discarded or the company went out
of business.

My constructive criticism is:

A serious 3D program should have more than a 2d output.

“Make” should be able to import and export Dxf &Dwg and PDF. So that
SketchUp can remain viable in the marketplace for the fledging 3D printing
commercial / consumer business. “Make” printing jpgs is good for children’s
coloring books, but little else. My local maker group, despite nudging,
has no interest in SketchUp and that should tell you something. This is our

Layout should import DXF files from other programs. SketchUp is way too
slow trying to draw and edit floor plans. I know this from my years working
in Chief Architect. It’s 5 times faster initially, 10 faster in editing and
changing things. I should be able to import a scaled DXF file directly into
layout and I can not and that for me renders Layout unusable.

I’ve so far ignored this thread and I will continue to do so after this comment.
It is perfectly possible to export from make, like everything else, it requires you to educate yourself on how.
The computer I have connected to my 3D printer only has Make installed and I draw, export and print from there. My main desktop has Pro, but I rarely need it’s features to achieve any of my projects.
Please don’t help perpetuate the myth that Sketchup is somehow inferior to other software. Take note of your own assertion that while promoted as easy, it is in fact a very complex and sophisticated product.

To roughly quote Nolan Bushnell, all the best things are “easy to learn and difficult to master”
People need to take time to master things instead of expecting them to work out of the box. And people should make an effort to learn rather than demand an instant answer.

The vast majority of answer on this forum and other are from people who offer their time and knowledge freely for no reward other than seeing others benefit, and lately there have been a lot of people with very demanding attitudes.


I think this is totally a conversation worth having! Momma always said, “If you don’t have anything helpful to say…”, and it’s probably a good start. Honestly though, I think I hear that complaint on every forum, and it takes some careful long term community management to create a strong, vibrant helpful community, and I think AlexB is doing a great job.

I have taught many difficult (one of the classes I taught was analytical thinking, LOL) and technical things, over many hours, difficulty levels, ages and experiences. The hardest thing about teaching technical skills is context.

For example, I started teaching my two boys sketch up when they were nine. Now, three years later, they are very proficient at modeling in sketch up. What they are not proficient at are the disciplines that use 3-D modeling as a mode of expressing creative intent. They simply do not have the context to be able to design a house or addition, because they do not understand what is involved in building one. They can model it as I teach them, but without the context, they have difficulty being creative within the boundaries required by the discipline.

If you have ever received construction documents from an engineer that physically could not be done in the real world without unintended consequences (I see drainage running uphill all the time), you have dealt with a person with technical proficiency without the necessary context.

So I think the difficult thing here is that SketchUp is easy, but context is hard. When you understand how something is built in the real world, it is somewhat trivial to make it in SketchUp with just a basic understanding of the tools and how groups and components work.

Ultimately teachers and students tend to be unaware of the need for context. You see it when people post questions, when it seems like they don’t really know what they’re asking, and we see it as teachers, when our responses don’t answer what they were really asking.


You are mentioning “Make” and “business” in the same context. SketchUp Pro is for business. Make is for the home.



… and the “fledgling 3D Printing” business primarily uses STL format.