Workspaces in SketchUp Pro - Let Us Know Your Thoughts!

Good Afternoon, SketchUp Community! I’m Cassandra, a member of the User Experience team here at SketchUp.

Recently one of the topics we’ve been exploring for SketchUp Pro is the concept of workspaces. I’ve recently been collecting some user feedback and insights on this topic and thought I would put some of these questions out for the greater SketchUp community as well!

  • What first comes to your mind when hearing the possibility of customizing a workspace? What do you think about and what is your initial reaction?

  • Currently, how do you organize your modeling canvas and toolbars? What are your challenges, if any, with the way you are able to organize these elements?

  • What steps do you have to go through while setting up your 3D workspace currently that seems to disrupt your productivity or slow you down?

  • How often do you find yourself customizing your modeling canvas (ex. toolbars, panels, extensions)?

Let us know your thoughts to any of these questions or feel free to express your general thoughts about workspaces.

Thank you in advance for your input! If you have any other thoughts you would like to provide, please feel free to dm me!


First thoughts. A workspace, in my opinion, is:

  1. A ‘place’ (usually expressed as a UI) that collects and organizes all relevant files and communications for a project.
  2. I use 2 panels, side by side, on the right side of the SU window in SU 2022. One for Entity Info (left, closer to the model space) and the other for Outliner (right, outside edge of SU window). The reason for using two panels is for the Entity Info and Outliner to be at the top of the panel they are on. The Outliner tray, especially, needs to be on top of the panel because it needs the most vertical ‘room’ to be able to see what is in the model. Below the Outliner I put the Components tray (usually low enough so only to top is visible). I don’t make much use of the Components tray. The Entity Info tray can be expanded to show Advanced Attributes. Those usually aren’t useful to me, so it mostly remains collapsed. Below it I place the Tags tray. Below Entity Info, usually collapsed, are: Materials, Styles, Scenes, Shadows, and Instructor. In SU 2023 I put the Overlay tray below the Outliner.
    The biggest problem for me with this panel setup is that Outliner is not working well. The un-naming / renaming of named Groups to “group” is a bug that can ‘screw up’ work. The quadruple (or is it quintuple?) click to name Groups problem makes using the Outliner less user friendly than it should be.* One of the worst issues with the Outliner is that it no longer ‘automatically’ highlights selected groups/components. This makes it far less effective and efficient.

Toolbars: somewhat minimalistic. I use a modified toolbar with the VCB Box and the Tape Measure tool and a modified Standard tools toolbar. I like to have the Trimble Connect toolbar, the Sandbox Tools, and Dynamic Components toolbars loaded. I waste a lot of space with buttons for extensions I’m working on – which is okay with me… but I’d rather have a dedicated workspace**.

  1. Setting up custom panels and toolbars. They aren’t so difficult to create. But switching between them feels tedious to me so I don’t do it enough.
  2. Not too often because I don’t end up switching them around too often.

If I could, I would have dedicated, ‘Quick Workspaces’. I could envision these being tabbed along the top of the SU window (like scenes), as a toolbar, or above next to help.
Customizable Workspaces I’d probably create:

Standard – The basic layout of Toolbars and Panels I use now. My extension playground would be turned off.

2D Modes – Plan Mode to lock “Top” camera view, rotation and inferencing for working with ‘plans’. Section Mode to lock on different planes or rotate from a plane, then have inferencing and rotation on that plane. Styles and Sandbox toolbars, off. Maybe have the Annotations Overlay below the Outliner.

3D Mode (Builder Modes) – My modded Standard and Measurement Toolbars, Gizmo, Solid Inspector Overlays. Extensions specific to ‘Builder Mode’, e.g. Landscaping, Decks, Construction, etc. Perhaps Landscaping would have the Sandbox Tool. Maybe Decks would have Dynamic Components, and Construction would have the new Snapping, and so on.

Scan Essentials Mode - The SE Toolbar. Possibly Trimble Connect and the SE Settings open. Styles panel moved up.

Developer Playground – Ruby Console on. Most other extensions turned off. Outside of scope, but certain folders (Plugins, Component, Image) opened.

Materials, Scenes, Styling Quick Workspaces – various Workspaces to streamline other tasks. Materials and Scenes panels moved up.

If panels could be modified in workspaces, I’d have a modified Entity Info panel. One mod Entity Info would have: Tag, Instance, Definition, Custom Attributes. Add toggles (e.g., for Snapping). Dimension attributes, volume, area (of selected face), lengths, heights, widths, etc.

*I created an extension/extensions to help solve this problem. The extension/s prompt/s for group names. This way a name can be entered when a group is created. This side steps the multi-step process of creating and then (multi-clicking in Outliner) to name groups. “Enter” can be pressed -like when creating components but not naming components- if one want to just make a group quickly.

** If ‘Quick’ Workspaces were available, I’d have the Ruby Console open in my ‘Developer Workspace’ so that it’s open when I restart SU (which I do dozens of times a day).

Personally I don’t t like the web/iPad look of the tools, anyways it’s not something that annoys me, I wish only that the plug-ins icons get the same design language, all of the plug-ins icons fit better with the previous design. I don’t have a lot of plug-ins toolbars on my screen, I prefer a clean workspace, but the 2 I have look out of context, and every time I activate a toolbar it looks rare to me.

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As a SketchUp teacher, I desperately need Trimble to develop a feature to save a custom workspace. What I don’t understand, my workspace remains on my computer, but I have at least 15% of students that their workspace suddenly disappears. No more toolbars, no more panels. They have to redo everything and it interferes with classes. I’m really fed up with this and that’s why I’m begging Trimble to allow custom workspace saving.

I forgot, if you could add the purge function that works with a button or a keyboard shortcut that would be great. I purge my drawings several times a day and it’s not practical the way it’s done now. With beginning students, I don’t want to install plug-ins with them.


hmmm sounds like their SU install doesn’t have the admin rights. $$Was it installed by right-clicking on the installer then selecting “run as admin” ?
It can be fixed the same way, right click on the installer, run as an admin and choose “repair”

Off course, they need admin rights on their machine

also, interface only saves IF they quit properly.
In general, during a training session, I force my SU to crash so I can show them the bugsplat / recovery interface.
And since in general, I don’t save / quit properly a lot during these sessions, it often results in an interface reset, because I crashed.

  1. Adjust workspace first thought:
    Should be the easiest way to save your favorite workspace settings for reuse after a crash/update.
    I’ve had it happen a few times, but updates seem to lose the workspace setting every time, forcing me to set up a new workspace again and save it until the next update. The point of recovery… was not applicable in most cases.
    I’m not sure if this was due to a new UI, new components, bad weather, a new engine or something else, it just didn’t work as tricky/promised.
    So I haven’t used the option in years, and probably won’t use it in the near future.

Another advantage: I can’t use ATM, although I am the only real draftsman in our office, when I switched to another workstation and everyone kept the workspace simple and simple, it is practical to find your tools.

  1. Organize the modeling canvas and toolbar:
    Didn’t even know I could customize my modeling canvas, or is this the same as the ‘styles’ in SU?
    toolbars depend on the needs, usually (like my workspace) I keep it simple according to the basic settings, but if necessary (due to extensions or conventional) I temporarily open additional toolbars. (due to the same update issues: set once, lost once, never again)

Over time, some additional/new toolbars may become permanent due to amount of usage.

  1. what disrupts productivity:
    Usually it’s the software/system that can’t keep up with me. Could this be too largely due to my fast (gamer) eye-hand-finger coordination?
    For example, after I type something, I can sit back and watch the magic happen (texts I just typed appear a few seconds later).
    So the same goes for any modeling software I use. Sometimes when I’m getting started, I don’t see what I just did, and then a second later I suddenly see the magic happening.

Especially with SU17, it’s pretty fast for the first 30-60 minutes, but somehow it gets slow over time. sometimes it helps to just save, close and reopen the file so that I can get back to modeling for the recommended 30 - 60 minutes at my own pace, rather than having to wait seconds for each action as the program /system is still performing the actions I performed previously or needs to think how to perfor its basic tasks. Like they made it slow in time to too powerful to upgrade :wink:

  1. how often to adjust the workspace:
    as mentioned in point 2. depends on which tools and/or extensions are needed to complete the job.

But it’s better to have the option to save your feavorite, then not having the option to do so!

I’m using SketchUp for different contexts (modeling, rendering and teaching) so it would be really useful to have the option to have different (workspaces) memorized layouts for the toolbars.

I want my workspace to be static when I work. I want to know where all my tools are and if I install a new plugin I add it to the toolbar. It’s always there and I don’t want it to go nowhere as I don’t want to get lost when I need it.

Trays might change. One of them never does: Model info, Layers and Tags.

However, when presenting the model, a full screen space would be very welcome. I don’t need my clients to see the toolbar mess, the unbelievable options we have in Trays, not even the window title. They need a beautiful full screen a simpler model info, measurement box for when I use the tape measure and a way to select scenes that is better and looks prettier than the scenes toolbar.