Mining Information From SketchUp

modelI readily admit to being lazy, and that’s one of the reasons SketchUp is my favorite design software. I never have to model something a second time if I’m careful about where I put it. The Components window has some features that make retrieving a model for use in another model easy. In this example I have a model with several variations of typical frameless kitchen cabinets. Each cabinet is saved as a component. The idea is to have these available so when I want to model a kitchen I can bring in one of these models, do a little editing if I need to and import the next cabinet. Here’s how to do that via the Components window.

detailsIn the Components window, just to the right of the search window is a little icon that a lot of people miss. It is labeled “Details” and a menu appears when you click on it. The wording in the menu is a bit cryptic as it refers to “collections”; the options are to open or create or save a local collection.

A collection is a folder that contains SketchUp models. When you go to the 3D Warehouse you can search for either individual models or collections of models. A collection is simply a bunch of models in one folder. A local collection is a bunch of models stored in a folder on your computer or network.

Each cabinet in this model is a component. I could right-click on each one and select “Save As” from the context menu. That saves any component as a distinct SketchUp model. That’s too tedious for me. The better option is to click the “Details” icon in the Components window the select “Save as a local collection…” from the menu. That opens a file browser so I can put all those components (as individual SketchUp models) in the folder I choose (or create). All I need to do is select a folder and SketchUp works through the In Model components and saves each component as a separate SketchUp file using the component name for the file name.

menuWhen I want to retrieve those models, all it takes is selecting “Open or create a local collection…” from the same menu. The file browser opens and when I choose the correct folder, all those models appear in the Components window. All it takes to put one of those components in a different model is to click on a thumbnail of the cabinet I want in the window.

Which brings us to another feature of the Components window many people miss. When you click the little house icon the window displays the components that are in the model. Click the down-pointing arrow and the window displays other collections of components. Some of these are online and some are in the 3D Warehouse. Down at the very bottom of the Components window are two arrows with text in between them. These arrows allow you to switch back and forth between component collections. The name of the folder is displayed between the arrows.

folder viewIf you have a bunch of components that you need quick access to on a regular basis, you can locate and find the folder through the details icon and the file browser. If you’re as lazy as I am you can take an additional step when you save the collection and save time in the future.

Save the collection to the same folder on your computer where Sketchup keeps the component collections that come with the program. On a PC running SketchUp 2016 the folder is on the C: drive. Look for “Program Files/SketchUp/SketchUp 2016/Components”.

Make a new folder within that folder and you can get to it with the drop-down arrow to the left of the search box in the components window. To get access to both the “In Model” components and another collection at the same time click the icon in the upper right corner of the components window. That opens a secondary pane in the components window and different collections can be displayed in either one.

— Bob Lang


What do you think?