Your Organization Options in SketchUp

By Aidan Chopra

When sorting out the thousands of edges and faces in your SketchUp model, it’s all about lumping things together into useful sets. After you separate things into sets, you can name them, hide them, and even lock them so that you (or somebody else) can’t mess them up.

You have two organizational methods at your disposal in SketchUp. The best modelers use both all the time:

  • Outliner: The Outliner is a dialog box that’s basically a fancy list of all the groups and components in your SketchUp model. It shows you which groups and components are nested inside other ones, lets you assign names for them, and gives you an easy way to hide parts of your model that you don’t want to see.

    If you use a lot of components (and you should), the Outliner may well become your new best friend.

  • Layers: For people who are used to organizing content in other software programs, layers are usually where it’s at — you put different kinds of things on different layers, name the layers, and then turn them on and off when you need to. It’s a pretty simple concept. In SketchUp, layers are similar — but the ways in which SketchUp layers work differently are important for modelers to know.

    In SketchUp, using layers the wrong way can seriously mess up your model.

The folks at SketchUp added an enormously powerful, enormously complicated new feature to SketchUp 2014 Pro: Classifications. Basically, it lets you tag groups and components in your model with special identifiers that make them more useful — in very specific circumstances.

If you’re using SketchUp Pro as part of a BIM (Building Information Modeling) workflow, and you want to imbue your model with juicy metadata while it’s still in SketchUp, you can. All you have to do is load an existing classification schema and apply Type metadata to the component definitions you want to classify.

Not lost yet? If you like, you can even make your own schemata (the plural form of “schema”) using properly formatted XML to create your own .xsd files. Oof.

Needless to say, Classifications is a feature too technical to cover here. You don’t need to use it for basic, everyday modeling; you might not even need to use it if you’re designing a new habitation module for the moon. But for folks who do need it (and there are more and more of them every year), it’s a giant step forward for keeping SketchUp Pro integrated with modern, connected BIM software.