What’s New in SketchUp 2016

SketchUp 2016 is here, but ‘What does it all mean, Basil?’ It means that there is plenty to get excited about! SketchUp 2016

Let’s take a look at some of the best new features from the Release Notes…


  • The improvements to the Move, Protractor, Offset and Rotate tools are minor, but they have improved their overall user-friendliness. We particularly like the improved rotate tool, which has been combined within the move tool, so that you can now more easily locate and pick an axis. This will save novice users a lot of frustration, and provide a faster workflow for experienced users.
  • We dig the new and improved higher resolution Icons. All icons have now been rendered from vector graphics, meaning that they will look better, size better, and read better on High DPI screens. Although this will not affect most users in the slightest, the team at PlusSpec are looking forward to now being able to create high resolution icons for the PlusSpec tools. Look out for them in PlusSpec 2016!
  • The new Customizable  Utility Trays on Window machines is an addition that may take some getting used to. However, once you have played with it enough, you will probably find the added flexibility to your liking. This allows users to fully customize their workflow, by now being able to organize and group all of the various utility dialog’s, so that they either stand alone, or stack inside customizable and collapsible trays.
  • The ability to now easily inference circle and arc centrepoint’s is going to drastically reduce the amount of swearing in the office. Say goodbye to centrepoint location struggle-ville! Just ensure that you inference an edge prior to searching for the centrepoint.
  • The Textures have been revisited, and now offer a bigger and better list of textures and categories. Check out the latest grass texture, it looks pretty good.
  • The parallel and perpendicular inference display has been improved, which is particularly useful for extending edges on off axis planes.
  • SketchUp 2016 will now recognize intersection points with hidden section planes, with the ability to snap to elements of a SketchUp model in LayOut also.
  • SketchUp 2016 now allows you to Generate Reports, either from the entire model, or from a selected Component. Personally, we find this tool a bit ‘meh’. However, you may get some use from it. We have just finished testing it with PlusSpec and have found that when creating a moderately detailed model, there is an extensive delay. If you want a comprehensive report completed in seconds, we suggest using the PlusSpec Take-off tool.

SketchUp Layout
  • The new Layer improvements are by far our favourite improvement in the 2016 release!
  1. Now when you copy and paste something, it will maintain all of the layers from the original copy. This is a Godsend!
  2. The new PDF export has been optimized, and we can now all breathe a collective sigh of relief! Finally, you will be able to produce smaller PDF exports that still have a very high output resolution. And the difference is mind-blowingly huge. For example, the new enhancements have reduced a 40mb PDF, created with Layout 2015, to a 3mb PDF created with 2016 – with no drop in quality!
  3. Assigning entities to a specific layer has become a lot easier. You can now right click and assign entities to any of your current layers. Previously, you only had the option of assigning it to the current selected layer. This is a big time saver.
  4. You can now group objects on different layers, whilst maintaining your layer management.
  • Layout references are now cloud-friendly. That means your LayOut projects can reference and update files that are stored and synced with services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and Trimble Connect Sync, which makes collaboration far more powerful.
  • The ability to differentiate between shared/nonshared layers is very useful. Shared layers are any layer that you assign to be automatically generated on every page. In order to help users understand when they are creating or manipulating entities on a shared layer, it will be highlighted red when you are drawing or selecting elements on a shared layer.
  • The new small dimension leaders is a nifty little improvement, and ensures that text will never interfere with arrows or extension lines.
  • Last but not least, we are very happy to report that Layout appears to run a lot faster! It is still not ‘lightning’ quick (particularly for very information-dense pages), but it is definitely a big leap in the right direction – and will make everyone happy.
  • It is also worth noting that if you do dimension inside of the SketchUp model, the dimensions (lines and numbers) are now displayed nicely (on vector/hybrid). However, due to lack of control, we still suggest that you use Layout to dimension your projects.

3D Warehouse

3D Warehouse The ability to reload or swap out a component with an alternative component from the 3D warehouse is an incredibly powerful feature. If you reload or swap out a component with another component (or an updated version of that component), every instance of that component in your model will be updated, in every file that is open. This is awesome, and once we have integrated it, it will greatly benefit PlusSpec users with the RubySketch FREE online library also (www.rubysketch.com).  


Trimble Connect
  • Trimble Connect has been fully integrated into SketchUp 2016 – and is a tremendous addition! This will allow users to upload, update and remove your SketchUp files from Trimble Connect Project folders. As you’re modeling you can even pull in and update reference SketchUp models, as if they were locally hosted components. With this addition, SketchUp has become more connected than ever before, so that you can more easily communicate, collaborate and interact with models with collaborators and clients, from anywhere in the world.
SketchUp Layout API Although this does not affect standard users, Layout has now been opened up for API. This is what the team at PlusSpec have been waiting for with baited breath, and we are super excited to roll back our sleeves and get stuck into it. We can’t wait to show you what we can do!  

PlusSpec for SketchUp logo

Our two-cents

Although this release may appear to focus predominantly on the enhancement of shared collaboration, existing tools, and speed/processing power (Layout in particular), these improvements will definitely make your workflow more efficient. And for that reason alone, it is 100% worth upgrading to SketchUp 2016. Although the SketchUp tool/function improvements are nice, we see the biggest improvements in Layout – which is exactly what the vast majority of users were wanting anyway. If the intent was to fix the key frustrations that users of Layout were having, then this release is definitely a step in the right direction. Any doubt about SketchUp Layout being a powerful tool for professionals is long gone, and with this release it has become faster, more intelligent, and easier to use. We look forward to hearing your thoughts.  

SketchUp keeps getting better, but how much is your time worth?

Learn how PlusSpec will enable you to draw 50 times faster than with SketchUp alone + automatically generate structure, BOQ’s, Estimates & Specifications – all at the click of a button!  

Click here if you want to know more

  Please note that the SketchUp 2016 Release incorporates a lot of General fixes and improvements, which we have not outlined in our review. For the Full Release Notes, see the SketchUp Website. Oh, and don’t forget to check out the Official SketchUp 2016 Video Here!


  • lenhan says:

    Thank you for your useful information. It helped me a lot.
    Sketchup 2016 renew, vietnamese language: http://goo.gl/rFQcVo

  • Jet says:

    Hi Drew, plusspec support on Sketchup 2016 yet ? Can wait to find out what you guy can do with layout api .

  • Dan Walkin says:

    Thanks for the review. I was disappointed with the update as DC’s impovement where not addressed not even for the Trays. Cannot see why they did not add them to the tray. seem goes for model info menu. You want quick access to this to switch on and of component visability, I know you can add keyboard shortcuts. I think they could of made the icons bigger of at lest give the option for a bigger cursor because it to small on a 4k Monitor and even changing the windows setting you cannot make it bigger. Maybe someone know a reg hack.
    I do not use layout so for me it not would £120 to upgrage just for better inferencing. There should be the option to upgrade cheaper if you are not a layout user.

    • All fair points Dan, I would like to see Sketchup spend a bit more time on Layout in the future, I really think that a Sketchup layer manager from the Sketchup mode layers would greatly increase the usability in Layout especially for architects and building designers.
      2D documentation is unfortunately the main way of communicating with authorities and contractors in this day and age. I see this changing onsite now with tier one builders and my own construction company uses the 3d model onsite.

      I assume you do a similar thing or are you strictly using PlusSpec for communication, clash detection and a bill of quantities? I did write an article on waste in construction that I think is worth a look. I could use some constructive criticism or expanded thoughts. Here is the link https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/waste-design-construction-what-you-need-know-2016-andrew-dwight?trk=prof-post

  • Garry says:

    why are you not using layout?

    • Hi Garry we always use Layout in Sketchup Pro when creating construction documentation. PlusSpec 16 now has some cool new features that will allow you to create fantastic sections as well. We added thickness to the internal linings so studs show at the section cut and not on the wall. This has been a long time coming and there was a lot of work in it for us yet it will be here in less than 2 weeks. If you use Plusspec and Sketchup Pro Layout you will be happy to see the huge advantages. For this of you who like to play around with Line weights in Layout and want to see information on how to do this with PlusSpec let me know. I have been having a bit of a play with line weights and I have a good work flow to share.

      It is a good idea to register for our 2016 release webcast at https://plusspec.com/ ( the link is on the front page)

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