Is SketchUp the Right Application?

Symon asks: Is SketchUp the right application? Leave a comment here, or via SCF


The company produces configure to order buildings from Garden sheds (library jobs) to almost completely customisable houses. We currently have a number of worksheets (buildings configurators) for each range of building. We are looking at consolidating these into one application.

The following outputs are essential.
1. Plans and elevations
2. 3D model
3. Bill of materials (cut list etc)

General overview of how a user configures a building in the current system.
1. Selects range of buildings i.e. timber Garage
2. Enter key criteria
• Wind zone
• Snow zone
• Length, Width and wall height
This selection determines the basic building to be configured
This building is basically 4 walls and roof

3. User selects from a list of specific available components (windows, Doors etc) and adds them to the building in the desired allowed location/s
4. There are rules about where they can go, how big i.e.
a. Window or door can’t be bigger than the wall
b. Distance from the wall end etc
c. appropriated selection of material as width and height change i.e. lintels
d. a number of faces on difference components change when the building colour changes

5. As components are added the appropriate materials are added / subtracted to meet engineering rules, such as connectors / brackets between joining lengths of material, nails, screws etc
6. As components change the cost of the building is shown
7. Bill of materials is generated and sent to factory (this is down to the number of nails, screws, bolts etc)


From what I have found via searches and reviewing is listed below my questions are in italics (if I have made any incorrect assumptions please let me know), before I start 1 of the main reasons for looking at SU over the in-house designed application is that currently all changes come to the IT department so we get bogged down in making lots of little changes. The idea that the R&D teams can make changes to components, design and cost new ranges with little or no intervention from IT is appealing to both parties. I have had a good look at a timber building configurator created in ruby, which is pretty good but does not use any dynamic components which leaves us in the same place as before, still needing to be done by IT. This may be the only option for complex buildings.

• Steps 1-2 The selection process can be done a number of ways Ruby toolbar (plug-in) or Web Console
o Toolbar to select range
o On selection prompted for criteria
o On completion select base building and display a selection of components

o Assuming I don’t want the app reliant on a web connection a ruby toolbar would be better?

• Step 3 a selection of components loaded into components widow, additional toolbars displayed or web consol

o Comments on the most versatile approach?
o I assume I can attach code to make sure a user does not add a rogue component to the building. That is they can’t draw, select unloaded or in any way modify the building other then with the pre-determined components

• Step 4 – Rules, this where I come a bit unstuck – I see 3 ways of doing this (some assumptions here)
o The building and the additional components are Dynamic components
o The building and the additional components are all ruby scripts that draw the components
o or combination of the 2 if this is possible

o With dynamic components is there any way to control how they interact with each other i.e. With a timber wall when a window is added it cuts into the timber framing. with the cutting in process a decision needs to be made as to how it connects/interacts with the adjoining material and additional components added i.e. nails, screws etc can this de done with dynamic components?
o Can the functions within a dynamic component look at / consumer external data
o Maybe a better question is, can functions within a dynamic components be a ruby a script

• Step 5 adding and subtracting material;
o Adding seems pretty straight forward subtracting seems like a bigger issue unless a component can remember its initial state

• Step 6 cost of the building is shown
o Believe this can be done with a ruby script as we would keep the pricing external to components

• Bill of materials is generated and sent to factory (this is down to the number of nails, screws, bolts etc)
o Believe it can be done with ruby script.

o Ideas around protecting components
o If anyone is in New Zealand and Australia that is interested in doing some paid training / Development with Ruby and Dynamic components please let me know

I’m really excited with the possibilities of SU.

Any feedback, constructive criticism would be very grateful

Cheers and thank you for your time

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