I have taught SketchUp to a large number of students, mostly through my tutorials. Based on feedback I have gotten from them, and conversations I have had with other instructors, it is clear there are two dominant areas students struggle with.

1. The stickiness of SketchUp is stumbling block number one. Anytime two primitives touch they become connected. This is useful if those primitives are meant to touch, such as when they are pieces of the same part. But if they are pieces of different parts they create huge problems. The solution is for students to download and follow the Six Rules for Modeling in SketchUp. I have found that students who follow these rules, particularly Rule 4 – As soon as a part takes 3D shape make it a component, escape this problem entirely.

2. The second largest stumbling block for students is the accidental or intentional violation of Rule 2 – Layer0 (Layer Zero) should always be active when modeling. To see the kind of havoc this can cause see my Primitives, Components & Layers tutorial. To help students avoid this problem I have added functionality to the Layers Management Tool which will warn of a Rule 2 violation.

Purpose of the New Functionality

The intent of this functionality is to let a beginner know when he/she is about to change from active Layer0 (Layer Zero) to another layer. By default the new functionality is enabled the first time layers.rb is installed. When enabled layers.rb will monitor the active layer; the layer with the radio button to the left of its name selected. If a layer other than Layer0 is made active, a warning message will appear as shown here.

Notice that the message tells you which layer will become active and also how to disable the warning. If a layer other than Layer0 is active and then Layer0 is made active, no warning is given because Layer0 is the desired layer for modeling.

IMPORTANT: Follow These Installation Instructions Carefully

Contents Of Plugins FolderDownload the layers.zip file. Before using the ZIP Extract tool be sure all files and folders are selected. Extract all contents to the SketchUp plugins folder. When completed be sure to check that a layers folder (containing eight icons) and the layers.rb script reside in the SketchUp Plugins folder. See the picture at left (click image to enlarge).

Contents Of layers FolderAlso check the layers folder to be sure the eight tool icon files are present. See the picture at right (click to enlarge image). If you previously used either add_hidden_layer.rb or layers_show_hide_all.rb, be sure to remove them from the plugins folder.

When you first open SketchUp go to menu View/Toolbars and check Layer Tools. This will place the Layers Toolbar somewhere on the SketchUp window (or possibly even on your desktop area outside the SketchUp window). You can drag and drop it where you want.

Under the View menu you should see the following new tool.

Notice the Layer0 Warning is checked: Layer0 Warning is enabled when checked and disabled when not checked. Also notice the Layer Tools toolbar. You don’t need the toolbar checked in View/Toolbars, but it is a good idea to verify that installation has been completed correctly. Your toolbar will appear where you locate it on your desktop which is likely different than floating in the work area.

Normal Behavior of the New Functionality

As mentioned earlier, when you open SketchUp for the first time after installing Layer0 Warning, is enabled by default. From then on the last state of Layer0 Warning will be stored and recalled upon opening SketchUp again.

There will be no change in SketchUp behavior until you change to an active layer other than Layer0. Then the warning will appear. Click OK and the active layer will change to the one you have chosen. The tool makes no attempt to stop you from changing the active layer to other than Layer0, it merely warns you of doing so.

If you wish to disable the warning go to menu View/Layer0 Warning and uncheck it.

If you wish to re-enable Layer0 Warning go to menu View/Layer0 Warning and check it.

Description of layers.rb

Menu Items:

  • View/Add Visible Layer
  • View/Add Invisible Layer
  • View/Show All Layers
  • View/Hide All Layers

A Layer Toolbar Available Under View/Toolbars 



Toolbar: Layer Tools – Includes four large and small icons. It is available under View/Toolbars.

Context-Menu: None


Add Visible Layer Icon Add Visible Layer adds a visible layer to the current scene, but invisible to all existing and new scenes.

Add Invisible Layer Icon Add Invisible Layer adds an invisible layer to all existing and new scenes.

Show All Layers Icon Show All Layers makes all layers visible.

Hide All Layers Icon Hide All Layers makes all layers invisible.


I hope this script improves your efficiency a little. Please report all bugs and strange behavior to jpz@srww.com.