Fri 16 Sep, 2011
Tags: Announcement, Design, Ruby, Script, SketchUp, Software, Tool
I just couldn’t help myself. Over the last few years I have often wanted to draw a construction line normal (perpendicular) to a surface. It’s not particularly hard to do with a few key clicks if the surface is part of an object with sides that are already normal to it. However, on surfaces such as those on the four sided tapered box shown left, not so easy. I often wished I had one tool that would accomplish the task, and more importantly, let me place the line anywhere I wanted it. Well, now I have it, because I wrote a Ruby script tool for SketchUp and added it to the Construction Plus toolbar.
Before I provide you a download link you should read the simple operating instructions provided here.
Draw Normal Tool Description
Tool Draw Normal tool draws a construction line, normal to a selected face at a point specified by the user. When the Shift modifier key is selected a line of specified length is drawn instead. The tab key is used to select the construction line stippling.
Normal Construction Lines
Start by selecting a face. The face should be a primitive, not a component or group. If you wish to draw a construction line normal to a face in a component or group, enter component or group edit mode first. Next select a point. The point can be anywhere, it doesn’t have to reside on the face. Once the point is selected a construction line is drawn at the chosen point in a direction normal to the chosen face (plane). The construction line is placed on the $Construction$ layer if one exists, or is created by the tool if not.
The Tab modifier key can be used to select line stippling by cycling through the available styles. The default is Long Dashes. Other styles available are Dots, Short Dashes and Dash-Dot-Dash.
If you wish to choose one face and place multiple normal construction lines, use the Ctrl modifier key. Notice when the Ctrl modifier key is selected and the mouse moves a + sign is added to the cursor to indicate you can add additional lines.
Alternatively, if the Shift modifier key is pressed the tool will place a line of specified length at the chosen point in a direction normal to the selected face. The cursor will change to a solid line as shown left. In this mode the order of steps is: select a face, choose a point and specify a length in the VCB and type Enter.
Like the construction line mode, you can choose a face and add additional lines normal to the face, each at different points and of varying lengths if you wish. Use the Ctrl modifier key as before and a + will be added to the cursor indicating you can add additional lines.
Tool Life Cycle
When the Draw Normal tool is selected it remains active until another tool is selected. While Draw Normal is active the user can successively select faces and place a construction line(s) or line(s) normal to the selected face. If the Ctrl modifier key is selected, the selected face remains selected so that multiple construction lines or lines can be placed normal to the same face.
Modifier keys can be activated and deactivated by successive presses of the key. In this way a single face can remain selected while multiple construction lines and/or lines are placed at various points, each normal to the face.
If, during any step in the use of the tool, the user needs to reposition the view, simply choose a camera tool such as Orbit, Zoom or Pan. When the view has been repositioned press the Esc key and you will return to the Draw Normal tool where you left off. The Esc key is not needed for Zoom Extents; in this case you return to the Draw Normal tool immediately following the Zoom Extents.
Draw Normal is deactivated when a tool other than a camera tool is selected.
This tool is most helpful when used on faces that are not on, or parallel to, the red/green, blue/green or red/blue plane. All construction lines are placed on the $Construction$ layer. If the $Construction$ layer does not exist it will be added by the tool.
Lines of specified length will remain on Layer0.
Installing Draw Normal Only
Download the draw_normal.zip file and extract it to your SketchUp plugins folder. When completed your plugins folder should contain the draw_normal folder and the draw_normal.rb file. Be sure to enable the Construction Plus toolbar by checking it under View/Toolbars menu.
Installing The Entire Construction Plus Tool Set
Download the construction_plus.zip file and extract it to your SketchUp plugins folder. When completed you should have the files and folders highlighted in the picture at left in your plugins folder. If any of these previously existed in the plugins folder you will be asked if you want to replace them. Answer “Yes to All”. Alternatively, you can delete these files and folders prior to extracting the new construction_plus.zip. In either case after downloading and extracting the sip file check to be sure these files and folders are present in your plugins folder. Be sure to enable the Construction Plus toolbar by checking it under View/Toolbars menu.