Dynamic Components II


Dynamic components are objects in SketchUp that have defined attribute variables. These attributes might be metadata (such as cost or model number), spatial relationships (such as size, position or rotation), and/or behavior (such as visibility or animation). The permutations are controlled by formulas assigned to the component.

I wanted to learn more about dynamic components, so I took a look at one that Ady and Jason made a couple of years ago: a tower crane.

To begin, the Dynamic Components menu can be found under View>Tool Palettes. It consists of Attributes and Options: Attributes are the backstage action, Options are the show. The drop-down Options menu is shown below, with the crane's tower height at 82', 150' and 191'.

How does this work? Since the tower is made up of many repeating sections, it is possible to write a formula that will tell SketchUp Pro how many we want. We do this through the second menu, Attributes, which has a function mode that makes the formulas visible.

Armed with this under-the-hood knowledge, I created a dynamic component of my own: a solar panel. The panel has a constant width of 2.5 feet, which is displayed as Size LenY 30" in Component Attributes. I can create copies while displacing them along this width by indicating that the Y position of each copy is a multiple of the length and number of copies, or Copy*LenY. (Take note that the symbol "!" means submenu and "*" means multiply.) I then indicate that the number of copies is controlled by a custom drop down menu called Array, Copies=solarpanel!array.

For more on the particular language of dynamic components, check out an explanation of the attributes or some examples of functions.

Yelena Prusakova was an illustrator at Fat Pencil Studio from 2013-2017.