auto-text menu

Sketchup’s Auto-text filled automatically.

For some years I was in charge of developing construction drawings for large membrane structures. Per the request of our client we did them in Sketchup’s Layout. If you have worked in Sketchup and Layout, you may be familiar with <Auto_text>. They simplify data entry into the plans but you still need to manually type or paste. (If you need a text more than once, you need to use smart text for efficiency.

At first we received the info in a .doc (word) file, and we had to copy from it and paste it into a auto text in layout. The process was slightly faster than manually typing it but still slow. One day I was wondering, “if we were to receive the info in an excel file, I could automate it somehow”.

But I didn’t want to disrupt our client’s workflow so I never thought of asking for that and the idea ended there…

That process lasted for some time, until one day they had the initiative to switch to excel to standardize and simplify their process and boom suddenly we had the file we needed to start automating things!

Enter Power Automate (desktop) to do the heavy lifting, with excel configured, we now were able to copy specific cells and paste them at specific auto-texts in Layout, reducing the manual entries substantially.

There were some issues, though. When their sales guys had to add new rows it kept breaking our links, so I created a special excel that read theirs and placed the appropriate text in the specific cell we needed so Power automate could copy without errors. And that solved most of our problems.

It became a matter of downloading their excel file to your project folder, open our custom excel to load their data and run the flow, then power Automate read the excel file and populated the appropriate <Auto_text> into Sketchup’s Layout.

I was in the process of tinkering how our workflow could be done in the background without interaction. Unfortunately, they stopped requesting this kind of work.


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