Profile Builder 2 is an extension for SketchUp that bundles three unique tools that help you automate your workflow. This article is a review of Profile Builder 2, aimed at giving you a general overview of its features, and my personal impressions of its functionality after experimenting with it. Whenever I had a question, I emailed back and forth with the developer, Dale Martens of mind.sight.studios, full-time SketchUp developer for feedback. I even spent some time with him one-on-one via video chat to have some questions answered. Overall, this is a great plugin, and I highly recommend it. You can download a free, 30-day trial here.
Profile Builder, Assembler, and Quantifier. Profile Builder is like a supercharged Follow Me tool with a library of pre-configured and custom profiles to extrude. Assembler expands on the functionality of Profile Builder by allowing you to extrude multiple profiles in one step. Assembler can also insert pre-configured components along the extruded path at set intervals. (Great for fences, stairs, railings, etc.) Save your custom assemblies for future use! Quantifier is a complete estimating system that allows you to assign cost calculations to objects in your model to create a cost report. Not only does it work on Profile Builder objects, but it can be used on any object in your model. Download your 30-Day free trial here. Let’s review each Profile Builder 2 tool in more detail.
Watch my video review, or continue below for my full written review.
Similar to the Follow Me tool, Profile Builder allows you to extrude a face around a path. But that’s pretty much where the similarities end. Profile Builder includes a library of profiles that you can reuse on each project. You can also create your own profiles and save them to the library. Profile Builder is easy to use as-is, and you can fine tune how you want the profile to be extruded by adjusting its offsets, scale, and orientation along the path. If that sounds overwhelming, don’t worry about it. The take-away here is that the tool is intuitive right out of the box, while giving you advanced options if you need them.
Some of the key features I like about Profile Builder 2:
- No Path required – Unlike the Follow Me tool, you’re not required to draw & select a path before using Profile Builder. Instead, it’s almost like using the Line tool, allowing you to “draw” the profile in your model using the inference system and axes. (However, you have the option to extrude a profile along a pre-selected path if that’s what you want to do. Great for extruding a profile along a complex curve.)
- No Profile required – With the Follow Me tool, you need to create a surface in your model before you can extrude it. With Profile Builder, you select from a library of pre-configured profile members. So much easier, and since you can save custom profiles for future use, a huge time saver.
- Need to change all your crown molding to a cove molding? – This is extremely easy with Profile Builder. Using the Select members by attributes tool, you can select all objects in your model that have the specific profile you want to edit. Then, you can use the Edit Member Properties tool to update those objects with the new profile. Profile Builder updates multiple objects in one step. You don’t have to redraw anything! In fact, you can edit any of the attributes of extruded profiles, including the offset, orientation, material, insertion point, etc. You can even edit the profile path if you need to, without having to start from scratch.
- Flexible Insertion point – You get to customize the insertion point of the profile extrusion. Do you have a chair rail molding that you always position at 30″ above the floor? Just set the vertical offset to 30″. When you insert the chair rail, just click along the floor perimeter and the chair rail will be inserted 30″ above. You can change the insertion point to be from the bottom, top, left, right, center, or any combination of those. Combine that with horizontal and vertical offsets and you have complete control over how your profile is extruded. (You can even rotate or mirror the profile.)
- Automatic layer and material assignment – You can configure profiles to automatically assign the resulting group to a layer, and apply a specific material. (You just need to make sure the layer exists in your model before extruding the profile.)
In addition to these core features, the Profile Builder tool is rounded off with features that enable custom intersecting, stamping, attribute sampling, and more. The Profile Builder tool alone is worth the purchase price, but you get some additional tools with Profile Builder 2.
The Assembler tool provides automated modeling functionality to SketchUp that enables you to quickly create custom molding build-ups, fences, stairs, stud walls, and any other assemblies that include combinations of component arrays and multiple extruded profiles. Create your own custom assemblies and save them for future use. Assemblies are configured in the PB Assembler dialog by adding multiple profile extrusions to an assembly, along with any number of component arrays at specified intervals along the length of the assembly. Here’s an example of a crown molding build-up assembly made up of four separate profiles, each with their own offset and orientation relative to the path (no component arrays in this one).
By adding component arrays to an assembly in addition to profiles, you can create complex assemblies such as fences with posts and balusters placed at specified intervals. The railings would be configured as profiles, since they are extruded parallel to the path. The posts and balusters would be configured as components spaced at set intervals. Just like with Profile Builder, you can specify offset dimensions for each profile and component.
Everything is parametric, so you can create an assembly that inserts components at a set interval (every 4″ for example starting from the beginning, or the middle), or you can tell it to insert components spaced evenly depending upon the length of the assembly (max 4″ spacing, for example, will insert evenly spaced components until the spacing reaches 4″, at which point it will insert another copy of the component while adjusting the spacing equally.)
When you want to build an assembly, you activate the Build Assembly button and just create a segmented path along which the assembly will build itself. Alternatively, you can preselect a path and build the assembly with the Build along Path button.
Assembler can be used for pretty much anything that has repeating components or profiles parallel to a path. Once an assembly is created, you’re free to edit the group just like any other SketchUp object.
This fully featured estimating and reporting tool enables you to attach pricing information to any of the objects in your model. This enables you to leverage all of the time you spend in SketchUp into an accurate cost estimate. Quantifier works on any object in your model, even if you don’t use Profile Builder or Assembler.
- Flexibility – You can define the level of detail you want to model to. You don’t need to model every nail or sheet of plywood in the project. Instead, you can create pricing rules based off of the square footage of your walls.
- Price by layer, material, object, or model – You have the option to define pricing rules by layer, material, or object. When you define a price rule by layer, Quantifier will calculate the price based on the size or quantity of the objects assigned to that layer. You can choose from length, area, volume, or weight. Material price rules are calculated by the area of surfaces which have the specified material applied to them. Object price rules are applied as set line items assigned to specific groups or components. You can also apply general line items to the entire project that are not derived from the objects in the model.
- Visualization – Quantifier includes the Cost Inspector tool which highlights (in green) objects in your model that have pricing associated to them. (It also highlights objects in red if there is no price rule associated.) I find it to be a great tool to help me gain confidence that I didn’t skip anything. One gripe I have about this tool is that you can’t navigate between groups/components when it’s active. If you double click on a group to enter it, nothing happens. You CAN navigate through the model via the Outliner Window, but there seems to be some weird ghosting happening, and the plugin doesn’t recognize the selected object until you actually click on it in model space. A little buggy, but it does get the job done if you know how to work around it.
The important thing to realize is that Quantifier can be used on anything in your model, not just profiles and assemblies! It really is like it’s own stand-alone plugin. It does require strict discipline in how you organize your model. You need to make sure you are assigning objects to the correct layer in order for pricing rules to be calculated accurately. You also need to rethink your approach to layers because you are not just using layers to control visibility of your model, you’re now using them to categorize costs.
While I like Quantifier as a basic cost tool, I feel like there is room for improvement.
- There are little annoyances such as menus & cost inspector not updating until you re-select an object, and the pricing overview window doesn’t seem to update when you select objects directly from the Outliner window.
- I kind of wish I could see an overview of all of my defined price rules on one screen too, instead of having to click through to each layer, material, or object.
- It would be nice to have some global settings as well, so instead of having to type in tax percentage on each price rule, you could define a global tax percentage that applies to the entire project, and have a checkbox for each price rule to indicate whether tax should be calculated on it. There could be a markup percentage as well that would be useful.
- When viewing a cost detail report, I’d like to be able to see what price rule was used to calculate the line item so I can easily go back and edit it if I see something wrong. There’s really no way to identify a line item other than by the description you typed into the price rule when you created it.
(Really these are all just my personal feature requests, ha ha!)
It takes a lot of time and diligence to set up price rules. There’s really no way around it. I think this works best for people who do the same type of work on every project, and can easily create and maintain a library of components that have their pricing data pre-configured. (One great feature of Quantifier is if you save a component that has object pricing associated to it, you can import the component into another model and the pricing data will be retained.)
You can save a lot of time by setting up SketchUp templates with layers and materials saved that already have pricing data associated to them. By doing this, you’ll only have to update the unit cost for each price rule, instead of having to rebuild all your price rules from scratch.
Where to get Profile Builder
You can download a 30-day free trial to Profile Builder 2 at https://mastersketchup.com/profilebuilder.