File Organization & Version Control [part 1]: Introduction

One of SketchUp's strengths is its simplicity. The power in that simplicity can lead to some complicated projects and situations which you may find reflected in the chaos of files liberally scattered around your computer's hard drives. If you're like me, you might have several projects on the go at any one time, in various states of competition (or abandonment). To make matters worse you might work on two or more PC's as I do; I have a work laptop, a personal laptop and a home work-station all of which I have been known to run SketchUp on. Admittedly I am a bit of a techie geek but I don't think that's so unusual among SketchUp users.

However disciplined you are there will come a time when you don't know which version of a particular file is the latest and greatest. This can lead to hours of lost work if you're not careful. The last time you edited the SU model of your house were you sitting at your work-station or were you carrying a laptop around? Did you save the file to the local machine, your server or a thumb drive?

If you're not like me and you only use SketchUp on one machine, and you only have a few constructed models, and only have one project underway at a time, I envy you but you can stop reading now. Bye!

... now that those smug, minimalist users have left us let me share my thoughts on file organization, version control and file security for those of us who are a little more scatty:
  • File organization refers to how to organize your files of your models, reference images, reference models, exported files, components, plugins, etc. and how you sync those files on your various machines.

  • Version control is how you track different versions of your files as they evolve.

  • Security is about how you keep those files backed up and safe.
There is no one correct solution to these issues; what works for me might not fit in with your work-flow at all. It doesn't really even matter how you address these issues as long as you do think about them and then you come up with, and implement your own working solution. Once you have a solution in place this could be a set-it-and-forget-it kind of issue, however, these are questions worth reviewing periodically especially if your current solution isn't working, or it is getting in the way of getting things done, or your working practices just changed.

In the following couple of articles I'll describe the issues I feel you should think about and I'll describe how I have addressed them in my own SketchUp work-flow. My solution might not be perfect but it works for me.

It may seem a little dry and boring but if you spend a little time and effort establishing good working practices it can save you days of heartache further on down the road. For all the hours we spend working (or playing) on our models it is worth investing a thought now to establish good file organization and working practices.

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