Hello! I first used Sketchup and loved keeping myself organized with the "make component" feature. It basically lets you group a mesh and allow you to move the whole thing or edit only the containing verticies/edges/faces. You could also have a component inside a component inside a component...etc. It would also allow you to duplicate the component (basically create a template) easily.
Is there something similar in blender?
You can, indeed, select one-or-more objects and then "make group."
(In typical open-source fashion, the concept of "groups" and "grouping" is prevalent everywhere throughout the system.)
As a routine matter of course, I will design "things" as individual objects, then place all of them into a single "group." This is not merely because features such as DupliGroups
require it, but because it makes good sense to me. In fact, since groups can contain other groups (and since a single object can belong to more than one group), I find myself making "groups" even when there is (at the moment...) only one "object" in it.
With Blender are you able to have a series of identical groups where editing one instance of the group will also affect the rest?
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If you’d tried it for yourself, you’d have discovered the answer is “yes”.
Alt-D creates creates new objects sharing the same datablocks as the selected objects. To insert a new instance of a group, you press shift-A to bring up the insert menu, and you will see a “Group Instance” submenu listing your groups.
You mean you already have two mesh objects, and you want to get rid of the mesh datablock attached to the second one and have it share the first one’s mesh datablock?
That’s easy. Select the second object, go to the mesh properties tab, click on the popup menu next to the mesh datablock name, and you can select any of the other mesh datablocks in your document.
I can tell you why. This is the difference between local versus global coordinates. Each object has its own transformation, which is applied to the coordinates of the mesh vertices for display/rendering in the final scene. This transformation can include, not just translation to a different position, but also rotation and scaling. If in your first example you rescaled one of the cylinders (in object
mode, not edit mode), to, say, 2× the size of the other one, then replaced the meshes as you did before, you will find that the enlarged cylinder becomes a correspondingly larger cube.
However, if you went into edit
mode on that cylinder, selected all its vertices and scaled by 2×, then switched back to object mode and did the mesh replacement, you will find it does not
end up as a larger cube. This is because your scaling in edit mode was affecting the positions of the cylinder vertices (which you were then throwing away), not the overall object transformation.
Anyway, from your description I think the Sketchup importer is creating a bunch of objects that all effectively share the same origin, it’s just their actual vertex coordinates that are differently positioned. Which sounds like a stupid way of doing things.
You can check this, by selecting each object in turn, and looking for the fat orange dot indicating the origin of its coordinate system. This should normally be somewhere within the object itself, not way outside elsewhere.
Anyway, you can fix this by selecting all the troublesome objects, and in the “Object” menu, “Transform” submenu, use the option “Origin to Geometry”.