SketchUp & console.log file

Updated: July 6, 2022

If you are rather diligent about the state of your computers and operating systems, then, by and large, you pretty much know where every file or folder belongs. Which means that if you suddenly discover a file or folder that don't quite belong, you experience a heightened sense of alarm, or at the very least, wonder.

I had such a moment several months ago. On one of my data drives, there was a new file nestled among my data folders. Something like H:\console.log. Weird. Now, I could instantly correlate the creation of this file to my recent installation and use of SketchUp Make 2017 on this particular Windows machine, but I still wasn't happy about the whole thing. So let me tell you more about this, and also how you can get rid of this file, and make sure it doesn't get recreated. After me.

Phenomenon in more detail

Anyway. Install SketchUp (Make 2017). Start it. The program comes with a launcher with an expandable drop-down menu that lets you choose your layout template, as well as input a new license, plus it can also show you information about SketchUp, including any promotional offers and such.

By and large, the thing works as expected - most of the time. Now and then, it may not detect a network connection on your host, in which case it will show you a red traffic light picture. This does not affect your program functionality in any way. Still. Examples:

Promo window

Promo window error

After you use SketchUp for a little while, inspect your data drives. In particular, look for the drive on which your models have been saved, and/or loaded from. Let's say you have a model called dedo.skp, and it resides on your Windows drive E:\. Then, look at the root of the E:\ drive and search for a file called console.log. You will most likely find one there, with a timestamp that correlates to your SketchUp use.

Now, since you're reading this article, this means you have already discovered this file, and you're wondering what it does. Console.log is a simple text file, filled with the following content (can be more than one block):

Message: Munchkin.init("%s") options:

Source: http://munchkin.marketo.net/161/munchkin.js

Line: 22

This looks odd. Console.log is normally something you'd associate with Web browsers. Similarly, Javascript files, as well as Marketo code (in general), again, this is something that you would not expect to see in programs running in the local context. This is Web pages and whatnot. But this already gives us a clue as to what we're dealing with here.

How to work around the issue

All right. If you inspect the SketchUp process while it's running, you will notice that it's a process tree with two main processes:

SketchUp.exe
--> sketchup_webhelper.exe

The second process has a pretty long command line, with a long list of arguments. Below is an example of what it looks like. Now, I've taken the information on a Linux system, where SketchUp is running under WINE, so the paths are all listed with forward slashes (/) instead of the typical Windows backslash (\), but in essence, it makes no difference.

sketchup_webhelper.exe --type=renderer --no-sandbox --primordial-pipe-token=123456 --lang=en-US --lang=en-US --locales-dir-path=C:/Program Files/SketchUp/SketchUp 2017/cef/locales --log-file=C:/users/igor/Application Data/SketchUp/SketchUp 2017/WebCache/debug.log --product-version=Chrome/52.0.2743.24 SketchUp Make/17.2 (PC) --resources-dir-path=C:/Program Files/SketchUp/SketchUp 2017/cef --enable-pinch --device-scale-factor=1.5 --num-raster-threads=4 ...

The process command-line shows a few interesting things. One of them seems to be that SketchUp embeds a little browser (Chromium- or Chrome-based) in the launcher, which allows the program to display different content to the end user, like say promotional messages.

There are some potential problems with this. The primary one is that if you're using an outdated version of the program (like Make 2017, the last free offline version), then you're also using an outdated browser that has an Internet connection to "somewhere out there", even though technically we're talking SketchUp servers and all that.

The other issue is that you get an ungainly error, probably because the marketing code (script) embedded in the old version no longer works correctly, which is why the program throws an error and creates the console.log file on your disk. There are some other potential problems, like the unique identifier information in the path and whatnot, but I'm going to leave those aside.

The solution, or rather, the workaround to the phenomenon is to disable the sketchup_webhelper.exe process, either by moving it away or by changing its suffix so it's no longer executable. This will in turn make SketchUp start with an empty launcher, and the console.log file will not be created on your system. Now that you know for sure where the file comes from, you can reenable the process at your discretion, or if you're conscious about potential security risks (and maybe privacy, too), you can keep the webhelper process in a disabled state.

Empty launcher

Conclusion

There you go. This wasn't a fun problem, I must say. I didn't have any great concerns upon discovering the console.log file, but it was still not the most pleasant of feelings, the knowledge that a program may randomly generate files on your host, especially since they stem from browser code errors. The usage of the browser-capable launcher is also a bit tricky. I know it's quite convenient, and gives the company the flexibility it needs, but then, at the very least, SketchUp could provide an update to that even without modifying the core program.

I don't know if this also affects the more recent Pro editions of SketchUp. If it does, then now you know where the issue stems from, and how to mitigate it, if you need to. Overall, I think this tutorial is also a useful little exercise in how to perform a basic investigation into the existence or presence of files on the disk, and the running processes arguments, allowing you a bit more control over your systems. Now, off I go. There are fresh 3D models to be made, and SketchUp beckons!

Cheers.

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