So from an earlier blog I mentioned that Components are basically a SketchUp file inside of your model (nested .skp files).  So Components can behave something like a CAD “wblock” where it can be saved out as an external file.  Well the reverse is also true: you can bring the component back into a model as well.  This swapping process can behave similar to an “Xref” or having an externally referencing a file – it is a bit more hands on though.

Reload is a “swap component tool” or a replace object tool.  A SketchUp file can then be split up into parts to be worked on and then brought back together later using the same origin point.  The easiest way to understand the command is to use it as way to swap one component for another, say a 2D tree for a 3D tree.  It can also be used to take a portion of the model out of the main file and then use Reload to bring the refined component back into this main file.

The first step in this process would be to create a component in your model.  Then in the Components window, you can right-click to Save As the Component out as a new file OR move a copy of the component out to your Component Library.  So in effect, you can break down your model into pieces allowing a group of people to work on portions of the model.  Once your work is done right-click on the component in the main model and click on Reload.  It will then prompt you to find a version of the file.  It will update what you see on the screen with the new refined component.

When you are refining the component, do not move it.  By leaving it in the same spot, it will re-enter the main model in the correct point in space.

There is an Xref plugin out there, but it may not provide you with all of the features you need.  Read through the whole thread to see if it will work with your version and get the job done for you.  The Reload function is not automatically update, but it does allow for a model to be broken into pieces so multiple people can be working on parts of the model at the same time.