The beginning of November saw the release of the 2015 update to Trimble’s SketchUp 3D modelling program. Those who are familiar with SketchUp can skip ahead a little if they like, while we go over a little history for the latecomers.
SketchUp was developed independently and launched in 2000 by @Last Software, in an attempt to build a 3D content creation tool that gave as much freedom and scope as drawing with a pen and paper. It was to be fun and easy to use, while allowing designers to be creative in a way that was not possible with traditional design software.
@Last came to the attention of Google, as they were developing a plugin for Google Earth, and in 2006 they bought SketchUp. Google developed it further, eventually enabling the integration of geolocation with Google Maps and Building Maker, before selling SketchUp on to Trimble in 2012.
Although conceived with ease of use in mind, SketchUp’s lack of templates and preset menus has made the program notoriously more difficult to master with each passing year. It’s by no means impossible, but does feature a rather steep learning curve that involves setting aside a fair amount of time to embark upon. It’s little wonder the various tips pages online reassure users that the 2014 version will not be affected by installing 2015, so you will be able to continue working for how ever many weeks it takes to gain competency in the new version.
Regardless, those with the time to learn can look forward to new features, such as:
- 64-Bit now available – you can now make full use of your fancy multi-core computer.
- New drawing tools – amongst the added tools are 3-Point Arc tool and the Rotated Rectangle tool, giving more power to your freehand drawing.
- IFC importer – the pro version can now import IFC files directly, which should help it function better within your BIM workflow.
- Two-segmented labels – more label freedom.
- Label Auto-Text – new ways to make your labels look even smarter.
- Fast Styles badge – a new tool allows you to see which styles will perform best.
- New licensing system – enterprise and network licenses are going to be easier to manage.
Incorporating all these new features, with the customary tweak here and polish there, does combine to make SketchUp some excellent software if you demand full control over every single pixel of each line you create.
While lacking templates, as mentioned earlier, SketchUp does offer full and free access to everything in the massive Trimble 3D Warehouse. That’s a lot of useful objects, however finding what you want may tale some searching, as it’s not organised in the most intuitive fashion.
While SketchUp 2015 does lack the cost estimation and shopping list generating tools found on other systems that can be very useful for calculating budgets, even the most basic version does work brilliantly in 2D and gives amazing realistic 3D renderings.
In the end, if you are a proficient user of SketchUp already, you’ll no doubt adapt to the update very quickly. If you are thinking of transferring over to SketchUp after years using one of its competitors, you may find the open freedom a bit daunting and the learning curve a little harsh. But if you love a challenge, great. Just be aware that, while there are many instructional videos available, there is no real-time tech support.
Linked to SketchUp website: www.sketchup.com