10 years of using Sketchup and LayOut for Architectural and Construction Documentation


Ten years ago, I decided to give up Autocad and switch to using SketchUp for drafting, and everything fit me perfectly: The software was lightweight, easy to learn, easy to use, “easy and fun,” and reasonably priced ($599 for a perpetual license and $120/year for maintenance). When I did that, many were skeptical, calling me crazy and even sneering at me disdainfully. And yet, in just half a year, I managed to do it, and even did it quite “very this and that.” (You can see my works here: (2) Vbo - Giải pháp Sketchup cho KTS | Facebook)

Now, as SketchUp continues to increase in price (currently $350/year for a subscription) while its functionality hardly sees any significant advancements beyond making everything more complicated and no longer “easy and fun.” The biggest update from SketchUp in recent years is… the FlipTool - an incomplete Mirror command (!) :slightly_frowning_face:. Meanwhile, the subscription price for Archicad (a seasoned professional platform in the BIM field for 30 years) has significantly dropped, almost equating to that of SketchUp. With just 14.2% more money, but the features and professionalism are 69 times greater, which choice is more reasonable?

And yet, when I expressed my desire to switch from SketchUp to Archicad, many were surprised… Oh, is it that hard to understand?

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If you think SU has become complicated don’t even look at Archicad, it’s one of the reasons I have dropped it after 28 years. They have cranked up the marketing budget, but once you look under the covers and start using the software you will see the problems of under investment in the core functionality. Spend some time sniffing round the forums, that can be very helpful when considering if a change of software is appropriate.

Your pricing is interesting, are you comparing Studio or Pro. In the UK, values are SIGNIFICANTLY higher for Archicad e.g. about 3 times Pro and 1.5 times studio. That’s a bit more than 14.2%. I assume if the price has dropped, they are trying to break in to your local market.

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https://graphisoft.com/buy-now
Of course, I love SketchUp. And it’s because of its simplicity and efficiency. I’ve also written many plugins to improve work performance, and that’s been fun. However, I think SketchUp is going off course. There are too many issues that have not been addressed for many years:

  • The dropdowns in the interface desperately need a search/filter feature. Occasionally, they add one and don’t forget to list it in the release notes. After many years, we now have it for the scenes tab, but SketchUp still doesn’t have it for the dropdown to select tags or materials in Entity Info, … And all the dropdowns in LayOut: Input Autotexts, Scene list for SketchUpModel, etc.
  • LayOut has lacked the find & replace texts feature for 10 years. Currently, it’s also incomplete.
  • A software meant for drawing 2D shapes like LayOut, unfortunately, cannot draw a shape with holes in it (both UI and API).
  • Operations on the Table in LayOut can only be done using the right-click menu, with no toolbar, menu command, or shortcut. … Meanwhile, the price increases every year, and each next release is slower than the last. It’s truly sad for a long-term user like me (20 years using SketchUp).
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Thank you. I was with ArchiCAD in 5 years before moved to SketchUp. Lots of famous SketchUp Plugins have copied the idea of ArrchiCAD tools.

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@vbo - I hear your frustration !
As an ‘old’ user I too have had the time to watch in dismay as the years have rolled by and many requests for basic improvements have been ignored (especially on the BIM front). Here is not the place to rake over all that, but I guess the real question is a productivity one.
If (as you have) you’ve developed a workflow that allows you to get the job done & still enjoy working whilst earning your daily bread as it were, then is it worth investing in something else ? Particularly depends on how much longer you’re thinking of working also !
Anyway, we ask ourselves the question on a regular basis, and as I’ve said many times, for us and our type of work, it’s all about whether the BIM capabilities finally get up to scratch as this is becoming crucial to our local market… & as they say in French, l’éspoir fait vivre !
Let’s hope that the next couple of years really do prove that staying with the “devil we know” is the right choice…
If you do go over to Archicad, please drop in here sometimes to let us know if it was the right move for you :slight_smile:

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I’m confused.

Your link comes up on my screen as £104.17 + tax payable annually for a single licence which is £1500 per year.

I’ve just renewed SketchUp for £319.20 inc tax (I was offered a small discount by my reseller) which is only 21.28% of £1,500.

The Archicad pricing at the page you link to is
image
that is 3312€/year+tax. A bit more than 400€, eh?

I am a daily user of Archicad at work. Its interface is an overly complicated mess stacking elements from about 40 years of UI design, starting with the original Mac. The feature set is OK. I don’t know which I love/hate most, Archicad or Revit.

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Archicad & SU are running on parallel tracks then! :grinning:

yeah, that’s more like it.

Interesting, when I open the link I get this

It says that prices are going to increase in April though.

Archicad solo is a different product, like Revit LT. It’s a crippled version for designing single-family homes.

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depends in your country.

If I’m in france, I can only get Archicad collaborate

If I’m in the US it shows the image above, collaborate or solo for 25$ cheaper.


this is when I pick ecuador.

seems like they apply various prices based on location of the buyer

Someone have the price of SketchUp in Ecuador ?

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Yet another pricing from The Netherlands:

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Yikes, even in “cheaper” countries that’s still a pretty hefty budget !
Making architectural work ‘profitable’ is already quite a challenge as it is, but at that price point you really don’t want to be doing small bespoke projects !

sketchup doesn’t have separate prices by countries.

it has 3 prices, usd, euro and pounds

https://www.sketchup.com/plans-and-pricing#commercial


Capture d’écran 2024-03-22 à 15.52.30
it’s clearly stated on archicad’s website that prices will vary depending on billing country.
and since archicad requires a constant connexion, I wonder if it locks you out if you’re in another country ?

I think a hardware key is still available.

ah yes, the infamous wibukey. good memories :sweat_smile:
it still required a connexion every month or so, like sketchup.

I guess a localised version check would apply as well, so you don’t buy the Ecuadorian version to practice in Swiss.


anyway, back to the topic, yeah, archicad as an actual architecture software built around the idea of making architecture only and with tools to make architecture. for architects. it’s BIM, it’s architecture, it’s building material.

Sketchup is a generalist tool that uses extensions to allow users to develop whatever use they want, from architecture to event managing, paper modelling, woodworking or comic books drawing.

Every couple of blue moons, someone starts a topic on how sketchup should be more like XXXXX (insert any software here), not realising that at some point, if you really need sketchup to be LIKE this, then maybe you’re not using the right software. it’s ok to change software, you don’t have to keep one until the end.

no, go ahead, if I ever had to go back to architecture, I would go back to archicad as well, archicad is superior to sketchup for that specific field. it’s all included, no need to track extensions, to use workarounds.
Archicad is a great architecture software, and anyone working in architecture fields should consider using it (the other main contender being revit). and choosing it instead of sketchup is a rational decision.

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Hi vbo,
I must say your SU FB architectural drawings look exceptional & some very detailed for construction, so praise indeed to you. Its amazing to see such detailed architectural works from all who take SU to this next level of detail given when SU was released back in 2000-ish ! it was looked upon as a conceptual manual 3D modelling programme for quick creative designs.

In contrast when ArchiCAD was introduced to the market in the mid 80’s, I think it was always viewed as a 3D parametric architectural programme not only for 3D modelling, but also with construction in mind & now with the BIM badge.

I think the key words are Manual & Parametric & experienced users for both programmes (extensions aside) can certainly achieve very detailed architectural works, but I’m sure changing items after the fact should be less time consuming with Parametric programmes.

In that respect, both are very different programmes, just because some people can stretch SU to very detailed works, comparing with true Parametric architectural programmes may not be the right direction to consider for all & SU HQ have made it clear a long time ago that Parametric tools for building elements isn’t their focus, hence the reliance on extensions for those who want these types of tools.

As for Pricing between the two programmes, like many have noted, those prices you’ve noted must be unique to you or your part of the world ! or some confusion between monthly & yearly prices as ArchiCAD-collaborate per year is typically around $2,700USD ($2,400USD-Solo-version). SU-Pro $349.00USD per year.

If you’re looking for something in-between, then Form.Z by AutoDesSys might be a consideration with some in-house architectural tools & Parametrics.

If I had to choose just one program, I would definitely choose Archicad. It does everything an architect would need, and I believe is set up for building and the way architects think (in plan, then to 3d). However, Sketchup is nimble for 3d renders. Clients really want to see their projects in 3d with entourage and plantings, people and settings. That’s where I find Sketchup is great. Try looking into Concept Design Architect. He uses Revit and Sketchup, but Archicad is easily substituted for Revit. I am NOT a Revit fan.

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