Can Sketchup keep up?

Yeah, I heard that some where else… :wink:

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To save you “some” time you only need to read the first and the currently last two posts:

Yes. That’s pretty much as it has stood for a long time. No new information for now. We hope there’ll be news towards the “end of summer” from Todd and FormZ.


FormZ and PowerCadd aren’t my focus, but I’ve regularly heard positive things about PowerCadd without knowing exactly why, including here as an alternative to Layout.
I prefer to move forward to put algorithms aside. I just recovered/reworked solutions for drawing arcs as we know it on SU.

Can you share that with us - I would love to use true arcs for my set out drawings even though SketchUp arcs are probably good enough.

Of course. What do you mean about “true arcs” ?

Part of the algorithm is there :

Thanks. By true arcs I thought you meant you had a way of drawing them without facets.

Rhino works like this, but at some point it’s segmented for display or printing. Most 3D software segments curves. It’s also very good to be able to reduce the segmentation of small curves, to display a lot of them and quickly.

Sorry…long post ahead (and speaking from my particular worldview)

Imagine a hypothetical project…let’s say…a motel complex.
The project team includes yourself as the architect, plus an urban planner, surveyor, engineers of various types, interior and landscape architects, a few other specialists like sprinkler designers, 3d renderer, QS…are all working together. All are using 3d software of various types suited for their trade.

From the outset of this hypothetical project you are creating some design concepts, starting by importing spatial site information and then creating your 3d massing, refining the mass into more detailed objects (maybe even a swimming pool) and so on… through to construction. The other disciplines are following similar steps, but in their own software.

To coordinate the team’s efforts throughout this iterative design process, you export your 3d model to each discipline in your project team, and import their data (usually a 3d model as well) to use as a reference or component within your model. They do the same.

This exchange might happen on a weekly basis or it may even be in pseudo real time (a shared, synchronised folder of “xrefs”).

The team continues this design refinement process until everything is optimised and all disciplines (and client, and planning authority, and main contractor) are content with the outcome.

Of course it’s not totally simple…the team requires some agreed basic standards for saving files, common geolocation, a logical tag structure and naming system that works for all…and some common sense around splitting files into exchangeable parts (ie a civil enginner doesnt need to see your furniture).
That said, the project team is better informed and works more efficiently when detailed 3d models are exchanged (not simply a 2d outline). After all, you do want some disciplines to see your 3d furniture, and it doesnt hurt to have a civil engineer seeing it long as he/she can easily hide the detailed geometry it in their software or automatically swap it out to a 2d symbol.

This is what i mean by “AEC” worklow. It is what Trimble Connect, BIM360, and such are based around.
The larger firms, government agencies and corporate clients are setting rigid standards around this sort of process, and many smaller agile firms are also champing the methods and tools.

Sketchup is generally considered as part of the “small & agile” world. Or at least it has been.

But my experience is that some of the concepts that are critical for relevance in this workflow are not well addressed in sketchup & layout, and it stands to be pushed out of this AEC market due to increasing industry focus on data integrity, compliance and interoperability. Autodesk, esri, etc, are pushing that agenda, of course.

I dont know anything about sketchup’s pro userbase or market share, or if this workflow is even important to Trimble…but on the flipsode, autodesk and others are making efforts to bring sketchup’s “small & agile” philosophy into the AEC world through products like FormIt, Infraworks, Twinmotion, etc. So universities and small, agile design practices may habe some tough choices to make about which platforms to invest in.


Of course that coordination is key and even on custom homes I have to coordinate with multiple disciplines including Civil, Surveyors, Structural, Sprinkler designers, MPE and interior designers. However that is consultant coordination and not end user deliverables which is what you replied to. Delivering editable files to your contracted end user is a big liability. That type of delivery has/should have a big dollar value or be avoided. It’s not something I would ever “throw in”.

As the architect we are most often the lead coordinator with consultants. In my contracts and file exchange they are limited with how they can use those documents.

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Your comments cut across a number of issues. Here is a picture of the plan for a hotel. I don’t know how many pages it is, but I do know that I did not have to look at it at all to install the patio in the courtyard (or side of the building, or front entrance).

The project could have been explained sufficiently for installation with, “Border the patio and planter”. That’s it.

I’d rather forgo paper plans. With an .skp I can take any relevant measurements. These are usually omitted from landscaping plans, which means the designer’s design intent is taken from a clear & easy to understand drafting environment and printed to paper where the information has to be extrapolated out with a tape measure and jotted down on the plan… all while basically guessing as to edges and borders due to line weights and the difficulty of finding items on a busy printed plan. Plenty of room for error in conveying design intent. It’s in the interest of Designers and Installers to use the clearest form of the plan.

I began to just ‘Go 3D’ (for practice) with plans but have gotten zero traction. One bottleneck seems to be that (landscape) designers don’t see the utility of using models for most projects. SketchUp can do it… there just isn’t always the will to do it.

Here’s the job from the plan above:

Courtyard Marriot - YouTube


And that is why DWG is such a nice system for us. It is widely adopted but in our case it is not the base of our work, just drawings that we can output from it, that most teams need and can use. It still has less value than the full model.

As much as sharing projects in 3d as components would be great, that’s still not my reality. Everything is 2D DWG. This is valid for masterplan, houses, schools or museums. In here BIM is not 3d but rather 2D overlays on top of our 3d model, along with some 3d models of structures that we make ourselves.

One must be careful with Trimble Connect as it makes it very easy to view but also download our 3d models. With BIM there is an increasing difficulty in acknowledging who owns which part of the model and also who can edit it. Owners will have access to your digital product and your contracts are much harder. With government entities or bigger private companies it’s very hard to negotiate asset ownership and you might be a situation where you either accept or you’re out. I doubt you have that issue with custom homes. I know I don’t… in my custom homes the client is usually someone that is going to build a single home in their life and has no previous experience in AEC. A Sketchup model is already much more than what’s expected.


In the USA it is not difficult to negotiate asset ownership for architects. All our work is protected by federal copyright law.

Explaining this to clients may be a challenge, but the federal law is quite specific.

We have copyright laws here, but it’s all very open to subjective interpretation in what regards to architecture. In the end housing, property and ownership get confused with project copyrights. We have no clear and specific rules for architecture and especially not for the digital support of our work.

We have more trouble making a stand as the culture is more abusive of copyright infringement. That is not a problem of Europe, I suppose, it’s something more local in my country.

Fortunately we’ve been able to deal with clients that understand our stand and negate others that don’t, either private or governmental.

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At present with everything from remodels to high end residential work, we issue our pdf drawings as the official coordination files, sometimes dwg. I guess I am happy to retire before I ever have to give someone a 3d model. For us the “written dimensions” still rule. With written descriptions and specifications, that’s our last line of quality control and we’re happy to have it.

Most information for a project is actually written and graphic, which means 2d. The actual lines in a drawing or model is only a portion of what needs to be conveyed. We use CADD and models to develop our designs. We don’t trust consultants to have their own interpretation of our drawings or models.

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Definetely doing that, but also carrying the model around, in an iPad. It does help in a lot of situations.