Curious: Can SketchUp follow the blender business model?

Blender has a lot more developers and a larger ecosystem since it is open source.
And is funded mostly by donations.

I was wondering if this type of business model can be implemented in the SketchUp ecosystem? Maybe 10 years from now?

Maybe it would drastically reduce the current revenue that Trimble is generating with SketchUp licenses. But in the long run, SketchUp would easily become the go-to software for anything 3D related thanks to its larger community, user-friendly UI, and for it being Free.

Or maybe SketchUp can follow the SketchUp for Web approach for the SketchUp pro software too.
Wherein some tools or plugins are greyed out unless you buy the premium version.

Which brings me to my second question.

  1. If SketchUp for Web is free and most of the basic tools are available to users. Why can’t the same system be implemented into the standalone applications for windows and mac.
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Blender is owned and run by a non-profit.
SketchUp is owned by a huge American publicly trading company with a legal obligation to pay shareholders.

Not really comparable in any sense, as nice as it might be .


it already is. You would think a Guru would know that… :sunglasses:
it main rival being Blender, with a vertical learning curve. or specialised - niche - softwares.

you answered your own question :). they won’t. because why would they choose to gain less money ? The whole economic system is based on growth.
and as Adam wrote :

so… sketchup make. the free desktop version that was not for commercial work and had “limited” tools except that extensions exist, so many people bypassed the limitations and used it for work and didn’t pay the Pro version because of that.

you’re reinventing sketchup make, with the exact same flaws that made it bad business for trimble.


Because it takes a great deal of resources to build working desktop versions for separate operating systems, and whole separate departments to keep them updated and functional with constant OS updates from the computer giants. Pro can barely stay ahead of the OS updates as is, sometimes they don’t as updates are constantly breaking existing features. A browser app is system independent, only needs one version, auto updates, and is not as subject to OS changes, therefore less expensive to build maintain.


Agree with all of your points. But what about the argument that there are far more developers building blender plugins than there are those who are building plugins for SketchUp. (And far more people contributing to open source developments on GitHub)

Also, I see a lot more interest in companies and individuals building plugins for Revit and sharing their progress on LinkedIn.

I see a lot less development in the SketchUp space on LinkedIn or maybe I follow the wrong people :sweat_smile:

This brings me to my 3rd question (don’t mind guys). Is it because SketchUp is built on the ruby language? And there are far less developers using this language as compared to Python or C#?

Is this true? If the comparison is between SketchUp and Blender, maybe. But the comparison between “ecosystems” would be between Trimble and Blender. The SketchUp footprint alone spans most device types (phones, tablets, VR/AR/MR). The Trimble software ‘ecosystem’ is even further reaching.

Take a look at the Trimble Developer site and Trimble Dimensions.

But with that said, not having a free developer version of SketchUp is not going to be attractive to beginners (vs. Blender, Unity, etc.). And that’s no fun. On the other hand, basic SketchUp is free. It’s an unfortunate dividing line.

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companies are free to communicate as they see fit. some will openly discuss anything they do. some will simply release a product every now and then.
But I agree on this one, I would like to see roadmaps, monthly devblogs telling us how it’s going and what they’re working on.
The way they released Diffusion and the new location as open betas (and not tadaaaa, finished product) is a surprising step considering the last decade, and I hope it’s a sign of things to come.
But in this day and age, we’re used to a certain level of communication.

Overall, it’s simply the development process they choose to adopt, public or not.

do you know how many sketchup plugins there are ? total ? and how many developers behind that ? I surely don’t, because the answer is “way too many to count, scattered all over the world on various platforms”
On the other hand, pretty sure I could just open my github account, and start a bug ticket on blender to technically become a contributor.
That’s how open source works,
anyone can contribute, it’s not a sign of quality, just quantity.

In this thread from 2020, Blender is estimated to have about 5,5M installs (11M but 2 releases that year). as he says, “Keep in mind though that it’s free, so many will download it to try it, but never open it again.”

In this basecamp video from 2016, they talk about 35M unique activations.
Last year I saw a video mentioning more than 40M users.
and again, many of them might be free users, many might be (at the time) people making several accounts to get the free trial.

But even by being as conservative as blender, and halving the number, there are more than 3 times more SU users.

so again, it clearly already is.


There are several reasons for the growing development of Blender, and it is not necessarily linked to the fact that it is free… First of all, the model is not subscription with its perverse effects. Then, if Blender’s APIs are a bit difficult for a beginner, you can develop practically everything in Blender, including tools with a drawing interface like SketchUp. Blender is technically more advanced, and above all more stable than SketchUp. The Python language is obviously an advantage compared to Ruby which is not used in 3D software with the exception of SketchUp.
Finally, the iPad is for playing or viewing the internet or movies. It is not efficient to work like a conventional or portable machine.

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You can ponder this, especially in the “Corner Bar”, but knowing Trimble’s general attitude, they won’t reveal any strategy until they decide for themselves.
Buy Sketchup from them - if you have a couple of million/milliard $ - and do with it what you want.

I see no other meaning to this topic than:

Another topic suitable for meaningless, disrespectful personalization and feeding trolls.


There is another aspect than the development of extensions in Python in Blender, there is the development of Geometry Node type objects which is of enormous interest, which offers very advanced parametric objects. Despite the fact that I still find them too complex to make, I see that users have adopted it more quickly than the Live Component equivalent.

You follow the wrong people :joy:

Ruby is easy. If you know how to code with Python you don’t have any problem with Ruby.

Totally agree

Anyway Blender is difficult to use and difficult to learn.

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SketchUp is not built upon the Ruby language. It is C, C++, or Objective C code (depending on the era and platform). The SketchUp Ruby API provides a bridge between the interpreter and the C back end, but no part of the app itself is written in Ruby.


Ruby is a programming language as another. All current languages derive more or less from C++ in the sense that they share common concepts and a similar syntax. Ruby is not a bad language, the problem is that it is not commonly used for scripting in 3D software, it is Python. Which could not have been anticipated perhaps in 2004 when it was chosen (I wonder why) in SketchUp.

except that part of the app are Ruby script as Dynamic Component

No exception.
Dynamic Component is an Extension. Beside it is designed by SU team and supplied together with SketchUp it is not part of the core SketchUp. Ruby API is dedicated for creating Extensions (Plugins)!
( Ruby itself is written in C )


The popularity of Python also doesn’t make any difference with regard to the Trimble ecosystem and device footprint. A SketchUp file can be updated and sent to a crew on site for use on their phones or tablets. This efficiency can’t be matched by software that doesn’t run on the devices people have. And it’s free so foremen can simply install it. No programming required. Using Trimble Connect? Even more productivity. I can show a client an SU model on an MR headset, the HoloLens, or Quest Pro. With the HoloLens and HoloLens Companion app, changes can be made to a model on a laptop and displayed nearly instantaneously on the MR device. Collaboration Mode can get several people into the same MR space. Not possible if the software doesn’t run on the devices.

I’ve tested grading to SketchUp models with my CAT machine while wearing the HoloLens. Imagine if I used Site Vision and a Catalyst (I wish)? Neither Blender nor Python have anything to do with it (maybe the Catalyst picks up signals sent from embedded Wind River operating systems on satellites - not Python, probably C).

If a model is created in SketchUp to take advantage of the wider range of devices they run on, but one still wants to create apps there are other alternatives as well. For example, in Unity using C#, I’ve made apps that can display AR models with tablets using targets of images from catalogs and display models in MR (with passthrough video) on the Quest Pro. So SketchUp Models aren’t trapped in a completely walled off software environment.

One issue is an inherent incompatibility between different creative fields. To cast a net widely, there’s ‘Construction’ and ‘Art’. These two non-mutually exclusive categories have different needs. If someone wants to create an image of an Orge using a stolen Dwarvish hammer to assault the parapets of a Gnomish castle, or create an animation of a new Smurfs movie where they’ve gone Ferrel and now live a Mad Max like existence, then maybe Blender is the way to go. If you’ve got a drone and you want a way to get your models turned into something usable by a construction crew on site, try SketchUp. Or try anything and everything and find what fits your needs.

With that said, I’d like to hereby make Trimble aware that I’m willing to accept free subscriptions to all of their software for life (and If I could get a complimentary Catalyst and an SX12 scanner that would also be nice)!


Actually, Ruby is derived from the Smalltalk concept of Object Oriented, not from C++. Have you written any code in Ruby?

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This makes 200% sense and I would say is the real reason why this never gonna happen (at least until Trimble owns Sketchup).
You can’t compare Blender Fundation to Trimble inc.
Apples and oranges nonsense.
This question could be marked as “solved” after this reply.

By no means Blender and Sketchup rivals each other.
Apples and orange again, or maybe “Strawberries and Elephants” could be even more appropriate here.

Out of context this means less than nothing.
Try to simulate water or animate an organic shape. With a few hours of tutorials, in Blender you are good to go.
Now do the same in Sketchup and try if it’s easier. Good luck with that.
Horses for courses.

Blender is not specialized and by no means is “niche”. Is a widely adopted software used for so many different scopes.
Spoiler: I’m not a Blender fan, and I’m not even a Blender user. I use mainly Sketchup and 3dsMax for modeling.
But, hey, this is a fact: Blender is incredibly good and is getting better and easier to use.

They still do and forever they will.
They just updated to Pro cracked version, which is more functional.
If one is a thief, he will steal, no matter what.
Removing Make, in my opinion, they just screwed (honest) hobbyists and plugin developers. And they cut away a potential user base ready to switch to Pro.
Silly move.

So does developing for web of for mobile, still they are doing it.
I believe that’s more a commercial decision (I don’t know if it’s good or bad, I’m not a marketing expert whatsoever), not a technical driven decision.

Can confirm this. I personally know multiple developers who write code for Unity, Unreal and Blender, but not for Sketchup for this exact reason.

Agreed. +1 on this.


Totally true, but almost every 3d software (if you exclude Lego Digital Designer) is more difficult than “Vanilla” Sketchup.
If you compare Blender to its real competitors aka Maya, Max, C4d… then is about the same learning curve.
And if you try to do Blenderesque stuff in Sketchup is equally difficult, plus you have tons of limitations/workarounds and you need to install and learn 180 different plugins with 45 different UI’s and then you have to keep all of them up to date, and then you have to go totally mad whenever you update Sketchup version, and so on and so forth.

Intersting. Do you use skp models in Unity or fbx exported from Sketchup?
We used both of them, and I feel like altough skp is maybe faster to iterate on prototipes, you need proper fbx for final builds.
And in most cases, we use fbx optimized and exported from Max (or Blender or whatever), because they have better perfomances (and usability) overall.
Sketchup output tends to create split vertices in the UVs and you easily end up with quadruple vertex count in gpu.
Oh, and of course the lack of the beloved 2nd UV channel in Sketchup (for lightmapping or detail maps) is a minus.

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I thought the same thing because when I used it, I changed my mind. When you work on site it is a perfect device to review, annotate change, VR, etc.

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yeah, sorry, allow me to rephrase :slight_smile:
in term of market share / volume of users, they are comparable. most 3d softwares are niche, they cater specifically to architects or plane designers or mechanics or…

sketchup and blender are more generalist than niche oriented, blender is more complex but free, making them the big 2 out there.

but I agree, they are not exactly competing on the same turf, so, not rivals, they can easily coexist better than, for example, revit + archicad (that overlap)

yes. re-read the whole line :slight_smile: . I’m mentioning “blender […] or other softwares that are niche softwares.” the other are niche softwares, see above. not blender.

yeah, there are things sketchup can’t do. nobody says the opposite.
but blender has a very steep LEARNING curve. not “following a tutorial” curve. both are different.
With a few hours of tutorial, you might manage to do the one thing you’re trying to achieve, but not the 500 other operations Blender can do, and there is no guarantee you can do it again without the tutorial a few days later.

That’s the difference between learning and following a tutorial.

Both. They drop in like any asset. There’s more to making a ‘good’ model but I’m not advanced with any of the UV stuff (I have a number of the Unity “badges” and pathway certificates - but that’s it). It might sound a little odd but for me it’s usually important to know where things go but not what color those things are (e.g., I may need to know where blocks go and how I want to cut them, not whether they are charcoal vs weathered blend).

Most of the OBJ and FBX files I’ve used have come from Pix4D drone photogrammetry software. They can be generated almost as an afterthought to getting point clouds… which is usually what I’m after.

I did image targets with VuForia a long while ago and more recently facial filters (Android) in the AR Mobile Development Pathway.

I do wish there was a free version of SU Pro as my brother is very experienced programmer and would be willing to help… but he doesn’t use SketchUp. :frowning:

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