First year in 12 I won't be teaching SketchUp

I sent this message to the SketchUp Customer Service yesterday and they asked me to post it here:
I’ve been using and teaching SketchUp to generations of my college students since the Google days. I also tech a variety of CAD and modeling software to my advanced students but I’ve always appreciated SketchUp’s simple interface and workflow that allowed beginning students to jump in and start thinking in 3D after an hour or two. But this is the first year in over a decade that I will be dropping SketchUp from my curriculum. I think you’ve made some poor business choices that will really harm your product. You’ve never really been academic-friendly with Pro but the original default SketchUp did enough to get my students started. But students will not pay $55 for a one-year license of a pretty basic and frankly declining software when AutoCAD, Vectorworks, the entire Autodesk suite, not to mention Blender, Twinmotion, Unreal and many other industry standard packages all offer free student licenses. Students are slammed with higher tuition, cost of living and debt than ever before and $55 may seem like a trivial amount to you and I and the marketing department but to my students it’s a week’s worth of food. All the marketing changes are really hurting you. The names keep changing, this one’s online, this one allows plug-ins, that one doesn’t. You’ve made “Free” so annoying and difficult to use you won’t get new adopters and will depend more and more on aging Pro users from the good ‘ol days. I see it in class where students get quickly frustrated and disinterested in SketchUp when 6 or 7 years ago they were excited and delighted. Last year, none of the roughly 50 or so students in my design classes used SketchUp on their own for class projects after the required assignments. They all moved on to other programs. That’s never happened before but it signaled to me that I should do the same and that it is, sadly, time to say goodbye to an old friend.


I’ve been using SketchUp since 2002 and teaching it to high school students for the past 6 years. I’m absolutely certain the fact SU was free 6 years ago was a deal maker for creating the class to begin with. I was barely able to get by with SU for Schools when it was first released, but this last trimester I had to teach perspective drawing and, for the SU part, Match Photo. Since SUfS won’t do that, I had to fall back to SU Make 2017 again. Who knows how long that solution will last. I would concur with your experience in general, and I feel my days of teaching SU may be numbered at this school - I just don’t know.


$55.00 per year for the “FULL” version of SketchUp is still a pretty good deal in my opinion.

However, I do think there is certain segment of the market that could utilize the desktop (non-pro) version of SketchUp (ie. Make). I guess I have never really understood the proliferation of all these various versions of SketchUp (Shop, Studio, Studio for Students, Pro, Web etc…) and yet the aversion to “Make” and its eventual discontinuation.

I guess I’m not a marketing person.


Sure, I totally agree for you and me. $55 compared to $3000 or something for a pro-licence of a CAD package. But my students are thinking $55 bucks? But I can get Maya, or Max, or Cinema 4D, or Vectorworks, AutoCAD… for free. Not my opinion, man, its what my students are saying.


Not quite correct.

The $55/yr subscription price is for the Studio license for Students, which gives access to all professional level editions of the entire SketchUp family of products.

For the full desktop SketchUp/LayOut product, the student cost is at most $39 per year (10 seat min.,) and could be as low as $19.50 per year if the college pays for 1000 or more laptop pool licenses. These are not subscription as the school buys the pool by the number of students and teachers they’ll install from the pool. The school can decide to (and most likely would) include the cost into the course tuition for students and eat the cost for the teacher. (But, these are yearly licenses, not “classic”, and expire 1 year from date that the school buys them.)
So this is also not the confusing Pro named subscription (the one for 299/yr that has a bunch of stuff students will never use in a year. What student needs unlimited Connect storage ?)


Likewise, I’ve been a long time SketchUp user, but I feel the time has come that we probably have to part ways. I have moved away from the dictating corporate monster that is Microsoft in favour of Linux, and since SketchUp wants to force us into a web driven paid subscription model (the worst possible software model - web browser, yuk!, subscription, SPEW!) and I have gone to Linux, perhaps it is time to learn some alternatives.

Sad because it took me a long time to be able to use SketchUp with even a moderate amount of expertise, but there comes a point when the pain of being forced into new undesirable ways exceeds the pain of learning new software.

You were my first 3D graphics true love, but time has come that we need to see other software.


Yeah, my trusty 'ol wife is named Vecta Vercs. I had an affair with a girl named Maya for a while but lately I’ve been seeing a lot of this hot young thing named Blenda. She’s pretty independent and complicated but you’d be amazed by some of the things she can do, if ya know what I mean. :wink:


The discontinuation of Make also affects extension development. I started using SketchUp at age 14, before I had much money of my own to spend. I learned to develop extensions as a hobby because I needed it for my modeling and because I found it interesting.

Without Make a whole generation of future extension developers will be missing.


Let’s wait and see how the online version will evolve. I can’t imagine it will never allow some sort of extensions.

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I have to agree in part. I introduced this software (SketchUp) into a Building and Interior design program and have been teaching it for the last 7 or so years. I did so because I loved the software and use it as my go to package in my own business. I have persisted with it despite it’s faults (all software has them) because of its ease and versatility. I was particularly jaded with Trimble after the 2019 release of little more than this horrid subscription model of payment (personal opinion and browsing the forums I was not alone - no one was buying the ‘We are doing for the benefit of the users’ argument) but must say upon seeing todays ‘New features’ video, I am joyed that in the pro version at least, there is some positive movement in the right direction.

As for my students though - for them to get access to a 1 year pro version the cost is approx $70 Aud. Small compared to the full price but I agree with the original post in that Autodesk et al offer FREE student licenses (3 years actually) for almost all of their current pro version software. Create a loyal user at the outset and they are likely to stay with you over their career.

I actually advise my students to download the 2017 make version so as to have access to the ability to install plugins which as we all know, are what really gives SketchUp the power and ease (with complex operations) that we need. Hopefully the powers that be at Trimble will take on board this creative criticism to good end.


I agree completely, about the possibility or mandatory “software subscription model”.
I have only had SU Pro for 2 years and like it a lot, this is my 3rd year.
It is not my primary design and production software, which is currently Revit and that is where, my problem and anger lies.
AutoDesk have done the same things as where Trimble seem to be headed.
I had a full license, standalone single user for Revit since 2002, and I was an early adopter although it began in 2000 with the product arriving to market. An annual sub of some $1560 NZ per year.
In 2018 AutoDesk having captured a huge swathe of world market for the AEC markets/practices changed the business model for Revit and other products. In the case of Revit in 2018, new users/seats/licenses cost $3,400 per year per seat.
This, is beyond outrageous.
i could swear all year about the incredible rip off these vendors have created, fleecing everyone wholesale and knowing that with so much investment in software, and training, they cannot stop using the product without a huge and major long term plan to go somewhere else.
Revit however (my view only) is a superb tool to use for architecture. I am now learning ArchiCAD22 and so far, Revit beats it hands down for daily use/workflow/ease of use. They both do the same things, but Revit does it more easily in my view.

There are not many products for Architects, and related industries to use anyway, and this is something Autodesk are counting on. They are the biggest vendor in the world and are now in the position to bankrupt large numbers of business at the smaller end and medium end will be efffected also.
They can now control and entire industry.

You can posit the argument that even at that annual cost, it is worth it however I thin you have to look widely at the real issue which is at the easy level, how to make as much money as possible and few will argue with the premise.
My argument is that they were making a lot of money before the change of business model, and now they are going ballistic.
No one has issue with making a profit, however super profiteering does not work in the end, your customers will not like that for long and try other ways than your product.

Software as a service / a subscription service is a rort.
Trimble, heading this way in my view, is a recipe for significant change given the products it has. We all love sketchUp, but many Users will get tired of being screwed pretty quick when there are now so many competing products.
In terms of SketchUp Pro, the day Trimble stop me having a full up to date copy on my Desktop, and prevent me paying by annual subscription - in other words, force me to a monthly or quarterly payment cycle, will be the last year I renew.
I am already near that gate with Revit for the same reasons - their idea is not helping my business/work/Use, it is entirely about them. Al;l the BS about IPD/BIM/new frontiers blah blah , was never about us, it was always just the small part of the big picture, for creating a new perception about en existing thing, so they could generate a critical mass then exploit the heck out of it when they know everyone is more or less, trapped.
Right now, it feels like this is where Trimble might be planing to go.

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I’ve always suspected the problem was that Make (and earlier) was too good. I think Google expected that we would all model our hometowns and they’d get a free crowd sourced 3D map of the world for Earth. When that didn’t happen they lost interest. Tremble was (is?) a GPS company and I don’t know how much of the corp is involved with SU. But Make with a bunch of plug-ins was pretty powerful and unless you needed the 2D layout stuff you could do a lot with Make. But my students and I do our drafting (and finish modeling) in Vectorworks so we never really used Layout. Just like that old Uncharted video I’ve been showing to students forever. The game designers used SU as draft concept modeler but the assets that went into the game were made in Maya.
Really, @Last’s great gift was Push/Pull. In 2000 the big dog was AutoCAD with its clunky command line and cross-hair cursor. It was like that weird mouse thing attached to the Apple Lisa. Now 20 years later everybody, including AutoCAD has tools like SketchUp. But if you go back and look at SU 6 its pretty much the same as Make 17. VectorWorks has the same problem. The industry’s obsession with annual releases instead of releasing a new version when the technology has advanced enough to warent a revision. And really who we should be blaming for this infernal subscription model is Adobe. I’m taking really good care of my CS6 just so I don’t have to get involved with CC and digital planned obsolescence. The difference is Adobe can kind of get away with it because everybody needs PS or AI, AA, Premier. Their stuff is more ubiquitous than SU. The point of my original post is that the student’s look at SU and the $55 and then look at all the other (free) options. Most are gravitating to Blender which has a much steeper learning curve but an unlimited ceiling and is and will always be free. DanRathbun points out there’s a price break at 1000 seats. I’ve got 24 workstations in my lab and maybe 100 students on campus using SU. You shouldn’t have to be Berkeley or Columbia to get a $20 discount. What makes me sad is that Blender or VW is fine for the students that already know they are going into design and are willing to put in the time to learn. But SU let the ‘design-curious’ students in my classes make a 3d model on the first day and give them confidence to learn more. With the bigger programs I’m worried they’ll just think “oh I could never learn that,” and then not even try.


One of my colleagues teaches SketchUp to a class of kids who are “on the spectrum”, as they say, and it’s amazing what they achieve with the no-subscription, free web version. A lot of them are using Chromebook, and I just tried it in Ubuntu, and it seems fine there too.

If you don’t want to pay any money to Apple, Microsoft, or SketchUp, there is still a free option.

Make is no longer developed, but the web app is. You would hope it will get better too.

If by Full you’re thinking about the ‘classic’ desktop app, then that is one of the things that comes with the Studio subscription. It may be true that a lot of other things come with it too, that students won’t need, but they’re not really any worse off than before.

I believe that the predecessor to the current product was a $50 per year desktop version. That came with no support, and no AR/VR/Hololens, and only 10 GB of cloud storage. Now they would pay $55 per year (instead of the $1,199 other people pay), get the same desktop application, unlimited cloud storage, AR/VR/Hololens support (that used to cost $1500 on its own), use of SketchUp Shop, and Sefaira (that also probably cost $1k per year on its own).

Overall, that seems like good value.


Colin, respectfully, you’re missing the point. You’re comparing various price packages of SU. Of course $55 vs $1199 is a good deal but that’s not what they are comparing. They are looking at $55 SU vs AutoCAD, Vectorworks, Revit, Maya, Max, Twinmotion, Unreal, Unity, Blender, Create, Inventor and four or five more that offer free student or hobbyist licences. Its why Apple gave schools a million computers back in the 90s. Those kids all grew up and now Apple is the biggest company in the world. And the predecessor isn’t Education Pro it was Make or just vanilla SU back in the Google days. 14 or 15 years ago when I first started teaching, Vectorworks student (perpetual) licence was about $150. But SU was free, so many of my students learned and worked with SU as long as possible. But now VW is free and SU isn’t so they just ignore SU and go right to VW. They know few if any architecture, design firms, game studios, or Film and TV are going to req they know SketchUp but they will have to learn a major CAD and/or modeling package. You think they care about VR, cloud storage or support? If they need support they raise their hand. The school gives them cloud storage and the few that are playing with VR are using Unreal or Twinmotion. So why bother with SU?
Look, I’m not trying to trash SketchUp, I love SketchUp, I’ve taught if for a decade, I’m just telling you what I’m seeing in my classes and hearing from my colleagues.


Actually, I did not. I tried to say as the product page said, that a 1000 seat pool bottoms out at 19.50 USD.

I read this as there is a gradient from 10 to 1000 seats that ranges between 39 USD down to 19.50 USD.

If your school went with the pool of installed licenses, I’d think you might get some kind of price break (but the breaks are not publicly posted.)

However, for the floating network lab licenses, the cost is publicized to be only 15 USD per seat.

Again, reference:

Agree and also is adding to the confusion. Ie

Yes I think my previous post was clear in what “full” means. We (customers, sages, users) are having to try to find new words to describe SketchUp because of the confusion created by Trimble SketchUp division’s use of the “Pro” to suddenly mean something else that what is has meant for at least 12 YEARS.

Students will not believe they will need unlimited file storage in a semester and do not want to pay for it.
They cannot learn to design buildings with Sefaira in such a short period of time.
They do not need to learn the “junky” web interface of Shop, as that is a hobby app and will not be used in the business world they are going to enter. They don’t have time or money to waste on things they will not use.
If the students are worried about 55 dollars, how are they supposed to afford the high cost of a VR headset ? (I’m seeing them between 300…3500 USD!)

So …

Does not matter what WAS !

Student didn’t need it. And still don’t.

It is not “good value” to be made to buy things you will not use and do not want !

In the end the customer is still paying more for the only thing they need, and not using a bunch of stuff they’re paying for.

All those SU Make users who will not buy “full” SketchUp / LayOut / Style Builder because they do not want the latter two products or cannot afford the price, … have consistently told you and your Trimble colleagues in this very forum that they are willing to pay LESS FOR LESS, not more for more.

More users buying desktop SketchUp hobby edition at an affordable price should have been good for Trimble revenue. But instead Trimble execs have said publicly that they’re willing to loose 30% of their “classic” license revenue in the short term, because they believe they’ll make up the shortfall over the next 3 years as the users switch to more subscription SaaS licenses that bring in more revenue.

Reading their annual reports can give much insight into where their headed.
For example do a search on the word “subscription” in the PDF viewer …


Dan - on the money with your observations as is Seanoskea. Similar sentiments from myself and for anyone that reads the forums - these are not lone opinions. Anyone with a pulse is acutely aware of why these companies want to move to subscription models. Hopefully they will finally understand that while $55usd is indeed good value against $1199, that is not what it is getting compared to. $55usd ($70aud) is not good value when pitted against $0 dollars for the majority of this other education software.


I think Trimble is an amazing company with many good qualities and strong product lines but I wonder if a drafting/3D modeling software like SketchUp is just a little outside of their wheelhouse. I think they are probably still trying to fully grasp the market they have inserted themselves into.

I think it is imperative that Trimble take a hard look at the competition (ie. Autodesk, etc…) and do everything in their power to make sure that SketchUp can go toe-to-toe with these other competing products. This involves not only pricing structures and serious educational discounts but also product features. I also think they could do a bit better job in listening to the needs and wants of their huge user base, the SketchUp community.

With this latest upgrade to 2019, I’m seeing some positive direction and I am hopeful for more significant upgrades and additional features in the near future.

I am still of the belief that SketchUp is the best 3D software out their; extensions, flexibility, ease of use, price and most importantly it is an absolute joy to use. When it comes to the architectural world I do believe that SketchUp will eventually dominate this market.


I’m sorry to read this, I’ve been using SU for years, have worked with pro for a few years, and have just started a business doing design work. It terrifies me that I’ll be priced out of the Pro version one of these days - mid job, development (and pricing) decisions seem to be that random. I just got an email announcing new changes - I can’t even open it, I’m afraid Trimble has messed with something I rely on. I can see the confusion around these various products when people post on Reddit. It’s a shame because this is such a good program for beginners.

When I was in college, there was no way I could part with $55 without throwing whole world into a tailspin, college and housing are so, so, so much more expensive now than when I was in school. I hope that Trimble will begin to stabilize this product, not just for students (their future!) but for everyone.


I have been using SketchUp for less than a year and I have noticed several of the issues you have noticed. My biggest complaint is that any model worth using in the 3D Warehouse was also limited to the 2019 “newest” version, which I currently have and had to get just to use the most simple of models in a “community” warehouse, this is a Predatory money grabbing move to force people into a paywall that did not exist before, so that the students, casual users and those who own the 2018 version or just slightly older versions that are now past broken and cannot function reasonably. Imagine if all cars older than the current years’ model had a cutoff that would limit all “non-safety” features after you spent a lot of money on a car, you would be like the trunk is off limits and cannot be opened unless you pay to keep you car functions and they control this remotely with technology and then used it to milk the consumer and create distrust in the product, this is happening here and it is Predatory especially to contractors, teachers and students, all people who often have financial limitations and cannot afford to upgrade, this in effect leads to the SketchUp community being weaker and divided and then everyone will move to Blender or the other plethora of options that are not predatory and SketchUp with fade away.