Geolocation Imagery Quality

I use geolocation imagery a lot to grab dimensions of existing buildings, so it was very disappointing to download Sketchup 2017 today and find that the quality of the arial imagery has taken a dive off a cliff. It’s so blurry it’s basically unusable.
I’m currently using a trial of Pro right now I believe, is this the same imagery I would get if I were to purchase Pro? I assume so, since my understanding after reading the help page is that I only still have access to geolocation due to the trial.


Please see:

Yes, I read through that as I mentioned before, but it doesn’t answer the question of wether what I am seeing now is the same as I would get if I were to buy Pro, or I would get better resolution imagery after purchasing. Because the imagery there now is worthless.

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The trial period runs pro exactly the same as after you purchase a license. Yes, what you are seeing now is the same as what you will get then. There has been a lot of grumbling about the change of geolocation data. I have to assume the team is doing their best, but in many cases the results are as yet disappointing.

Today is the first day that Google is no longer available, and when I geolocate the model, only the 2D snapshot comes in. Is the 3D terrain no longer available? It used to be that both would come into the model and you could toggle between the two.

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Evidently it depends upon the location and whether or not Digital Globe has terrain data available. I was just looking at a spot in Alaska where it isn’t available but it is available in other areas. This animated GIF was made a few minutes ago.

Not available in Alaska? That’s where I work and that’s where I geolocate all of my models. So… Trimble just broke SketchUp.

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Well, in the one spot where I looked in Alsaka there wasn’t any terrain data. I didn’t look at the entire state.

No. Google removed access to the Maps API which means Trimble had no choice but to change to a different supplier. It’s not Trimble’s fault that there’s no terrain data available where you are looking. Maybe Digital Globe will add that data soon.

No. SketchUp is partially broken. Nowhere in the KB article does it acknowledge the severe reduction in quality. The images are now so low res as to be useless. Google didn’t just withdraw the API, I suspect that while users were paying Trimble Trimble declined to pay the licensing fees past the grace period. For many of us it is now much less useful than before. Will those of us paying for Pro be given a rebate for the obvious reduced functionality? Digital Globe has been around forever and offers up to 30cm resolution. Trimble obviously opted for far less. What we got is what we’re going to get.


• Google Maps APIs Blog : Announcing deprecation of the Google Earth API (12.12.2014)

up to dependend on the location of course.


Well this is disappointing.
I hadn’t bought pro because I didn’t need it up to this point and I wouldn’t mind buying it now for access to the satellite images, but it would be a waste of money with them being the quality that they are.
I guess I will have to find a new app to do what I need.

please report back what you will use.


Yes! If you find something that combines the following, many people (possibly including Trimble) will be interested to know:

  • consistently high quality of imagery and terrain data across all locations
  • simplicity/ease of use
  • affordable app and data costs

I have to respectfully disagree with you. You seem to be defending Trimble.
The fact is that they have FIVE YEARS to find another high-quality source but they sat and did nothing. At the final hour when it was apparent that they were not going to get high quality free data, they plugged in their own junk database in all its blurry fuzzy out-of-date glory. I’m super annoyed as a user and any attempt to defend that quality is a wasted effort in my opinion. I pay for this software and having the geolocation with high quality imagery and 3D terrain is a big part of the functionality for me. In your work it may not be and perhaps you have far less concern than I do for that reason. I am going to be seriously compromised and my work and presentation quality to clients is about to take a nosedive.

Your arguments seems to be that Google sold to Trimble with the stipulation that there would be no GE in five years, so that Trimble had no recourse. They had all kinds of recourse and five years to make it happen. There are very high quality satellite imagery sources out there, they just needed to negotiate fees and integrate it. For those users who do not care about this feature, they will be content. For users who depend on this feature, they could provide an ultra-high definition imagery source for an added fee. But, they’ve left us hanging. I’ve had to go to my management and tell them “I’m really sorry, but the quality of my presentations is about to go sub-par and I do not have any alternative at this point.”

It’s not fun at all because I am a right-brain guy- a creative /designer- operating in a left-brain Revit architectural environment. They are not happy in general with the fact that I work in Sketchup world and see Sketchup as a toy, but tolerate it as I can produce results much faster and better than with Revit for conceptualization. When my performance falls short, my position is threatened. This is a major issue for me.


Paul- I suspect you are completely correct. Google is in business to sell data. It makes no sense that they would not provide the imagery for enough money. I’m sure Trimble just wants to maximize profits and refuses to pay the money that high-quality data will cost. Which is a shame because it takes their Sketchup product out of a professional range and relegates it to amateur/home use.


The referenced API was terminated a year and a half ago, obviously not the situation referenced in the KB. Digital Globe captures image and terrain areas equal to the entire earth twice per year. Almost all inhabited are at 30 cm resolution.

Everyone seems to be operating on the assumption that all Trimble has to do is pay Google more money and they can have unlimited access to Google’s imagery database. The issue is far more complicated than that. If you take a detailed look at Google’s maps API terms and conditions you’ll figure out why.

I’d also like to hear about these other supposed ‘high-quality sources’ of imagery. I’m guessing that:

  • they are not global providers
  • they license DigitalGlobe imagery, just like Google, Bing, etc. outside of urban centers


[quote=“Whaat, post:17, topic:45225”]I’d also like to hear about these other supposed ‘high-quality sources’ of imagery.

e.g. Planet Labs (formerly Google Terra Bella).

Thanks for the link. I hadn’t heard about them yet. After taking a fairly detailed look at their website, I would say that their imagery resolution is simply not suitable for Geo-modeling. Every sample I could find on their website shows the imagery at a very low zoom level, even for the free California data-set.

They seem to be marketing their imagery for environmental studies which seems more appropriate for such low resolution. I could not find anywhere any information on the maximum resolution available but, considering that you cannot zoom past level 15 with the sample California map, I am quite pessimistic about the max resolution available from this provider. (with DigitalGlobe, you can usually zoom up to 20+)

I also couldn’t find any detailed information about their usage costs, download limits, API documentation, and licensing terms. This makes me think that this provider is still in it’s infancy and would likely not be able to provide the type of service that would be suitable for SketchUp integration.

I’ll keep my eye on them, though - thanks

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