Open letter


I have been following some of the responses to SketchUp’s latest upgrade release and am quite surprised at all the “negative press”. I have my own personal perspective about some of the marketted improvements and certainly don’t agree with a few of them. However, having been around since @Last days I have to still arrive at the conclusion that SketchUp has improved over the years and gives me HUGE opportunities at the fraction of the cost of competitor software in my industry.

Let me start with my biggest issue with the latest announcements - subscription licenses. This concept bugs me regardless of industry or product, as (in my opinion) it turns the population (now a global one) into slaves. The consumer is now forced into having their wallets open perpetually so that 3rd parties can dip in whenever they choose. It is my opinion (again) that this type of concept does not support the consumer into a position of being financially free and strengthening them into building themselves. Give me perpetual licenses any time because if I cannot afford the subscription this month, my perpetual license will continue functioning, even if out-of-date. A subscription license could very well be a “deal breaker” for me.

HOWEVER having said that, I look at the SketchUp product and note the amazing improvements that have occurred over the years.

  1. Layout - in the beginning one was forced to output different file formats and then open a 3rd party program to try and arrange your product for communication with other persons. To have Layout and it’s ability to drill into a SketchUp file directly (along with all it’s other functionality) has been a great addition to the total product. Now (with the new release) also being able to have two-way communication with the SketchUp file, if I detail something in Layout as an overlay over the base SketchUp file, I will now be able to see that in SketchUp and convert it into 3D or manipulate it for whatever reason. That’s pretty amazing to me.

  2. Style Builder - When it was originally launched (if I recall correctly) SketchUp didn’t have a facility to have different line types. So Style Builder was a great addition, which empowered SketchUp client’s to create whatever they needed. It has become a little redundant since Layout started incorporating more line types. However it had it’s value for a while and if you’re really creative, I suppose it still has some value as you are able to create your own, original presentation style.

  3. Ruby - The ability for consumers to have a say in the final output of their own product is totally empowering and Ruby Scripting to create your own plugin significantly opens up SketchUp’s potential. This in itself is a vast topic that can be discussed and again (if my memory serves) wasn’t available in the earlier versions of SketchUp. It is unfortunate that learning any new language requires a time input (and hence I haven’t progressed very well in this regard). However I appreciate the inclusion, by the SketchUp team (past and present), of this feature.

  4. Workflow - I do have a specific workflow and SketchUp is central to most of what I do. This program allows me to import and export from various other 3rd party programs, which when used correctly places me head-and-shoulders above my competitors.

  5. Trimble Connect - This is the most exciting addition to the latest release in my opinion. Competitor software has been ahead for a few years, so I’m thrilled that SketchUp has introduced this feature. I have yet to setup in this feature, so I do hope it meets my high expectations for collaboration. At face value it appears to.

I prepared a short 1 hour presentation last year to my peers and besides holding it’s own against competitor software, it actually blew their minds in certain respects as to the power this little dynamic piece of software contains.

Does it need a facelift? Possibly. However with the dynamic, ever changing nature of technology, it’s reassuring to see something familiar when one opens SketchUp. Maybe they could offer skins to satisfy those who like to fiddle.

Does it need a re-write from the ground up? Again, possibly. There are times where larger files are hindered more by the software than the hardware. However, I have experienced worse from competitor software, so we certainly cannot pick on Trimble as being the sole, ignorant perpetrator of a heinous crime. Even if we don’t appreciate a cloud based platform, it will (hopefully) give the software developer the ability to manage the hardware resources required to make the software perform most efficiently.

Hey @trimble and @sketchup @SketchUp_Moderator regardless of my personal opinions, I am still adamant that SketchUp can take over the world. At the very least I believe the market in my country contains opportunities.

An open letter to Trimble

You point out some of the strengths that make SketchUp a great product!

But even though I am a long-time user and Sage, I honestly cannot deny that these features have existed already for some years before 2019. I understood that many of the posters in the other thread are concerned (especially in the context of competitors that just as well have and further advance their strengths) about the delta from one version to the next, but they do not (or should not) oversee how great the features are that have already been there.


Thanks Aerilius. We can be so quick to criticize and judge that we forget the positives.



Really not much to show for the fanfare of an annual release that the team have been working so hard on. Dashed lines could of been had with a smustard plugin. The fact that a 3rd party plugin/idea has been incorporated into the core program gives one pause as to why other tool improvements that 3rd party developers have made have not been incorporated: solid tools plugins are better than native, so why not write those in? Profile builder, way better than native follow me, Fredo scale options, let’s have a drop down from the native scale tool for this functionality. similarly, beveling, round corner, thru paint and on and on. Don’t suggest that this is bloatware. Just like Sketchup’s native tools, they can come in separate tool bars that can be switched on or off. But at least it will all be cohesive and supported at the core level. Sure there are some more “obscure” tools, but these universal geometry manipulators are applicable to almost any design process or architecture…if you think they are not, maybe the next release should get rid of sandbox tools? let’s reduce SU to just rectangles and curves and let the plugin developers do the rest.

SketchUp in 2019: where great ideas get to work

The continuous discussion rather fits into the other thread, but I’m going to reply here:

You are right that the value of extending licenses should not be to get just the same, well-maintained core product as before and everything else from extensions.

When developing software there exist these necessary efforts (like refactoring bad/old code, improving maintainability or build system or CI system) that serve rather the software producer, but are hard to sell to customers. Others are “nice to have” (beautiful Welcome dialog, although I must admit Recent Files is so good that I don’t disable the dialog for the first time anymore), and other awaited ones massively improve productivity (even if only users of some fields benefit and see the value). How can one balance all of these under the constraints of functionality, budget, quality and time?

What has become generally known is that not all planned features became ready to the (extended) deadline/release date. We can assume or hope that almost finished features would be included in the next release without taking away significant development resources for more new features planned for next release, meaning hopefully a compensating release 2020.
Isn’t it also quite remarkable that SketchUp for Web includes a native Solid Inspector tool although it has neither an extension API nor is this new Solid Inspector written in JavaScript (apart from its UI), but in C++? :thinking:

The outlook of subscriptions with a continuous flow of new features sounds kind of promising that features won’t anymore be delayed for a year due to fixed dates. This is good for both developers and users!