PDF import to Sketchup

Here we go again - PDF import please!!!

Perhaps in lieu of ignoring the millions of requests for this absolutely ESSENTIAL function, perhaps you could muster the strength and decency to tell us all WHY it is not included?..


I think you’d have to ask the “Wondows” folks. It is included on Mac becaue the operating system makes that possible. Windows doesn’t.


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Is that actually true? I mean so many other CAD / Modeling software out there (on Windows) allows for PDF import without a hitch. Why is Sketchup the exception. All we are after is either a due date that PDF support will be added, or an actual EXPLANATION of why it is not included.

Stop cowering behind the internet Trimble, and start respecting your users…


the macOS API delviers an image (= raster data) only, nothing to cope with in the context of vectorial geometry.

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If it’s possible to make an extension to deal with PDF import, how is it not possible to allow for PDF import natively within the structure of SU itself?..


I don’t know about the libraries used, but the same seems to apply to certain 3D file formats as well. For instance, OBJ export is supplied, import is not.

I don’t think that anyone is cowering or hiding. @DaveR was 100% correct in that we include PDF support on Mac because the Mac OS natively supports creation of the PDF file format. Windows does not. Extension developers have chosen to redistributed software that allows them to create PDF files.


Interesting. So SU cannot natively support PDF import on Windows, yet it is possible to make an extension for it that does?.. How does that work?

Where is the solution here?


there are tools existing out there on the web to do that. some are free to use, some are not. some will allow you to use them as long as you make no money reselling it.

So a random developer can take one of these tools, fork it a bit, make it work, and release an extension.
But a sketchup developer can’t. or at least, can’t unless trimble pays a shitload of money.

  • Same thing happened a few years ago with video export. We had several export formats, and now we have only mp4, because of licensing fees (that was the consensus at the time)

  • Autodesk has the same system with DWG. you’ll find a lot of free CAD programs that can open DXF, the free version of a 2Dcad file. But DWG are proprietary files, and therefore, you can’t just open them as you want. I’m using Qcad, the free version had DXF only, the paid opens DWG, part of the fee pays for the licence.

  • finally, you’ll find the same idea with google map. you can access google map. you can take a screenshot. you can import the screenshot in SU. it’s not brain surgery, I’m sure a dev could work something out of google earth and export straight from it into SU. I mean, it used to work that way during the google years. But Google doesn’t not support licencing google map to external companies. Therefore Trimble cannot (anymore) include Google Map in the geo-localisation system.

General rule in computers and softwares, just because an individual can do something doesn’t mean a company can.


the PDF format is a hybrid format which may contain raster and/or vector data. The PDF engine of macOS delivers raster data only, therefore SU on Mac includes actually a PDF raster support.

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I fully understand that certain file formats are proprietary, and that third party software developers who utilize those file formats are required to fork out for their use. I’m sure Trimble pays these fees already for the proprietary file formats it includes.

I’m clearly missing something. On the one hand Trimble says that SU for windows cannot support PDF import as the MAC version allows for. BUT Trimble is already using PDF import on MAC so it’s already in use - along with the paid rights to use it if that’s the case.

Apparently a Windows extension is somehow possible yet no one is doing it? The infrastructure seems to already be in place, fees paid etc etc, yet Windows users still dont have PDF import capabilties… via an extension.

Where is the nuts and bolts truth to all of this?..

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Mac OS has a raster PDF tool included. Windows doesn’t.
Meaning that any software on a mac can use the macos included tool to import a PDF as an image only. no vector. without paying any extra fee.

Same idea, Mac OS comes (or at least used to) with more fonts than windows. Stuff like Helvetica. Using a mac and softwares on a mac allows you to use Helvetica.
If you’re working on a PC, you’re supposed to buy it - or work with a software that paid for it (hi adobe)

It’s the wonderful world of licensed stuff.

In addition, there is a risk for companies like trimble to absorb outside solutions.

let’s say tomorrow Fredo6 designs from scratch a brand new solution that will allow you to import PDFs as vector with layers as tags. great.

Now, next dev meeting, Trimble says “yeah, good stuff, let’s put it in our standard SU”

there are three solutions ahead of them :

  • buy it. THey could simply buy the tool from Fredo6. it’s expensive, but hey, it’s done. This is why tech companies buy each other all the time, it’s quicker to buy a startup with the tech you need
  • steal it. They could simply look at the extension, retro-engeneer it, and BAM. Problem is, Fredo6 could then sue, and if they can prove it, they would get even more money (look at season 1 of Halt and Catch Fire, it’s mostly about that)
  • they could just design it from scratch. without looking at what Fredo6 did, because they don’t want to be sued. They would hire lawyers to overview the whole process, in case (once more, Halt and catch fire)

There is a similar situation in the world of Pokemons. I recently read that one of the main Pokemon creator of these last few years does not go on fan sites, social media etc. Because Nintendo’s fear is that the guy would see a design, an idea, then - even without thinking of it - adapt it and use it.
And they could end up being sued by the fan for concept theft and making money out of it.

So here you have it, why is it so complex to develop stuff. Between the licensing problems, and the existing stuff, you’re walking on eggs. I mean, you know why no other 3d software has a pushpull tool (or at least until recently) ? It’s patented by Sketchup. So any rival company would have to either buy a license (hahaha), steal it (even more haha) or develop it from scratch again, and risk litigation.

My work around is use Sketchup great product copy the graphics part of your pdf make it a jpg to import into SKU

Understood. It does seem though as if all the correct legal infrastructure is in place already as SU for MAC already has PDF import (albeit raster only).

That said, there are many extensions that do the same thing, or versions of it. How does that differ from making an extension for PDF import?

If Trimble refuses to open its mouth and explain to us all what’s TRULY going on, all we can do is continue in the dark and look at Trimble as deliberately avoiding the issue.

As I wrote before, that’s an Apple thing.

A bit more of in-depth clarification would be helpful. Is that possible?

It seems to me that vector pdf import into LayOut would make more sense than vector import into SketchUp.

For one thing, although there is a way to embed a 3D vector model in a pdf, it is at heart a 2D format. They must exist, I suppose, but I have yet to encounter a pdf that uses the 3D capability and common pdf apps are not able to handle it.

SketchUp is always 3D even if you are drawing on a single plane. The only way you get multiple planes in pdf is if the document contains multiple pages, but each page is independent of the others. There is no concept of one page being above or below another. That’s why pdf apps display them sequentially.

Secondly, there is a better match between LayOut’s drawing facilities and pdf than with SketchUp. Pdf includes numerous properties such as line width and corner joins that don’t exist in SketchUp. In SketchUp, edges are conceived as boundaries of faces, not as drawing lines.

Thirdly, pdf’s rendering is based on the “painter’s algorithm” whereby things drawn later overlay and obscure things drawn earlier without any other sort of interaction. Two lines that cross do not intersect. A face that partially overlays another face does not split it.

Pdf is actually a programming language that tells a printer or other 2D renderer how to generate a page. That is why so many apps other than pdf editors import only a raster image equivalent to the printed page. Vector scaling takes place during the render; it is not available afterward because it amounts to restarting the rendering process with a different initial scale.

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