Should I invest in the Pro version?


Yet another freeze. Sketchup is not responding.
Why should I persevere with this?
Is this a good reason to buy the pro version or a good reason not to ?
Is the 2017 version past it?

Some people would say I’m just sore because Trimble has decided to withdraw useable free use. Yes, it is true, and perhaps it is only fair that I should pay for the software I use even though it can’t work with curves with a radius of less than a few millimetres. I should say I’m a retired hobbyist with a 3D printer and a ‘train set’. But there’s a few points that make answering the title question far from straightforward.
So to continue my modelling pastime to the same level I now need to pay $299 - The single most expensive item in my hobby.

Google introduced me to Sketchup. I invested many hours over the years climbing the learning curve and despite the many serious shortfalls with the each progressive version I persevered and faithfully submitted all my bug splat reports with vigilance and detail, I felt part of the community project.

Is it morally wrong of me to want to be using “free” software or to feel frustrated that software I committed effort and time into is summarily removed?

Where should I stand now?

It appears I have ‘the choice’ to buy the pro version even though I am not and never will be professional or use SU to gain income. Yes, I have access to the online version, but I am now heavily committed to plugins which are vital to the usability of SU. Which begs the question:-

The plugins are devised, written and maintained in good will by the authors. They ask nothing for their work, their only reward is the gratitude and appreciation from the community they contribute to. They certainly have mine. Without these people Sketchup would be lacking many essential tools. AFAIK they are not doing it for Trimble and receive no payment. Yet Trimble have decided to profit from plugin authors’ contributions by charging users to gain access to the charitable work they donated in goodwill, free of charge to the community.

If a supermarket was found to be re-selling the food their customers charitably donated in goodwill to community projects, there would be outrage. Yet, unless I am mistaken, Trimble would appear to be doing just that.

Of course, Trimble has no obligation to offer it’s software free to non- professionals and students. But they must know full well that the number of paying users of the future is directly proportional to the number of free users today, as a high proportion of paying users were once free users or have been influenced by free users.

This is my next concern. What is the longevity of the software?

To withdraw free use would be to alienate many of their potential future clients. Assuming they want them. My son uses a paid version in his work because I had the free version on the family PC and he got used to using it. I suspect that the “free users”, who take the subject seriously, will be looking to invest their learning curve time elsewhere, as the ceiling of free usability with SU >2017 is now so low.
I doubt that a current pro user would be satisfied that the “free” offering alone was sufficient to make an informed buying decision for a professional new to Sketchup and would very likely look elsewhere.

On one hand Should I stay loyal and invest cash in a software company that is inwardly looking, out for a fast buck by exploiting the goodwill of others, deliberately damaging it’s future client base and falling behind it’s competitors?
Should I sell-out, cut my losses and invest time a new learning curve such as Fusion 360 which is a free for non-commercial use 3D design and manufacturing suite streets ahead of SU in this field?

I sort of answered my own question. But is is such a shame. I will never be as proficient in Fusion as I am with Sketchup.

Rant over. Dummy back in pram. Back to repairing geometry…

I wonder if there are any plug-in authors which now can’t use the plugins they wrote because they don’t have the pro version?


Well I just paid for the subscription to Pro and the download link appears to be broken on the website, and I don’t have the installer anyplace else, so I’m sitting here reading forum posts. In answer to your question, I would not buy this today.


TLDR you can still download SU2017 Make for hobby use.


There are many people like myself, a home hobbyist, that have purchased the Pro version. The make version left me wanting some features as I was coming from Autocad 2011 student version that I had acquired for $200.00. I had evaluated many other competitors products and also found them lacking. I have been with SU since 2016.


You don’t have to feel bad about using the free hobbyist version for a hobby, that’s what it’s for. If you have performance issues you could install 2019 Pro and use the trial period (30 days I think it is) to see if it fixes those issues. If it’s the hardware or some other thing with your computer that causes these issues, buying 2019 wouldn’t solve it.

Regarding how Trimble manages SketchUp I think it’s a bit sad they’ve discontinued Make, the hobby version, in favor of Free, the toy version. If SketchUp make is a hammer and SketchUp Pro a shiny hammer, SketchUp Free is in my view a brightly colored plastic toy hammer that squeaks when you hit something with it. This change will prevent a whole new generation of extension developers.

That said I think it’s unfair to say Trimble in inward looking and out for a fast buck. Google bought SketchUp and published a free version to populate Google Earth with building models. When doing so SketchUp Pro lost quite a lot of the market to the free version. Trimble doesn’t use SketchUp for some external purpose, but simply needs to collect money from it to keep it going, like any other commercial software. A lot of people apparently went for the less shiny hammer, even if the license explicitly forbids commercial use, so from a business perspective I can see where they are coming from.

Also Trimble invests back in SketchUp in another way. I’ve heard from the developers that google rushed in a few new features but didn’t care very much about refactoring, code quality and the overall longevity of the project. As I’ve understood Trimble has invested a lot of work in basic housecleaning, rewriting the whole rendering pipeline and refactored a bunch of other things. SketchUp is constantly getting more stable and less buggy.

Regarding extension developers, some of us has started as hobbyists but are professional users that would need a Pro license anyway, some I think stay in older versions, and some are even hired by Trimble and improve the API for the rest of us Pro users.