SketchUp for Web - An Alternative to Desktop?

Hi SketchUp Folks,

From the recent announcement about the change in our pricing and purchasing options for SketchUp, there is skepticism about the utility of SketchUp Web as a replacement. I wanted to start a new conversation in the interest of improvement, not simply complaint, about what is missing or what do you think is missing from the web version. I won’t prattle on in this post too long but rather make a couple of notes or suggestions;

  • There are 2 SketchUp Web versions; SketchUp Web and SketchUp Shop. - The first is absolutely free, no hidden costs. The second is a basic subscription with some “Pro” tools that are aimed at more practical SketchUp users. SketchUp Shop is what you may subscribe to if you just use SketchUp for smaller DIY projects.

  • SketchUp Web (both versions) is missing Extensions. This is a known limitation. Try not to belabor the point, yes this isn’t currently an option (will it be someday? unknown.) So, just consider that we already have that particular feature request on the list (at the very top.)

With that said, my hope is a productive conversation and as the creator of this thread, I’ll likely boot comments that derail the conversation to either simply complain or are off topic.

  • What is SketchUp Web/Shop missing to make it your daily driver?
  • What exists but needs to exist better in SketchUp Web/Shop?
  • What exists and handles everything my needs perfectly?
  • What exists but really misses the mark? (it’s works fine, but is “better” on Desktop)
  • Could something between Web (free) and Desktop (pro) similar but different than Shop?

So what are we “allowed” to say about the web versions? What kind of discussions are you aiming at here?

Added: my suggestions for improvements / bugs / feature requests are normally directed to @Mark.

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Touche, I realized as I ended it that i might have to be clear on my intent… let me go back up and edit.

@mark is a great place to start this as well, I invited him to this conversation separately and imagine he’ll be in and out. Sometimes though, I have an idea, but it’s a bad one and having some perspective is good. This can be a place to vet your ideas for Mark. (For those that don’t know, Mark is our Product Manager for SketchUp Web.)

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Personally, what I’ve always wanted was an a la carte option for SketchUp. Let me pick and choose the parts I need. Maybe I want LayOut but don’t need SketchUp Pro. Maybe I want Solid Tools but not Dynamic Components.

I feel like the trick is determining what is “core” to SketchUp and what is a feature that some might not want and would take a hit to cost to drop that functionality.

I see you added these points to your first post, :+1: But they somehow conflict with some of the text content in the same post (no complaining allowed, etc)

But anyway, for a start:

  • a) the Web version often interrupts while modeling, to the point that it is very annoying. It misses the option to set or even disable “Autosave”. (first point)
  • b) Isometric Views but with shortcut keys the location+ditection of the camera in modeling space is not respected. An assigned shortcut key always shows the latest isometric view. (point 2)
  • c) isometry in the desktop version respects the camera location+direction. And there are eight different iso’s possible. In the web version one needs to set up iso’s from beneath manually. It’s very tedious when needed. (point 4)

the main issue for me (other than extentions) is performance.

sorry guys, web is just slower. your running ontop of a web browser. that puts in a performance overhead right off. (I’ve tried it in Chrome and Firefox - latest versions… and desktop smokes both.)

add in, a change to something you, the programming team, cannot control - the browser - kills the app.

no. thanks. it’s a nice toy and a nice programming challenge… but as a practical low term daily driver? … no.


I’m not too sensitive about this topic. Obviously, many people who are used to the extensibility and performance advantages of the desktop version may have strong feelings on this point. But, as Jody mentioned, we are trying to get a sense of how to continue sharpening the web app for both people who want to use SketchUp for free, or who aren’t able / willing to pay for a Pro subscription.

(Re: auto-save preferences: we are verryyyy close on this).


so pointing out the 2 main flaws are verboten?


Incidental question: has the name of the no-cost web-based version changed from SketchUp Free to SketchUp Web?

I just tried SketchUp Web for the very first time, loading a medium-complexity model (1 million edges, 500K faces). Orbit etc. works very smoothly - I am impressed and surprised! This is on a MacBook Pro with Retina Display mid-2014, 16GB of memory. One of my biggest worries about the usability of SketchUp Web has been performance with non-trivial models, and I have been skeptical. This topic finally nudged me to try it. I’m glad I did, and doubly glad that the performance is a lot better than I was expecting.

I believe SketchUp Web is used to distinguish it from SketchUp Desktop. Web would include Free, Shop, and Schools.

What I miss most is the ‘Save as’ and ‘reload’ of Components.
It would be nice to have Collections associated with either private folders in a (shared) 3D Warehouse account or collection(s)
And templates…

Of course I use Pro daily and only dabble in Free out of curiosity or to answer questions on the Forum, but in general I think it’s a surprisingly good full featured modeler (for free!) and I think it gets a bad rap from many who have not taken the time to learn how it works.

To address that first impression reaction directly, I think the UI itself is a big cause of confusion in new users and disappointment for users coming from SketchUp Make. I am really baffled about the decision to make the interface design such a big departure from the existing SketchUp UI. The drastically different interface alienates users accustomed to all other versions of SketchUp, and reinforces the perception that the web version is a “toy” and not the “real thing”.
This decision also alienates new users trying to learn Free because there was no offering of education or training courses that feature the new Free UI. By making the UI such a departure it has the effect of rendering all the existing training material, on the Campus and YouTube and everywhere else much less relevant and difficult to learn from. The Learning Campus is presented as the best means of learning SketchUp, but new users who go there can find no training that looks like the version they are trying to learn.

That aside, I do have one question/observation about Free. What about the option for choosing custom colors in the material picker? The ability is clearly possible as we can choose custom colors for tags using RGB, or HEX, or HSL. For now the work around is to assign sections with different tags, choose the tag colors, then color by tag. Could the same dialogue box not pop up to make custom colors available in the materials window?


Indeed, I thought that “SketchUp Web” was the umbrella term for all the web-based versions. However, Jody’s original post uses the names SketchUp Web for the no-cost version and SketchUp Shop for the subscription version. That confuzled me. :slight_smile:

He comes from those pre-Shop days I suppose.

Why is the online version that comes with the subscription to Pro called Web and not Shop if it’s the same features as Shop?

Definitely no need to apologize, I suppose I could have said that this is also on the big list, but i’m fine hearing this point repeatedly. There ARE some things we can do to improve performance so we are continuing to work on that.

You can mention the flaws, I just wanted to make sure there was more to a post than “these two things make it suck, eom” (c:

My apologies for the confusion about Web/Free/Shop. I usually talk about it in terms of “Web” for the Help Center but then started having to say “Shop” and as Colin suggested… I just jump around the 3 rather than consistently use the umbrella term “Web.”

@endlessfix the UI is a by-product of our first release. As I recall, the thinking was “we’re no longer constrained by OS specific UI libraries and can do whatever we want” coupled with “we no longer have access to this OS specific library so can’t do this anymore” and the result was a departure. I don’t want to cast shade on the intent at the time, but I agree that the change in UI resulted in me avoiding it moreso than embracing it. Since Mark has been at the helm there have been more and more tweaks to try to get UI parity closer to what folks are used to. This is a changeable feature! (Yaaay)

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@Jody I would hope that UI coherence and consistency across all SU products (SU Web / Pro / Layout / Extensions) would be high priority for the product dev team.

TBH it’s been at least a couple of years since I’ve tried SU Free, but my normal project workflow relies heavily on extensions so there hasn’t been much appeal to re-trial. (I didn’t realize that the ‘Save As/Reload’ functionality wasn’t included, but that would also be a deal breaker for now.)

But I will try modelling some individual objects with the current version of Free to get up-to-date on where it stands in the present. After TDahl’s comment above, I’m curious to test the performance and capability.

I live in continental Europe, so one irritation for me is having to use a dot instead of a comma as the decimal deliminator when inputting numbers. This is the only software I use which cannot handle commas. As a Free user, I accept that I have to live with it, but if I was paying a subscription I would be very disattisfied.

I first tried SketchUp Web out of curiousity, having been a user of Make for some years. Performance was very poor in the beginning, and the new user interface took a lot of getting used to, but both of those issues are now resolved and I actually prefer Web now. Some menu options seem to be missing (sorry, can’t remember which), but the shortcuts for them seem to work anyway, so not a problem for me.

I actually think this is a good product, but my main concern is about long-term viability. I just don’t see it as a viable tool for professional use without a significant investment in improvements, and I doubt if many hobby users would pay $119 per year subscription, so the money will not be there to fund development. I am afraid it will just end up frozen like Make, so I am moving over to Blender.

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