SketchUp in 2019: where great ideas get to work

I hear this- we have had requests to expose our future plans for a long time. We habitually don’t do this, though. Originally, the argument was that we didn’t want our competitors to know what we were up to. We don’t worry too much about that any more.

Now, the reason is unfortunately more related to US GAAP accounting standards for publicly traded corporations which explicitly prohibit against our promising features to the market before they are completed. Specifically, if we promise we will build a feature that leads to a customer buying because of the promise, we are legally unable to recognize any revenue from the sale until such time as we have delivered the feature. So, essentially, we are legally prohibited from sharing a future roadmap.

Different companies have different interpretations of this regulation, so you may from time to time see public companies sharing future development ideas with their communities in limited forms. Trimble has a particularly conservative approach to the standard, however. Not up to me to question that.

And privately held companies are free to share or hide whatever they like. They operate under different standards and practices.

In the final analysis, though, the reason we hold our plans close to the chest is unrelated to all of these things. While we listen widely to ideas and priorities from our user community, our roadmap is our responsibility. We want to serve as many people as we possibly can, of course— but must be responsible to find the balance between their diverse agendas ourselves.

Thanks for the link- very thoughtful and insightful. And I think more or less what I’m describing above. I might add that typically we have this discussion in our user forums immediately following a product release, where users unsatisfied with the work we did for them wonder, “…if you weren’t doing what I wanted you to do, then what on earth were you spending all your time doing?”


No- our user community focus remains as it was before. We build products for personal use, for professional use, for use in higher education and in primary and secondary schools.

For personal users, we offer SketchUp Free (on the web), SketchUp Shop (on the web, with additional features) and SketchUp Pro (a full-featured desktop app at our lowest entry price ever.)

Thanks for the support! It is always gratifying to hear we are making a difference in people’s work. We’re in it for the long haul, too.

CAD-style dimensioning is very complex, especially if what you mainly want to do is to be able to import an AutoCAD file and have all of the settings/styling you did there preserved. There are dozens and dozens of settings that would have to be translated into equivalent settings in LayOut. Our goal with LayOut’s dimensioning was to offer something simpler.

Similar to the question about dimensioning, vector hatches, particularly if what you mainly want to be able to do is import them from Autocad, are quite complex. A vector rendered version of LayOut’s current hatching implementation might be possible someday, though we fear that they would negatively impact overall drawing performance considerably. There’s a balance to be found.

The problem with text import is, assuming again you’re trying to do so from AutoCAD, is that the stylistic settings are quite diverse. Even something as apparently simple as the choice of a font can be hugely complex. AutoCAD, for example, still offers a proprietary “.SHX” font type that we would have to implement from scratch to be able to support it.

This is an interesting business model, and it matches well with the open-source development model. Similar in many respects to the way that Wikipedia funds itself. Or National Public Radio. Typically, this is a funding model which fits non-profit organizations. Public companies like ours can’t self-fund in this way, unfortunately.

Wow! That’s a big set! I can’t wait to see the project.

Please do not insult us. You’re now saying it’s not possible to share product roadmaps based on some arbitrary claims.

Product roadmaps are not promises, they are directions. They help customers plan. They are shared ALL THE TIME. Both Unreal and Unity do this. So do many, many other companies.

My point is you’re better sharing your plans, especially after 2 years of updates to SU Pro where the major new features are a rounded rectangle and dashed lines. By not doing so, you encourage many to think the absolute worst.

jbacus has alread told us there is little to no feature improvement feature-wise over the last two years for Pro.** So, I would like to ask, “what is the real reason for no new features?”

Why would a company not improve their flagship 3D product in favor of a free online version?

To me there is one of two reasonable conclusion. 1. Pro will go online. 2. Pro is finished as far as being proactively developed. That’s why the switch to subscription. That’s why all the secrecy. That’s why no more development on PRO.

Respect your customers and you have a better chance of them respecting you in return. Feed them stories, like this one loosley based on accounting standards, and you risk alienating them.



You mean like Autodesk…?


Hi, Bryce.

Any idea, is it a question of days, week(s), month(s)? As will also take sime time to go through distributor/re-seller channel.
With some confusing questions regarding 2019 release, it’s quite an important question - I need to communicate this clearly to users in our company, as I really want to avoid such a great confusion as the one here. (release of VR is great - I really like it for a long time and waited for it to be publicly available, but presence only in subscription, and no information on migration does not help much. If you understand)

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A carefully thought out strategic road map need not include very specific features. However your public road map could make make general statements such as:

We plan to spend considerable time on web development
We plan on continuing development with LO and the desktop version of Sketchup

The keywords are “carefully thought out”


As I said, companies interpret these standards differently. Regardless, this is not my decision to make, so while I can listen to your requests, I cannot share future-looking statements with you.

Agreed. And I have made both of those statements in these forums.

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Chip- I think everyone reading this thread understands you are upset. I am listening carefully and responding thoughtfully and transparently. Please maintain a productive tone here if you want the conversation to continue.

I can’t fully unpack the line of reasoning you’re on, but there’s no basis for the conclusion that we are preparing to end development of SketchUp Pro on desktop computers.


Not upset in the least. I read the tea leaves. I’m moving on-- heck, I started last year. Perhaps you saw my YouTube video on switching from SketchUp to Blender? It already has over 200,000 views.

I think you conflate “not proactively developed” with “ending development.” I certainly expect you will continue to deliver the existing PRO product, albeit with as few feature updates as possible, as long as people are willing to pay for it. And certainly that is within Trimble’s right as the sole owner of SketchUp. I just think a roadmap would be a nice thing for loyal users to see.


John, I didn’t write before in Sketchup Forum and after this release I have something to say, I won’t talk here about the new subscription model because that’s the main reason I’m not using Autocad or Revit right now, If Revit isn’t in the Subscription system for me as an architect Revit is superior, it’s not about money at all for me, I like to own my things even it’s expensive, I Know you since Google has own Sketchup and your First video about Layout release, Sketchup Is outstanding tool no doubt, It’s unique, productive and smart. I’m using SketchUp Since v5, I’m working in a very big Projects with many Classical details, these type of details forced me to learn how to maintain the file size of my Projects, Nick Sonder has inspired me with his Documentation in Layout, the Problem here in many of my projects that I can’t export the plans or elevations to Layout simply because it has complex geometry despite of Sketchup is holding the geometry in a fair way, I think Layout needs to be Developed to at least it can hold whatever SketchUp can.


IMO, roadmaps are tealeaves at most, with all the ‘if and but’ restrictions…

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Thanks for remaining civil and classy in your responses, I would imagine that isn’t easy under the circumstances.

I hope so and this we could agree on.

Unfortunately it wasn’t, see the quote from Bryce above. The question is clear w.r.t. development to the desktop application, upon which the user replies were based, which in turn led us down this line of discussion. So, again back to my question, why would desktop Pro users be looking for updates on a platform they don’t use?

I (as would any reasonable and sane person) comprehend the magnitude of user wishes / complaints you may be faced with. Some of them have merit, others don’t, then you have wishes that just are not feasible for technological / core programming reasons, and so forth. The problem lies in the same wishes / complaints appearing year after year after year (take a look at the “wish lists” created on this subject matter, and not only on this forum), without any apparent progress. Yet we trust you with our Maintenance and Support money year after year as we realize there may be vast lists of features to be developed and work to be done, yet still hoping and trusting that fixes to problems will be done and passed on, as per agreement.

If you wish to use the analogy of how many users are posting and complaining versus the analytical (thus assumed, which may be a fictional value) amount of users, it is a failed analogy. As you know, it’s about sample groups as you simply cannot reach and get feedback from your entire audience. It’s fair to say that the regular posters on forums (thus not considering people posting about the odd problem that they experience and then never seeing / hearing from them again) could be considered a sample group. How many support subscription licencing? How many are happy with the apparent direction you’re pointing SketchUp in? How many paid their Maintenance and Support and got what for it since SU2018 was released? How many are ecstatic with the list of new features in SU2019? How many of the sample group are begging for improvements to LO? I’m not even talking about Stylebuilder, it doesn’t seem like it gets much love from either the userbase or the developers.

The thing about M&S is that a user of longer than say about 3 years will most likely not be using your support, it’s the maintenance that they’re expecting.

Don’t misunderstand me, we’re appreciative of the long list of bug fixes that were done (the most apparent of these would be window focus stealing, thanks, we know the most are “under the hood” and are not so apparent to all), the question is why these were not released to the userbase as an update (a.k.a. maintenance release), as they are entitled to per their M&S agreement? Was it to bolster appearances of this release as you may have suspected that the community would be less than thrilled about the velocity of development?

Personally I am appreciative of the linestyle feature, even though extensions exist that would do this (in essence) already. I am also appreciative of the DWG / DXF import / export upgrade and the Ruby upgrade (the Ruby progress is invaluable as it often opens up new avenues for 3rd party developers). These I understand would qualify as major release features / upgrades.

Why would desktop Pro users care about the online Free or Shop versions, those are not the products we paid for and (in my and many other cases) have a valid / active M&S agreement for? Why would we be looking there for updates? Wasted our time, yes; wasted our money, yes; wasting more of our time through problems not being researched and fixed, yes.

Considerable value for whom? Perpetual licencing software is where I’m at, not subscription. Subscription is a means to an end, yes, but it doesn’t provide the end-user with value in the long run or if they were to cancel the subscription for whatever reason, they’re locked out of their files / work with no way to manipulate it, please don’t quote deprecated software or versions with licencing prohibitions.

You didn’t have to win our trust, you had it already; we bought your software, we paid you the M&S money and expect you to honor the agreement within the period of time stipulated, it is a bilateral contract. How you treat us will determine that future level of trust.

Fortunately for you, many of the SU users are rather passionate about it (as evidenced by this thread and others), some so heavily invested in it that it would be a bitter pill to swallow to move away (financial loss w.r.t. assets and complementary software purchased, new software costs, new learning curves, unproductive time spent learning, we might end up with the same problems, etc.), it generally wouldn’t be a decision most people would make, unless pushed.


All of the above.


I’m going to revisit your book. I wonder if time and changes in circumstances would lead to any addendum or changes in methodology. I really struggled with the idea of using color and how this would be received by less progressive building departments. I don’t want to run 2 models. I just started using Enscape and it has an interesting feature where a texture can display grey or without color in the model and colored in the real-time viewer by using the tint option.

I’ve drifted off topic. I’m going to go see if your running any kind of blog on your website.


What you may be missing is that these updates were related to getting existing desktop features to work acceptably on Free and to advance the cloud environment without which the web-based versions can’t function, not to fix bugs in the core or add new features that don’t exist in the desktop version. Aside from sharing improved EW, 3DW, and Connect features, there wasn’t much to “pass on” to the Pro desktop. Once the web versions are complete and stable it seems likely that either their update frequency will decrease or that we will see more maintenance releases for the desktop to avoid a feature lag.


A roadmap, regardless of how vague and simplistic would certainly help allay a lot of the uncertainty or fear of the unknown that you sense from the SketchUp users on this board. I don’t see how this could be a bad thing.