SketchUp in 2019: where great ideas get to work



Thanks! I hope you get good use out of SketchUp 2019 in your cabinetry business. If all you need is SketchUp and LayOut, I think you made a safe choice for this year.



(I’m quoting to force SU to read it again)


I assure you we don’t think of SketchUp in this way. In fact I’m constantly impressed by the scope and quality of work done by our users in the professional AEC space around the world every day. Take, for example, the work of our friends at M. Moser in Singapore.


I think what makes software different from other tools is that it must be continuously updated to stay relevant with changes to your computer hardware and/or operating system. If you are willing to freeze those then you can successfully use an application that you bought once forever.

Most people don’t do that, though, and consequently software developers (like us) must continuously update our applications to keep them working well. That represents a continuous cost for us, since we must maintain a full development team to (at a minimum) keep up with the constantly evolving platforms on which you run our code.

There are lots of ways to look at this, of course, and you may or may not agree with my assessment. But if you’re looking for a reason, this is one to consider.

Your book analogy is a good one, though I’d suggest that instead of a book, software is more like a newspaper or magazine. It must be updated regularly or it loses relevance. Subscriptions are common with newspapers.


yeah this is pretty much the situation for me too…

Some great extensions (eg layer organizer) become useless if you work on a model with other sketchup users who don’t have the same extensions. Integrating them (even if turned off by default) would iron out so many compatibility problems.

As a Solution maybe Sketchup could prompt somebody "This model was created using Layer Organizer - Click Here to add this free extension to your Sketchup Template"

(of course LO isn’t free - unfortunately that’s another issue with 3rd party extensions - subscriptions, one-off licenses, different versions…major headache!!)


Whaaaaaaaaat! How come I didn’t know that! I’ve been asking for this feature for years and everybody keep saying that it’s not ready yet! (They are still saying it at this date) I’ll have to investigating more but for sure that have not been promoted at all. Thx for the reply jbacus.


I agree the price is sort of a “detail” in a professional AEC firm. I would pay more for better functionality and I like th tiered subscription model.

For Pros, many do use SketchUp as a regular (core) part of their workkflow. However many more staff just need it to be a viewer/markup tool that they can use to examine and ‘tweak’ my model. For us Sketchup Pros, this “audience” is critical.

I will also add that a professional SketchUp “workflow” in the (architecture/landscape/civil industry) is actually quite complicated and expensive.
In addition to dozens of Extensions (many paid), I definitely need programs including:

  • A raytracing/rendering package.
  • Infraworks for preparing concept geometry for roads, drainage and earthworks
  • Image editing tools to prepare backdrops and materials creation (photoshop)
  • AutoCAD LT to prepare DWGs for import and clean them up after export because SketchUp’s DWG manager is unreliable (maybe improved in 2019).
  • Adobe Illustrator; because coloured PDFs are the ‘document’ delivered to Clients and Layout just isn’t good enough.
  • InDesign for multi-page documentation , because LayOut can’t add text and graphics reliably.
  • Excel for tables/calcs/schedules

I probably only use less than 5% of the functionality each of these but the industry expects polished presentation docs.

SketchUp could go a long way further if it incorporated the “basic” elements of these programs. Or at least if it is using extensions, that there’s some better way to make them 'universal and work properly without me needing to maintain 40 different payments/subscriptions/etc…

Simple, right?

#SketchUp 2020 wishlist


This is from DanRathbun on May 2018
As said previously, the LayOut APIs are currently .layout FILE APIs not application APIs. They do not run in LayOut ’s application process. (They run in either a 3rd party application as an importer or exporter, or in SketchUp ’s application process to create or edit LayOut files based upon the loaded .skp model.)
So currently , there is no ability to modify how LayOut operates or interacts with users.
We all are hoping this changes in the future, and we get a “live” LayOut API.

When I say Plugin for Layout, I mean plugin for Layout.


Hi jbacus - cool reply and I appreciate you answering questions here.

I have one question about the maintenance plan.

Subscription based apps typically release updates incrementally (and globally) yet Sketchup continues to release standalone software versions each year. For users this creates annoying compatibility issues and a painful migration process each year.




After spending a lot of time reading the New Features (if you’ll call them that) of 2019, I’m like so many others wondering what the hell is my $119/year maintenance fee paying for…more coffee beans to grind? Guys, I will drop out this year and stop upgrading my Pro license this year if you don’t address the fundamentals. There are GREAT feedback statements on this site, and judging the value and quality of the 2019 update, the only thing I can say is STOP DRINKING THE SUBSCRIPTION KOOL AID! NOBODY LIKES SOFTWARE SUBSCRIPTIONS. My yearly maintenance fee is a $10/month subscription fee and like I said, the value has steadily disappeared over the past few years of being a Pro user.

No improved extensions handling (you own Trimble Connect is such a joke it never updates nor works)
No basics like dashed lines until now as a layer…a LAYER ???
No better management of trays in macOS (so sloppy a work space compared to Windows)
Nothing impressive upon another year’s release.


Matt, as usual, and as a purchaser of both of your books, I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for stating it so clearly (and to hoping Trimble cares enough to listen!).


Why is this URL secret ?

I looked and tried to find a link to Classic plans but could NOT !
We cannot navigate there from the website’s drop down menus.


All I can find is…



Yea, Dave pointed that out in another thread I since read.

I think it is so silly to hide it’s product page this way. It is actually disrespectful to the customer base.

I am extremely concerned about modifiers like “for the time being” etc. or similar used to describe the “availability” of classic licenses.

In fact this whole idea of resculpting the “Pro” product and renamed the previous one “Classic” reminds me of the 1985 Coca-Cola reformula disaster. That one truly left a bad taste in my mouth, and I’m no longer a Coke customer no even a cola drinker because of it.

SketchUp marketing has in the past few years been leaving a bad experience in my mind.

I am seriously looking for alternative(s).


If the Layout API were ready for plugins, I suspect there would already be plugins.


The addition of “for this year” doesn’t sound that reassuring.


Hey Drew

I am the 2D Bryce from SketchUp 5. SketchUp V1.0 was released in Dec 1999 at a whopping price of $495 per seat! As I said above we’re in it for the long haul. I hope we can give you plenty of reasons to stick with us.


How can I activate a layer in SU 2019?

When opening in a “mobile” browser (e.g. on iOS) the Classic option appears to be missing.

I must say that de-emphasizing the link on the “desktop” view is a classic UI dark pattern, typically employed by unsavory companies. It reminds me of RealAudio in the 90’s. They offered a “free” version of their audio player (which monetized user data, as it turned out), but made it hard to find the download link among their paid products.


Thank you for the reply John,
You are of course correct that there is an ongoing cost to keep the software relevant with new operating systems and hardware. I do realize that, and in fact I almost added mention of that in my original post, but I elected to be succinct. With Sketchup and nearly all other software I own, I will pay a modest annual fee to ensure I keep up with the latest version. In my opinion that model is totally fair and I’m pretty sure most people would agree. I would pay more than ‘modest’ as an option if I needed continual support with any particular software.

$300 per year for an annual Pro subscription seems like quite a lot compared to the cost to purchase the ‘classic’ way. At least Sketchup should consider a purchasing model where after 3 or 4 years of ongoing subscription the latest version is owned so one’s not left completely empty handed after spending over $1000.


This whole release is underwhelming and the only people who gained from this must be a Boulder coffee bean company.

The closest experience to Sketchup as an alternative for me is FormZ. While I use it in tandem it may be time to hop over completely.