SketchUp in 2019: where great ideas get to work

As per chippwalters - My mom said - If you don’t have something good to say then …


Did you ever even read or listen to my messages and videos? There was never a “cry to abandon SketchUp.”
I was and still am trying to figure out what the future looks like because Trimble will not say.

There was the first video, which had quite a number of reasons to continue using SketchUp as well as the 20 reasons to switch. It must’ve resonated as there are over 220,000 views of it on YouTube.

You should read some of the comments there. I defend SketchUp there as well.

And yes, I do feel like Trimble has ripped me off with the paucity of Pro features. As a paid consumer, each year, of your product, I believe I have a right to know if this standard of feature support for Pro is the new norm. Frankly, I didn’t need 2018 and so far it looks like I won’t need 2019 either as the effort to port all the icon locations, plugins and all the rest is just too much trouble.

FWIW, I download a new version of Blender each week, unzip wherever I want and install and it all just works with my existing preferences and plugins and startup scenes.

I am sorry if you feel logical discourse and critical thought are combative.


Trying to reply to the comment about SU<->Unreal interoperability. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s not available on MacOS, right? That’s a shame.

tickranch may have been talking about SU<Unreal interoperability, and Mac is behind PC on that.

Or, it could have been the 20 reasons why Blender is Great, or Awesome, or the Bee’s Knees (the very height of excellence).

The word switch never even has to come into play.

You make a case for why Blender can work well along with SketchUp, offer encouragement to try it out, and possibly even provide additional support (I’m not really sure ?)… at least at the level provided by the information you offer in the videos you’ve created… And generally speaking, the bottom line of all of this, from my perspective, seems to be that you advocate for using multiple software tools.

And if that’s actually the case… then using the word switch, can easy be viewed as a contradictive term against the practice of using a multi-software workflow. But of course I don’t know this for sure—and I’m not trying to speak on your behalf. I don’t have to, I can just ask you plainly…

Would you ever actually recommend that anybody chose one option or the other?

It’s not as if anybody will have to chose only one, due to some limited operational budget. There are no extra costs involved that I’m aware of in adding Blender into a SketchUp workflow.

So in all fairness—and I’ve hit the thumbs up icon for one hell of a lot of posts you made in recent days—there is a bit of a contradiction in how the Switch terms gets applied.

And YES, I DO realize that there’s a double edge reference being made here. Blender is also being held up as a standard to which SketchUp should be aspiring to. I can see all of that and have no problem in making comparative judgement calls in that way.

So now we have a problem about switching, and agendas for motivating folks to leave, and accounts being shutdown… and it’s all based on a poor choice of words, and misinterpretations during a rather hypersensitive time of fairly strong criticism.

But I’m all in favor of free speech. In that same way that I’m in favor of letting folks decide for themselves what software they want to use. I only advocate for access to REAL information, without suggestive advertising, agendas, or BS marketing practices.

Your observations, industry knowledge, and general insights are great @chippwalters—I’ve learned a lot in these recent weeks, for which I’m very grateful.

But at the same time the comments which @jody posted are not unreasonable either.

This thread needs to be protected, there’s good information here, and I don’t want to see any posts disappear suddenly.

Question for SketchUp:

So if things don’t work out here… what exactly is included in canceling an account?

Do all of the old post go missing? or, do they say around for archival reason, and the users get cut off from all future activities?


I’ll try and reply to your thoughtful questions. It’s a bit of a story.

If you like, you can peruse the forum for last years posts which are mostly found in the MAKE thread here.

At the time, I was running a small team of developers, 3D Artists and media folks to create what would become an Augmented Reality educational app called Experience Real History: The Alamo.

We used just about every software known on that project: Maya, Blender, SketchUp, 3DMax, Substance, and even 3D Coat and Zbrush.

During that time, one of my jobs was to work with historians to create the most dimensionally accurate model of the compound possible. I ended up modeling, texturing, writing the shaders, etc. for the whole Alamo compound in 1836. I learned a lot about SU’s limits during that time.

My pipeline looked like this:

  1. Model in SketchUp off of old blueprints. This was of course SU’s strength and I could fairly quickly create first passes.
  2. Render and review in SU (using Fluid Interactive’s AO renderer).


  1. Export as low poly OBJ
  2. Make sure SU model is water tight and export to 3D Coat to voxelize and add damage.
  3. Export 4-10 million poly OBJ to Substance for creating normal map of damage around the low poly OBJ.
  4. Import low poly OBJ and normal map to Unity and add rock shader there. For a low poly model, the final results spoke for themselves.


During this time, I made several unsuccessful attempts at paying noted plugin devs to try and write a decent bevel addon for SketchUp. I asked Fredo if he would update his plugin, but he did not have the time. Eventually, he sent me some betas and now there is finally a valid bevel/chamfer plugin that works. Thanks again to Fredo, but for me it was a great product but too late.

So, as we finished the project, I looked back over this particular pipeline, and the pipelines I used to create the Hyperloop (all done in SU and Keyshot) concepts for Elon Musk, and those used to create the Drone Ambulance for Fast Company (and their Cadillac that split in two) and realized a couple of things:

  1. I do many different things in SU. While I am a trained Industrial Designer, I do all sorts of concept work and not only architecture.
  2. As my tasks diversify, I need more power and more tools. A few years ago I added both MoI3D, Substance Painter and 3D Coat to my personal pipeline.
  3. Keeping up with all these programs is a full time job. And 3D is NOT my full time job. It’s the main reason I’ve stuck with SU all these years. It’s like an old friend where I can jump right back into it after not using it for 6 months.

Still, looking at the first list above, and after finishing the Alamo project, I pretty much decided I personally needed to switch. All that pipeline and the uncertainty of where Pro is going. I can pretty much do just about that full pipeline in one package-- Blender. This decision was made long after the first video. This does not mean I advocate everyone needs to switch.

One of the things I noticed in the hundreds of comments from the first video, were many sentiments like yours, Jim.

Why not use both? And I thought about that a good bit. After studying Blender a bit more, I recognized a FIT between the two, which was IMO natural and easy and free. Just use SketchUp to model and Blender to render SU scenes and they can be animated lightning fast with EEVEE.

So, I contacted some of the top SU artists to see if they might help beta test and off I went to create my EEVEE rendering course for SU users. It has done well and I have had good feedback.

So, yes, I am switching. But for the reasons I mention above and because personally, I have little trust in Trimble to shepherd the PRO version into something I can use longterm.


I really appreciate what you’re doing, Chipp, and I follow closely your progress as well as your hard work on making Blender a tool for regular SketchUp users to add to their repertoire. I really look forward to the pipeline you’ve created there and plan to use it myself and with my team, as we’re always looking for ways to make our work look better (rendering), which doesn’t seem like SketchUp’s primary focus.

My only input on the matter at this time is my opinion that we don’t need to worry about the future of SU Pro. The software works well, as it has for years, doing what it does. If there’s a lack of improvements and features in a year or so, I personally don’t view that as Trimble giving up on SU. Their team members are insisting over and over that SketchUp is here to stay and isn’t going to disappear, and I think it makes sense to trust them on that.


The move to include a 3rd party software is not to replace Sketchup, it’s to extend Sketchup. For many users this is not needed as Sketchup can do everything they need and more. For other users that require more elaborate and detailed models SU has limits and always had them, The problem is SU has not grown with some users that require more from this software than it is able to supply.
I have been using SU over 15 years and learned how to model on a strict poly diet, I have learned low poly modeling and how to skimp where I can in order to get huge models to work, but due to market requirements I am no longer able to complete projects in SU as they just become too big and impossible to work with. Even with edges, lines, materials, and shadows off, even with clever layer management SU buckles on medium to large projects. An example is American Ninja warrior sets, every year we add new obstacles, change old ones, find new locations etc, yet these changes require more polys and SU does not have more to give, so I am forced to build individually in SU then export to a 3rd party software to compile, this effects my workflow with all the export, import, fixing models then if one needs a change the whole system collapses and back to SU for changes and export again, and so forth.
Here is last years set for ANW10 in L.A, this is the limit SU could handle (I know shadows and lines are on, I did this to test if possible which it was after 7 minutes of waiting)

Then there is the Titan games, this season is currently on TV, next season is in planning and guess what? it’s going to be bigger and better as we expect, how will I be able to do that in SU when I cannot even show all obstacles in scenes when needed as SU cannot keep up, my models can reach 700MB and that is with careful modeling. Remember too that these models will be used for construction so they need to be accurate to a degree.

So, it’s not that I want to replace SU, I need to expand it to get my work done, I would not need a 3rd party software if SU could just handle the polys I need, which are growing every year.


Amazing work, Pete. Thanks for sharing.

A post was split to a new topic: SOLIDWORKS is moving to the cloud

I see the :heart: (like-this-post) so would like to see a suitable symbol for: don’t-like-this-post, even for SketchUp Team Member comments. :zipper_mouth_face:

Over & out,


Clayton, Jody cannot do anything in this regard. The “Like” feature is controlled by the owners of Discourse, and they are dead set against any core “Dislike” (or “Downvote”) feature. In fact if you try to open a feature request thread at meta Discourse, they just quote what they’ve said in the past why they will not do it, and then lock the thread to prevent any more debate.



I understand, however one without the other seems a little unbalanced. I think your saying SU-HQ don’t have their own forum software programme they can edit. I’ve a seen a few forum type programmes by other CAD companies & they do seem to use ones pre-design by others, not too sure why & they do change from time to time, perhaps SU-HQ could have one they can own & edit in the future…:face_with_raised_eyebrow:

Over & out,

1 Like

Few forum has a dislike function or something similar, and those that do, e.g. Reddit, seems to have problems with it. It simply isn’t a constructive feature.


Does this mean like-:heart: is constructive ?
I do see however the Thumbs-up or Thumbs-down on a lot of Social media sites (& forums). These tags seem to be an anonymous way of quick expression of ones own opinion. They do perhaps save a lot of embarrissing rants I guess…:rofl:…but then…we’d miss all the entertainment…:laughing:

Over & out,

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I am not sure that ranting on a message board will change anything. I use 4 different programs to make models and drawings. Each has their pros and cons. I do not do much visualization in anything other than a modeling program and Photoshop.

Talk to the developers. I wish the program were better as well. Layout has something to teach Rhino and Vectorworks something to teach Autocad. I am back to using Archicad after the staircase tool was fixed. It was really bad for 10+ years.

Layout is still far too slow when it come to small projects. Here’s the size when it slows down.
These are three sheets. The last is two Grasshopper models inserted as a Collada model in Sketchup. Is there a way to create X refs in Sketchup?

I would like to see if I can render quickly and effectively with Blender so I do not have to pay for a Vray license upgrade…

I agree with you that improvements need to be made.

I am in a different industry than you and I respect your point of view.

How will Sketchup respond?


What is the size of the LO file for these three sheets?

Concerned about SketchUp’s apparent direction, I’ve been looking at alternatives. Blender is remarkable, and I love the built-in renderers; but I don’t think it is particularly good for the small buildings I do. FormZ is better for me, and I could go that way if I had to; but…. My conclusion is that for what I do SketchUp remains the best, and I’ll be downloading the latest. I don’t think the line types will do anything for me, but being able to lay the tape measure on an edge and get the length will be useful. And if SU goes subscription only, at least I’ll have the most recent pre-subscription release.

(Odd thing: although I am paid up thru March 2020, I haven’t gotten any invitation from Trimble to download 2019.)

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Why? Direction is still unchanged, from what I can tell.

It’s not subscription “only” so you’re totally good.

18x24 and I always use a condensed font to put more text in less space