Trimble, please reanimate Sketchup

I’ve just lost a few days worth of work. Again. No big deal. I’m a sketchup user, its what I expect…

Working with Sketchup is like working with a close friend who also happens to be recently deceased. With a code structure written in the computer-timescale equivalent of the Mesozoic Era, Sketchup desperately needs a bottom-up rework to bring it into the 21st century. But Trimble’s working philosophy seems to be to present their Estate sale-buyout as an up-to-the minute super tool. Its like someone taking the original Myst game and offering it today as a premium product on a paid subscription-only basis. Hey the Blackberry is back! Its the same Blackberry, but now you pay for it monthly!

How long can Trimble keep this up? Probably for several years after the program stops working entirely, on every computer. Face it, now we’re only paying for technical support, because the current program was taken off life support years ago. Trimble, I don’t care if the Move tool now glows a brighter red, or the Rotate tool now takes you directly to the Trimble Facebook page. Give me a reinvigorated program dammit! 64-bit, multi-core enhanced, 3D Sketchup madness! Gamble a stamp! Hire Tony Robbins to fire you up! Use some Total-T (she’ll like it too!) and turn our Wilford Brimley into the Rock!

I think most users would gladly pay for a faster, up-to-date Sketchup. After all, its a great program, or it was. And it can be great again.


Really? Not my experience after more than a decade of use.

You seem to be using an old version of SU (2017) and we don’t know much about your hardware. We also don’t know what kind of drawings you are doing. But unless you have high polycount drawings, most people find SU itself fast enough. Now if you were specifically referring to Layout, that might be another matter.

But as with everyone who comes on here with rather generalized complaints, it’s a free world. Stop using SU and your woes are gone!


I’m an architect. Sketchup is integral to my work and its a great service. But I have a very specific complaint.

Sketchup used to be a free program, a nod to its older and fairly homespun origins. A paid upgrade was available that provided a few bonuses for professional users. Today, Trimble has almost cynically re-positioned the same program, with a few cosmetic changes, as a fine-edge tool for professionals and a profit maker for themselves.

If Trimble markets Sketchup as a professional tool for sale, they need to use their earnings to upgrade the program’s essential coding to bring it in line with hardware and software advances that professionals also pay for to work faster and more efficiently and live better lives.

You could run Sketchup on a Quantum Computer and still see the spinning disks every time it interrupts your workflow, seemingly in a muddle, to either save itself successfully or die trying.

Sketchup is a wonderful and rewarding tool, a concept with almost limitless potential. But its as though Trimble is holding it for ransom, or caged it and put it in a circus while we pay to watch it waste away.

Well, we should be happy we have it at all, you say, so stop complaining. And hey, you kids, get off my lawn!

Sure. But while most people’s pagers worked reasonably well, we don’t see many people still using them. Same with chariots. That doesn’t mean our chariot’s weren’t beloved and mostly trouble-free devices. They’ve just evolved in the hands of industrious minds, and we’re more than willing to pay for their work.

I haven’t found an easier, more intuitive 3D modelling interface than Sketchup. But its now stuck in Trimble’s clutches while we pay for them to drain every last ounce of life from it, instead of using our hard-earned dollars to breath new life into it.

Its their prerogative to do so, but if I am paying them for it, its mine as well to complain about it. Someone with the wherewithal will eventually make a program that offers the same functionality and ease of use as Sketchup, and also works to today’s standards of faster, multi-core processors, 64-bit operating systems and huge, discrete GPUs. Like I said, that is something I’ll gladly pay for.


No it didn’t. The @Last application always was something you had to pay for. When Google acquired it, they released a feature limited free version for non-professional use that morphed into SketchUp Make and the online free version. Commercial use has never been free.


The good old Google days…


Where and how are you saving your work. Any thing other than a local drive is a no no.

Ha! Anyone longing for the Google Days of SketchUp clearly wasn’t paying attention back then. Well before Google sold it to Trimble, SketchUp was of no use to Google. Most likely it would have joined the Google Graveyard.

I understand people having hopes for and problems with SketchUp. Not using 2017 at the moment, I am not sure about that version, but SkecthUp has had back-up files for a long time. Compared to other software I haven’t lost much on SketchUp, and I don’t see how anyone can lose days of work. With SketchUp or any software today files don’t just go “bad” that often. I don’t see how this can happen, and wonder if it can be laid at the door of Trimble’s developers.
Again, I understand and share (some) frustrations with SketchUp progress, speed, and features, but you may have other things to consider when you’ve lost so much work.

I tried Google SketchUp briefly maybe in 2012 and it was very stable. Now I am learning to use SketchUp Pro 2021 since about a month and so far it has been super stable. It only crashed once or twice because of a plugin (AKA extension) but once I uninstalled the plugin, everything is perfect again. However I do agree with you that Sketchup almost did not change since 2012, unfortunately. Trimble needs to work much harder to develop SketchUp with new features and offer a worthy upgrade in 2022.

I am using it on a 6 years old HP Z1 AIO workstation yet SketchUp runs very fast and smooth. I can’t imaging how it will even be when I upgrade my computer soon.

P.S: Are you saying that SketchUp Pro 2021 is not a 64bit program and does yet support 64-bit, multi-core CPUs?

SketchUp is 64 bits only, I believe from 2017 and up.
The multicore holy grail of 3D modeling hasn’t been implemented in any desktop application for that matter, so it’s best to have a high speed processor, the number of cores has no impact on performance while modeling (some render-only features might have)

Check this thread:

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Not exactly. Google introduce free version. Trimble, before killing it (and killing one day SketchUp) made it for professional use only.

The good old days without Trimble and with another developer team.

and to be more exact:

That’s what it was, and every “free” user and hobbiest (including me) who read the terms was well aware of it.

Not another team, they stayed the same (except those that Google scared away with the pending product shutdown, and those many more that Trimble hired). You could know that from SketchUp conferences and photos in the blog. Actually taking over a software without developers is a very bad investment. It’s the death sentence of that software.

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If I remember right, some of the SketchUp team members that appear on this forum were there already in the @Last Software days, before Google.

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:+1: :+1: :+1:

I don’t think so. For example, there is one person that is now missing in the team that was important for me about the quality of the software.

Some were there from the start, but did not have the same function.

Anyway, many users who have known SketchUp from the beginning know that the evolution of the software has practically stopped with Trimble.

Even some of the evolutions brought to the ergonomics are catastrophic like the protractor, whereas SketchUp was a software extremely neat on the ergonomics and the user experience.

You can be ironic about the Google period, it was for me, as a user, the best period with Last Software. It’s quite funny to explain that the problems come from the Google era, when the company has greatly increased the influence of the software, and has not owned it for 10 years.

The team is now bloated for what result ? The revolutionary possibility of blocking the shift key ?

(As far as I can remember, it was not Google, but Trimble that insisted on restricting the use of the free version, and called it “Make”.)

Finally, here are the revolutionary applications that I have known (today I really like Blender for its quality, but I do not classify it as revolutionary) :

  • Multiplan (if I was older)
  • Hypercard
  • SketchUp
  • Grasshopper extension of Rhino (but not Rhino)

It will be noted that some have disappeared. SketchUp does not (for the moment) but does not evolve (unlike Blender).

What about taking advantage of discreet GPU processing power?

Screen display update and shadow calculation could take much better advantage of this hardware.

Sure, but the rendering always comes after that the model is processed in the CPU.
That’s why it looks as if the model skips a few frames when orbiting in heavy styles and GPU can’t put up with the changes calculated by the CPU.

In SketchUp, you always model in the rendered end result (rendering does not mean ‘photorealistic’, per se)
That’s why you need a good combo of CPU and GPU.

Something not right here Mike because so many other 3d software packages can handle almost unlimited geometry on screen but Sketchup’s simple shaded display becomes laggy on just a few hundred thousand polygons no matter what hardware you own.

All points to a fundamental rewrite of the 3d display code… and if that means that it looks a bit different to the way it renders the screen at the moment, so be it.

Same with Layout. Vector mode is diabolical. I was using Autocad in the 90s and 2d drawing displays never lagged like that.

It should have happened 5 years ago…

It might be about a transition phase.

Seems like 5 years ago is a pretty good point to start some serious discussions about SketchUp’s Future.

such things as… how SketchUp might transition into a Cloud Service… or a Subscription one… and how collaborative workflows might shape the development of Trimble Connect… what happens with BIM,… and how does all of that integrate into the the larger Trimble Factor and all of the other Trimble Industrial Services that were around before Trimble ever bought SketchUp.

I think your right about rewriting certain areas of code to better modernize the software.

I’m just not sure where the end goal is here. How much time are they really going to spend reworking the past, if their long goal roadmap leans toward a completely NEW SketchUp paradigm, of whatever direction they chose to move in… some 5 years ago.

I guess we’ll see where this all ends up… we’ll certainly be able to look back with good hindsight… and that might end up showing that this period of development was mostly about laying in the foundation for the future stuff. And that’s why we didn’t see more work concentration specifically into SU.

And that doesn’t even factor in Layout… which could arguably in itself, be a better place to focus a majority of the companies time and energy.