Upcoming Change to Add Location



There no comparison in image quality. I had the same experience when I tried to grab a site plan this morning. I think its a fair question to the folks at Trimble is whether they could present that to a client with pride. Wait a minute … we are the clients.


I’m taking this private. Check your PMs.


The only issue I have with Trimble is that not only was the change was given in such short notice, but also it wasn’t completely honest. No where in the update did it say the satellite image will get a billion times worse. What happens if some of us bought Sketchup Pro simply for the add location feature? And What happens if a lot of people in my company depend on this feature? Now we have to deal with it on such short notice. Jobs are at stake here.

I’m only frustrated because guess what. My job relies on sketchup. I use aerial images of properties and use square footage of landscapes for my work.

If you notice the Digital Globe satellite image is not even an overhead image. I don’t know if it is possible to change to an overhead image, but I haven’t found it yet.

My main question is: Can Sketchup have a working relationship with another software which allows you to accurately import images? Such as Goilawn.com? I don’t know if they use Google, but if I remember correctly it is very clear. Can they use Bing?

Did they not trial-run this new satellite? It’s unusable… I can’t imagine any field whether it is architecture, landscaping, etc. can safely use the new add-location effectively.

I’m so mad because everything seemed so dishonest. Sorry for being rude.


You are being extremely polite under the circumstances. As an attorney my opinion is that you have legitimate causes of action against SketchUp for breach of contract and deceptive trade practices. I encourage you and all similarly situated parties to sue them.


Everyone needs to calm down.

Google’s terms of service narrowly define how their geo apis can be used. Everyone needs to understand that Google’s APIs DISPLAY data. Google does not give away their data for modification which is what the Add Location feature requires.

SketchUp’s Add Location requires that the imagery and other data be imported into and stored inside the skp file. Geo modeling requires that people have the right to make derivative works from that imagery. All of these actions are expressly prohibited by Google Maps API Terms of service. see section 10.5 Intellectual Property.

10.5 Intellectual Property Restrictions.

No distribution or sale except as permitted under the Terms. You will not distribute, sell, or otherwise make any part of the Service available to third parties except as permitted by these Terms.
No derivative works. You will not modify or create a derivative work based on any Content unless expressly permitted to do so under these Terms. For example, the following are prohibited: (i) creating server-side modification of map tiles; (ii) stitching multiple static map images together to display a map that is larger than permitted in the Maps APIs Documentation; or (iii) tracing or copying the copyrightable elements of Google’s maps or building outlines and creating a new work, such as a new mapping or navigation dataset.
No use of Content outside the Service. You will not use any Content outside of the Service except as expressly permitted to do so in Subsection (d). For example, you will not export or save the Content to a third party’s platform or service.
No caching or storage. You will not pre-fetch, cache, index, or store any Content to be used outside the Service, except that you may store limited amounts of Content solely for the purpose of improving the performance of your Maps API Implementation due to network latency (and not for the purpose of preventing Google from accurately tracking usage), and only if such storage: is temporary (and in no event more than 30 calendar days); is secure; does not manipulate or aggregate any part of the Content or Service; and does not modify attribution in any way.
No mass downloading. You will not use the Service in a manner that gives you or a third party access to mass downloads or bulk feeds of any Content. For example, you are not permitted to offer a batch geocoding service that uses Content contained in the Maps API(s).
No incorporating Google software into other software. You will not incorporate any software provided as part of the Service into other software.
No removing, obscuring, or altering terms of service, links, or proprietary rights notices. You will not: remove, obscure, or alter any Google terms of service or any links to or notices of those terms, or any copyright, trademark, or other proprietary rights notices; or falsify or delete any author attributions, legal notices, or other labels of the origin or source of material.

Licensing data for professional tools is extremely complicated. Google set an extremely high bar by making the decision to give away their imagery when they owned SketchUp. But it’s fair to say that their own view of their API products has changed a lot since then. There are also numerous factors on the Trimble side which make our product plans incompatible with Google’s api products. Nobody on the team is happy that we had to discontinue serving Google imagery. We are working on improving the imagery products we can offer in Add Location. Its just going to take time for us to get there.

Bryce Stout
Product Manager
Trimble Buildings Architecture & Design Division

Posts and Flags and Moderation, Oh My!


You are now expressing a legal opinion as to what is allowed and not allowed under Google’s terms and conditions for use of its imagery. And your legal opinion is completely false. I suggest you run your legal opinions by your lawyer before making more false statements in this forum. I further suggest you not aggravate the situation by blaming Google for what is obviously Trimble’s business decision. By telling people who bought a license to use SketchUp, and the Google Earth imagery it incorporated, to calm down you are merely turning up the fire under an already boiling pot.

Your opening paragraph stating that “Google does not give away their data for modification” is the starting point of what is fundamentally a lie. No one is asking that Google “give away” their data. SketchUp users who bought a license paid Trimble for the right to use that data. There is nothing in the cited paragraph to support the conclusion that a SketchUp user who has paid for a license to use both SketchUp, and the Google Earth imagery it incorporates, could not overlay a graphic on a Google Earth image in a presentation to a prospective customer. Furthermore, it makes no sense to say that such use of the Google Earth imagery before May 22, 2017 was within Google Earth’s terms of service but it is now outside it unless Google Earth has changed their terms of service. That question can be easily verified and I will not hesitate to obtain and post Google Earth’s written response to your false allegation if you persist in asserting it.

If you want people to calm down I strongly suggest you make arrangements with Google Earth to re-enable your Add Location feature with usable imagery. As I have said in each of my previous posts, my argument applies to people who have paid, or are willing to pay, the reasonable price associated with obtaining usable imagery. I, and several others I have spoken with about this issue, agree on this point. Trimble has been paid for use of the data. And Trimble is currently in breach of contract with the people who paid them. Do the right thing voluntarily and fix the problem or get ready to pay your lawyers.

I again urge anyone who has been adversely impacted by Trimble’s decision to contact me.

Frank McIntyre
Glenwood Springs, Colorado.
(970) 618-3424


I am a bridge engineer, and was attracted to Sketchup by the ability to download the imagery and scale it upwards to get a feel for the terrain and pick out the overflow channels and other things that affect bridge siting and site development. I’ll miss the capability.

Digital Globe has access to much better and more current imagery than Google Earth. Google seemed to be using old stuff. The Digital Globe stuff that Sketchup can now access seems to be a deliberately low resolution, probably to suit the size of the licence fee that was negotiated.

It seems like the imagery sellers have the market cornered and begrudge anybody using their imagery. The fine print in the agreements normally state that even if you buy it and incorporate it in your work you aren’t allowed to legally distribute that work to anybody else for subsequent use. I get the impression that those GIS/imagery experts have a feeling of superiority and don’t believe that ordinary workers are entitled to use their technology, or else they have such a grip on their knowledge/copyright monopoly that they want to milk everybody for as much as possible for it.

At the same time I discovered Sketchup, I discovered GlobalMapper. GlobalMapper is to GIS what Sketchup is to CAD. GlobalMapper had a built-in tapping into Digital Globe imagery, which you could download and use but not print unless you purchased a digital licence from DigitalGlobe. Even though it cost several hundred dollars and would allow enough download to serve only several jobs, you could download high res imagery through GlobalMapper in very similar fashion as Add Location in Sketchup except that it drew down on the data allowance each time. In recent times DigitalGlobe also backed out of that arrangement too, leaving GlobalMapper users hanging.

Wouldn’t it be nice to do a deal with Chinese or Indian imagery sellers who are getting their own satellites in place nowadays? Maybe they won’t have the same zeal when it comes to imagery licensing and copyright.

I did pay for the Digital Globe data in GlobalMapper because it was so valuable. I would pay for it in Sketchup as well if it was available because it is invaluable. But the selfish attitude of the imagery sellers does annoy me greatly.


The fact is that the imagery sellers sell their imagery. Trimble has obviously made the business decision not to pay Google’s asking price for quality images even though Trimble charged people money for SketchUp. Trimble sold the license to use SketchUp as a one time fee. But now they have disabled a key feature of the product people paid for. That is a legally actionable breach of contract. Don’t get distracted by Trimble’s mumbo jumbo about how this is Google’s fault. This is Trimble’s fault. Plain and simple.




Another PV designer who is now looking for a new solution. If anyone has come up with a good one please share.


Wow, thanks Jody, didn’t see this till after the change though because I could not fathom how SketchUp would DOWNGRADE this significantly?! And then make the geolocation services a Pro feature even though this whole time it was a make feature as well, so now when I speak to colleagues they have the great line drawing feature instead. You didn’t think of renewing the contract with google?! I don’t know if you have seen the quality of the content digital globe is providing but it is Potato grade quality. I am completely disappointed in this change. But you know thanks for taking 6 steps back with the software.


I don’t think you should have the audacity to tell anyone to calm down…The customer is always right. We should have gotten a heads-up on the situation. We aren’t using the program for hobbies or entertainment. We used it for our JOBS.

I get the part with the troubles with Google…but why not communicate to your customers that bought your product? I honestly did not know the add-location feature was going to be modified this drastically until it was announced in March? Even with the announcement, Trimble did not mention any notice of the difference in quality between the services. There was no ■■■■ communication. I really don’t get why you and Trimble do not understand that. No transparency.

As a comparision:

If you bought a television that was DVD and Blu-ray compatible, but all of a sudden, the television company decided that you can’t use DVD and Blu-ray anymore, but only VCR. Also, the company tells you that you cannot have an add-on to your television which would allow DVD and Blu-ray. Would you not be upset?

Crappy comparision, but you get the gist of it. In my job, I can’t just lower the quality of my service without compensation and expect no backlash. That’s not only dumb, but also naive.


I only found out about this just now. After all these years of the loyal Sketchup community contributing to this exceptional software what an utter let down by a company that specializes in Geo location. Are you serious? Google being the culprit or not, Trimble could do much better in particular for it’s paying Sketchup Pro clients. I have just a couple weeks ago renewed my license, and wonder now why I have bothered. The Add location feature is not negotiable and needs to be fixed. Sketchuppers are we going to do something about this? Class action if you ask me…


this may be valid for you and others in this thread but surely not for the majority of the users.


I should have clarified that I want Frank to calm down. I didn’t mean to make light of the fact that thousands of people lost what might have been the one feature they found valuable in SketchUp. I realize that sucks, no one needs to calm down about that. I’m simply trying to shed some light on why this isn’t a matter of just “paying our google imagery bill”. Like many things in life, it just isn’t that simple.

SketchUp was sold to Trimble 5 years ago (as of April 2012). As part of that transition Google agreed to give us free geo data for 5 years to help support the Geo-Modeling community. We passed that data along to our entire user base for free (via SU Make and Pro) for as long as we were able to do so. Google has since deprecated their entire geo-modeling program and reduced support for their geo-modeling communities.

I feel really bad that certain other industries have come to rely on that high quality aerial imagery. I feel even worse that the best answer I can give at this time is - we can’t offer that same level of imagery at this time due to mix of technical and licensing reasons. There’s obviously a market for it. If we could sell products that to that market today we absolutely would. Unfortunately all I can say at this moment is that we’re working on it.


If there are any plugin developers listening that are interested in feedback from someone who uses this feature well over 1,000 times a year, do not hesitate to contact me. Maybe we can collaborate on a solution. I would gladly pay for a full featured third-party solution with excellent imagery on a subscription basis. But it needs to integrate seamlessly with Sketchup because speed is key to my workflow and time is money.


I tried to find Google’s notice of deprecation but failed. Anyone have a URL to it ?


https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/3dwh/epXUQA2bJ2s[1-25] - Announced on 10/15/13


As a Google Certified Geo Modeler, that link led to one of the saddest post I have read in a long time. Can’t tell you how many people I know, and have spent 1000’s of hours modeling buildings for the Google Earth 3D layer. We were even invited to the Google Headquarters for Geo Modelers Summit where I met some of you face to face. And now this. It’s just so very sad.


Hi Jason,
mind.sigtht.studios and Daniel Tal, the developers of PlaceMaker are paying very close attention to this thread. PlaceMaker already is already able to import high quality max resolution satellite imagery over huge areas. We are also investigating sources of aircraft imagery that are might even be better than Google.

One thing that we promise is that our solutions will integrate seamlessly into SketchUp, just like PlaceMaker currently does.