Vision and feature requests


#1

Continuing the discussion from Solid section cuts:

When SketchUp was first created, the vision was to have such a simple toolset that you could access every tool that you would need right from the home screen. And for advanced users, they could quickly use modifier keys to make those simple tools powerful.

A flaw in many other applications at the time (and this is still true today) was that features were added over and over again so that a once-simple application is now cumbersome and complicated. We wanted to avoid this at all costs. Which is why SketchUp integrated Ruby so that users could create those “missing” tools that are key to their workflow.

We get a lot of feature requests that “should” be part of the core and should be “easy” to implement. And in some cases, this may be true (even though we have a “Just” and “Basically” Swear Jar to emphasize that implementing anything is not simple), but it would fly in the face of our original vision for SketchUp: keep it simple, powerful, and accessible. And we have to make difficult trade-offs deciding which new features should be part of the core and which features should be part of the extension ecosystem. So my ask to you is – and to others who have any feature request – if it’s important to you then rally people around your idea. If we know that a ton of people would love to see feature XYZ in SketchUp, it helps a lot when we have to make those tough development choices.


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#2

As to interface design, I am not a great fan of the current “standard” Windows application interface (whatever it is called) with those tabbed panels instead of toolbars, but some applications do seem to get a lot done with it. I have become sort of impressed by Revit that manages to keep things looking quite simple by using essentially only three interface elements: the tabbed panes at the top, a Properties window and a Project browser window (somewhat similar to Outliner in SU), despite being a highly complex application with a lot of functions. The competition has a proliferation of windows, toolbars, menus, everything that the Mac and PC interfaces have featured during almost 30 years.

Anssi


#3

Metro interface, perhaps ? I also do not care for them in complex applications, such as MS Office. (I now use LibreOffice because it works like the old MS Office toolbarred interface.) But I don’t mind a Metro interface for something simple, like an equation editor, or calculator, etc.

But I am also not against there perhaps being a special Metro build of SketchUp Viewer or SketchUp for PreSchoolers, etc.

OK, but,… the poster that prompted this thread, (although a bit off in the conspiracy angle,) has a point that if your implementing sectioning, why stop half-way. Section surfaces (like Skalp) is a natural thing that drafters expect when a solid is cut away.

Now, you’ll argue that SketchUp is really a surface modeler,… and the debate just goes on, and never ends.

Anyway,… I’ve always voted for native section surfaces and hatching in SketchUp.


#4

Hey everyone. Being a designer myself I thought I’d add my thoughts to this topic as well because a couple of months ago I wrote a dissertation and chose SketchUp as my final Marketing examination project, where I spoke about the potential of SketchUp, its advantages and limits, achievements in the market, also suggested a brand new corporate identity design and presented a list of possible reforms. (I received 100% scores in the end.) What I want to say, is that I feel very devoted to this software and seeing it grow overtime makes me proud because I put my trust into SketchUp for my career.

I understand that implementing various plugins will make the program look like products of Autodesk - complex and confusing. But I also believe that it’s impossible to keep everything exactly as it started. SketchUp is no longer the old small tool it once was, right? It’s become a recognizable brand. Fear of change for the sake of simplicity must be avoided, I think. Sooner or later, more things will be added into the software.

The developers did such a great job at making this software what it is today. I’m sure they can bring complexity and performance to balance. It’s true that adding more means cramming the main interface with more tools but that problem can be avoided with a “sliding toolbar”, like ArchiCAD has, for example. Having the ability to develop custom tools and plugins is a great idea but from the marketing-point-of-view that level of software personalization lowers the sense of unity.

These all are of course, purely my personal thoughts but I felt like speaking up because it’s something I relate to. Cheers to all! :blush:


#5

I think it is wonderful that you are asking but I am not sure how you are measuring the interest level of any give request. Between this forum and SketchUcation, I see lots of requests. I also see how disappointed many people have been in that we pay an annual fee to be able to keep up with the latest version but the enhancements in the past two years have disappointed many people (return on investment).

Given the topic (3D graphics) I love the simplicity of the tool. However, given where the entire 3D market and what people are developing/wanting in 3D software, I can also see the difficulty of deciding what to do. SketchUp (at least in its beginning) was primarily oriented toward the architectural and engineering communities (IMHO). The advancement of gaming, rendering, and other such endeavors has been to complicate things.

It seems that most any of the users I see on these forums have to use a lot of plugins/extensions to get things done. Perhaps some type of evaluation of which ones are used the most (and why if possible) could help Trimble set the precedence of what facilities should be incorporated into the base product.

My only other comment might be that since we are paying a maintenance fee, there should also be some interim updates (especially for bug fixes and minor updates).


#6

One other thing I forgot to add is the need to improve the overall performance. When you look at some of the external tools that use SketchUp files (like say Lumion, LumenRT, Twinmotion, and several other external tools) their performance when rotating, panning, and other actions is far superior. Given that most pc’s on the market today are 64bit multi processor machines, it seems that SketchUp’s performance could be improved. IMHO


#7

The idea of evaluating extension use to determine future enhancements is a good one (if there is a way of knowing how often an extension is downloaded, say).

It would be much better if far more people used this forum and put in enhancement requests, but the nature of people being what it is, that probably won’t happen. So some element of giving people what you think they might want has to come into play.

I agree absolutely with the original concept of SU, as set out by Tommy, of a pared down package that does all the basic stuff really well and in an intuitive way (perhaps SU’s USP). So new developments should probably concentrate on doing the basics even better rather than adding bells and whistles. A case in point is the recent improvements to the inferencing engine.


#8

I agree that the improvements to the inferencing engine was a good improvement. I think my biggest concern is the overall performance. As I said, other software that can use skp files seem to do it much more efficiently.

As for the extensions, yes I am sure they can tell how many times they have been downloaded. I also participate in the SketchUcation forum and their tool certainly keeps track of how many times a plugin has been downloaded.

In that forum, it appears that the 3 hottest topics are rendering, animation and quad/subdivision modeling. Honestly, I do not have a problem with these things being addressed as add-ons/extensions. I would like for Trimble to concentrate on making the base product as strong as possible but having been in the software business before, I know that there are always things that can be added/improved to make the base product stronger and of course grab a bigger share of the market.

It would be interesting if someone could do an analysis of competitive products and what they offer that makes users select them over SketchUp. My bet is that part of that answer is because some of those products have been around longer and that many people did not believe Google was serious when it first developed SketchUp. So the legacy of the products has some barring.


#9

Just to clarify that little nugget, Google bought a product then sold it on.


#10

Thanks for setting me straight. My first introduction was from a fellow worker and it did not seem they were that serious.

:smiley:

Please do not confuse my ignorance with not liking the product. I enjoy trying to learn with how to use it more constructively.


#11

Sounds fascinating! Maybe you can repeat your presentation to some folks here :slightly_smiling:

I completely agree. I was super excited to see the Inferencing improvements in 2016.

Ah. The great 64-bit debate. SketchUp is available as 64bit for Windows and OS X, but multi-core processors won’t do SketchUp much good because it doesn’t process multiple streams of calculations at the same time. Rendering 3d graphics via OpenGL is a serial/linear process. It’s not multi-threaded. However, we’ve recently added a few OpenGL developer super stars to the team who have other ideas for improving graphics performance.

Please keep the feedback coming. This is great!


Performance in SketchUp software releases
#12

Again, one of my biggest concerns is the performance I see in SketchUp, specifically if I rotate the view. I see a lag while the screen has to be repainted and textures applied. I do not see that when working with things like say Lumion as an example. In fact, if I take my skp file into a product like that and then add animated characters high poly vehicles, shrubbery and buildings, I do not see any lag at all when navigating (rotating and panning). That is something I would like to see improved in SketchUp.

Along with that, I see a very long delay when I open SketchUp. I am assuming it is because I have a bunch of plugins/extensions and it is trying to figure out which ones I have and add them to the context menus and toolbars.

I hope you are also looking at some of the discussions about the new tray feature on this forum and in the SketchUcation forum.

Thanks for listening and asking for input. To me it is greatly appreciated.


#13

Hi @Tommy,

I agree on SketchUp’s vision of keeping it simple and also acknowledge the inference improvements of 2016 as a in line with this desire of polishing the facets that defines SketchUp.

I have seen SU trying to better its position in the 3d printing arena. Since one of the rites of passage for 3d printing newcomers seems to be automatically tripping on the small edge issue, I’d vote for better/smaller/improved tolerance :slight_smile:

I believe work is already being done in the area of documentation and help pages but it is an avenue of constant improvement. Better help content, learning paths and training material are investments because any tool is only as good as its users. Improving user litteracy is my second feature request!

Cheers and thanks for reading


#14

On the SketchUp help website, a section dedicated to limitations and caveats (small edges, curves vs line segments, 64 bit/multithreading etc) would be both helpful and informative.


#15

Do I hear a promise…?

Multiprocessing for 3D applications has somehow been “round the corner” for about as long as the first dual-Pentium workstations were released (it must be 20 years ago already). I recently talked with a workstation hardware vendor and he almost went ROFL when he found out that I haven’t given up hope yet.

Anssi


#16

@Anssi: Probably not the multithreading you have been waiting for… :slight_smile:


#17

One more thought on this topic. Why doesn’t Trimble post a list of the things they are at least considering and let users vote on / prioritize. The list would not have to include enhancements that they are already resolved to do. Just get some user feedback on their priorities with the understanding that there are no commitments. Just let them know/see that you are listening.


#18

When I vote +1 or -1, it is NOT whether TO or NOT TO implement a feature. I am simply placing MY chip on one side of the priority balance,… either incrementing or decrementing the priority tally, for a feature on the “to-do-or-not-to-do” list.


#19

… to which ntxdave replied:

When Google owned SketchUp, they had a webportal for doing this kind of thing, that was basically meaningless.

It allowed users to post Feature Requests, and others to then “Like” or “Dislike” them. A logged in user could see those they had “liked” and “disliked”, etc.That was about it.

The result was totally emotional and subjective. It told the development team / management nothing helpful about what the NEED nor USAGE of the proposed features actually was. Just whether it was loved or hated.
How could anyone possibly make any informed decision from such “nebulous” results.

And once again, it looks like this kind of thing is being proposed.

I once wasted a bunch of my time explaining (several pages) how the system could be made objective and proper questions asked to the userbase to collect real useful data about proposed features, (such as how often the user would use a proposed feature.) “Wasted” because the entire report was erased along with the whole forum. (Unless someone manually cut & copied it from the website.)

But I’ve always “liked” the idea of a public FeaturZilla system where the FRs were logged, discussed, closed when implemented, voted on, etc. (Yeah, pun intended.)


#20

Dan, I can appreciate what you are saying. Before I retired, I was a Business Analyst/Product Manager at a software company. One of my responsibilities was to work with customers and find out what kind of features they wanted/needed and then put together a product plan. At times, it surely is a thankful task and no matter what decisions you make there will always be people/users/customers who disagree with you (no matter what system you use). Since our software was limited to a given industry, it was a little easier to get/handle the requests.

I have been using SketchUp for a little over 2 years now. Long enough to go through 2 update cycles. I honestly have to say that I was little disappointed both times. I did not see that much of an update to justify the cost of upgrading but we did it anyway.

BTW: On this forum site, I still have not seen how to quote others. In particular to cut out just the part that I want to reply to instead of the entire quote. What am I missing?
My real reaction though is that I am pleased that this thread was initiated by someone at Trimble and there seems to be an honest request for feedback and some way to help them sort through and prioritize customer feedback and requests. IMHO, this is really a good thing. While I consider myself a newbie and novice, I would like to help/contribute in moving forward.