What’s up with SketchUp Make?

As with probably any decision that’s ever been made in history, there are various ways of looking at this, and each with some merit. I know I went ahead and “liked” @Caroline 's post as soon as I saw it, as did others, while some of you obviously had a very different reaction (no doubt many wished for a dislike button :wink:).

To say that SketchUp is “doomed to fail,” that Trimble “shot itself in the foot,” and that it is the “most stupid business decision” – to say all this now is very premature, and to me quite doubtful. Yes, every company has the potential to make mistakes, grave mistakes, but we all know the folks over at Trimble are not preschoolers. I’m confident that they did their research, argued the point in conference rooms, and ultimately made the decision that they felt would benefit the company and the software most. Did they have the users’ well-being in mind? We hope so; many of you obviously don’t think so, but considering it honestly, you must admit that although they’re supposed to be providing 3D for Everyone, if they don’t make the decisions that are most financially smart, pretty soon it would be 3D for No one.

I will say that I’m sure that the side of the license fence that each person is on will affect his perspective of the situation. As someone who doesn’t have any option but to be a Pro user (if I wish to be legal and ethical), my first reaction was understandably opposite to the reaction of those on the Make side. As Pro users, we see an updated SketchUp to download and discover, and if we notice the Make vs Free decision at all, it’s easy to just give a passing evaluation, see the possibility of more attention given to Pro, which sounds good, see some of the licensing and use confusion cleared up, which sounds good, so we say “so be it” and move on – I say it’s easy to do that, not that we all do.

Some of us remember the countless hours that we passed in intuitive fun, modeling our bedrooms, designing our future mansion, that first time we tried to draw an airplane and realized there was more to it than we imagined. In fact, I can attribute my career directly to the hours “wasted” on playing with SketchUp, a SketchUp that I could never have afforded to buy a license for. It would be a real pity if that opportunity is gone. So the question: is it?

There’s no question that SketchUp Free is more primitive than Make. In the last hours we’ve seen the complaints start on the forum, and I expect there will be plenty more. The lack of extensions is understandably upsetting. The annoying need to be online to use SketchUp Free is an important concern. As far as Make 2017 still being available, sure, that’s great, but you gotta realize that it doesn’t take more than about two years for software to start getting crippled, in these days of constant OS, hardware, software, and security updates. I just upgraded my Pro license to 2017 a few days ago, and you’d be surprised how many things started becoming a pain to accomplish in 2015.

So in all this tangled up mess of sentences, what I’m trying to say is that, yes, it’s sort of too bad that the days of free SketchUp software are over, but I don’t believe Trimble are a bunch of near-sighted dimwits for doing it. I’m sure they have their reasons, and I suspect that in the two years or so that it will take Make 2017 to become obsolete, they are planning to add a lot of the missing features to SketchUp Free. So if you’re a hobbyist, don’t panic yet. Try Free, use Make for what Free can’t do, and see what the next couple of years bring. Or you could do what Trimble is hoping you’ll do – buy that Pro license! Believe me, there are more expensive hobbies out there! :slight_smile:


Good day Barry,

Sorry for the late respons, I am just now back from work.
Here is the report you askt for.
WebGL Caps Viewer

– v0.1.0 –
WebGL extensions and capabilities supported by your browser and your GPUWebGL

  • experimental-webgl context: NO
  • drawing buffer size: 600 x 600
  • VERSION: WebGL 1.0
  • VENDOR: Mozilla
  • RENDERER: Mozilla
  • Platform: Win64
  • App version: 5.0 (Windows)
  • AA enabled: true
  • AA samples: 4
  • MAX_VIEWPORT_DIMS: 16383x16383
  • WebGL extensions: 24
    • 1 - ANGLE_instanced_arrays
    • 2 - EXT_blend_minmax
    • 3 - EXT_color_buffer_half_float
    • 4 - EXT_frag_depth
    • 5 - EXT_shader_texture_lod
    • 6 - EXT_texture_filter_anisotropic
    • 7 - EXT_disjoint_timer_query
    • 8 - OES_element_index_uint
    • 9 - OES_standard_derivatives
    • 10 - OES_texture_float
    • 11 - OES_texture_float_linear
    • 12 - OES_texture_half_float
    • 13 - OES_texture_half_float_linear
    • 14 - OES_vertex_array_object
    • 15 - WEBGL_color_buffer_float
    • 16 - WEBGL_compressed_texture_s3tc
    • 17 - WEBGL_debug_renderer_info
    • 18 - WEBGL_debug_shaders
    • 19 - WEBGL_depth_texture
    • 20 - WEBGL_draw_buffers
    • 21 - WEBGL_lose_context
    • 22 - MOZ_WEBGL_lose_context
    • 23 - MOZ_WEBGL_compressed_texture_s3tc
    • 24 - MOZ_WEBGL_depth_texture

WebGL Caps Viewer is based on GX3D.js http://www.geeks3d.com/webgl/gx3d/

Bep van Malde

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True. I guess I’m just saying there isn’t some alternative way of getting scaled output offered in it’s place. Dwg isn’t really a great alternative either as it’s just line work with none SU’s nice colors and shadows.

Even if it’s not to scale, how about 2D output like .png for perspective views. The SU f Schools version at least offers .png as an output. How come it’s not in the new SU Free?

SU for Schools:
28 AM

SU Free:
33 AM

Let me just toss this out there for discussion:

Jim Rea of ProVUE Development just introduced a new version of Panorama, their database program. They’ve announced a new approach to subscription licensing that’s interesting and worth looking at. If SU Pro were to use a similar scheme, it would be more attractive to the casual user who currently depends on Make, but doesn’t want to ante up the full price of Pro. It also helps pros who have a work crunch, and need more seats, but don’t want to purchase more just for a month’s worth of work. He explains the way the system works in this video:

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Thanks, as always, for your detailed thoughts; some responses inline. I apologize for the long post, but this is a complex question :wink:

Obviously, our team takes a different position on this point, no doubt colored by the years we spend inside Google. And I think one could make the opposing argument pretty easily. I already prefer using Google’s office productivity (GSuite) tools to those from Microsoft. In fact, the majority of applications I used to rely on running from the desktop have now been replaced by web applications. The ability to open any computer in the world, log into a web service and instantly have access to all of my data is, well… just very powerful.

3D CAD systems are surely among the most compute intensive and complex applications available today on any platform, and they will likely be the last class of tools to completely convert to the web. But tools like OnShape (developed by the former Solidworks team) provide a pretty compelling argument that attitudes are changing. The balance is tipping toward the web.

It is surely the case that there are fewer UX standards for web applications than there are for desktop clients. The “WIMP” UX pattern that is so ubiquitous today was without precedent when it first arrived on personal computers in the 1980’s. Given 30 years of development history, it now feels pretty ‘normal’ for most computer users. Web-based application UX patterns are still evolving. For high-functionality editing applications (including things like email clients and word processors), UI patterns are really not much more than ten years old. There isn’t as much precedent to lean on as you might want. (knowing how deeply you’re interested in such topics, you might find this paper (“Noncommand User Interfaces”) by Jakob Nielsen interesting.)

We’re inventing new kinds of UX to accommodate the new opportunities afforded by running an application like SketchUp in a browser with supporting infrastructure in the cloud. There will surely be some cases where we get things wrong and have to fix them. But if you’ve been following the development history of my.SketchUp since we launched into beta a year ago… you’ve seen that we’re always improving it and launching new features all the time.

I think it is more or less inevitable that SketchUp Free (running interpreted in the browser) will have lower raw performance on compute-intensive tasks than we can achieve on the desktop. We’ve made a number of significant (step-function) improvements over time; most recently with the switch to WebAssembly a couple of months ago. Technology in this area is moving very fast right now, with significant support from Mozilla, Microsoft, Google and Apple.

At some point, given advancement in both hardware and software, SketchUp Free’s performance will be fast enough for the majority of projects folks will want to do with it. We think we’re already fairly close for most folks, though there are certainly cases (your magnificent Huge Castle, for example) where today’s SketchUp Free is going to struggle to keep up. I expect this will improve significantly over time.


“There’s nothing preventing users from continuing with 2017 Make. It isn’t being turned off.”

You can’t be that naive Dave? It’s only a matter of time. The fact that a Ruby interpreter and extensions are not supported in SketchUp Free tells you all you need to know. SketchUp Make as, we knew it, is dead. SketchUp Make 2017 will be downloadable for only another year or so. This decision to go web based and ween the free users off extensions is a horrible decision for the users and the extension developers. SketchUp just shot the users that made them successful. SketchUp Pro may succeed, but this opens the door for a huge portion of SketchUp user base to move to another product. Really disappointing.



Couldn’t agree more!


The fact that Sketchup free does not allow the user to create their own materials or use extensions robs the software of two of its most powerful functions. I can only assume this is to drive more people to buy the pro version even if they are not professional users. I have being using Sketch up for many years and found it to be a great piece of software but I can see the end in sight; so I will be looking for an alternative. To ask for people to recommend a competitor on a companies forum I would normally regard very rude but when treated in this way I can only feel it is fully justified.


Joe, I am not naive. It is a matter of time but it won’t happen immediately. SketchUp 2017 will work for a long time yet. And the folks working on SketchUp Free do want to find a way to implement extensions in the online version.

Do you upgrade your tablesaw every time a new model comes out? People are acting like SketchUp 2017 has been turned off. It works exactly as it did on Monday. Nothing has changed with SketchUp 2017 Make since then. Maybe in a few years the operating systems will have changed so much that it won’t. Perhaps by then SketchUp Free will utilize extensions. The Make users haven’t got much room to complain. They haven’t made a financial investment in the development of SketchUp. The Pro users have been subsidizing them all this time.


It works exactly as it did on Monday

Yes, along with all the known bugs and issues which I was hoping would one day be fixed.

The Make users haven’t got much room to complain. They haven’t made a financial investment in the development of SketchUp

Maybe Sketchup Make users haven’t made a financial contribution, but what of those of us that have created extensions which are free for both Make and Pro users? What about those of us that have created amazing models and shared them on the warehouse so that even Pro users can use them?


if there was a SketchUp Make 2018, many would be complaining that the updates are all for Pro…

there is no way Pro will make it to the web without Extensions, so why not use SketchUp Free as a test bed…

just saying…



Well, well, well…

I was really (like, really) looking forward to the SU Make18, which would solve the annyoing selection-delay issue.

In the last three years (in the process of building a house) I was sketching in this software nearly on a daily basis and it helped me to visualise many many projects and ideas. I’ve became familiar with some advanced features, which were incorporated in the free Make version and…

And now the '18 products are here. Like, now we have a choice to pay for the full version (makes sense, you developer guys don’t do it for free, something must pay your bills) or stick with the cloud version (makes sense, everything is becoming virtual, etc.). But at a first glance the transition is set wrong. In short, The Free should have all the features of the Make. multiple templates (without the annoying background), import/export feature (dae, jpg), material editing, offline work (yeeeeah, it’s an online browser software, I get it), and so on… I’ll try the software for like few more days to research it (maybe the features are there, but yet to be found), but…

The selection issue stopped me to use this really remarkable piece of software in '17 and the '18 products will obviously end my story with SU and search for something alternative out there. The Make was an excellent tool for thousands of us “home engineers”, who don’t need/can’t afford the x00$ price tag.

so long and thanks for all the fish :wink:


I used Sketchup Make for Simulation-Scenery Design and 3D Printing together with my 3D Mouse and loved it, because it was very easy to use.
I can’t see, how to get my 3D Connexion Mouse running with the browser version properly.
Aniway. The UI is - sry - realy a ■■■■. Using Chrome 62.0.3202.94 (64-Bit) i’m not even able to define own materials.
I don’t have any chance to export 3D Printing Files as .stl due to the lack of running any of my favorite Plugins.

The Web-Version is imho just a toy, but nothing to be used productive in any way.
In the past i serveral times thought about purchasing the PRO-Version, but based on your desicion to obviously kick-out advanced hobbyists i’m not going to purchase the pro.
The price for the pro (including the upgrade fees for the next years) is way too high for someone just delivering free sceneries not earning anything with 3D design. It’s a price for which you can purchase a enty-level 3D printer!

Sadly i’ve to check other free tools like blender etc. right now.
3D Warehous will not grow anymore… Sadly…

Best regards,



You still have Make 2017. It worked for you on Monday and it’ll still work for a long time.

When a computer manufacturer introduces a new model do you just stop using the one you have? Does it suddenly become unusable?

Well, it is unusable already. The selection tool doesn’t work. :wink:


That’s not SketchUp. There are numerous threads on that topic here which include the solutions for the problem. SketchUp isn’t the only program affected by the problems created by Microsoft when they push updates.

Hi Dave,

Yes of course. But it seems that Trimble discontinues the development for the advanced hobbyist line. So i interprete this as Sketch up make as we know it till 2017 as “end of live”. SU Make 2018 / web is another product for another audience.
It seems, that Trimble doesn’t acknowledge that the path from “easy entry level” to pro usually goes over intermediates. And for those remains only the “old unmaintained product from download-archive”
But probably -hopefully- my interpretations and assumptions are wrong… :slight_smile:


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I know, I’ve checked them all. And tried numerous “solutions”, but none really permanently worked. But on the other side, the 2016 seems to work, so it somehow is SketchUp issue.

I’m out of this thread, I see no point in arguing with the staff. I’m just trying to provide some sort of customer feedback. Nobody forces me to use the software, but you know… I kinda like(d) it. We all do (did). That’s why we are here discussing the issues.

I wish the team all the best in making this tool “our beloved” again. :wink:


The ability to open any computer in the world, log into a web service and instantly have access to all of my data is, well… just very powerful.

It’s “very powerful” if you have a robust, 24/7, high bandwidth connection. It’s dead meat if you don’t. Surely the roaring success of chromebooks has illustrated the folly of thinking everyone has a web connection like they’re sitting in Sunnyvale.


I’m not the staff. I’m just another Sketchup user.

Manufacturers like Apple count on people with that view to buy their next iPhone model. “The iPhone X was just released so my iPhone 8 is end of life and I have to stop using it.”