Geo Week News

May 28, 2013

Popular 3D modeling tool for AEC pros gets first big post-Google update


Trimble releases SketchUp 2013, makes it easier to find, use plugins and extensions

Trimble Navigation Ltd. has released SketchUp 2013, the first update of the popular 3D modeling tool it acquired from Google a year ago, and used by millions of architects, engineers, building and design professionals, as well as the burgeoning maker community.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based, publicly traded (Nasdaq: TRMB) company, with $2 billion in 2012 revenue, uses positioning technologies – GPS, lasers and optics – to focus on applications requiring position or location, including surveying, AEC, agriculture, fleet and asset management, public safety and mapping.

The updated version focuses on two major aspects of the software:

  • plugins in SketchUp to make it easier for millions of modelers to find and use plugins and extensions they need
  • boost SketchUp Pro’s 2D documentation and presentation features by turning the LayOut tool into a full-fledged tool for creating scaled, annotated and dimensioned drawings from models

The company formed Trimble Buildings in 2012 as part of its Engineering and Construction segment to offer hardware, software and services for streamlined communication throughout the Design-Build-Operate (DBO) lifecycle of construction.

“Trimble has always recognized that one of the biggest challenges facing the construction industry today is ensuring effective, clear and consistent collaboration between professionals involved in all phases of a construction project,” said Chris Keating, director of Trimble Buildings’ architecture division. “SketchUp is an important tool to address this industry need.”

The new SketchUp version features new capabilities for professional users. As in previous versions, users can quickly design and visualize in 3D, import CAD plans, photos, aerial imagery, and then use SketchUp Pro’s documentation tools to develop communication and planning deliverables.

For example, architects can quickly evolve design ideas and document modeling work to reflect changing project requirements.

SketchUp Pro also enables engineers, general contractors and building owners to drive design discussions and generate commercial deliverables such as conceptual estimates, construction drawings, RFI’s and full-screen digital presentations.

The new updated software also has an Extension Warehouse for add-on tools to make it easier for users to search, find and install SketchUp extensions.

The online repository allows users to find, share, store and collaborate on 3D models. Since 2004, third-party developers have been using SketchUp’s open and free API to build custom tools for SketchUp users.

The site enables users to create collections of models, including 3D Buildings, and share them with fellow modelers around the world. Individual models can be loaded, saved and viewed in 3D from within SketchUp or a web browser.

“We may have changed companies, but our commitment to delivering smart and efficient design tools is stronger than ever,” said John Bacus, director of SketchUp product management at Trimble. “We noticed that a big percentage of our professional users were using plugins, so part of making SketchUp more efficient is making it easier for them to find the tools they need, when they need them.”

Trimble also rebranded the software’s free, entry-level, 3D drawing tool version, known as SketchUp Make.

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