Sketchup : Self-Builds

This section outlines a general interest in self-build design, which was facilitated by a free software program called Sketchup, a 3D drawing tool that was made freely available by Google in 2006 in order to promote 3D content for Google Earth. However, Google sold Sketchup to a company call ‘Trimble’ in 2012.

Note: Trimble is a company primarily known for its GPS technology with offices in over 30 countries and a reported revenue of $1.6 billion in 2011. Up to now, the focus of Trimble’s business plans appears to have been land surveying, construction, agriculture, transportation, telecommunications, asset tracking, mapping, utilities, mobile resource management and government, but little in the way of free educational tools.

As such, the future of Sketchup as a free educational tool is possibly unclear, especially in light of the fact that the latest Trimble version of ‘Sketchup Make’ now mandates an 8 hour trial of the professional version. However, despite this worrying sign, Trimble has made a public statements, which may be more re-assuring to those who simply want to continue to use Sketchup as a free educational tool for their own personal interests. The following 2 bullets possibly summarises Trimble’s intent:

  • A free version of Sketchup will be maintained.
  • However, only the professional version will necessarily be developed, such that the differences between professional and the free version will grow.

Clearly, there are implications in this last statement, which some may see as the ‘writing-on-the-wall’ for the long term future of Sketchup as a free educational tool. However, for now, Sketchup probably has enough functionality for most casual users. For the latest informational status, it is suggested that you not only review the ‘official Sketchup website, but some of the various articles surrounding the future development of Sketchup. So, for now, those interested may still freely use one of two versions of Sketchup. The first version is now called ‘Sketchup Make and allows you to actively develop your own 3D drawings. The second version is called the ‘Sketchup Viewer  and simply allows you to view the Sketchup 3D drawings. Of course, if you download Sketchup Make, you will have no need to download Sketchup Viewer, but beware that when you now try to download the ‘free’ version of Sketchup Make for personal use, Trimble now want you to actively engage in an 8 hour trial of the professional version and accept their terms and conditions for the use of this version. However, for now, it appears that you can still download earlier versions as well – see download page

While the use of Sketchup is not restricted to simply drawing building, it will be the prime focus of this section. However, the ability to rotate any of the modes be discussed in 3D space will require one of the Sketchup versions outlined above. Alternatively, you might like to browse through the online Sketchup 3D warehouse via the link provided.