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Google Sketchup 8 review

Verdict

New and deeper integration with Google’s online technologies add to SketchUp’s existing strengths, but it’s thin pickings for professional users

Review Date: 8 Dec 2010

Reviewed By: Tom Arah

Price when reviewed: Free

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
4 stars out of 6

Value for Money
4 stars out of 6

Ease of Use
4 stars out of 6


Google SketchUp 8 Pro


That’s about it for the free Google SketchUp, but users wanting more power can turn to Google SketchUp 8 Pro (US$495). The main advantage of the commercial release is that it goes beyond bitmap and KMZ/DAE output to offer a much wider range of 2D and 3D export options such as EPS, PDF, 3DS, OBJ and FBX. Support has been further extended in this latest release to include the popular DWG/DXF 2010 format.

Pro takes further advantage of the program’s volumetric handling to offer five new tools – Union, Intersect, Subtract, Trim and Split – for creatively combining solid objects. Such subtractive and additive modelling can certainly make life easier, but SketchUp’s system only works with groups and components with no holes and no overlaps. It’s also worth pointing out that users of the free version can achieve the same results if they can to get to grips with the existing Intersect with Model command.

Google Sketchup 8

SketchUp Pro also includes two important support applications for handling presentation: Style Builder, where you control the hand-drawn styles that helped give the program its name; and LayOut, where you can place, orientate and annotate your models to produce advanced 2D plans and drawings. Disappointingly, Style Builder is unchanged and the new editing capabilities in LayOut 3, such as support for precision moving, angular dimensions and customisable dashed line styles, fall into the tweaks category.

The ability to export LayOut 3 drawings to the DXF/DWG format for ongoing workflows is more useful and, along with the new solid tools, is just about enough to justify the upgrade price (US$95). However, SketchUp 8 Pro and LayOut 3 add little to previous releases and raise questions about Google’s commitment to SketchUp’s original user-base and those new users who want to move beyond geo-modelling.

For the average user, however, there’s little to complain about. SketchUp has always offered exceptional 3D creativity and version 8’s deeper and wider integration with Google’s online technologies – Earth/Maps, Street View, 3D Warehouse and now Building Maker – make it more powerful than ever. And the fact that it’s still completely free doesn’t do it any harm either.

Author: Tom Arah

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