The good folks at SketchUp recently released an updated version of my favorite 3D modeling program. As with previous versions of SketchUp there are two versions, the free for personal use “SketchUp Make” and the more advanced version “SketchUp Pro”. One of the most often asked questions I get is “what is the difference between the two versions?” Most of the modeling functions are the same between the two versions, the biggest differences are in the types of files that can be imported and exported. The Pro version also includes solid modeling tools and an add-on program called Layout that makes printing in large formats possible.
My SketchUp books and classes are geared to using the free version, and one of the best thingss about SketchUp is that you can learn how to use the software without making any financial investment. If you get the hang of it and find out you need the features of SketchUp Pro, the cost is very reasonable compared to other computer design programs. If you decide the free version does everything you need, you can continue using a great tool that costs you nothing.
With the transition in ownership from Google to Trimble Navigation, came a confusing situation regarding the download process. One of the good things about the release of SketchUp 2014 is that confusion has been eliminated. If you only want SketchUp Make, you no longer need to download and install a trial version of SketchUp Pro first.
To get the software, go to http://www.sketchup.com/ and click on download, or go to the products menu and select “SketchUp Make”. If you’ve already decided you need the advanced features of “SketchUp Pro” you can also download that version and you will have 8 hours to try it out before committing to a purchase. If you’re brand new to SketchUp, stick with “SketchUp Make” until you know your way around. You need to enter your e-mail address and agree to the license terms to download. Note that if you are using SketchUp for a commercial purpose, you need to use “SketchUp Pro” to meet the terms of the agreement. SketchUp has several features that use the web, and to make the most of those you need to set up and use a Google account.
The next question is in two parts, “How big a difference is there between this version and the last version, and is it worthwhile to upgrade?” There isn’t enough of a difference to make my books and blogs posts irrelevant; the basic functions are the same although some things look a little different.
There are a few things that look different and there are minor changes to toolbars and the Arc tool in particular. I’ve always liked the way the Arc tool functions in SketchUp, but every now and then I wish it were more flexible. Click Here to Read About the New Arc Functions in SketchUp 2014
The “Getting Started” toolbar now includes fly-out options for some of the tools, as does the “Draw Menu”. The “Large Tool Set” toolbar (on PCs) is now two columns wide and can be parked on the left side of the screen.
It is however, worth an upgrade because SketchUp continues to become more efficient, both in terms of the user interface and in how it uses your computer’s resources. Most of the changes are under the hood to make the program run more efficiently, and a big part of this is an upgrade to Ruby 2.0. Overall this makes it easier to write plug-ins for SketchUp, but the downside is that existing plug-ins won’t play nice with SketchUp 2014. If you have a favorite plug-in, don’t copy the old one into the new Plug-ins folder.
Instead, you should get a fresh copy from the Extension Warehouse. The Extension Warehouse was a feature added in SketchUp 2013. You get there through the “Window” menu and it makes the once tedious task of installing extensions quick, easy and automatic. From the Extension Warehouse you can browse all available plug-ins and install them. After they download, the appropriate tools appear where they should.
Also new is a revamped 3D Warehouse. I looks better, operates faster and it is easier to find what you are looking for. You can get there through your web browser, or you can access it directly from SketchUp, either through the file menu or the search bar in the Components window.
This is just a quick look at the latest version of SketchUp. I will be going into detail about many of these features in individual posts. I also haven’t covered everything, there are important enhancements to the Layout program and BIM features have been added to the latest version of SketchUp Pro. You can read more about that on the “Official SketchUp Blog”.