After an unusually long wait, SketchUp finally announces the next version of SketchUp. In a nutshell, they have added another way to pay for SketchUp through subscription via different bundles, but the (now called “Classic”) perpetual license is still available. Also, aside from numerous bug fixes and imrpovements, dashes have been added to SketchUp, and desktop VR is now available.
Watch the video or continue below.
You can now subscribe to SketchUp
Like most of the software industry, Trimble has made the switch to subscription-based software. For those who are cringing right now, it is optional, so if you prefer the old way of purchasing/maintaining SketchUp, and you’re not interested in the extra software and services you get with the subscription bundle, you’re free to continue doing it that way. But if you choose to go with the subscription, you get quite a few additional bundled features.
Here is the lineup of SketchUp subscriptions:
- SketchUp Free (Free for personal use) – The free version of SketchUp (The free version of SketchUp is now web-based. You use it right in your browser.) It includes a free Trimble Connect Personal subscription (5 collaborators, 2 projects, and 10GB of cloud storage). You also get the SketchUp viewer app for Android & iPhone for free. Access SketchUp Free right now in your browser. Get the SketchUp Viewer Android or iPhone app.
- SketchUp Shop Subscription ($119/YR) – Premium web-based SketchUp modeling software for commercial use. Great for 3D printing, CNC, woodworkers, and other makers. More advanced import/export capabilities. You also get a Trimble Connect for Business subscription (Unlimited storage, projects, & collaborators), which includes unlimited storage. This subscription also enables the augmented reality feature on the SketchUp mobile app.
- SketchUp Pro Subscription ($299/YR) – Includes SketchUp Shop (web), SketchUp Pro (desktop), LayOut(desktop), Style Builder, Trimble Connect for Business, Augmented Reality on SketchUp viewer mobile app, and the AR/VR viewer for desktop (Use with Vive or Rift). You will also have access to advanced customer support and SketchUps Learning Management System.
- SketchUp Studio Subscription ($1199/YR) – Includes everything in the SketchUp Shop & SketchUp Pro subscription, but includes a license to Sefaira, Trimbles building performance analysis software.
Classic license still available
- SketchUp Pro Classic (One-Time $695, then optional $119/YR) – Includes SketchUp Pro, LayOut, Style Builder, Trimble Connect Personal.
Remember, you can still purchase a perpetual SketchUp Pro “Classic” license for a one-time fee of $695, which includes one year of upgrades and maintenance. After that, you can pay an optional $119/yr maintenance fee to retain support and upgrades. But by not purchasing the SketchUp Pro subscription bundle, you will not have access to SketchUp Shop, AR SketchUp viewer on mobile, AR/VR desktop app, or Trimble Connect for Business.
The pricing chart on the SketchUp page conveniently hides the classic license option at the bottom, as if to say, “Yeah, you can buy a perpetual license, but please don’t.” lol. Here’s a direct link to the classic license pricing chart: https://www.sketchup.com/products/pro-classic
If you are already a SketchUp Pro “Classic” license holder, go to
https://www.sketchup.com/license/renew to check your upgrade eligibility. There is quite a lot of confusion as to how existing license holders will be treated if they want to transition to a subscription plan. The recommended course of action is to contact the SketchUp team directly to work out a solution.
Coincidentally, Trimble had their Q4 2018 earnings call on the same day SketchUp 2019 was announced, and they seem to be hinting at a full conversion to a subscription model as well. You call read the full transcript at https://www.fool.com/earnings/call-transcripts/2019/02/06/trimble-navigation-ltd-trmb-q4-2018-earnings-confe.aspx
(ARR stands for Annual Recurring Revenue in this context.)
Subscription vs Perpetual?
If you’re wondering whether it makes sense to go with a classic license, check out the break-even chart I made below. Assuming Trimble will still offer the classic license
far into the future (see above, probably not), you’d break even with the Pro subscription after only 3 years.
Remember, it’s not an apples to apples comparison, because the Pro subscription not only includes desktop SketchUp Pro and LayOut, but you also get the following:
- Includes subscription to SketchUp Shop
- SketchUp AR/VR desktop app (for Vive, Rift, Hololens, WMR)
- SketchUp mobile AR viewer
- Unlimited cloud storage with your Trimble Connect for Business account.
Now, I would imagine that there’s a large majority of professional SketchUp users who have no interest in the web-based SketchUp Shop, and haven’t added a Virtual Reality headset to their toolbox yet. For those of you in this camp, you probably feel like the subscription isn’t worth it from a value perspective, and also feel like it takes away some of your leverage as a user of a piece of software.
Here’s a quote from John Bacus (SketchUp Product Manager), on the SketchUp forum, when he announced the new version.
“From our perspective, we have to earn your business over and over again every day you are under subscription. With perpetual licenses, we only have to convince you to buy once to satisfy our business model. The way I see it, a subscription is good for you because it keeps our performance as a team aligned well with your ongoing happiness. If you aren’t satisfied, you can cancel the subscription and move on to whatever alternative you find to be more satisfying.” – John Bacus, Product Management Director @ SketchUp
Now in my humble opinion, I disagree with this. You can read my response to his post here. Switching to a subscription service does not create more accountability for Trimble to continue to make SketchUp better, and actually does the opposite, especially when a user becomes dependent on the software.
If a user owns a classic perpetual license, they know that they will always have access to the version they purchased. If a new version comes out, and the user is not impressed, he can easily choose not to upgrade, and just keep using the old version he already has. This creates leverage and incentive on Trimble to make sure new versions are substantially improved upon to earn new purchases and upgrades.
On the other hand, if a user is a subscriber, and the user feels like the new version is not worthy of an upgrade, now the user has to decide whether to completely ditch SketchUp altogether. That is a much harder decision to make, because if he doesn’t continue his subscription, his license is not perpetual so he will completely lose access to SketchUp Pro.
A subscription-based software license gives substantially more leverage to the software company, not the user, especially once a user becomes dependent on the software. Although, it is more affordable for users up front.
Disclaimer/Hypocrisy: I do pay for several subscription-based software, including the entire Adobe suite @ $53/mo, so I find myself in this trap as well!
RANT over 🙂 🙂
Download the trial
Regardless of how you feel about the new pricing structure, you are entitled to a 30-day free trial. Get the 30-day trial at https://www.sketchup.com/try-sketchup
Trimble has slowly been rolling out their new training platform @
https://learn.sketchup.com/. So definitely check that out as well.
When you activate the trial, you will get a 30-day trial to SketchUp Studio. Here’s a screenshot of what my trial looks like on my account page. Check out that big list of goodies included. Remember, with a SketchUp Pro subscription, you’d get all of this, with the exception of Sefaira.
New Feature(s) in SketchUp Pro 2019
The SketchUp team has done a lot of work improving all of the SketchUp products. This is evident by searching for the term “Fixed an issue” in the official release notes.
Every year, we always hope to see a ton of new features, but it’s important to remember the amount of work that goes towards making SketchUp more stable, reliable, and compatible with operating systems and hardware. Here are some other search terms to provide some perspective:
- 11 hits for the term “improved”.
- 146 hits for the term “fixed”.
- ~42 hits for the term “added”.
More fixes and improvements than additions… Unfortunately, the added features leave a lot to be desired.
Dashed lines….layers only?
This is the big new feature of SketchUp Pro 2019. We now have the ability to apply dashed lines to the edges in our model. Good news is that if you were exploding your site boundary viewports once they were imported into LayOut in order to apply a dash style to them, you no longer need to do that. You can keep the viewports linked to your model. This feature is ideal for things like property setbacks and other boundaries. You can also use it to add dashed lines to your window and door components to indicate swing.
To add dashed edges in your model, follow these steps:
- Create some geometry, Triple-click > Right-click > Make Group.
- Add a new layer, assign the group to that layer via the Entity Info Panel layer dropdown menu.
- Click in the Dashes column in the Layer you just created, select a dash style from the dropdown menu. All the edges in the group should now display the dash style you selected.
(You don’t want to change the dash style of Layer0, because then ALL of the edges in your model will be overridden to display that dash. If you leave Layer0 with Default dashes, then edges will inherit the dash style of whatever layer is assigned to the group.component they reside in. This is a good thing.)
There is a global dashes visibility toggle in the Styles panel. So you can configure some styles to show dashes, and have other styles only show solid edges. By default, all styles have dashes enabled. You can change this in your style by going to the Styles panel > Edit > Edges > and checking the Dashes checkbox.
Dashes are pretty limited in how they were executed.
- First of all, edge “dashes” are a layer property, instead of an entity property. So instead of having edge dashes work like how materials are applied to faces, you have to assign entities to a specific layer in order for the edges to have the dash style appear. Imagine if you could only change a face’s material by changing the layer the face was assigned to?
- Having dashes as a layer property will encourage users to assign entities to something other than Layer0, which is strongly discouraged because it can cause geometry to unexpectedly change even when a layer is hidden. This will be especially tempting for new users who aren’t familiar with the struggles of keeping Layer0 active.
- This will cause an increase in the number of layers used in a project, instead of a decrease. In general, it’s better to have as few layers as necessary to keep things simple.
- There is no way to control the thickness of the edge dashes individually. It’s still a global setting applied to the style, affecting the entire model. So if you like displaying your construction boundaries at different thicknesses in LayOut, you’re still going to have to stack multiple viewports in LayOut. But this only works if you are showing edges that stack well in a two dimensional layer stack. If you have anything tricky where parts of the model are supposed to obscure parts of the dashed edge, you won’t be able to use this method.
However, if you want to have different colors for your edges, you can always use the “Color by Material” style option on edges. (Did you know that you can apply materials directly to edges?)
One cool thing about having dashes as a layers property, is that in conjunction with some new improvements to the SketchUp DWG importer, layer line styles from the DWG will automatically get converted to the corresponding layer dash style.
That’s the end of the list for “new features” in SketchUp Pro 2019! Aside from a redesign of the Welcome Screen, everything else has been bug fixes or improvements to existing functionality, such as:
- Now that your Trimble ID has become more important, you’ll notice that there’s an additional icon in the toolbar for you to manage your account.
- DWG Imports/exports materials. Entities on frozen layers import as non-visible.
- PDF export options have been simplified.
- 3D Warehouse can now search by category.
- Rename scenes by right-clicking the scene tab.
- Changed some icons in the layers panel and shuffled some columns.
- Tape Measure tool now displays coordinates when hovering over points, and shows a tooltip with the measurements so you don’t have to look at the measurements box.
- Fixed slow zoom issue when your mouse isn’t over any geometry.
- Added a space between number and unit.
- Tweaked filled section cut rendering, which allows a section cut to be filled if there is a hidden face surrounded by two visible faces being cut.
- Added ability to edit selected component by pressing Enter.
- A whole bunch of bug fixes.
Side Note: To prevent the welcome panel from appearing every time you open SketchUp, go to Preferences > General > Startup. In LayOut, you can turn it off in Preferences > Startup.
New Features in LayOut
In LayOut, we of course have gained some controls over the new SketchUp dashes that were introduced. You can change the line stroke width and dashes scale while a viewport is selected in the SketchUp Model panel.
The Line Weight control that used to be under the Styles tab has moved to a sticky location on the panel and renamed to Line Scale, and they added a global multiplier dropdown menu to control the length of dashes in your model.
File Locking – If you try to open a file that’s already open, you’ll see a message indicating that it’s read-only.
Export to SketchUp – There is now an export to SketchUp option in LayOut, which will turn everything into model space so you can edit it in SketchUp.
Mouse Scroll Speed Controller – Go to Edit > Preferences > General > Scroll Speed to adjust the speed of your zoom in LayOut.
Improved DWG import and Export – Added the ability to define model space units when importing dwg.
What’s the deal with Trimble Connect?
The Trimble Connect extension for SketchUp has been around since at least 2014, so it’s not a new product, but it’s being marketed more strongly in 2019. I believe it gets installed automatically when you install SketchUp Pro 2019, but if I’m wrong, you can get it here. You can get 10GB for free, but with a Shop, Pro, or Studio subscription, you get unlimited storage and more collaboration features. So what does Trimble Connect actually do?
- Cloud Storage for your models. This works pretty seamlessly for SketchUp Free and SketchUp Shop, as it’s the default save location when you save a model on any of those two SketchUp for Web platforms. Trimble Connect also connects to the SketchUp Viewer for Android and iPhone. I’ve found Trimble Connect to work kind of slow in SketchUp Pro. It has improved a little bit, but still feels a little sluggish.
- Model Reference Management So, I’ve had some trouble testing this. Every time I imported a reference model, then published the main model back to the cloud, the imported references would disappear the next time I downloaded the model. I’ve had some discussions with the SketchUp team on this and apparently I’m using the feature wrong. So I will have to dig deeper on this feature to see exactly how it works.
- Cloud Collaboration Platform When you publish a SketchUp model to Trimble Connect, it becomes accessible in the cloud by any collaborators you invite to the project. Your project team can then access the collaboration platform in their browser at https://app.connect.trimble.com, on their phone using the mobile app (iPhone, Android), or on the desktop software, where they have 3D navigation, measurement, markup tools, issue tracking, attachments, commenting and task assignment. Trimble Connect is cross-platform, and can accept a number of different file formats.
- Clash Detection – You can perform simple clash detection on Trimble Connect. (Just to be clear, this functionality exists in the Trimble Connect website, not through the Trimble Connect Extension inside SketchUp Pro.)
Here’s the help section on how to use Trimble Connect.
Mobile AR Viewer
Trimble has had a mobile AR (Augmented Reality) feature for some time now, which was free to use during beta testing. But with the release of 2019, it has been repositioned as a premium feature for SketchUp Shop, Pro, and Studio subscribers. The Premium AR feature is actually built into the free SketchUp viewer app for mobile. Get it for Android OR Get it for iPhone. The feature unlocks when you log into a Trimble account that has it enabled.
I’ve got to say, it’s pretty darn cool, and really provides a new way to communicate with others about your design, in a much more interactive way. The fact that it is built into the SketchUp mobile app really makes it accessible, not only to you, but to your clients as well.
Desktop AR/VR viewer
With 2019, the desktop AR/VR viewer has been released. For some reason, there hasn’t been much talk about it. The Hololens app has existed for some time now, but it appears that it has been merged with this new SketchUp Viewer program. With this desktop program, you can view your SketchUp model with your Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Windows Mixed Reality headset, or the Microsoft Hololens. Personally I have the HTC Vive, which I love, and was able to test out the new SketchUp VR app.
After the convoluted initial setup, requiring you to take off your headset and log into your Trimble account in your browser, then go back to your headset, you’re met with a tutorial walk-through on how to use the large in-VR menu.
From there, you must navigate through the menu to select the model you want to load, then you position it in 3D space. You can switch to a full scale mode where you can walk around the model in VR. You do have full control over your layers
The implementation of the menu is kind of strange. It just sort of floats around, trying to position itself in a convenient location as you look around in the model. But when you actually try to look at the menu, it will just start floating away to the right unless you keep your controller cursor hovering over it. I much prefer the more common implementation of menus that are physically attached to the controller.
I’m going to be a much more in depth review of the VR app, but overall, I’m a little surprised at how the VR was executed. The core value of SketchUp is simplicity. I kind of expected the official SketchUp VR app to be similar to how Enscape’s VR feature works. (Enscape is my absolute favorite SketchUp VR implementation so far.) It’s one button, that you click from inside SketchUp, and boom, you’re inside your model in VR. It renders beautifully, and it’s a live link to your model! Any changes you make to your model are immediately shown while you are still in VR! It’s really awesome.
But the official SketchUp VR app feels clunky, especially with how the menu floats around. But just the fact that a tutorial walkthough is needed just to get you oriented to how to use it makes me a little disappointed.
Let’s back up a little bit. SketchUp is an awesome program. A lack of new features does not make it any less valuable than it was last year. It’s also important to remember just how much value you are getting when compared to other software. SketchUp beats pretty much all other premium 3D modeling software as far as cost, when you look at annual subscriptions. Of course you can’t forget about free software such as Blender.
A few years ago, Trimble decided to invest in a completely new platform to build SketchUp Free and SketchUp Shop that can run in your browser. They developed an app for Hololens, Vive, Rift, WMR. They created the SketchUp mobile app. That decision has taken a lot of developer resources away from the desktop software, SketchUp Pro and LayOut. Trimble has made a bet that creating an ecosystem of interconnected software will provide more value to its users than simply sticking with one, main desktop platform.
In my opinion, I would’ve rather seen more commitment to improving SketchUp Pro and LayOut, and continue with SketchUp Make, the old free, desktop version. It was really disappointing to learn that free users will no longer have access to extensions, and that the “new free version” of SketchUp has many features removed. But hopefully we will see more commitment from Trimble moving forward, with this latest shift in their business model.
- https://www.sketchup.com/try-sketchup – Download the 30-day trial for SketchUp 2019. This will activate a 30 day trial of SketchUp Studio. Learn more below.
- https://help.sketchup.com/en/release-notes-0 – Official SketchUp release notes, if you’re interested in reading about all the improvements made. (I’ve summarized this below)
- https://blog.sketchup.com/article/a-whole-new-way-to-sketchup Official SketchUp Blog post announcement.
- https://www.sketchup.com/license/renew – If you currently have a maintenance license, you can check your status here to renew or view your eligibility for upgrading under your current agreement.
- https://www.sketchup.com/plans-and-pricing#for-professional – Price and feature comparison chart between SketchUp Shop, Pro, and Studio.
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yx1Sp5rb3ns This is an excellent video overview on some proper techniques on using the new dashed line feature, by Aaron, from the SketchUp team.
- https://learn.sketchup.com/ – SketchUp’s new Learning platform, supplementing their YouTube channel.