SketchUp 2019, Subscribe!

Matt Donley Sketchup Tutorials, Tips & Tricks 63 Comments

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:

If you are already a SketchUp Pro “Classic” license holder, go to 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.

The big question is how long will the “Classic” perpetual license be offered? That answer to that question seems to be confusing even to the SketchUp team. Via jbacus & michellelw & Bryceosaurus:

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

(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.

Subscription Rant

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

Trimble has slowly been rolling out their new training platform @ 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:

  1. Create some geometry, Triple-click > Right-click > Make Group.
  2. Add a new layer, assign the group to that layer via the Entity Info Panel layer dropdown menu.
  3. 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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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, on their phone using the mobile app (iPhoneAndroid), 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.
  4. 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.

Final Thoughts

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.

Additional links

Comments 63

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      1. I agree with Duane, thank you for an honest review. I too was disappointed by latest release and the subscription plans do not suit me – I wonder how long they will keep the classic subscription going for future releases.

        I totally with you about the dashed lines should be part of the entity attributes.

  1. greetings from Costa Rica. First of all I want to say that I use skp since 2005 so I love this program. When I opened the page to see what SKP 2019 brings, I found a great animated presentation and I thought, waw they have incorporated something new and it looks great !, but seeing the SKP2019 I see that it does not bring new nda in that sense, so I have two concerns:
    1- because it promotes such a magnificent image that was undoubtedly made at the beginning with skp but it is another program that performs the magic. Is not this dangerous, as soon as they lose credibility to be able to understand that the program makes these effects and does not really do them?
    2-It would be great to teach how they did, really very hopeful to think that one comes to make this type of presentation using only SKP.
    I want SKP, that’s why I consult.

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  2. Deeply disappointed by all this and frankly it’s not good enough.
    With a small one man architectural design business I seriously have to question the added value in the new offering and frankly I have already started to look at Blender…Au Revoir Sketchup!?

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    2. I’m a huge fan of Sketchup&Layout combo… but I was already trying some alternatives since I am an opensource enthusiast too.

      Blender is the software to model the early stages of design and the final renders.

      But as architects, we need the technical workflow that is not the focus of Blender… so the best candidate is the implementation of BIM in Freecad in conjunction with some CAD software like Draftsight.

      My business model is based basically on the Sketchup&Layout workflow but I´m moving it gradually to other platforms, both opensource and paid. It was a decision purely based on an expanse of alternatives and business model, but now it has a strategic component.

      I don´t use subscriptions based software simply because it takes away from me the control of my intellectual property. All the files that were created by me using the software will be “lost” if I decide to cancel the subscription, which will not occur if I have the permanent licence.

  3. Wow Matt, since the announcement (or lack thereof through all channels), I have to say that you are probably the only person thus far, to put everything into clear, concise and intelligent perspective. I’ve watched the vids on Youtube and have read the subsequent backfire of angry posts from people around the net (I chimed in at one point but gave up, throwing my hands in the air), but anyways, as I see it, being a user of the Pro version 2018 (with a less than 24-hour upgrade to 2019) that yeah, we’re just getting more of the same of what we already had, but it appears that the Trimble team now have a solid enough base (through sales telemetry), that they can dedicate more resources on their end to start “field testing” new features (via the subscription model), instead of stick the “perpetuals” with something they’ll never use and ponder why they paid what they did for it. On the other hand, and one I side with, i like having the software “in hand”, like the good old days and subscriptions are annoying (intrusive pop ups during a session, letting you know updates are available) and then subsequently stopping your work to see what is new in the update and then choosing whether to do it now or later.

    Cost is a HUGE factor here, and being the Pro user with an active M&S with Trimble, I’ll hold out as long as I can with renewing the M&S at $120/yr, because in truth, it is a better value and I don’t necessarily feel I need the latest and greatest (plugins tend to fill in the blanks for me), but IF and WHEN Trimble decides to cut the cord on the M&S (or raise the cost), I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

    In any case, thanks for the in-depth article, it’s worthy of the read.

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      Yeah, thanks for the feedback. It’s just really becoming clear how Trimbles “master plan” that was started back when they launched the web version of SketchUp, is aimed at creating an ecosystem of products that can be bundled together at different price points. It seems like they are trying to create more separation between other modeling solutions, in order to create a unique, niche market. I would’ve preferred seeing them double down on improving SketchUp Pro and LayOut, and continue with SketchUp Make. And they do have a sweet spot as far as pricing and what they offer.

      Btw, I just find it weird though, how Trimble Connect is being marketed as if it’s some new thing that’s been created for 2019, when in fact, it’s been around for YEARS, and has never really worked right. Hoping we’ll see some positive changes from this moving forward.

  4. Thanks for your honest assessment. I have been a fan of Sketchup for around 6 years. I like the collaborative outlook of the many free extensions and the 3D warehouse. From what I have read over the last 2 days Sketchup 2019’s introduction of the subscription approach will be the end of loyalty to Sketchup for many users.

  5. I do theatre set design but not so much as I used to. SketchUp has been great for this and I’ve used it for years and it’s all I use the program for. These days I don’t get paid for my designs; it’s all volunteer work. So when I hear about Trimble’s shift in policy, that would require me to go to it’s subscription model with expensive annual upgrades, I am not happy. Let me stick with a version that works for me, (SketchUp Pro 2018). It’s all I need. I don’t want to get pushed into a position where I have to dump the whole program because it got too expensive – because I am not profiting from it.

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  6. Great article, Matt!

    Awesome job in breaking down the subscription options and new products. Best of luck as you launch back into creating more cool SU content. I always enjoy reading your stuff.

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  7. Subscription models do two things:

    1. Guarantee income and profit projections for corporations
    2. Breed complacency

    Adobe is an exception, who continues to innovate and improve. Autodesk, by contrast, seems to come out with ever more lackluster updates actually valuable to the working Architect. They’re too busy chasing the next shiny VR object than acting on the hundreds of of truly useful User Requests made over the past two decades.

    Agreed that SU is still a supremely useful product. but has seen little in the way of true value improvements since the @Last days. Google and Trimble have done little to bring genuine ‘evangelist’ improvements to core users.

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      Yeah, I’m on the hook with Adobe, but I use Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere, Lightroom, Lightroom mobile, After Effects, AND Dreamweaver. I get all that (and more programs that I could never find time to learn) for $53/mo. They update the programs so frequently, and it would cost a fortune to pay for all those programs outright (if that’s even still possible?) It’s a lot of value for what I’m getting. And the technology changes so frequently, that I can understand paying for ongoing improvements. I’ve got numerous other Saas apps that I pay for to run my business too, so I’m not totally against subscriptions, but don’t tell me that subscriptions are better for the user because it makes you earn our business every single day. That’s just not true.

  8. Nice review – and without histrionic ranting. 🙂 I was hoping SketchUp would one day become a White Knight alternative to the nightmare that is Revit, but that will never be the case. Software vendors would rather emulate the “gotcha” model of Autodesk than offer a better alternative. Keep up the good work.

  9. Good write up, Matt.

    I haven’t even downloaded the 2019 version yet, but from what I’ve read, “underwhelming” comes to mind. And you’re completely on target with your comments about the subscription vs purchase option. If you decide to cancel the subscription, you no longer have access to the software. I’ll stick with 2018 Pro, or maybe upgrade to 2019 (I’m in no hurry and the differences aren’t that compelling).

    Sketchup is a good program, but there are so many things about it that need to be corrected, and these get ignored for years. Multiple layers “m”, for instance, because enter key doesn’t release a text field, LIKE EVERY OTHER PIECE OF SOFTWARE THAT I’M AWARE OF. Yea, I’m on a Mac. Sluggishness with large models – mine are always around 150 megs and the software gets very iffy at that point. There are lists of gripes out there that have noted these same issues for years.

    I’ll stick with SU because I’m way to busy trying to find work to have time to put the effort into learning new software that I’ve put into SU over the years. But I sure don’t have a lot of confidence in the future of it. I hope I’m wrong.

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  10. Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas.

    Apologies but parts of your article do feel a little like that.

    For eduction the students can work on pro in class but then have nothing outside of class given that the web based solution is just awful for them. Trimble seem to be missing the point that the next generation of users is being overlooked.

    Short-term view for short-term rewards.

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      Hi Steve, I don’t really understand your “Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas” comment, lol, but I’m also disappointed that Trimble decided to discontinue SketchUp Make, and replaced it with the web-based SketchUp Free. I think the entire web-based version of SketchUp has taken a lot away from the desktop software development resources.

  11. Like you, I’ve built my business around Sketch-Up. Rather disappointed in Trimble – feel it’s a slap in the face. That being said, I’m somewhat confused about the subscription vs. the old licensing. If I’m reading this correctly, I’m paying $695 for a product I’ve been able to formerly upgrade to for about $130. Please, somebody correct me if I’m wrong – and I want to be. That’s a slap in the face to loyal users like me who have used SketchUp since version 1 with @Last software.

    I’d gladly upgrade to SU2019 by not at a highway robbery price and a promise to do better in the future. What are you thinking Trimble?

    I’ll subscribe to the subscription model if I see a better commitment by Trimble to the product to be the best. My wallet is closed (for now).

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      Hi John, There are MANY MANY people confused as to how a transition from a “classic” license to the new subscription license would work, including myself. The good news is that right now, if you are an existing SketchUp Pro user, you are not being forced to change anything. You can continue with your classic license and the $120/year maintenance fee, and continue with SketchUp Pro 2019 and LayOut 2019. (If you’re already under a maintenance plan, you actually don’t have to pay anything right now.) You can check the status of your license at But if you did decide you wanted to get the additional benefits of subscribing to the $299/yr plan (Trimble Connect Business plan, SketchUp Shop access, AR features on Mobile, VR desktop app) I get the impression that they are willing to work out some sort of transition deal for existing customers, but I haven’t seen anything official on that, other than to individually contact support.

      1. Sketchup 2019 discussions raise another question for me. Why when Sketchup states perpetual Sketchup Pro perpetual annual maintenance and support fee is $120 US dollars am I being charged £120 UK pounds (plus VAT making a total of £144) for my annual maintenance and support? Can you explain why in the UK we don’t pay the same $120 fee, which even with the current poor exchange rate is only around £90? (and with VAT should be just £108 annually?) I have ben paying £144. Have I been overcharged for several years? Does this mean a subscription in the UK would not be $299 but in fact £299 pounds sterling (plus VAT)? It gets worse.

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          1. Hi Matt, big fan of your work. I sent a reply to James about his UK subscription cost of £120 , plus 20% VAT, total cost £140 UK pounds. My UK subscription was renewed in November 2018 at a cost of £199, plus VAT, total cost £238 UK pounds! Too annoyed at the moment to look at this cost in dollars but it clearly makes no sense at all.
            When I queried the cost I was told it was the figure that Trimble/SketchUp had put on the next upgrade. I’ve gone back to my supplier asking for an explanation.

        2. Don’t know how you did it James but my UK maintenance and support subscription was renewed in November 2018 at a cost of £199.00+VAT (£238.80), when I queried the amount I was told that the cost was governed by Trimble/SketchUp. It was always the case that if you didn’t renew your annual subscription and you ever wanted to upgrade at some point you were back to square one, having to pay the full cost of SketchUp. So as a loyal SU ‘upgrader’, non-VAT registered, sole practitioner, ‘conned’ is the way I’m feeling right now.

          1. Hi Ian,

            I renewed maintenance and support in August 2018, maybe that’s why it was cheaper? I think it’s dodgy that the price we pay in UK (or any other country) isn’t based upon the dollar exchange rate at the date of purchase/renewal of chosen product. What do other people think?

  12. Thanks Matt. Very good and balanced analysis. Really appreciate your insights. Subscription-based business models seem a growing if not inevitable trend in almost every aspect of consumer life. It seems fairly clear this latest move by Trimble is a ‘profit’ move rather than an ‘improved product’ move. Obviously the two moves do not have to be exclusive of each other but it appears Trimble has chosen the former. A future step by Trimble, easy to imagine, is to monetize the Warehouse. Revenue sharing with original artists for every download. Nevertheless, still a great & inexpensive product. Viva La Classic.

    1. Post

      That’s another thing that gets me. The justification that a subscription payment model “enables” Trimble to deliver updates more frequently. That’s completely unrelated. There’s no reason they can’t keep a perpetual license model, and continue to charge for maintenance and support annually, while delivering as many updates as they want throughout the year. If they needed to increase the annual fee for the maintenance in order to justify additional development hiring and resources to pay for getting more features produced, I think most people would understand that. But to say that the “only way” we can deliver updates throughout the year is to make it so you lose your license when you stop paying us, makes no sense.

  13. Supplement to previous Comment:

    As Matt accurately stated previously, SU is still an awesome and valuable product. An ongoing subscription at $120 a year is fair and reasonable for a product, even with marginal improvements. I currently spend over $4000 a year in professional subscriptions between Autodesk Building Suite, SketchUp, Adobe Suite, Lumion (about $1000 every two years), MS Office and so forth.

    Aside from Lumion, these are probably the minimums for any Architectural office, so not cheap, but necessary. The least we expect from our software providers is good faith in the form of practical and requested improvements, quick response to questions, continued troubleshooting of bugs and errata.

    Where is the incentive to improve when income is guaranteed? There is none, unless it is deeply embedded in the company culture, as it was at @Last 18 years ago. I see little to none of this at Trimble. Most of the ‘new features’ are simply an excuse to raise rates and offer no real value to the day-to-day SU users. Change my mind.

  14. I feel like I am watching an old friend die. I have used Sketchup since its earliest versions and in the early days it was an incredible tool and step forward–but they haven’t made enough improvements and now they introduce a subscription program that does nothing for me except escalate costs. Time to move on.

  15. Good review but pretty politically correct…

    I’ve been with Sketchup since 2003… It’s the infinite expectation that finally, they’ll do something with it as it needs a complete re-write.. Tips and tricks is not enough to make this hollow, solid-less toy a proper BIM as some claim, UI utter Mickey Mouse, Relationship Between Sketchup and Layout super retarded, layers!!!, scenes, hide-unhide, constant confusion. Group, ungroup, component, explode, double click and click a million times… It does not seem that they care about a few “professional users” who are desperate for a truly integrated BIM solution that can deliver a spanking set of construction documents as it should. On the contrary, I am sitting with super-duper PC that Sketchup doesn’t “see” at all, Layout doesn’t utilize GPU…Waiting, waiting, waiting…10 years ago maybe but today this is utterly unacceptable…

    Matt, I know that 2019 is far below your expectations and I feel for you as you have invested a great deal of time and effort, not to mention enthusiasm that is pushing you forward. Most probably in Dire-Straits. Sadly, they have failed us in a big way..New licensing just reiterates the fact that money (big-brother control) is the governing factor for the future direction, not software development..So much real stuff is missing and 1st time I feel pretty disillusioned about the future prospect and quite frankly utterly disappointed with their mumbo-jumbo…This donkey as it is will never race as a thorough bread. But in the end, who cares..

    Bumped into this – Edificius is the BIM software for improved architectural design :

    Funnily enough, it’s dancing with Sketchup!

    1. Post
  16. thanks Matt for the nice resumé. It almost feels good to see so many loyal users with businesses depending on SU, just like you and I, who have the same opinion. And all their reaction in this in a short amount of time. I just hope that Trimble will catch the message and do something about it. The last thing I want is seeing SU goes but with what just happened, if Trimble ignore the “event”, I’m scared the structure will collapse eventually and even if we grip the boat, we will sunk one day. I saw the popularity and reputation of SketchUp raising every year but it’s still fragile. and now I have the feeling the all thing drop down overnights. That will unfortunately takes a lot of time to be forgotten. I’m not pissed, I’m sad and worried!

  17. Matt, I have always enjoyed your instruction videos on SketchUp. And I am a long-time SketchUp user myself.

    But the hand writing was on the wall when SketchUp 2018 was released and virtually killed any reason hobby users would bother with it any more. Removing plugins from the online “Make” version killed its usefulness and also screwed all the plugin developers that spent countless hours developing plugins for a wider audience than just Architectural drafting pros.

    There are SO many more options out there now that I strongly believe you would be better served by exploring and documenting “How To” guides in something like Fusion 360 than hanging on to SketchUp. The main window into your target userbase appears to be YouTube. That’s not where the pros are going. You would have a larger base by dumping SketchUp now while the time is ripe and going another direction.

    Doesn’t sound good, I know. It’s hard to change the trajectory of an arrow in flight when it is going to miss its target.

    But I (and many others I know) are done with SketchUp. Let Trimble grub for money from someone else.

    1. Post

      I was definitely disappointed when they killed SketchUp Make. As for myself, I truly believe in SketchUp and what it could become, despite what we’re seeing before us. I should also say that I have personally met most of the SketchUp team, and they are brilliant, talented people. I think it’s more of a problem with upper upper management, (like, maybe some big wig in a Trimble headquarters somewhere, not even in the local SketchUp office in Boulder) making high level decisions that are directing SketchUp to move this direction. idk, maybe I’m wrong.

      1. No, you’re spot on, Matt. Its definitely some accounting department big wig, far away from the crew in Boulder and farther away from the Sketchup community.

        Same as it ever was.

  18. Thank you for the great analysis and well written clarification of what was in the SketchUp subscription release. When I first read the Trimble release information I could not figure out what it meant to me in my small architectural practice. You helped me understand, but if did not fix the negative feelings I now have towards Trimble because of how their SketchUp release information appears to think of and treat me as a long term customer of theirs.

    I am a not very proficient, but very long-time user of SketchUp in my architectural practice. I dutifully purchased a copy of SketchUp many years ago and paid for the annual maintenance subscription plan (just renewed). Similarly, 29 years ago + I purchased an AutoCad package and pay for the annual maintenance plan.

    Autodesk has changed both their emphasis of support towards the Revit product and they have gone to the subscription model. I have not benefited by the Autodesk model. It leaves the long-time AutoCad users to worry about when we will be left without our AutoCad package and the cost and learning curve a new Cad program will require.

    SketchUp is following this model. I am not sure of the value of what SketchUp has added to the package. I likely won’t use the AR/VR package in the near future, I don’t know what Shop and Connect for Business are, etc. So paying another $180.00/yr does not make sense.

    One of SketchUp’s clear benefits is the sharing between all of the SketchUp community. Will that remain?

    The email “conversation” with JBacus makes it clear SketchUp really is planning to cast their long-time user by the wayside as part of their future focus. The JBacus response statements substantiate this belief.

    So I guess those of us who were happy with benefits of the “old” way and the ever present qualities and improvements to SketchUp will now have to sit like Damocles, under the sword, waiting for the next release shoe to drop.
    Thank you again Matt

  19. I for one won’t be renewing my license this year, and am now actively examining Fusion360.

    I am frankly sick to death of the bugs in SU, the crashes, poor inferences and inconsistent behaviors. I reluctantly upgraded to 2018 and will go no further. Layout has always been an obvious ‘bolt-on-afterthought’ and its work flow shows it everyday.

    Views and layers have always been staggeringly badly designed and poorly implemented and even though I know how they work intimately, they continue to annoy me incessantly.

    I now find myself regularly swearing at 2018 for refusing to do things it did 10 minutes ago, or just flatly refusing altogether, and I still can’t do simply basic things like import linked child models into a parent for reuse.

    It was a fun whilst it was fun, but now it just isn’t. With Fusion360’s great support for 3D printing and FEA simulations I already know where I’ll be going…

  20. Good info and informed opinion Matt. As a user for 18 years it’s pulling on my heartstrings too… I, however, function in a corporate setting where resources are a bit freer and a non-issue in this case. The issue for me is feeling un-heard and undesired as a customer. I love SketchUp, we all do, and we all want to see it grow. More and more I’m finding myself seeking out other software that is able to accomplish what I’m trying to do as SketchUp fails to rise up to the task. Clients are demanding ever more complex, data-rich, beautiful deliverables and I find myself heartbroken that my favorite modeling program doesn’t always meet the bill. I am a SketchUp fanboy… and always will be so I appreciate your thorough assessment Matt and am will be curious to see what effect this “negativity” may have on the matter. Looking forward to your video.

  21. I don’t care to be beholden to any corporation. If I must I’ll just go back to sketching…pencil and paper never breaks.

  22. Nice write-up, Matt. I personally saw this coming a year + ago when they came out with the 2-18 version and killed off ‘Make” in favor of the anemic and crippled web based version. Per that, I still use my 2017 desktop version, with all the bells and whistles that the plug-in community have so graciously provided. Thank you Plug-in developers!
    Now, I get that Trimble is an architectural based firm and that the SU user base is probably greater than 75% in the architectural field. Me, Im a “Maker”, primarily scale models, movie props, and sometimes jewelry. Its a hobby, and comes nowhere close to the income I would need to live off of. I quite frankly could not do what I need to do with a web based version that has no plug-in support. There are so many other industries and hobbies out there that could benefit from the use of this so very easy to learn piece of software. Trimble – Bring back the “Make version”, hell, make it 3 versions back if you want to, the hobbyist and weekend users all feel like you have abandoned them. Your subscription model does not benefit us in the slightest! When @Last Software first created this, they had in mind so many uses. You should remember that and not abandon some of your most loyal users.
    ***Rant over.***
    Thanks again Matt for your review and insight.

  23. Hey Matt, Thanks for taking the time to write this review. By far the clearest and easiest to understand of any reporting done yet!

    Especially interested in your reactions to Enscape and VR/AR as that’s where I’ve spent a lot of time lately, but rather with Unity and Blender. Love my Vive as well.

    Good stuff?

    If I may impose, could I ask you to contact me at chippATchippDOTcom ? I have a couple further questions.

    1. Post
  24. I think the biggest problem SU/Trimble has is it’s less than superb way of communicating and rolling out its products. Fortunately I am not invested in SU pro as a way of earning my living (I bought 2018 Pro because I want to be able to produce professional drawings of my small house and gain permission to build it).

    The first change in product that effected me directly was when we lost the GREAT ability to import 3D site data from Google earth. After 5 years I would think that an agreement could have been worked out. One day we had it; the next day it was gone 🙁

    Yesterday’s announcement re: subscriptions and packages required some discussion with another sole user. I think I will be able to complete my work but I am not assured that Trimble’s ongoing support will be there. I am a realistic person who does not believe in the eternal or permanence but reliance on software that effects ones ability to perform tasks dependably under contract seems rather important. I’m sure that Trimble’s legal team is risk averse and users’s concerns may guide their actions but to us on the outside is does not seem that the ramifications of poorly worded and confusing communications supports the Trimble mission. Tx


  25. I have lived through the time of inception and developing software and hardware, where companies would bring out revisions of their software not as an enhancement but to repair deficient and ignorantly written software, but we had to pay for the initial deficient software then pay for the fixes. Then they had the temerity to bring in laws against software piracy. Like you make a mistake and you must pay and when I make a mistake you must pay. Billy Goat Gates got very rich by this method to the envy of Trimble and other software pedlars.
    We were forced to pay for their mistakes and their shortcomings. Eventually, they run out of ideas ala Microsoft/Adobe there is nothing more that can be done for that line of software and in order to maintain their income stream they switched to a user rental system. The next step will be “pay as you go”.
    The software will be entirely web based it will never be sold to anyone. Every time you open the software you will be charged a small amount but you will have to pay for every minute that it is open – so is the intention of Trimble.

    We have paid for the development of their software paid for their fixes paid for the updates to conform to new operating systems, although they are now at the limit of what can be done for their line of software which is not flawless nor fully competent. What have they actually done, they have acquired freeware and set about turning it into a very profitable business?

    What is really new in SKU 2019, really new, other than many fixes and a few gimmicky aspects which we have already done without; what can be done in SKU 2019, that one could not do with SKU in 2014?
    3D Warehouse is contributed to, freely by outsiders, but it is pushed by Trimble as one of its attributes. The extensions are by and large put into the market to cover for deficiencies in SKU or enhancements not otherwise available; another much-heralded attribute.
    The best tutorials are presented not by Trimble but outsiders.

    Why would I buy SKU Pro when SKU Make does not operate all that well and your creations on the very dumbed down version of SKU Free are never yours. We have paid for its development and now are being charged to use our funded product.

  26. Matt, as usual, you nailed it. I too as a annual Pro user have been disappointed more and more since about 2016. Trimble Connect is a joke. AR/VR looks cool, for about 5 minutes, then I need the multi-core power of Sketchup Pro instead (except we don’t get that with our annual maintenance upgrades). Layout and Sketchup integration…I follow you the master on this topic using your book, but I’m convinced, like you said about reference models, “I must be doing it wrong” … I mean, obviously, it cannot be the software is simple non-user-friendly. Anyway, thanks for taking the extensive time to write this blog. I just downloaded 2019 Pro (M&S or Classic or whatever the hell it’s called now) and will go the agony of once again migrating all my free and bought extensions in the coming weeks. Oh, there’s a cool feature they could have introduced in 2019…extension manager that actually manages extensions between version upgrades! No, I mean actually manages the transition. 🙂

    1. Post

      Regarding extension migration/management in 2019, it does actually handle this pretty well. See my post on the forum It’s a one button click to install all your plugins (as long as the developer has made the extension compatible for 2019.

      I am interested in exploring Trimble Connect more. I think there is some potential there, although my experience with it over the past few years hasn’t been great. Hoping it’s better now that it’s a highlighted feature.

  27. Impressive summary and analysis. As a Sketchup teacher myself I am somewhat dismayed at the direction development has been heading over the past few years (let’s not forget the loss of Google Maps and replacement with an inferior aerial photograph service in 2017), but maybe that provides an opportunity for a new 3d software developer to come in and steal the market from under them…

  28. Good job distilling the new release. I think your last part about hopefully seeing more commitment from Trimble to the desktop version and layout is unrealistic. This is what you want, what I want, and what every professional SketchUp pro user using it in business wants but 2019 isn’t the first or the second year we’ve seen Trimble focus on other things like VR and the web version instead. To think that they would stop releasing flashy things and go back to what thigh end users want is rediculous at this point.

    Like you, I built my career around SketchUp but I’m starting to wonder if I ought to learn a different software like blender, rhino or something.

  29. Hi Matt I learned SU &Layout through your first book and your website and have invested over 2 years learning the programmes ( I am a slow learner). The 2018 update was disappointing and 2019 features few new features. The punters are clearly unhappy. SU has a USP at a competitive price point and a huge international following. This subscription based plan will come back to haunt them. What I am amazed about is on the SU forum there are some brilliant contributors who under one topic 2019 wish list gave the developers of SU all tyhe answers they needed. All they had to do was listen. Can’t remember anyone asking for subscriptions or any of the other items on offer. All we got was dashed lines. The USP of a 3D Modelling programme at a competitive price has now been over complicated. The expression ‘If it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ comes to mind. Glad to see you back making videos again. Thank you for a good article/review and allowing feedback from the wider community.

  30. Matt
    I would just like to echo the thanks for a clear and unbiased summary. I have used Sketchup since @last and have never resented the cost of the program.
    I will still carry on with Sketchup classic because the basic program is still the fastest and easiest way of producing a 3d project with construction drawings and great visuals there is.
    I design scenery for tv ads and my drawing to building time is a very fast turnaround that must accommodate constant alterations during projects.
    Sketchup is perfect for my business where models are usually under 100mb, and I think most of the complaints are coming from users who are comparing it to Autodesk products.
    The main problem now it seems that Trimble believe this too, and that is the market they are going for, without the software architecture to back it up.
    It is time they did a separate “real” pro version with a new ground up software design for the architectural and bim world.
    but also keep and develop Sketchup classic as the quick and dirty workhorse it is.

  31. Hi,
    First of all, great review.
    Only one point for the export from Layout to CAD model space.
    This is a key point if clients required drawings into Revit as delivery.
    Now It is possible to complete complicated design stuff into skp, keep models linked to layout and finally export drawings and import them into Revit.

  32. Hi Matt
    your tutorials and books are invaluable and inspiring.
    I used to struggle creating visuals in 3d studio (max) and then exporting them to autocad to get construction drawings. The alternatives Lightwave Cinema 4d were few and far between and bloody expensive for designers with a high speed turnaround and build.
    When @last brought out sketchup it was a brilliant all in one solution and an alternative to the high end cad and 3d products around then.
    I have never resented one cent i paid for sketchup it saved my sanity and instantly changed my workflow.
    There are times I am briefed one day, present visuals the next day, and build the next day.
    I design scenery for tv ads so you are bombarded with alterations as you go.
    Sketchup has always given me a base for good visuals with photoshop, and even before layout, it gave me detailed plans and elevations for construction.
    Sketchup has improved massively and using customised styles even the visuals are great.
    To me it seems that new users and Trimble want this product to be a replacement for the much more expensive and complicated autodesk products rather than a simpler complimentary product.
    Yes I want sketchup to be faster.
    Yes I agree the subscription model does not stand up to comparison with my adobe one.
    But what I value is the speed and user friendliness of this product.
    The user base and 3d warehouse created by google, and then by the subscribers the free version created.
    I am worried I will be tied by subscription to a product going to an already well served architectural and bim direction, and moving away from the brilliant 3d tool used by Model makers, set designers , 3d printers, hobbyists, game developers, furniture designers, engineers and small construction companies.
    Sketchup 19 although disappointing, still does an amazing job of quick and dirty modeling and admittedly slower more sophisticated work, the one ui can have a minimal toolbar or a hundred plugins.
    I cant think of an alternative but i will start keeping my old versions

  33. Thanks Matt for all the great perspectives on the platform change.

    I for one, have to compare to cost of other software being a one person firm, and the fact that some of the top 3D software is not available on a Mac platform.

    So I’m sticking with it as I don’t really have a choice.

    Should love to know more about using the VR stuff. Trying not to paint myself as a dinosaur.

    1. Post

      The VR technology is definitely accessible today, and I find it’s very useful for comprehending the scale and “feel” of a space. I will definitely be doing some videos on it soon.

  34. The one thing I don’t think I’m hearing is, over the years, how much traffic has the free version driven toward the pro versions? For me it has. And if it’s driven a lot of business toward pro, why blow that off? I started out with the free version and moved on to pro after about a year of using it–I love Sketchup and use it for personal and work. I do not like the idea of “renting software” a.k.a subscription (or whatever they wish to call it). I won’t do it with Adobe or anyone else. That means I’m stuck with CS6 for Adobe and 2017 for Sketchup (with all my wonderful attachments such as the Twilight Rendering Utility–that thing is awesome!). And there I’ll stay until this renting nonsense blows over…

    The renting of software is, without a doubt, all about the software company and it’s desire for a different, perhaps steadier, revenue stream and it has nothing at all to do with the software users. And I don’t buy the hooie about this improving the software and that it holds the software company “more responsible and responsive”.

    Did I mention that I hate the web version? I cannot work that way. I’m happy for those who can, but I tried it for several days just to be fair and finally said “nope”–I absolutely need the attachments and personal custom settings.

    If you go to my portfolio website, you will see a LOT of examples where Sketchup was used. It has become critical to my work.

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