Anticipated by many and announced last year at 3D Basecamp, SketchUp 2013 is now out and available for download. If you are still using SU 8 (or dare I say even 7 or 6), swing over to their website and download the latest version. The free version is still free and there are upgrade options for the Pro version.
So what’s new? Quite a few things. Here’s the run-down:
- Extension Warehouse
There is finally an official place where you can find the many plugins and extensions that are available for SketchUp (including mine). While all the other sites out there (Ruby Library Depot, SketchUcation, Smustard and even my sketchupplugins.com) did a great job accumulating these, the new warehouse is integrated right into SketchUp (just look for the toolbar button) and it features one-click installation and plugin updating as well as the usual app-store stuff of reviews, popularity stats and hopefully later: ratings.
This might have turned SketchUp into the first CAD application with an App Store!
- Toolbar problems are now finally fixed!
SketchUp now uses a better toolbar system that leaves toolbars (even those created by plugins) in their place. You can also create custom toolbars and re-arrange buttons to your liking. Nifty!
- New icons
Along with the new toolbars come new icons. Many of these make it clearer what the underlying tool does while others unify tool icons across SketchUp and LayOut (take the rectangle tool as an example).
- Free is now SketchUp Make
The free version of SketchUp has been renamed to SketchUp Make. This just makes sense since so many people use it to “make” things (think of what you can do when you combine it with the MakerBot, for example). Along with this change comes a significant change in licensing, though. While it was possible to use the free version for commercial work before, this is no longer the case. From now on it can only be used for personal or education projects.
- An upgrade and support program for SketchUp Pro
Along with the license change for the free version, SketchUp announced an upgrade and service/subscription program for the Pro version. Read about the details on the official announcement.
- Additions to LayOut
LayOut received improvements in the areas of hatch patterns, arrays, curved leader lines, improved arrowheads and updated dimension styles. For more on this, read the official announcement.
- Installation Locations:
SketchUp now installs in a different location on your hard disk (i.e. the “Google” subdirectory is gone). This means – among other things – that you can keep your SU 8 installation and run SU 2013 in parallel (remember, SU 8 free was OK for commercial projects). Might be good for the transition time.
- A new supported C interface SDK has been released for developers.
- Apparently there have been some behind-the-scenes improvements in SketchUp’s display interface and Ruby API. Also, vector rendering in LayOut has been sped up. While these are not as visible as other changes, they certainly make a difference.
- On the Mac, SketchUp got a new drag installer to be more inline with the Mac OS.
- A new www.sketchup.com website!
If you haven’t yet, check out the new website. While it certainly looks great, it also has some important URL changes: E.g. the Help center is now located at:
As you can see, this is altogether a solid first major release at SketchUp’s new home at Trimble. While those that may have wanted more new tools in SketchUp might be disappointed, this release “future-proofs” SketchUp. Improving LayOut, clearing up license confusion and providing a subscription option will make professional users (and Trimble) happy. Continuing the free version of SketchUp and the toolbar fix will simply make every user happy. And the Extension Warehouse was a logical addition that will supercharge this great software.
So what’s left to do now? I am hoping for a “renovated” 3D Warehouse and (beefed up by the Extension Warehouse) more improvements in the Ruby API for the next release. But for now I am happy…