Google SketchUP Free v8 to drop DWG/DXF support?

John Bacus, SketchUP Product Manager, posted some interesting news about the new Google SketchUP 8 release – or should I call it a little ‘heads-up’ notice for all the free users out there. You can read it all at the Google SketchUP Blog, but following are some highlights from it.

Adding something new

The new version of SketchUP will introduce COLLADA file format support said to be a 3D model exchange format that is open, extensible and public. The reasoning behind this is to provide a more flexible way of exporting (and importing) SketchUP models out for whatever the user wants.

“In our next release, we’re going to make COLLADA an official first-class format for all modelers. You’ll be able to import and export COLLADA models, as well as COLLADA models wrapped up in the KMZ format for Google Earth, with any version of SketchUp.”John Bacus, SketchUP Product Manager

Taking somthing out?

What seems very odd to me is that the introduction of COLLADA will come at the expense of industry standard DWG/DXF support.

“Unfortunately, this improvement won’t come without a cost. Import/export capability is tough for us to maintain and tough for you to use effectively. There are just so many fiddly little settings on both sides of a file exchange that it is always a challenge to get everything working just right. Looking forward, we decided to make a trade-off.
In the next release of Google SketchUP, our free modeler, we’ve decided to remove the dwg/dxf importers. We know how important these importers are to our professional customers, especially those who depend on CAD products in their daily work. And for that reason we’ll focus our attention on supporting them in Google SketchUP Pro, where we really understand all the nuances of your workflow and where we can provide professional support to troubleshoot your issues.”
John Bacus, SketchUP Product Manager

Not sure

“I hope you’ll agree with our decision once you’ve had a chance to play with COLLADA, but I realize that making a change like this unannounced might disrupt projects you’ve already got under way. That’s why I’m giving you some advanced notice so you can prepare for the change.”John Bacus, SketchUP Product Manager

Well, I’m a pro user and by the looks of it I need not worry. But as a free user accustomed to DWG/DXF workflow with SketchUP I would have a hard time understanding this move other than a Google aiming on converting me and other free users into pro users.

Honestly I can’t buy Google’s logic behind this move, but I guess nothing could be done about it – Google decided and so it shall be done. I didn’t have high hopes for Google SketchUP after it was purchased from @LAST. The SU7 release (or SU6 v2 as some call it) just made it clearer that the development of SketchUP and specifically the PRO version is rather far from being professional. I would have expected these topics to be covered by now, before any COLLADA support addition (I still hope the new release will answer some of these) :

  • Multi-core support
  • Improving the SDK for 3rd party integration
  • Better OpenGL
  • Fixing the shadow bug
  • Hi poly model support
  • Better selection / topology tools
  • Some new modeling tools

I can only thank for the addition of Ruby Scripting and all the great developers who create wonderful plug-ins, some of which alone would have bumped SU6 up to a level 7 better the the official release in my mind, and keep this little modeler such a worthy contender.

What do you think about this new path for SketchUP? feel free to comment about it bellow.
  • Sam

    No DWG import is highly aggravating. I can’t understand why Google would do anything to slow its rise to 3d modeling domination. Sketchup is a great tool – but as long as I still need external rendering engines and a ton of ruby add-ons to do any advanced modeling, I don’t think it can justify the “pro” price. The new boolean tools are a good start, but they should have been there from the beginning!

  • I’m actually very thankful for ruby and what a smart move it was on part of the original @Last team… just think of SketchUP in google’s hands without it 🙂

    I was thinking from the get go that the change of hands will do no good for the “pro” user (I even put that in writing in some places… probably PushPullBar back in those days)

    Google purchased SketchUP to use as a tool aimed for the masses and not a small “pro” group. It was smart of them and smart of @Last on their part.

    Google really has to thank @Last for creating such a remarkable software that no matter how badly they handle it “pro-wise” it is still the best as far as i’m concerned… just wondering how long will they keep that sad act.

    It’s google – they can afford it! (wasn’t there some “Take care of the pro user clause in the contract @Last? you sure fumbled that ball here)

  • You know what I just realized! It’s been a full year since this post was published to the actual launch of v8

    Does the change-log reflect that? what do you think 🙂

    here’s how the year old SketchUP blog post started…

    I don’t often talk about new things we’re building before we nudge them gently out the door

    what a nudge, hey 🙂