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Trimble’s SketchUp looking destined to enter CAD/BIM space

Trimble’s SketchUp product managing director shares with us some insight about where LayOut is headed. Straight at CAD and BIM…

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Earlier this week Architosh broke with the story that Trimble had quietly updated their SketchUp website and tipped off, via the company’s product blog, that SketchUp 2013 was now available for download. When we reported this it was so new that the company was still flipping switches back on the web server and certain functions didn’t quite work properly with the downloads. The company quickly got those matters squared away.

The following day Trimble officially announced the SketchUp 2013 product lineup, including a re-branded free version in the form of SketchUp Make, plus its newest big feature, the Extensions Warehouse, both a web-resource (a la, iTunes’ product listings on the web) and an application-based internal web browser for discovery and acquisition of extensions (plugins) for SketchUp users.

The Other Big News

But there were other big news, perhaps a bit less exciting initially for some, mentioned officially and expanded upon by long-time product managing director, John Bacus, who took the time to communicate additional details with us this week. That news was about LayOut 2013, which is greatly enhanced in this version, with important seeds inside for the future.

“The majority of our customers for SketchUp Pro work professionally in the AEC community,” said Bacus, “where drawings are still the primary method for communicating design ideas for construction. ” The importance of drawings in the BIM era is duly noted. And  Trimble’s SketchUp team is clearly getting more focused on taking LayOut into the CAD production direction. New features in LayOut 2013 include a modern hatching system, important improvements to labeling and dimensioning and more. “We’re keen to make that (LayOut) into a full-featured drawing tool for architects,” said Bacus, “with all the tools that you’d expect from a modern CAD system.”

01 - Extension Warehouse, a view from within the new SketchUp 2013. The window provides searching, browsing and previews, including video of various plugin extensions for SU 2013.

01 – Extension Warehouse, a view from within the new SketchUp 2013. The window provides searching, browsing and previews, including video of various plugin extensions for SU 2013.

Already many current SketchUp customers use the product exclusively or nearly exclusively as their primary production tool for construction documents, including numerous 3D working drawing details–always something that construction folks and building owners can appreciate. Bacus was keen to show us the work of Nick Sonder Architect and promised that we will see more of that kind of thing in the future from more SketchUp users.

For more information on the new SketchUp 2013 visit their website here.

Architosh Analysis

SketchUp’s new corporate home, Trimble, definitely suggest different kinds of possibilities for SketchUp long-term, including seeing its deeper potential within AEC in particular. In this release the company has its new “SLAPI SDK”, which is how developers of other systems (CAD and BIM for instance) can compile native SketchUp file format interoperability into their applications. Bacus noted that it is through this updated SDK (software development kit) that SketchUp itself is able to build “file-level data interoperability” across the spectrum of Trimble Buildings products.

What we are really seeing in this release in 2013 is the makings of a much grander vision for SketchUp in the world of AEC, while at the same time, with just a simple name change saying very clearly that they are very committed to the “maker movement” which they helped enable. When Bacus says “all the tools that you’d expect from a modern CAD system” that naturally implies BIM as well. After all, that is what a modern CAD system in AEC is today.