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SketchUp Is On The Web—But You Might Not Have Known

Trimble’s SketchUp has been quietly implemented in the modern web browser and users are invited into a free open beta to test it out for non-commercial usage.

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You might not have known that the folks at Trimble’s SketchUp division have released (earlier this month) an open beta for their new SketchUp in the Cloud version named, my.sketchup. Senior associate editor, Pete Evans, AIA, first became aware of this and brought it to my attention. If you didn’t know either, you are hardly alone. Trimble and the folks at SketchUp have been pretty darn quiet about this release. And it’s not always easy to find news on Trimble’s press release page either.

Putting SketchUp In Your Browser

The SketchUp folks quietly took the wraps off my.Sketchup—SketchUp in the Cloud—back at 3D Basecamp 2016, their annual user event, according to a blog post. They also introduced version 3 of SketchUp Mobile at that same time. And yes, while those using the mobile iOS app likely got notice of that update, the SketchUp in the Cloud app has been a little harder to learn about. Between June and early October, the web-based version has been available as an “invite-only” beta. But now you can try it too. (see image 01 below)

So what is my.Sketchup?

01 - The UI for my.SketchUp is different and reflects modern web app principles. Tools are split between left and right sides of the main work area.

01 – The UI for my.SketchUp is different and reflects modern web app principles. Tools are split between left and right sides of the main work area. Clicking on a tool will bring up sub-tool options (or related tools primarily), while the right-sided tools will bring up larger palettes.

my.SketchUp is the new home of a cloud app version of SketchUp that you run through your modern web browser. Take a look at the image above; that’s what it looks like in Safari. The SketchUp folks at Trimble say on their website that my.SketchUp is not for commercial use. “my.SketchUp is being developed and beta tested,” writes the company. “That means the software works well enough for you to use, but we’re still creating functionality and fine-tuning existing features.”

Browsers It Works With

my.SketchUp only works with an active web connection (the faster the better). Required WebGL compliant browsers include:

  • Chrome — v42 or higher
  • Firefox — v35 or higher
  • Safari — v8 or higher

Trimble says they are working to improve Internet Explorer 11 and Edge but can’t confidently recommend those browsers at this present time. We quickly ran my.SketchUp in Safari v9.x and Chrome v53.x on Mac OS X El Capitan and ran into a few problems on Safari and fewer issues on Chrome. You will also need to make sure popup windows are activated on your browser (so unblock them).

02 - Opening up models from within the Trimble Connection account integration in my.SketchUp.

02 – Opening up models from within the Trimble Connection account integration in my.SketchUp.

This last requirement is needed in order to save your work to Trimble Connect. (see image 02) If you don’t have a Trimble Connect account, you can sign up for free and have a 10GB, 1 project limitation and test all of this out. Trimble makes things easy for signing up as well—you can sign in using your Google ID if you have one.

Closing Comments

The thing that most impressed during our first pass at trying this was the quickness of navigation around the model. But this can change when models are much longer. (see image 03) We discovered too that hitting the P key will run a FPS (frames per second) test. As mentioned above, Chrome seemed to work out better for the models we threw at this.

03 - A rather large and lovely SketchUp model, compliments of associate editor, Tim Danaher. The FPS test yielded much lower scores on this model (less than 10 FPS) when orbiting. And we had some UI tool selection issues when just running this model.

03 – A rather large and lovely SketchUp model, compliments of associate editor, Tim Danaher. The FPS test yielded much lower scores on this model (less than 10 FPS) when orbiting. And we had some UI tool selection issues when just running this model.

One thing that this new app in the cloud brings to the computing world is the ability to use SketchUp on Linux machines and Chromebooks, and that seems to be making folks pretty happy in those user communities, especially the latter. However, this is really an implementation of SketchUp Make and the Pro version tools, like LayOut and Style Builder are not presently in the online version.

One final thing. Because it runs on the web it is tempting to try loading my.SketchUp on, say, Safari on your iPad Pro. We didn’t try this but it apparently will load just fine but the UI is not set up for touch. So users be warned.