SketchUp: Trying to Clarify the Options [Sorry. It's Long]

Dave Richards

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In an e-mail I found when I got to my computer today I was asked to look at a thread on a different woodworking forum. In that thread the OP was asking about SketchUp versions and from what he wrote, he was clearly misinformed about the available choices. The majority of responders had plenty to say but were also, sadly, misinformed. Since I was told by several moderators of that forum that my participation isn't welcome, I'm no longer posting there. Anyway, I thought I'd put something here in case any of our members have similar concerns.

This is in no way meant to be an advertisement or promotional. I don't stand to benefit from this other than maybe not having to repeat it a bunch of times. I'm just trying to help get the right information out there. Those who use SketchUp already know that it can be very a very useful addition to their shops. For those who prefer something else, that's great. I'm not trying to change your mind.

SketchUp Make: The last version of SketchUp Make is 2017. It is still available for non-commercial, hobbyist use, here. This version will continue to be available for a long time. I had a conversation with someone from Trimble about this because I'll be teaching a SketchUp class at Fine Woodworking Live in April of next year and I wanted to make sure the SU Make would be available and he assured me they won't be removing it from the line up. While SketchUp Make is no longer getting updates, there's no problem continuing to use it. I have a copy of SketchUp 3 from 2003 on my computer and it runs just fine. Actually it runs better than I remember it doing when I started with it because my hardware is better.

SketchUp Free: This is their browser based offering for hobbyists. Like SketchUp Make, it isn't licensed for commercial use. Because this version runs in your Internet browser, it doesn't matter what your operating system is. You can run it on cheap things like Chrome Books. (that was one of the key reasons it was developed. I could go into that if there's interest.) For woodworkers I think that has an appeal even if you are using a desktop client version of SketchUp on your good computer on your desk, you can have access to your SketchUp models in your dusty shop where you might not want to take your good computer.

Note that you could use Sketchup 2017 on your good computer and SketchUp Free in the shop.

The UI is different in this version but all the native tools are there and even some that Make doesn't have. It doesn't have the option to use extensions but the majority of SketchUp users don't use anything but the native tools. It is a very capable modeling and design tool, though. And every time you open it, you are getting the latest version of it. Although it requires an internet connection to open it, once it is open it uses very little bandwidth. You really only need a connection to save to the included cloud storage or to access the 3D Warehouse. I've done complete models in SketchUp Free with my computer disconnected from the router and the router powered off and had no trouble at all. SketchUp Free does include 10 Gb of cloud storage.

SketchUp Shop: Like SketchUp Free, this is web based but it is licensed for commercial use. It has options for importing and exporting more file types such as dxf and dwg files (think CNC router work) and it offers more tools as well as the ability to edit materials and styles. The current price is $119/year which also includes unlimited cloud storage and AR Viewer. SketchUp Shop could be useful if you need to go see a client to show them the project. Take your little Chrome Book or even use their computer. You can show them all the details and options and even make edits with them sitting there next to you if you want. I've used it to show models I've done to our FIRST Robotics team at the school using the computer that they have hooked up to the projector. No need to drag my computer in and rewire things.

SketchUp 2019 Pro: The current desktop client version. Of course licensed for commercial use. More import and export options than Make, more tools, geo-location feature includes terrain and aerial imagery (great if you are doing buildings), includes LayOut and Style Builder. LayOut is the tool to use for creating documents you might send to a client or construction plans or full size patterns to use for making templates in the shop. CAD exports from both SketchUp and LayOut can be used to create toolpath files for CNC equipment.

There are currently three licensing options for SketchUp Pro.

Classic is currently $695. This gets you a perpetual license. If you were to buy this license now, it would also include the license for SketchUp 2020 when it is released. You get SketchUp Pro, LayOut, Style Builder, 10 Gb of cloud storage, and the mobile viewer. If you choose to keep Maintenance and Support up to date, that costs $120/year and you get a license for the new version when it is released. If you don't keep the Maintenance and Support current, you can continue using the version you have indefinitely. I don't know why but people who want to complain about the subscription license like to ignore that the Classic license is available.

Subscription license is currently $299/year. This gets you SketchUp Pro, LayOut, Style Builder, SketchUp Shop, unlimited cloud storage, AR mobile viewer, Vive, Oculus, and Hololens viewers. Functionally SketchUp Pro and LayOut are the same as with the Classic license , you just get more stuff. It will quit working like any other subscription if you don't keep it up to date. This option can be more appealing for some businesses due to the lower initial cost (might be under the capital expense dollar limit) but if you aren't going to use more than SketchUp Pro and LayOut, the Classic license might make more sense.

Again, this is not an advertisement and I don't get anything out of it myself. I'm just trying help clarify some misinformation that is being stuck out there by others who don't actually know the facts or maybe don't want to present the facts.

This thread isn't for arguing over which software is the best. If you have questions about the SketchUp versions available or how to do something in any version of it, I'm happy to answer them. If someone wants a one-on-one thing like I've done with some of our members, send me a PM. I'm glad to help out fellow woodworkers if I can.
 
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Rob Damon

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Thanks for the info. I know the thread you are talking about.

My question (and issue with all software.) The two laptops I use for running my 100w CO2 laser, 20W fiber, 24x48 spindle CNC and MakerBot 3d have not nor will they ever get connected to the internet. The software currently running on them can be installed offline and run offline.

Do you know if the Classic SketchUp Pro requires online connectivity at any point? I can download software on my work computer at the office and transfer files via thumbdrive or DVD to the laptaps, but I will never allow the two laptops access to the internet? (don't have internet in the remote shop building anyway.)

The laptops are still blazing fast because they still have the original Windows10 factory install without updates. Before setting them up and powering on for the first time, I opened them up and removed the Wifi and Blue tooth chips and antenna since Windows likes to talk with any other Windows 10 based machine in close proximity to it to check for updates even if you don't want it too.

Thanks.
 

Dave Richards

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Rob, I believe that the internet connection is required to activate the license but I am not 100% sure so I've made an inquiry. I'll be back when I get the answer.
 

Ted Calver

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Thanks, Dave. The new pricing structure is a bit confusing. Been running the pro version since day one and initially thought my annual was going to jump to $299, at which point I would say goodbye. However, after some pondering I realized I had been paying the classic maintenance and support fee. Although increasingly more expensive, the $120 annual maintenance and support classic is not outrageous. I didn't realize there was cloud storage available.
 

Brent Dowell

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That's just crazy, telling you that your participation isn't welcome? Holy cow what is wrong with some people.

I use sketchup make a lot for 3d modeling for my 3d printer. I use several extensions along with that for making sure the models I generate are 'printable'. Also some for softening edges, etc.

I've also used it to design my record crates, and have been able to import those files as vectors into vcarve to generate toolpaths.

For me, Make is pretty much required in my work flow.

I keep going back and forth on going pro, because I could see some of the import/exports being quite useful, as well as some of hte other tools.

Thanks so much for the explanation of the various versions. I find your input to be quite valuable on all things sketchup.

I've been on the
 

Dave Richards

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I think you're right, Ted. The annual fee is pretty reasonable. Actually, considering that the annual fee was $95/year back when I first started using SketchUp in 2003, an increase of $25 over 16 years isn't so bad. In fact, it's pretty good according to this:


And in those first few years when I was using it, there was no LayOut or Style Builder (I find that useful but not a lot of people use it) and of course now the cloud storage through Trimble Connect. There's also some cool stuff with Trimble Connect like the ability to collaborate with others. For example, you and I could access and work on the same project. We could set up a project folder that includes more than just the SketchUp file, too.
 

Dave Richards

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Hi Brent,

It sounds like you have some good uses for it. I keep thinking about buying a 3D printer but I'd fill my house with little models of furniture and other stuff I don't need. :D I've been getting ad feeds for a metal 3D printer which is appealing to me but I think way out of my price range.

I wouldn't be surpised if you found the CAD import and Export options in both SketchUp and LayOut to be quite useful. Have you seen the Foosball table that was done in SketchUp? The table itself was modeled and then CNC cut from Baltic Birch, the player bodies, handles, scoring counters and some other parts were 3D printed from the SketchUp model, and the playing field and people figures glued onto the players were created in SketchUp and LayOut. The only things that weren't created out of the SketchUp file were the glue and screws, the rods the players are on and the leveling feet.
 

Brent Dowell

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Hi Brent,

It sounds like you have some good uses for it. I keep thinking about buying a 3D printer but I'd fill my house with little models of furniture and other stuff I don't need. :D I've been getting ad feeds for a metal 3D printer which is appealing to me but I think way out of my price range.

I wouldn't be surpised if you found the CAD import and Export options in both SketchUp and LayOut to be quite useful. Have you seen the Foosball table that was done in SketchUp? The table itself was modeled and then CNC cut from Baltic Birch, the player bodies, handles, scoring counters and some other parts were 3D printed from the SketchUp model, and the playing field and people figures glued onto the players were created in SketchUp and LayOut. The only things that weren't created out of the SketchUp file were the glue and screws, the rods the players are on and the leveling feet.
That sounds like a pretty cool project.

So, Seems like my options for pro is 695$ + 120$ per year, or 299$ per year as a subscription.

I've tried to go to other cad programs for doing 3d modeling, but honestly, I'm not usually doing things that complicated and I can usually get things done very quickly in SU.

I'll have to think about the license. If I went with the 695, All I'd ever have to pay is the 120$ a year for support? Seems like that would pay itself off over the 299$ a year in a couple of years.
 

Dave Richards

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Brent, if all you use is SU Pro and LayOut and maybe the 10 Gb of storage, then the Classic license seems to be the way to go. If you use the other stuff, the Subscription would be appealing. A few years ago I sort of made my boss buy SketchUp Pro for me. He wanted me to do stuff for work in SketchUp and LayOut and so I figured it was fair that he buy a license instead of me using my personal license. This was before the subscription option and since it was over $500, I had to submit a purchase request that had to be signed by my boss and his boss and it had to get sent to the Purchasing department. So a bunch of people had to get involved and it took about a week before I finally got the license. If the subscription option had been available, I could have put the charge on my corporate card and it would have been paid automatically. I don't know what the final cost would have been with the payroll and other overhead but surely that $695 was closer to or even more than $800.

Of course it's not the same when you are the CEO, COO, CFO and head broom pusher and bathroom tiler. ;)
 

Rennie Heuer

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I've been toying with moving to SU Free as I am currently stuck with 2016 because my laptop's graphics card doesn't play well with newer versions. Even the 2016 hiccups once in a while. One issue I would have is the use of extensions. I use Cutlist on nearly every piece I design. Not 100% accurate but always gets me in the ball park much faster and easier than using my brain, which is also stuck in an earlier, no longer supported version. :rofl:

Any suggestions for a work around in Free? Going pro is not an option for both the graphics card issue and the wallet issues.
 

Brent Dowell

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Speaking of extensions, sometimes I find that extensions I want to use wont work in the make version, as they depend on the pro versions. I'm wondering if I could get santa to bring me a classic license this year, lol.
 

Dave Richards

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Rennie, I feel for you on the computer and wallet fronts. Well, my wallet is in the back but you know what I mean.

Currently there is no way to implement extensions with the web-based versions. Last year at 3D Basecamp I had a conversation with some of the web development team and I brought up the cutlist thing as being a valuable feature for woodworking. They said they were working on some way to implement a report generator but that it would probably be a feature in SketchUp Shop. Currently the only real option with SketchUp Free would be paper and pencil unfortunately.
 

Brent Dowell

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What extensions, Brent? And maybe if you apologize to the dogs for the smell, they'll put in a good word with Santa. :D
I'm thinking it had to do with generating threads? I know at times I look up how to do things and some of the methods would only work in Pro.

Can't remember the details, as I've pretty much learned to work around them for most of my things. Next time I hit one I'll post about it.
 

Rob Damon

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Rob, It sounds like you have added some really serious equipment to your shop since I was last there. Are you starting a business or just keeping your mind in the game and your shop up to date?
Yes added a few things since your visit.

The neighbor that moved in across the street has a home based business and it has given me a different perspective on what is possible upon retirement, so I am trying to get all the toys before I retire from my day job.
 
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