my.SketchUp lets you use SketchUp in your web browser
Trimble has rolled out the free public beta of my.SketchUp, a new online service that enables artists to use SketchUp, its popular architectural modeling software, in a standard web browser.
The service, which makes it possible to use SketchUp on Linux machines and Chromebooks for the first time, was originally announced in June, but was invite-only until earlier this month.
Most of the core tools from SketchUp Make, but no Extensions
Trimble says that it intends my.SketchUp to be “a full implementation of SketchUp … working exactly the same way [as] on the desktop”.
It’s effectively an online implementation of SketchUp Make, the free version of the software, so you don’t get the LayOut or Style Builder tools that come with the Pro edition.
Instead, the service gives you access to SketchUp’s core modelling, materials and line styles tools within a standard web browser – although, at present, it isn’t possible to edit or create styles.
The user interface has been adapted slightly for the web, but most of the default keyboard shortcuts also work online, unless they conflict with those of the browser itself.
However, one key difference between my.SketchUp and the desktop versions of the software is that it doesn’t support Extensions, the Ruby-based scripts that many users rely on for additional functionality.
According to Trimble, “After my.SketchUp offers the core functionality of SketchUp, we’ll work on adding Ruby-based features.”
Linked to a Trimble Connect account
To save a project, you have to register for an account with Trimble Connect, Trimble’s online collaboration platform. The free account gives you access to 10GB of online storage.
Files can then be downloaded from Trimble Connect in SketchUp’s native .skp format.
You can also download readymade components from online SketchUp model library 3D Warehouse into my.SketchUp, although you can’t currently save your own models back to 3D Warehouse directly.
Pricing and availability
my.SketchUp is currently available in free public beta. Like SketchUp Make, the terms of its user licence prohibit its use for commercial work.
To run it, you’ll need a WebGL-capable browser – Trimble recommends Chrome, Firefox or Safari – although, unlike the desktop version, you don’t have to be running Windows or Mac OS X.
That means you can use it on a Linux PC or Chromebook, although for the minute, Trimble recommends that you use it on a machine with a discrete graphics card.
While it will run on tablets, performance isn’t guaranteed, and the UI isn’t optimised for touch controls.
According to Trimble, “Although my.SketchUp loads and functions on most mobile browsers, we haven’t tuned the user interface and interactions for the mobile input gestures.”