Trimble ships SketchUp 2017
Trimble has released SketchUp 2017, the latest version of its architectural modelling software, overhauling its core graphics pipeline, further updating its inference engine, and adding a new Extension Manager.
Users of the paid-for Pro version of the software also get new tables functionality within its LayOut toolset, plus improved export of LayOut data in DWG and DXF files.
New graphics pipeline now renders models consistently between web and desktop
The biggest change in SketchUp 2017 is under the hood. According to Trimble, the software’s newly rewritten graphics pipeline promises “performance improvements everywhere you see a .skp [scene file]”.
Notably, SketchUp now uses the same core rendering algorithms as LayOut and Trimble’s online services, including the new my.SketchUp platform, meaning that assets should display consistently in each.
Trimble doesn’t quantify the performance improvement from the new pipeline, but notes that “while you should see some … boosts now, the real benefits will be seen through many future versions” of the software.
Display of transparent surfaces has also been improved, particularly when displaying multiple overlapping transparent objects; and their opacity can now be adjusted in X-ray mode.
Improved inferencing and Offset tool
In terms of general workflow, the software’s inferencing engine, a key focus in SketchUp 2016, has been further improved, including a new option to snap perpendicular to a selected face when modelling.
The Offset tool also now automatically avoids creating overlapping or self-intersecting geometry.
More customisable, HiDPI-friendly interface
SketchUp’s interface has also been updated to display better on HiDPI monitors, while users with colour-impaired vision get the option to set custom colours for the software’s axes, ground and sky planes.
There is also a new Extension Manager, intended to make it easier to see which custom add-ons to the software you have installed, and toggle individual Extensions on and off.
SketchUp Pro only: new tables functionality, improved DWG and DXF export
Users of the Pro version of the software also get a new Tables system within the LayOut toolset, which is capable of generating tables from scratch, or importing spreadsheets in .csv or Excel formats.
SketchUp’s DWG and DXF importer has also been rewritten to handle LayOut data better: in particular, a multi-page LayOut document should now export as a single DWG file, not several.
Dimensions associated with a model in a LayOut document should also update when the model is edited.
Pricing and availability
SketchUp 2017 is available for Windows 7 and above and Mac OS X 10.10 and above.
The non-commercial Make edition ofthe software is free; the Pro edition costs $695, including one year’s maintenance. You can see a feature comparison chart for the two editions here.