Trimble ships SketchUp 2019.2
Originally posted on 7 February 2019. Scroll down for news of the 2019.2 update.
Trimble has released SketchUp 2019, the latest version of its architectural modelling software, adding support for dashed lines, updating the Tape Measure tool, and improving export from the LayOut module.
The update also introduces three new subscription plans, SketchUp Shop, SketchUp Pro and SketchUp Studio, offering different permutations of the desktop and web editions of the software.
You can still buy a perpetual licence of the desktop application – renamed from SketchUp Pro to SketchUp Classic – although you’ll have to look quite hard on the SketchUp website to do so.
New features in the desktop software: dashed outlines for models, better Tape Measure tool
New features in the desktop edition of the software include support for dashed as well as solid lines to outline models. The dash style is a layer property and can be controlled from the Layers panel.
The Tape Measure tool has been updated, and now provides measurement info directly in its tooltip.
In addition, the LayOut module, used to create design documents based on SketchUp models, now supports file locking, preventing multiple users making conflicting edits to a file.
Import and export has also been extended, with all LayOut entities now editable within SketchUp itself, and the option to set Model Space Units when importing DWG files into LayOut.
There are also a fair number of bugfixes, including one longstanding issue that caused SketchUp to steal focus during startup, preventing users from continuing to work in other applications.
Three new subscription plans, plus a new online edition of the software
By far the bigger change in SketchUp 2019 is to the software’s licensing policy, with Trimble introducing three new rental-only plans: SketchUp Shop, SketchUp Pro and SketchUp Studio.
SketchUp Shop is a web-only plan, based around SketchUp for Web, a new “premium online modeler”.
It’s an extended version of SketchUp Free, the online edition of SketchUp that Trimble launched when it discontinued development of the old free desktop edition, SketchUp Make, in 2017.
Unlike SketchUp Free, it can import standard CAD files, and can export in formats other than .stl and SketchUp’s native .skp.
However, it retains one of the main limitations of SketchUp Free: that it can’t run third-party extensions, which many SketchUp users rely on for additional functionality.
For that, you’ll need SketchUp Pro: essentially a subscription version of an old SketchUp Pro perpetual licence, which provides access to the desktop edition, plus LayOut and Style Builder.
It costs $299/year, as opposed to $695 for a perpetual licence plus $120 per annual update, although you also get SketchUp for Web and new VR and mixed reality versions of SketchUp Viewer.
The final subscription plan, SketchUp Studio, includes everything from the SketchUp Pro subscription, plus cloud-based building performance analysis tool Sefaira, which Trimble acquired in 2016.
Perpetual licences still available, though you have to hunt for them
Perpetual licences of the desktop software are still available – “for the time being”, according to staff comments on Trimble’s blog – under the new name ‘SketchUp Classic’.
However, you have to hunt quite hard for them: the link (‘Looking for a classic licence?’) is buried at the foot of the Plans & Pricing section of the website.
Even when you get to the order page, the new SketchUp Pro subscription is the one that is highlighted.
Mixed early feedback, both for the update and the subscriptions
Early user feedback has been mixed to negative, both for the release and the new subscription plans.
In its blog post, Trimble advances two common arguments in favour of subscriptions: that they reduce the cost of entry for new users, and that new features can be released as soon as they are complete.
The former has some support in the main forum thread, but the pace of development has come in for a lot of flak, particularly in the comments to the blog post.
As well as the short list of new features in the 2019 update, users point to the fact that the previous release, SketchUp Pro 2018, was only followed by a single maintenance update in 15 months.
Trimble says that it is “using [subscriptions as an] opportunity to challenge ourselves to earn your business every single day by constantly improving the tools you need and love throughout each year”.
If the comments on the blog post – some of them expressed in quite colourful language – are typical of users’ feelings, it may need to do so.
Updated 22 July 2019: Trimble has released SketchUp 2019.2, the first update in the 2019 release cycle to add new features to the software, April’s SketchUp 2019.1 having been a bugfix update.
The release adds a new Line Scale multiplier, making it possible to export images with different line weights to the viewport display; and support for transparency when exporting in .png format.
Users can also now set separate measurement units for the linear dimensions, area and volume of a model.
Workflow improvements include the option to import files in all of the formats SketchUp supports via drag and drop, plus a new Invert Selection command, and updates to the Eraser tool and section planes.
LayOut users gain the ability to make drawn elements and text labels align to an isometric viewpoint.
Pricing and availability
SketchUp 2019.2 is available for Windows 7+ and macOS 10.12+.
The new subscriptions cost $119/year for SketchUp Shop, $299/year for SketchUp Pro, and $1,199/year for SketchUp Studio. A perpetual SketchUp Classic licence costs $695. SketchUp Free can be found here.