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SketchUp Hooks Up With Google Earth 139

Posted by Zonk
from the happy-couple dept.
zmarties writes "Having recently bought the company and 3d design product SketchUp, Google has now taken the next step of releasing a free personal version of the SketchUp software. Currently available for Windows XP, with a Mac version 'coming soon', the program allows for simple drag and drop design of 3d models - which amongst other uses can then be displayed in Google Earth. The pro version remains available for commercial use, with lots more features. Google are also introducing 3D Warehouse, designed as a repository for 3d models created in the program. The models can be viewed in Google Earth via a network link, so you can see geolocated models as you browse the world, rather than having to explicitly download them. Google has pre-populated the warehouse with a number of models which range from complete complex buildings, such as the Taj Mahal, through to individual design elements such as traffic lights and furniture."
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SketchUp Hooks Up With Google Earth

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  • Vs. SketchUp Pro (Score:5, Interesting)

    by chroma (33185) * <(moc.gnirpsdnim) (ta) (amorhc)> on Thursday April 27, 2006 @12:14PM (#15213049) Homepage
    Unfortunately, the pro version offers one critical feature that the free version doesn't:
    • Access to the following 3D export formats: DWG, DXF, 3DS, OBJ, XSI, VRML and FBX.
    If you're going to have something manufactured from a SketchUp design, you'll need to be able to export in a format that can be read by something other than SketchUp. I'll save you the trouble of looking it up: the Pro version is $495.00 for both Windows and Mac. You can get a free trial [sketchup.com] of the pro version, though.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      That was one of the first annoying things I saw - the skp format is a nice binary format - probably nice and proprietary. In other words, look at Sketchup - but don't touch if you want access to your data.

      • Re:Vs. SketchUp Pro (Score:5, Informative)

        by eMartin (210973) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @01:41PM (#15214057)
        "In other words, look at Sketchup - but don't touch if you want access to your data."

        Do you do 3D work?

        Some of us do. These days, we mostly "access" our data with 3D software. Not text editors. *Most* 3D programs use proprietary formats to store data specific to their own features.

        With that said, Sketchup offers several import and export options to other standard 3D formats, and can be extended with plugins to support more.
        • Re:Vs. SketchUp Pro (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          No, the PRO version has the ability to export to several standard formats. The free personal version does not.

          Of course, almost anyone using it for "personal use" is going to be fine with just being able to access it in sketchup. Heck, most people using for personal use it won't have access to software that can read the other formats, which by themselves generally start at around $300 or so. The OP is complaining that people aren't giving their work out for free (as in beer or speech) to companies that a
          • Re:Vs. SketchUp Pro (Score:2, Interesting)

            by DragonWriter (970822)
            There are free programs that import and export many of the widely-used formats, so it is not accurate to say that the formats require an expensive product (other than on the SketchUp end) to work with. Sure, the product which makes each of the big formats popular is expensive, but that's not the same thing.
    • Given that it exports to google earth, and the google earth format is understood (if I understand correctly) then one should be able to create a program to convert from google earth to a number of other formats.

      The limitation remains on features that don't get exported to google earth.

      -Adam
    • And if you are a student (see SketchUp's licensing page) you can get a one year license (which can be turned to full one year license at no extra charge) and after renewing it for 4 years you get the full thing. The nice thing about that is that you don't have to pay extra for the upgrades because your one year payment is for whatever version is out (if I remeber correctly).

      Also, for those looking to just jump to buy SketchUp, it is not a solids modeler, is a facet modeler. If you need ACIS modelers, well,
    • The format is binary, and looks like some M$ Serialised format

      No doubt someone will reverse engineer it and build a 3ds converter so everyone else can import the models.

      Ahh summer of code is coming up :o)
  • I'd imagine a huge opensource type project where people contribute their own models of places into this. Then eventually the entire planet will be mapped in 3D.

    http://religiousfreaks.com/ [religiousfreaks.com]
    • And all the girls will have huge boobs.
    • You already have the link in your homepage URL, there's no need to append it to every message you post as well. (And if you feel you must, making it your signature would be easier for you and more considerate to those who disable signatures in order to avoid that sort of thing)
    • I'd imagine a huge opensource type project where people contribute their own models of places into this. Then eventually the entire planet will be mapped in 3D.
      Yeah, with about as much accuracy and reliability as the Wikipedia or the IMDB.
      • Was that supposed to be a slight ? ...because to me it sounded like an immense compliment.
        "No entire planet 3D map" vs. "Wikipedia quality entire planet 3D map"

        Why yes, I do think I will chose the latter.

        Perfection will never happen because it is too expensive. Wikipedia is accurate and reliable enough to be extremely useful, and just as importantly, free. For that I am thankful.
        • Was that supposed to be a slight ? ...because to me it sounded like an immense compliment. "No entire planet 3D map" vs. "Wikipedia quality entire planet 3D map"

          I imagine from a certain fanboy point of view, yes - it could be considered a compliment. But from a realistic point of view, Wikipedia's coverage (outside of episode guides for The Simpsons and Star Trek) is spotty to say the least.

          Perfection will never happen because it is too expensive. Wikipedia is accurate and reliable enough to be extreme

          • Sorry, the model of your house could not be found on the google 3d-world map ... you are homeless. No ... No.... I don't care if you have a building contract... it is not on google.
          • I imagine from a certain fanboy point of view, yes - it could be considered a compliment. But from a realistic point of view, Wikipedia's coverage (outside of episode guides for The Simpsons and Star Trek) is spotty to say the least.

            I think from this statment you must not have spent much time on wikipedia. While I have no idea of the coverage and quality of wikipedia's articles on Simpsons and Star Trek are, I do know that I have widened and deepened my knoledge of history, science and technology despite

    • I'd imagine all of New York City's major buildings would require Age Verification System within about 15 seconds of launch of this feature. You just can't trust people not to mess with the world...
  • free trial.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by joeldg (518249) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @12:20PM (#15213117) Homepage
    if you have not tried out this program.. download it now..
    the push/pull tool is amazing and so intuitive it is like .. "magic".. has been a long time since I have been that impressed at a program.

    read some of the reviews out there and see what people are doing with it. The online galleries are inspiring..

    you can import almost any model, export to almost any kind of model..

    amazing amazing program I have been using for a few months now..
    • Cue annoying testimonial about how this is the first "easy" 3D modeling app that I can understand...

      Oh, wait. It is the first easy 3D modeling app that I can understand. ;)
      • yes yes...
        I am not normally a modelling app fanboy, but having no idea what I was doing, I modelled the building I live in and did it in under and hour.. so, I got very impressed...

        and google owns them, so.. actually, cue the /. google-fan-boy-dom

        • modelled the building I live in and did it in under and hour..

          I live in an empty appliace box that is almost a perfect cube so this really doesn't mean much to me.
  • Taj Mahal? (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The first priority should be putting 3d models of naked women sunbathing on rooftops.
  • in 10000000... 9999999... 9999998...
    • Assuming you're counting down in seconds, it should be out around the end of August.


      I've tried the free trial version and in only 4 hours I did the tutorials and slapped together a pretty detailed 3d model of my house. On the other hand I've spent over 24 hours messing with blender and barely managed to get a few cubes attached to each other.

    • Nah I just use emacs insteads
  • SketchUp rendering (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pubjames (468013) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @12:21PM (#15213127)
    Everyone should try SketchUp out. It is great - you can make a scale accurate model of your house in no time.

    The only problem with it from my point of view is that it isn't really made for rendering - its output is fairly blocky visually. Which brings me to my question - has anyone successfully used SketchUp to create complex models that they've then rendered in another application? If so, how did you do it and do you have an example image on the web we can see?
    • SketchUp works pretty well exporting to other programs for rendering. I am an architecture student, and many of my classmates export its models to Cinema 4D, some textures actually crossover. I have also seen exports to Lightwave and Maya, all very successful. It is best to try to find an importer plugin for the rendering program you are using as exporting from SketchUp to other programs turns all geometries into triangles. If you do not have any other rendering program, SketchUp can actually look very nice
    • by zxnos (813588)
      that is the intent of sketchup... ...say it with me, SKETCH. [thefreedictionary.com] it isnt made for slick renderings, the point is to get a decent representation to a client for a low cost. another benefit is its sketchiness. when a client sees hard lines, they are less apt to approve something - or add input - for fear it is a final, you must do exactly this version. if you want to develop a design collaboratively, a sketch is the best thing for you.
      • And the beautiful thing about it is that you can affect the "sketchiness" of the drawing, with extension lines, jitter, etc. Makes it look almost hand drawn.

        Check out the Gallery portion of the forums, there's some amazing stuff being done with this program.

        http://forum.sketchup.com/forumdisplay.php?f=9 [sketchup.com]

        And the cool thing is that it's *3D*, not just a simple drawing tool - it exports nicely (well, mostly nicely) into AutoCAD - but then again, I own the Pro version. ;-)
    • by eMartin (210973)
      "The only problem with it from my point of view is that it isn't really made for rendering..."

      That's not a problem at all.

      A lot of people get into computer graphics and try to find one software package that does everything really well, but it just doesn't exist (or at least, they would get their work done a lot quicker with multiple tools).

      SketchUp is a modeling program, and for certain types of work, it is very good at what it does, and offers several export formats to let you work with other programs for
    • i don't think the images are all that blocky, though limiting the number of polygons make smoothly curving surfaces difficult/not as nice. http://www.bennetyee.org/bathroom/ [bennetyee.org] contains a sketchup model that i made to help communicate what we want with contractors. of the complex shapes that i had to make, the lighting fixture took the most time and the sink is the least realistic. i didn't include additional surface images and only used the ones provided (with some stretching for the glass tiles), but i th
    • Want a renderer?

      A free renderer?

      Try Art of Illusion. (I think it's http://aoi.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net] but I may be wrong, and too lazy to google).

      You can export out of Sketchup in .obj format and import into AOI. AOI has a very generous and quality renderer, with some interesting features.

      Also, there is a very complete Sketchup to POVRAY exporter. It isn't my cup of tea, so I don't use it, but it's huge and rather comprehensive. It is, however, something of a hack. I believe you can find a link to it through the S
  • by GillBates0 (664202) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @12:23PM (#15213153) Homepage Journal
    While there's definitely a market for a product like Sketchup, Google usually goes a step further and introduces features that may not necessarily make money for them, but are cool to use and fun to understand for regular geeks and lay-users.

    In this case, it's the free version of Sketchup, the free design warehouse and "geolocation" feature within the free version of Google Earth. Quite cool, IMHO.

    • The downside (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      While there's definitely a market for a product like Sketchup, Google usually goes a step further and introduces features that may not necessarily make money for them, but are cool to use and fun to understand for regular geeks and lay-users

      The downside to Google's approach though is that it has a tendency to kill the competitive market for the technologies that they make available for free. On the one hand, this is an issue of natural selection, if you're weak, you won't survive. On the other hand, pe
      • tendency to kill the competitive market for the technologies that they make available for free

        That is _exactly_ why open source (well, in this case it isn't open source, but it's free nonetheless) and free software encourages innovation. An idea is taken or is available free so you can't seem to get money from asking money for it ? Try to have a new, better idea. That's the whole point, it makes you think outside the box for a minute. For most people it indeed only takes only a minute because they just c
  • I think the building that caught my attention the most is this one:
    http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/details?mid =ce29f8b2336ba53f89c520fb34a01ba6 [google.com]
    Most notable for being heating the neighbors accross the street into the 90's and blinding drivers as they drove across the road. Anything else that catches your eye? It seems to be at this point a bunch of outdoor items like a birdfeeder.
  • by plaidhacker (950067) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @12:27PM (#15213195)

    I recently wrote a KML (Google Earth) export script for Blender.org. Blender is certainly less intuitive than SketchUp, but its undeniably more powerful, as well as open source. It supports importing and exporting a number of other industry standards, so you could use it to transform models you already have.

    Blender KML Export [ynniv.com]
    Blender.org [blender.org]

  • Cycas comparison? (Score:3, Informative)

    by snopes (27370) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @12:35PM (#15213296) Journal
    I've used a program which runs on Linux called Cycas [cycas.de] for quite a bit of scale floor plans, but have found the interface frustrating and as a result never dig into 3D much and rendering at all.

    Has anyone used both? Is SketchUp useful at all for something like a detailed floorplan, or just for big primitive, blocky structures? Is it really so unbelievably easy to use that it's worth booting into XP?

    TIA-
    • Re:Cycas comparison? (Score:3, Informative)

      by AdamWeeden (678591)
      Has anyone used both?

      For the sake of honesty, I must say no.

      Is SketchUp useful at all for something like a detailed floorplan, or just for big primitive, blocky structures?

      I've used it for floorplans before and found it quite easy.

      Is it really so unbelievably easy to use that it's worth booting into XP?

      I think so, but, again for the sake of honesty, I admit I have little problem with XP and use it as my daily operating system.
      • I admit I have little problem with XP and use it as my daily operating system

        He wasn't interested in the usability of XP, he was interested in whether this is worth the boot into XP for a try. I did the reboot, I tried it, and yes, I think it's worth the try, I hoenstly liked it pretty much. It's no Maya, it's no Blender either, but it's refreshingly easy to mock up some models in it. As many others, I also started with a house to see how easy it can get, and it left me quite pleasantly surprised.
  • They are being as bad in this respect as Microsoft, it appears.
  • Somebody did this nifty Enterprise model [google.com] - would look good integrated in Google Earth ... or Google Mars ...
  • First Impressions (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kebes (861706) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @12:43PM (#15213383) Journal
    Just downloaded the program and am playing with it. My first impressions:

    Pro:
    Very intuitive interface. Unlike most 3D modelling programs, you can start creating and coloring objects immediately. You can create simple layouts very quickly, and then use the neat "tape measure" tool to measure distances. This is absolutely great for making a model of a room to consider different layouts for desks or whatever.

    Con:
    As in many cases, simplicity leads to limited designs. To make anything complex would be a nightmare. Also, I can't see any way to make things look "slick and cool" or to render them in anything but a simplistic cartoon-like style. It has none of the elegant programatic control of something like POVray, for instance.

    Overall I think it's a neat toy that some people may enjoy, but I think anyone serious about 3D will give it a pass (including, I'm guessing, the Pro version). On the other hand, I would like to see some open-source projects get some inspiration about the interface from this program. An add-on to POVray for creating simple shapes (with the more complex work then being done in code) would be nice.
    • Re:First Impressions (Score:5, Interesting)

      by zxnos (813588) <zxnoss@gmail.com> on Thursday April 27, 2006 @01:29PM (#15213921)
      but I think anyone serious about 3D will give it a pass

      as an architect, i use it all the time. i can spend 4 hours in sketchup creating a decent model with people and trees for a client to see the massing and a walkthrough of their house or office building. all kinds of other studies can be done quickly in sketchup.

      or i can spend 16 hours in formz or some other rendering program. guess what the client usually wants early in the game... ...when marketing the slick image comes in. but then i can import the sketchup image and apply textures, lights, etc.

    • > Also, I can't see any way to make things look "slick and cool" or to render them in anything but a simplistic cartoon-like style.

      It has texture mapping.
    • Overall I think it's a neat toy that some people may enjoy, but I think anyone serious about 3D will give it a pass (including, I'm guessing, the Pro version).

      I don't know about that. Take a look at their case studies. [sketchup.com] There are some pretty good models in there.

    • I think anyone serious about 3D will give it a pass

      Well, I don't think it's really meant to compete with, say, modo or Lightwave. But it makes a nifty pre-vis tool.
    • Re:First Impressions (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I did my diploma thesis in architecture with it. This was quite a large project. When you get used to the grouping logic and the way this software "thinks", you get very quickly very far.

      Your results are not photorealistic, but they neither have to be pseudo-sketchy nor comic-style either. With a bit of touching up, the pictures are not necessarily bad, just abstract - instead of the now ever-present faky glossy images. I actually really like it.

      Just stay away from the hideous shingle maps etc ;-), use care
  • by erroneus (253617) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @12:45PM (#15213407) Homepage
    I'm not quite as married to Google as other users although I use Google to search almost exclusively. But I'm disappointed that there is no Linux version of Google Earth. Now another Google offering that's not Linux. Frankly, I'm disappointed.
  • Anyone tried Wings? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Peepsalot (654517) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @12:47PM (#15213433)
    I haven't had a chance to use SketchUp yet, but from the screenshot it looks slightly similar to Wings 3d
    http://www.wings3d.com/ [wings3d.com]

    I may be completely off comparing the two, but it's definitely a fun program to play with anyways. Open source and more intuitive than other alternatives such as blender IMHO.
  • by axonis (640949)
    Maybe this is where the old VRML school of thought will pickup again, how long until avatars, proximity tiggers, animation etc are added to google earth ?. Im shure there is an advertising angle for virtual bill boards etc.
  • Kinda works: the editor window appears to be OK, and it is actually pretty fast (does it use 3D acceleration????)
    However, the toolbar icons and menus don't show up at all, making them accessible only through tooltips. Completely unusable :( Hopefully, somebody will fix some bugs, be it Google or Codeweavers.
    • Do you really need 3D acceleration when the complexity of what you're making amounts to, say, a hundred thousand flat-shaded polygons, max? I'd think any CPU above a PIII-500 would be able to software-render that with 20~30 fps..?
  • All we need is for all the buildings in our cities to have models made. Then, we can impose those on Google maps. Combine that with in-car Internet, GPS, a direction finding divice, and a heads-up display. Then, you can get in your car and ask it how to get to a location, and the route with visual and audible directions will be on your windshield.

    This should cut down on pizza delivery times, becasue we all know that hot fresh pizza is the real reason for any of this technology to exist.

    Somebody get me a pat
  • Is there a waiting list somewhere for the Black Sun VIP passes? Where do I sign up?
  • I have made my house in 3-dimensions! (well, my dream house)
  • by happywillo (946486) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @01:18PM (#15213773)
    Although looked down on by serious modellers, I find that sketchup models are better recieved by clients. I spent years with 3D Studio and lightscape trying to make realistic models that never quite seemed believable and now use sketchup as a tool to give clients an impression rather than a finished "as bought item". I find that it is perfectly suited to my discipline as it is just a maquette rather than a "disneyfication" of reality that most modelling programs achieve. The surfaces, shadows and light refraction may look real, but in the end the building always looks too crisp against the background photos used for montage (so lets stop pretending!). Just my few cents worth as an Architect/ IT manager for a firm of Architects.
  • hope they used protection
  • SketchUp's sweet (Score:3, Interesting)

    by XenonOfArcticus (53312) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @01:42PM (#15214075) Homepage
    It's a bunch of great guys in Boulder, Colorado (not too far from my company in Morrison). Their product kicks butt. If you want intuitive 3D modelling, get it. It's pretty cool that they have released a free version for Google modeling. I don't think it's really monopolistic/anticompetitive, because the free version ONLY works with Google Earth. It can't export to anything else useful. You still have to buy the $500 Pro version for that. And $500 is a bargain for what you get.

    Yes, their freebie version is useful for people who want to model their own house and not use it in Google Earth, but really, you can't say they're shutting out anyone here by making it free -- there's Free Software like Blender and Wings3D that have been out forever that filled that niche too, and so far the market for 3D modeling tools has failed to collapse. (The difference being that ANYONE can learn SketchUp in a few hours. Really.)

    Commercial diclosure and plugs: My company makes an add-on foliage library [3dnature.com] for SketchUp and a Google Earth Exporter [3dnature.com] for our 3D Landscape visualization software. But I don't get diddly for kickbacks from Google/SketchUp. I really do think they have a kickin product.
  • I just gotta say how amazingly similar this is to use Macromedia Flash, and I think its great. I was wondering if these guys were inspired by Flash. Seriously, its like drawing in Flash but 3D.

    If the pro version wasn't so expensive I'd be much keener. The speed to build and publish ideas and models is fantastic, but as long as you can export to other 3D apps then rendering and utilisation of those models isn't a problem.

    Whatever, this is a bit technological leap forward in 3D modelling in my opinion. I hope
  • Think about it. Everything Google is building is going to allow you integrate many of the features articles are talking about with Second Life. Only you'll be able to do it over HTTP with AJAX and their web service APIs.

    The map server can be used to create worlds, the 3d stuff can be used to populate them. They can create new environments based on domains, so the real world domain might only have real world details. But they could also build another model for say Google Groups Clubhouses®©. We've been seeing people use Second Life for these purposes, what if Google made it so anyone could integrate a Second Life type feature into their website or web services application?
  • Is Google positioning to be the repository and data source for the snowcrash like virtual world which we will interact with?
  • Like with photograph textures like you seen in games? I don't like those cartoon looking models, especially when using aerial views.
  • It would be really nice to have wind turbines available in Google Earth - it would make wind farm visualisations (like for instance, the infamous Cape Cod wind farm) directly accessible. Anyone having a WT model, please upload it.

    Thanks a lot!
  • I'm surprised there's no jokes from the tinfoil hat crowd about the authorities "planting" nuke factories in Iran, WMD in Iraq, etc. via models on Google Earth....

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