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Trimble Releases SketchUp 2013 – But…….


I have long awaited this first major release of SketchUp from Trimble. SketchUp 8 was a major release under Trimble, but very shortly after they acquired SketchUp, so I can’t really count that as a Trimble effort. This release very definitely has Trimble’s fingerprints on it; though not as I would have hoped.

Non-extension or non-plugin developers, that is, the normal user, will notice four significant changes. Two of which are improvements and two of which are very annoying.

First the Good News

When you select the View/Toolbars… menu (yes, there is a slight menu name change) you get a dialog box that remains open until you close it. From there you can select all the toolbars you want.


Notice that you can also create your own custom toolbars as I have done with JPZ 1, JPZ, 2 and JPZ 3. However, Trimble saw fit to only allow creating custom toolbars from native tools. You cannot include a plugin icon in a custom toolbar.

The process of creating a custom toolbar is pretty simple; Click the New button, name it and then drag native icons to the custom bar. If you select an icon and drag it to a custom toolbar it will exist on the custom toolbar but not the source toolbar. However, if you depress the Ctrl key while dragging a copy of the icon will be moved to the new toolbar. You can also reset one or all toolbars to their “factory” setting.

The second item of good news is that there is a toolbar called Warehouse with four icons: Get Models…, Share Model…, Share Component… and Extension Warehouse. Warehouse replaces the Google 3D Warehouse in previous versions, but still points to the same storage library. The new icon is the Extension Warehouse. This icon brings up a dialog box; actually a web page. From there you can choose from currently 117 extensions (plugins). You have to sign in using a Google account to access them. The Extension Warehouse can also be accessed with the menu Window/Extension Warehouse. SketchUp 8 and older users can access the Extension Warehouse by going to .

And Now the Bad News

For some reason the Trimble SketchUp Gods decided we users needed new icons to re-familiarize ourselves with. Below is a visual comparison. Click on image to enlarge it.

Compare SketchUp 8 Icons to SketchUp 2013

This has really slowed down my drawing rate while I re-learn to recognize tool icons and I really don’t understand the thinking behind the change. In my humble opinion the new icons are less attractive and too busy.

If you look closely at this picture you will also see that my side toolbars are only one icon wide. For some reason the SketchUp Toolbar Gods decided, in their infinite wisdom, that toolbars should only be one icon wide. To get around this I had to create custom toolbars and arrange them so that I could group my icons like I am accustom to. Not a big issue, but then again why the change? As Yogi Berra might say, Why break what’s not broke?

If you are currently a SketchUp 8 free version or older user and use SketchUp in your work you might want to think twice about upgrading to SketchUp 2013. Trimble has modified the SketchUp free version license to explicitly prohibit its commercial use. Here is that portion of their license:

Trimble Navigation Limited and/or its affiliates ("Trimble") gives you a personal, worldwide, royalty-free, non-assignable and non-exclusive license to use the executable version of the Software for non-commercial use only. Non-commercial use means: you may not sell, rent, lease or lend the output of the Software or the Services. If you are a for-profit organization of any kind, or an employee of a for-profit organization using the Software or Services in that capacity, you are engaged in commercial activity; therefore, in order to use the Software and Services, you must purchase a SketchUp Pro license.

To celebrate this change Trimble has renamed the new free version to SketchUp Make.

If you are a plugin or extension developer there is some bad news, or perhaps no good news. The C++ SDK has been rewritten to a C SDK. Apparently, in order for Trimble to make SketchUp more interface-able to their existing code, probably written in C, they found it easier to rewrite the SDK. SketchUp extension developers will find they need to concern themselves more with memory management as a result.

The Ruby API saw no attention. As far as I can tell there were no significant bug fixes or changes of any kind. Mac users still labor under Ruby 1.5 and Windows users 1.6. The WebDialog class has seen no changes or improvements which were sorely needed especially in the way the Mac and Windows platforms differed.

To End On A Happier Note

SketchUp 2013 Pro users who use LayOut will notice some new features. Perhaps the most significant is that you can now Pattern Fill a sectioned view with hatching and other patterns. This is really useful, but would have been more useful if it were the SketchUp Section tool that could do the same. For a complete list of LayOut changes see .

Whether to upgrade to 2013 or stay with version 8 is a personal decision. I upgraded because I had to given my teaching, blogging and plugin development activities. However, I would have preferred not to, because I don’t perceive the value is there, and, in the case of the free version there may be a big penalty with the new license. You can download and install an 8 hour trial of SketchUp 2013 Pro (including LayOut and Style Builder) for free. At the end of 8 hours if you haven’t bought a license it reverts to SketchUp Make. So make your own decision on whether to upgrade or not, but don’t uninstall version 8 just yet.

One last note. You will now see SketchUp under its own folder name instead of the Google folder name. So now the Plugins folder will be found at a location similar to:

C:\Program Files (x86)\SketchUp\SketchUp 2013\Plugins

Instead of the old:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Google SketchUp 8\Plugins

I would be very interested to hear your opinion of the new release.