Trimble Sketchup


We’ve now had a few days to let the news of Sketchup’s sale to Trimble sink in. It’s been six years since Google acquired the program from @Last Software and, though it didn’t seem like an obvious fit at the time, Google integrated Sketchup quite well into its empire with the 3D Warehouse and Google Earth/Maps. Google also continued strong development of the software with tools like an enhanced geo-modeling tools and (the admittedly awkward and ready-to-be-improved) Layout.

After this long, Google and Sketchup seemed to be together for the long haul. So it was a big surprise to learn of the Trimble acquisition. We use Sketchup a lot; so this surprise contained a fair amount of fear and anxiety. It’s comforting to know a tool you depend upon heavily is under the care of a giant benevolent overlord like Google. I had never heard of Trimble before the announcement of the sale, and what I had learned of them didn’t immediately offer much relief.

After some processing, though, it seems that the sale makes some sense and could actually be good for Sketchup. Trimble’s experience in engineering and construction software could help bring some richer BIM-type elements to Sketchup. Their knowledge of 3D laser scanning could bring exciting features. And Sketchup is ripe for mobile device and GPS integration, which Trimble seems more than capable of developing.

What made Google and Sketchup such a good fit, though, was their shared interest in making software accessible and user-friendly. So far it’s hard to say if Trimble also shares this interest. However, the core development team, which first published Sketchup as a startup company called @Last, is sticking together for the move to Trimble. Their focus has always been on creating “3d modeling for the masses”. They have said publicly that this goal will remain, along with the free version of Sketchup. At the very least, we will always have Sketchup 8 and a strong community of independent developers.

We’re excited to see where Trimble pushes Sketchup next – there’s certainly room to grow.

Jason Nolin was an illustrator at Fat Pencil Studio from 2010-2013.