A Ruby Debugger for SketchUp 2014

As most SketchUp Ruby extension developers would agree, debugging has always been a bit of a pain. In the past, there have been a few community projects that added debuggers to SketchUp, but these were often difficult to set up and some were abandoned over time. The rest of the Ruby community enjoys debugging with Integrated Development Environments (IDE) such as RubyMine, NetBeans and Aptana RadRails. All of these generally rely on various gems to be installed for remote debugging. Getting these gems to work within SketchUp’s embedded Ruby is usually non-trivial.

This week, we’re taking a small step towards making debugging for SketchUp extensions a bit easier. At 3D Basecamp 2014, we’ve announced an open source Ruby debugger framework. You’ll find the source code for this project hosted under our GitHub account:


We currently support Windows only but you can expect Mac support soon. Setting it up is easy:
Simply grab SURubyDebugger.dll from GitHub and copy it into your SketchUp installation directory: C:\Program Files (x86)\SketchUp\SketchUp 2014
Launch SketchUp with the following command line arguments:
SketchUp.exe -rdebug "ide port=1234"
The port should match the remote debugger port setting configured in the IDE.
SketchUp will start up and appear to be frozen. It is waiting for the debugger to show up.
Launch remote debugging in the IDE, SketchUp should continue running. You should see breakpoints hit when Ruby code execution reaches the specified lines.

If you are unfamiliar with installing and configuring the IDEs, we’ve posted some step-by-step instructions in the GitHub repository wiki.

We still have a few TODOs (such as multi-thread debugging, breakpoint conditions and exception breakpoints), so if you are versed in Ruby’s C API, please contribute to the project.

Happy debugging!

Posted by Bugra Barin, Software Engineer

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Oh hai, SketchUp Mobile Viewer!

As designers, makers, builders, artists, teachers, students, and all around 3D troubadours, we're passionate about our ideas, and even more so about seeing them take shape. If you're reading this, chances are that either you or someone you know is as obsessed about SketchUp as we are. And you know how that obsession can penetrate every corner of your life. Sometimes, the only compulsion greater than push-pulling your ideas to life, is the desire to show off your brilliantly creative work, on any and every device you can get your hands on.

Up until now, one aspect of (most of) our lives has been sadly neglected by SketchUp's addictive lure. That deliciously curvy piece of brightly lit glass you call your iPad (maybe you call it something else, but lest we digress...).

Today, we're incredibly excited to announce all that changes. As 3D Basecamp kicks off in Vail, we’re also welcoming the SketchUp Mobile Viewer for iPad to our product family.

We’ll be telling you all about our new tablet viewer in this blog post, but we’re guessing that some of you might already just want to go buy the thing. You folks can find the SketchUp Mobile Viewer here on the iTunes App Store.

Say hello to the new SketchUp Mobile Viewer for iPad

The SketchUp Mobile Viewer app lets you explore, and present SketchUp models on your iPad. The app’s touch interface provides navigation controls for Orbit, Pan, and Zoom, allowing you to swipe and pinch your way to 3D nirvana. And you’ll notice that models are rendered with certain Style settings based on your Last Saved View, including the Sky, Ground, and Background color, as well as Face settings.

Model Viewer screen with the Cameras list open

Additional navigation controls include a Zoom Extents tool, and a Cameras list that gives you access to SketchUp’s standard camera views (Top, Front, Left, etc) along with any camera positions that were saved as Scenes in your model.

After starting up the app and logging in to your 3D Warehouse account, you’ll find your public and private 3D Warehouse models displayed on the home screen. From there, you have the option to view your models and/or download them for offline use.

The SketchUp Mobile Viewer also lets you search and browse the entire public 3D Warehouse, meaning you can explore the millions of glorious creations available in what we consider to be biggest and best repository of 3D models out there. After clicking a search result, the app’s detailed view provides a high resolution thumbnail along with key model details like title & description, author name, and file size.

Detailed search results: get a better look before opening a model in 3D or downloading it

We’re incredibly excited to make this app available to SketchUp and 3D Warehouse users, and even more excited about what’s in store for future versions. (Hold tight, Android folks!) We hope to bring even more of the SketchUp model viewing capabilities you’ve come to know and love to the SketchUp Mobile Viewer, and to expand the ways that folks present, share, and collaborate on the tablet platform. That’s where you come in: let us know what you think of the SketchUp Mobile Viewer. We’re always listening for ways to improve our products, to make them the tools you’ll want to use. So thanks for your feedback, and happy orbiting!

Posted by Mike Tadros, Product Manager

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Extension Warehouse serves up one million downloads

Four words: One. Million. Downloads. ShaBoom!

This week, we are pleased to share that over the past 10 months, SketchUp users have downloaded 1 million extensions from Extension Warehouse, our online repository of add-on tools.


Extension Warehouse launched last May. Since then, over 50 developers have contributed 245 extensions. Our extensibility team has carefully reviewed each extension for quality, both initially and whenever a developer uploads a new release. New extensions and upgrades are being submitted daily. The range and quality of these tools are simply amazing. Without a doubt, these extensions make SketchUp even more useful, versatile, and fun.

In addition, the SketchUp Ruby API received a major upgrade to version 2.0 in SketchUp 2014. This update was a much needed improvement, but the downside was that many existing extensions were not necessarily compatible with the latest version of SketchUp. Thankfully, we’ve see the SketchUp developer community rise to the occasion like a rocket ship. Today, over 70% of extensions are compatible with SU 2014.

Extension Warehouse has also played a role in the creation or distribution of several open source projects, including the SketchUp STL extension, Shapes, WikiHouse and Developer Tools. Anyone is free to contribute to our open source projects on github.

If you haven’t installed an extension recently, we'd encourage you to spend some time browsing Extension Warehouse inside SketchUp (Window > Extension Warehouse). Whether you are looking for a productivity boosting utility or a full blown rendering application, there really is something for everyone. Also, many folks don’t realize that the Extension Warehouse is one of the best ways to manage an extension library. If you ever need to quickly update, migrate, or re-install all your extensions, log-in from to Extension Warehouse inside SketchUp and check out the great features on the “My Extensions” page.

We would like to extend (pun intended) a huge “Thank You!” to all the extension developers and loyal users who have helped us reach this one million downloads milestone. The first year of Extension Warehouse is shaping up to be a great one, and we have big plans to make year two even better. Stay tuned!

Posted by Bryce Stout, Extensibility Product Manager

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Announcing the Maker Faire Design Challenge

In the past year or so, we’ve noticed several major publications attempting to interpret the “maker movement” through its sociological, economic, and technological implications. For us, it’s still pretty simple: making things is fun, especially when you do it with friends.

This is, really, why we go to Maker Faires. We love building stuff and learning from other makers. So, looking forward to this year’s Maker Faire Bay Area, we’d like to try something new: a collaborative project with the maker community that hacks the greater Maker Faire experience.

Together with the team at MAKE and ShopBot Tools, we’ve cooked up the Maker Faire Design Challenge, a competition to design and fabricate the information kiosk that helps visitors navigate Maker Faire. If your design wins, we’ll work with you and build your project together at Maker Faire Bay Area in May. When the show closes down, your project will join Maker Faire’s event quiver, and the open-sourced design will be shared with Maker Faires worldwide.

The Maker Faire Design Challenge: your chance to hack the festival of hacking.

You’ll find all the details about the competition on Makezine.com, but since you’ve already cozied up to the SketchUpdate, here’s a bit more about how it works:

The design challenge: create an information and wayfinding kiosk that improves the experience of people finding their way around Maker Faire Bay Area (a pretty expansive event). You can enter by filling out this form and including a link to your SketchUp model on 3D Warehouse. And because this is an open-source competition, we’ll curate the best designs and share them with the broader maker community in our open 3D Warehouse collection.

One of our goals for this project is to improve the Maker Faire experience in a sustainable way, so you’ll want to pay close attention to the Challenge Guidelines. We’re looking for a project that’s simple, useful, economical, buildable, reusable, and (for sure) fun. Oh, and it should be made primarily out of CNC’d plywood. For inspiration see: Shelter 2.0, WikiHouse, AtFab, and beyond. Have questions about what makes for a good design? Drop a comment into this forum thread.

On April 21st, we’ll announce the design challenge winner, and here’s where the fun starts: Together with editors from MAKE, the SketchUp team, and our friends at ShopBot, we’ll work together to prep your project for fabrication and then build it with you at Maker Faire Bay Area. Then, we’ll fly you out to Maker Faire Bay Area, and we’ll all get our hands dirty building the thing. So, read-up on the Challenge Guidelines (a design brief, if you will) and show us what you’ve got. We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Posted by Mark Harrison, SketchUp Team

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PER/FORM: a live performance-based design competition with SketchUp and Sefaira

A few weeks ago, we blogged about how information modeling works in SketchUp. A data-rich .skp can pull off some complex feats, but we prefer to think about an information model as a simple relationship: graphical geometry with any kind of data associated.

With no data, the model is only a design (and maybe a very good one). Without the model, the data is, perhaps, only a math problem (and maybe a pretty smart one). Put them together, and you have the basis for one incredibly powerful output of information modeling: performance-based design.

Architects who practice performance-based design are often trying to measure, adhere to, or optimize building performance: the measurable index of a building’s energy efficiency or operational cost.

The folks at Sefaira are pretty keen on this idea. Their plugin -- Sefaira for SketchUp -- helps architects make decisions that optimize building performance while designing in SketchUp. So now imagine understanding how early-stage conceptual (or practical) choices might affect a building’s ability to retain or dissipate heat throughout the day. We think this is a powerful way to think about design, so together with Sefaira (and some other friends), we’re hosting a competition focused on performance-based design. We call it PER/FORM.

PER/FORM: a live performance-based design competition

You can learn all about the PER/FORM competition on this site, but here are the basics: After an April 2nd registration deadline*, the competition starts with a design brief and three weeks of access to Sefaira for SketchUp. You’ll also have support from the Sefaira team so that you can learn the ins and outs of performance-based building design.

We’ll select 30 winners from the online round, and -- here’s the kicker -- those finalists will have the opportunity to compete live in the final round at the Pratt Institute's Manhattan campus on May 17th. That’s right: this is going to be a real-deal, big city SketchUp shootout.

The top three designers will take home cash prizes, and the winner will see his or her design featured in Metropolis Magazine. What’s that? You don’t have much experience with energy or information modeling? Well, three weeks of free access to a SketchUp energy modeling plugin sounds like a good place to start, right?

*We’re sorry to say that this competition is only open to U.S. and Canada participants. Stay tuned for future contests that don’t have this restriction.

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SketchUp 2014 is here

If you poke around SketchUp.com today, you’ll notice a few things are different. For one, a new version of SketchUp is available for download in ten languages. You’ll also find that we’ve completely rebuilt 3D Warehouse, our online repository for the millions of models shared by SketchUp users worldwide. SketchUp 2014 is here, and there’s quite a bit to explore.

A new look for 3D Warehouse

Every day, 7,000 people search for a “sofa” on 3D Warehouse, and then find around 10,000 sofa models to choose from. That is an incredible amount of choice -- probably the most you’ll find on the web. Today, we’re giving the millions of models in 3D Warehouse a facelift at 3dwarehouse.sketchup.com. As you poke around the new 3D Warehouse, you may notice that you can now navigate 3D models on the web as you do in SketchUp (using a WebGL enabled browser). Have a look for yourself:

Look, ma: I’m orbiting with no client plugin! (WebGL browser required). Little CabaƱa by Spykman Design.

Bringing a SketchUp viewer to the web is a big deal to us. We spent a lot of time tuning our WebGL Viewer so that your models operate smoothly and retain their SketchUp feel. We’re also thrilled that SketchUp users can now share orbitable 3D projects (in full screen, if you like) on their own webpages using the 3D Warehouse embed gadget.

Want to share your 3D models on the web? The 3D Warehouse embed gadget has you covered.

As you read this, our 3D Warehouse render robots are churning through tens of thousands of models a day, converting raw .skp files into a 3D streaming format dialed for SketchUp models. In the meantime, any newly uploaded models published to 3D Warehouse will render after just a few minutes, so you can start orbiting your new models pronto.

While this new Viewer turns any webpage into a 3D stage, we also wanted to point a spotlight on the most useful models in 3D Warehouse. So, working with product manufacturers, we’ve started curating the highest quality collections of real world models into their own category: Product Catalogs. Now, when you need a particular faucet, sliding door, window arrangement, or office chair, 3D Warehouse helps you choose a component that can actually be specified.

There’s quite a bit more to discover in the new 3D Warehouse -- new upload options, increased file size limits, a refreshed UI -- you can learn more about it all here.

A closer look at information modeling

In a world of ever-evolving CAD acronyms, people often ask “Is SketchUp Pro BIM?

BIM is short for building information modeling, and the fact is, we’ve always considered SketchUp Pro to be a highly capable and inclusive information modeler. But what does that mean?

As we see it, the foundation of information modeling is an association between information of any kind and the graphical geometry in a model. And SketchUp’s core tools -- groups, components, the Ruby API -- have always enabled users to make this association and use the data embedded in models. BIM professionals may use information models for clash detection and quantity takeoffs; woodworkers may use them for joinery design and cut lists. In fact, a quick scan of Extension Warehouse shows that SketchUp users have been modeling, specifying, scheduling, analyzing, and reporting with information for some time now.

Building on this open and flexible information modeling capability, SketchUp Pro 2014 includes a feature called Classifier that lets you tag objects with standard classifications or types. We’ve preloaded this release with IFC 2x3 classifications (a standard for building information modelers), but you’re free to use any classification system you want. If you’re wondering if this tool is for you, we’d encourage you to learn more about it here.

A duct segment by any other name...

And because data embedded in information models is often used by other software programs (especially in BIM), we’re adding the IFC file type, another BIM standard, to our roster of supported exports. So go ahead, try out your BI in any M you like.

But wait, there's more...

Of course, the best way to explore SketchUp 2014 is to try it out yourself. The team working on LayOut delivered on one of our top documentation requests with a feature we call Auto-Text; we’ve also made some important tweaks to the the core SketchUp modeler; and our API has been updated to Ruby 2.0 standards. If you’ve purchased SketchUp Pro 2013, you’re already qualified for a free upgrade to this latest version. And if you use SketchUp Make, go ahead and update here for free.

Posted by Mark Harrison, on behalf of the SketchUp Team

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Information Modeling in SketchUp

When SketchUp was invented more than a dozen years ago, our team envisioned a tool which was simple to learn and simple to use, but powerful and capable of building complex models of all kinds of real world things. SketchUp, we dreamed, would be a tool which made designing, building and operating things easier, faster and more efficient. Maybe, even, more fun.

Make simple shapes, turn simple shapes into complex shapes. Make groups and components to organize the geometry and information in your model. It's the SketchUp Way.

The key to that dream was an arsenal of simple and direct modeling tools coupled with a plastically flexible and ‘sticky’ geometry model. Editing a model should be as simple as touching a face and pushing and pulling it into shape. The SketchUp Way was born.

Almost. The wonderfully creative pure plasticity of SketchUp modeling could really become a problem when models progressed beyond a basic level of detail. SketchUp also needed a way to build complexity up from the bottom, a way to make assemblies of component objects. Enter “Components.”

Components have become the best-used and most essential model organizing principle in every expert SketchUp users’ toolkit. Not only do components isolate geometry to keep it all from sticking together, but they give a simple way to think of a model as being composed of individual objects. Objects which represent something real.

Over the years, we’ve extended Components more than any other single feature in SketchUp. We’ve added tools to slice them, dice them, add parameters and configure them. We’ve built a huge 3D Warehouse full of them, free for you to use as you see fit. We’ve added features to help you count them, analyze them and add any kind of data you can imagine to them. And our developer partners have extended them even more- there are more than 80 extensions in the Extension Warehouse that depend on some aspect of components to do the magic that they do.

One thing we’ve noticed, though, is that all this great information and advanced capability that folks are adding to their models with components remains largely isolated inside their SketchUp models. What was missing (until now) was a way to add additional information to the model in some standardized way that would make it possible to share, analyze and extend it outside of SketchUp.

And so in SketchUp 2014 we’re introducing an open system of “Classification” that lets you build models made of components (make ‘em yourself or add them from 3D Warehouse) that contain information in a structured way. Actually, in any structured way that you want. Want to adopt an open standard? We’ve got you covered. Or maybe you’d rather go your own way? Works for us, too. We’re calling this simple combination of components and structured data “information modeling” and we think you’re going to use it a lot.

Classify groups and components and you'll find that their types auto-populate into labels and LayOut callouts (just like group and component names. Export an .skp (or an .ifc) and send your classifications along with the rest of your model.

The most important thing about SketchUp’s information modeling is that it offers you an unrestricted way to represent not just what a design looks like but also more of what it actually is. And you can do it without giving up the fast, fluid and ‘free’ modeling behavior that you fell in love with about SketchUp in the first place.

To prove that this system works, we’ve built a special workflow around IFC— an open classification system for folks who are doing BIM in the construction industry. You can classify components in your models with IFC types, assign and edit relevant attributes to those components and then export the resulting models into the IFC format for use in other BIM tools.

But don’t stop at IFC. In SketchUp 2014, you’re free to use any published schema to classify components in your models. Interested in COBie? Import the official COBie schema from BuildingSmart. Or maybe you’re more interested in something like gbxml for green building, or CityGML for urban simulation. Or, you might just want to make your own classification system. We’ve got you covered however you want to work.

Simple, open, easy… but powerful. Now that’s the SketchUp Way.

Posted by John Bacus, SketchUp Product Management Director

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Upgrading to SketchUp Pro 2014

As you may know, SketchUp Pro 2014 has been released. So now you may be asking, “how do I get SketchUp Pro 2014 up and running on my computer?” Excellent question. The answer is, “Well, it depends on whether...

… you have a SketchUp Pro 2013 license
If you have a SketchUp Pro 2013 license, guess what? You’re getting SketchUp Pro 2014 for free! As you may recall, last year we launched our first Maintenance & Support plan which includes major upgrades when they became available, just like SketchUp Pro 2014. If you purchased direct from the SketchUp team or online store, you should have received an email* with your 2014 license information and additional details on how to get 2014 running on your computer. Since this is a new major version of SketchUp Pro, it needs to be downloaded, installed, and licensed. Repeat it with me: download, install, license. Very nice, also very easy. If you haven’t received an email from us check your Spam folder, and if it’s still not there, check out our License Wizard which will send you all the information you need.

*Note: If you purchased your license from an authorized SketchUp Pro reseller, please contact that reseller directly to get your new license. If you’re not sure who that is, you can look up your reseller contact here.

Since the time between SketchUp Pro 2013 and SketchUp Pro 2014 was less than a year, all SketchUp Pro 2013 customers will receive a free upgrade to 2014. Remember, however, that the Maintenance & Support plan is good for one year. Don’t worry -- we’ll send you a friendly reminder on how to renew the plan, so that you can stay up-to-date with all the latest and greatest that SketchUp has to offer in the year(s) to come.

… you have a SketchUp Pro 8 or older license
If you missed our post on how SketchUp Pro Upgrades work these days, no worries. Basically, if you’d like to upgrade your license to work with SketchUp Pro 2014, you’ll need to enroll in our Maintenance & Support plan via the License Wizard. You’ll need your most recent license info, which you can look up yourself, or if you’re having problems finding it, you can request a copy.

At this time, a single-user license costs $95 to get on the Maintenance & Support plan, and network licenses cost $150 per seat. Enrolling gives you a perpetual SketchUp Pro 2014 license and one year of major version upgrades, maintenance, and support. Once you’re on the Maintenance & Support plan, you’ll receive an email with your 2014 license information, a link to download SketchUp Pro 2014, and your unique support code.

We’re super excited about SketchUp Pro 2014 and all that it has to offer. And of course, we’d love to hear from you, too! Visit the SketchUp Help Forum to join the conversation.

Posted by Tommy Acierno on behalf of the SketchUp team

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Psst… we’re tinkering with our 3D robots

You may have noticed a few changes on SketchUp.com today. Millions of people use SketchUp and the 3D Warehouse, so when we make changes we like to make sure that all our bolts are fastened tight. At the moment, we’re tinkering with our 3D robots and lubricating the orbit tool.

Check back soon for an update on what’s new...

Posted by Mark Harrison, on behalf of the SketchUp team

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New Book: SketchUp to LayOut

Take it from me—book writin' ain't easy. Matt Donley has done the SketchUp-using world a huge favor: his SketchUp to LayOut is an easy-to-follow, easy-to-afford e-book that should fit right between the other LayOut tomes on your bookshelf.

My own For Dummies book devotes two chapters to LayOut, which is an acceptable introduction, but which is by no means comprehensive. Michael Brightman's The SketchUp Workflow for Architecture and Paul Lee's Construction Documents using SketchUp Pro and LayOut are both aimed at professionals who want to produce complete construction documents without using other CAD software. Matt's book is the missing link. Whereas other LayOut books have addressed only architects, Matt wisely includes examples for three markets: architects, woodworkers and designers who work on kitchens and bathrooms. Smart.

SketchUp to LayOut starts with a guided tour that does a great job of welcoming folks who have never seen the software before. Very quickly, though, Matt jumps in with both feet, shining a light on the connection between SketchUp and LayOut by focusing on model viewports. As LayOut's raisons d'etre, viewports are all-important, but very few people have mastered them. This book does a great job of rectifying the situation.

Matt Donley is the man behind MasterSketchUp.com. He launched the book last week with a webinar watched by almost 500 people; you can catch the free video recording on the publication’s website. He's selling the e-book itself for $39, but you can buy it with a bundle of useful hatches, textures, styles, templates and other resources for $67. Paying $99 gives you access to a library of video tutorials that Matt is planning to create over the next few months. I can’t wait to watch them.

Congratulations, Matt. See you at 3D Basecamp!

Posted by Aidan Chopra, SketchUp Evangelist

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