Sketchup just released a major update after being acquired by Trimble and I'm going hands on to see what's changed besides the name. Speaking of which, Sketchup is now 'Sketchup Make' for non commercial use and Sketchup Pro 8 is upgraded to Sketchup Pro 2013. The Pro version also costs $95 extra towards a compulsory 'one year upgrade/maintenance program'...something on the lines of Autodesk subscription which kind of hints where Trimble is going with all this.

Enough chit-chat. Let's look at what Sketchup Pro 2013 looks like. I'm using the mac version. You could find a list of new features on sketchup blog (here and here)..what I'm providing here are first impressions from a user point of view.

Look and Feel:

Not much has changed from the usual minimalistic interface of Earlier Sketchup versions. Which is good. The icons are tweaked a bit but the change is not just cosmetic; the icon for drawing a circle for example depicts the way the circle will be drawn in the workspace. I don't know if it helps those who are already familiar with the software but is definitely better than a purely cosmetic change.

Oh and now you are welcomed by Derrick instead of Susan as in all (or most) previous versions when you open a new file. 

Digging deeper:

As the interface remains largely unchanged, there is no learning curve. I'm just playing around to see if something feels or works differently. I'll list the things are are different or offer a better experience.

Paint Bucket: 

All color/textures remain unchanged except for the 3 new categories which allow better 2D presentation. The new categories are:

Material Symbols: Similar to hatch patterns in CAD.

Geometric Tiles: Again, similar to hatch patterns in CAD but specifically for tile and brick patterns. If you want a herringbone brick pattern for a walkway, you'll find it here.

Tonal Patterns: simple dot and line patterns of various size and thickness to create varying tones instead of a solid fill.

A bigger change in terms of hatch patterns and presentation happens in the layout with the pattern fill tool which apart from the three categories mentioned above also offers 'site patterns'...things like parking spaces, trees both in plan and elevation etc. Great for quick presentation boards.

Extension Warehouse:

For me this is probably the most useful tool in the long run. Plugins were available for earlier versions but by making availability of plugins from within the app and in a more structured manner makes is more mainstream and will spur development of better plugins. Just try Dibac for Sketchup! If you are an architect, you'll love this plugin (it's a paid app but you could download a fre trial)

There are a bunch of other changes but these are the ones that I like more. If you were postponing purchase of sketchup pro in the hope of a new version then here it is. I don't know how significant it is for existing pro users to upgrade (for one I could not find the upgrade price anywhere) so depending on the price it may or may not be worth upgrading but its definitely an improvement. I'm not too happy about this subscription business but gotta take the bad with the good.

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