Thursday, 24 April 2014

Sketchup 14 tiny review

I'm been a user of Sketchup for years and I've been testing the Pro version of Sketchup 14 for the 8 hour evaluation period and have found it very good. The additional features of Sketchup Layout are fantastic if you are a professional user and have to get working drawings out to clients. I'm not a professional engineer anymore, having left that profession using AutoCad many years ago, so don't need the feature.

New to this version is a template especially for woodworkers either in inches or millimetres. This was previously called Product Design Woodworking in V13 but has now become a template in its own right. They have also made vast improvements to the Extension Warehouse. One extension I always install is called Layer Manager by D.Bur. This is a superb tool if you are familiar with the concept of layers.

The 3D modelling extras in the Pro version are useful but not essential in a woodworking design environment. For instance if you want to project a radius all the way around a surface (producing a representation of  a roundover like the lid on this box)

you can do it quite easily using Intersect Faces command. You then have to erase all the extraneous lines produced manually. The Solid Tools command does all of this for you but it costs $$$ (or £££ if you are English like me) for the privilege. I, as a weekend warrior garage woodworker, am happy to do this by hand so it's no big deal.

When the eval period is over the program stops working. This is unlike previous versions which automatically revert to the SketchupMake version. However all is not lost if you download Make and un-install the Pro version. Then when you install the Make version it detects that you have had a version of Pro on before. It asks you if you want to buy a license. If not it then allows you to use the Make version free of charge as usual. The good thing is that any preference changes you made or Extension Warehouse apps you have installed whilst using Pro are still there.

After you install Make there are a few limitations:

  • Layout, Reporting, Solid Tools and Advanced Camera Tools are not present.
  • There are a few other minor commands that are missing

When you save a drawing it defaults to Sketchup 14 format. You can save in older formats if you like. If you are opening a file saved with an older version it gives you a warning that "you will not be able to load the file in a previous version of Sketchup if you save it in Sketchup 14". This message has been around in all previous versions. Just make sure if you are sharing a file with a friend that you save it in the same version that they have.

But other than that Sketchup Make Version 14 is a superb addition to your PC or Mac if you want to visualize it before cutting wood. As ever Trimble are making vast improvements both under the hood and cosmetically to this fine application but I really do hope they keep a free version for non professionals in the future.

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