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Sketchup-ur-space Magazine - June 14

Author : Debarati Nath

SketchUp and Trimble : A new Saga has began

SketchUp has been sold! Oh! I still can't believe it. We will never able to say Google SketchUp again! How? Why? Will it be SketchUp or any other name? So many questions… so many faces: some of them are worried, some are excited, some are sad and some of them are cheerful. But for me the vital question is that will be the tagline of SketchUp that is "3D for Everyone" will be same?

Actually we are more accustomed to see Google buying products rather than to sell them. In 2006 they acquired SketchUp from @Last Software and till date it has become the most popular 3D designing software. But on 26th April Trimble announced that they have entered a definite agreement with Google to acquire SketchUp. First of all, many of our friends who don't know about Trimble, for them let me introduce the company or rather say the new house of SketchUp.

In their own words: "Though best known for GPS technology, Trimble integrates a wide range of positioning technologies including GPS, laser, optical and inertial technologies with application software, wireless communications, and services to provide complete commercial solutions. Its integrated solutions allow customers to collect, manage and analyze complex information faster and easier, making them more productive, efficient and profitable."(Trimble.com)

You can say that Trimble is a company which deals with both hardware and software. Their main works are to collect organize data, map and measure (satellites used for GPS, optics for highly accurate surveying equipment etc). The most excited thing they have made is lasers which are capable of scanning the environment and recreating it digitally on the monitor. Their products are used by the AEC industry as well as the surveyors and contractors.

But the question is that when Trimble already is on the 3d designing process why it was interested in SketchUp. But before that we want to dig a little bit of history of Trimble. Acquiring SketchUp is not a new event for Trimble. This company in 2006 acquired Quantm, a software solution for pre-design construction planning. Then later that same year Trimble acquired Meridian Systems, which makes enterprise construction project management software. Last year, Trimble acquired Tekla, which makes BIM software, allowing for high-level 3D modeling of steel and rebar for the construction process. But why they are focus on SketchUp this time.

"I'm not surprised by the surprise from the community," Bryn Fosburgh, VP at Trimble, said of the recent announcement of the intent to acquire Google SketchUp. "But I will say this is part of a decade-long process."

That process, he said, has been a strategy "to define a set of industries where we can provide value through our technology or through the integration of technology in their workflow that will improve efficiency or quality of the workflow or a more safe environment for that workflow."

In construction, for example, "our effort has been to define all the workflow components with the continuum." Starting as early as the feasibility portion of the process, moving to estimating, design, and construction, all the way through to the actual operation of the building, Trimble wants to have a solution.

According to Trimble.com, their goal is to integrate SketchUp with their existing products to create a single platform where users can collect data, design, model, and collaborate. Sounds exciting right? And I imagine, expensive. Similar professional 3D modeling programs such as ArchiCAD cost around $4,000, and may not have the same features that Trimble can provide with their various technologies.

So, is this the end of 3D modeling for all? Will Trimble be shifting SketchUp to a fancy paid version and leaving it's more casual users in the cold? According to the SketchUp blog, there is no need to worry:

"If you're one of the many, many people who use SketchUp for something else—from education to woodworking, geo-modeling to movie-making—rest assured that there will be a SketchUp for you, too. Our mission has always been to make 3D modeling tools that anyone can use. The free version of SketchUp is an important part of our world as well, and that isn't changing in the least." (The Official Google SketchUp Blog)

It also appears that the development team from Google will be staying with SketchUp, keeping it in the same capable hands that developed it originally at @Last (the company it was originally purchased from by Google.)

But the question is that will SketchUp will be SketchUp or there will be new 3D designing tool. When Trimble officially takes over Sketchup in the near future, you may want to take a look at their terms of service agreement. Google posted a notice on Thursday, May 3rd, announcing that the existing terms are not going to be identical to what Trimble is going to require from you in order to use Sketchup.

The notice states the following: On the Closing Date all rights and obligations of Google under the SketchUp and SketchUp Pro license terms will assign to Trimble. Users of SketchUp after the Closing Date will become Trimble users.

They also specifically state that the Google 3D warehouse will be transfered to Trimble as well, but they are under agreement that Google will continue to host the 3D warehouse on their servers. So you will continue to access the 3D warehouse by going to sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse

Key points to make note of:

  • All license rights in geo located models (e.g. 3D buildings viewable on Google Earth) submitted before the Closing Date will remain with Google. Google will provide Trimble with a license right to use these models in Trimble's products (including continued use in SketchUp and in any future 3D model repository which Trimble may create).
  • All license rights in non-geo located models (e.g. 3D models of everyday objects not tied to a location) submitted before the Closing Date will be assigned to Trimble on the Closing Date. By continuing to store non-geo located models in the 3D Warehouse after the Closing Date you consent to the assignment by Google of its rights and obligations to Trimble.
  • License rights in all models submitted after the Closing Date will belong to Trimble. Trimble will provide a license right to these models to Google for their use in Google Earth and Google Maps, where relevant.

If you do not agree to the new terms, you can of course opt out. But this means you will agree not to use SketchUp, so you're sort of in a tight spot. The official Trimble terms of use regarding SketchUp have not been published yet. So keep your finger crossed and hope for the best. We wish that the best part of SketchUp is till to reveal. And Trimble will be the key to the golden gate of possibilities.

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