Sketchup Blog - News and Notes from the Sketchup folks

Responding to your popular SketchUp Ideas

It’s been three weeks since we began collecting your SketchUp Questions and Ideas and we’re excited about all you have dreamed up! You may have noticed John Bacus, SketchUp’s product manager has been actively responding to the top ideas each day, and directing users to continue the discussion in the SketchUp Help Forum. Definitely take a moment to look at these threads and put in your own two cents; it’s extremely helpful to the SketchUp team if you continue the dialogue! As for now, we’d like to provide you with some more in-depth responses on a few of the most popular ideas.

Ruby and Plugin Management

Many of you have suggested that SketchUp should have better Ruby and Plugin management. We’re really jazzed by the success of our Ruby API and the developer community that has adopted it. So many people have written incredible new tools for SketchUp! However, this has been so successful that it has really outgrown our original management system inside SketchUp. We can see the need for a built-in plugin manager to help users more easily install, uninstall, and identify which plugins they currently have installed. This was a popular suggestion the last time around, and we’re excited it’s risen to the top of the list again. We too acknowledge a need for this feature. Please share more thoughts on this discussion by visiting the thread in the SketchUp Help Forum.

We’ve also seen a related suggestion, which is to have a SketchUp Store for plugins and scripts, etc. We too would love to see a web-based repository for Ruby Plugins, and hope we can find a way to either build one for you, or help the community do it themselves. In fact, the community has already began to take this on. At smustard.com, you can find a substantial repository of SketchUp’s plugins and scripts.

Can SketchUp be made “LargeAddressAware” so we can use up to 4GB RAM under 64bit OS?

This is a peculiarly technical request to have made it to the top of the ranking, but we think folks probably voted for it in the hopes that it would increase the amount of memory available to SketchUp when it exports large raster images. You’ve heard us say before that 64-bit and multicore processing aren’t good fits for improving SketchUp’s performance, but we’re always looking for new things to try. Our compiler guys say it is doubtful that the “LargeAddressAware” linker flag will provide the sort of dramatic improvement you hope for (these things are seldom a panacea), but we’re looking into it.

Dynamically Link Files: “Xref manager”

Another popular idea is to dynamically link files. This feature would be similar to the X-ref manager that many CAD packages offer. After further discussion in the SketchUp Help Forum, it seems like the root of this feature request is the ability to divide a complex model among multiple collaborators so that each collaborator is responsible for a different piece. Ideally, this would also take the load off the master file by distributing the file size onto its cross referenced files.

In response to this idea, we first want to make sure you are aware of the current functionality SketchUp does support for cross referenced files. That is, the ability to create a unique SketchUp file from a component. This file can then be worked on separately and reloaded into the master file. To learn more visit an article in our help center which describes Saving and Reloading Components. However, even with this functionality, we acknowledge there are limitations which can make collaboration challenging in SketchUp. We appreciate your feedback, recognize SketchUp has room to grow here, and we’re eager to look for ways to improve collaboration!

Camera That Sticks to a Drawn Path

Lastly, we were somewhat surprised to see this idea towards the top of the list, but it’s a great suggestion nonetheless! This is the request to "Introduce a camera that sticks to a drawn path (line, arc, circle) for exporting smooth movies.” We agree this would be neat and we’re excited this idea has generated some good discussions in the SketchUp Help Forum. Our team has learned a lot from the expanded discussion, and we hope you’re learning a thing or two from the discussion as well. Specifically, make sure to check out the several workarounds posted by our SketchUp Sage in this thread. These ideas should give you a workable solution to get started with immediately.

Have you read about an idea here that you strongly disagree with? Would you like to see something else rise to the top of the list? It’s not too late, but don’t wait long, SketchUp Questions and Ideas closes October 1st!

Posted by Carolyn Wendell, SketchUp Support Team

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9 comments :

tml said...

Note that LargeAddressAware is just a setting in the EXE header, and it is perfectly possible to set it yourself on SketchUp.exe, if you want to try if it helps handling larger amounts of data.

Use editbin.exe from a Visual Studio installation. (Presumably people who know about this flag have access to Visual Studio.) Run editbin -? for help.

Of course, setting the LargeAddressAware flag will just cause crashes if SU is coded to "misuse" the high bit of pointers as some kind of tag, or whatever.

Rick said...

Not sure where people are mentioning these ideas, but I'd like to recommend "precise scaling" ... being able to type in "3.14" without having to hold the shift key and it still scaling propotionally

mA said...

stick with the concept of the application! please do not follow what people wants and/or votes for, but keep it authentic: do not transform SU into another CAD product or a mixture with pieces and wreckage of others.
all the improvements are welcome, but there's no need to duplicate functions that work just fine already for something else, just because some SU users don't understand it or simply don't want to make the effort to think "outside the box".

SketchUpPRO users deserve more, much more!
for instance:
Software stability (more frequent updates for crashes/bugs);
Layout still isn't worth the word "Pro" (i.e. vector import; PDF, DWG, etc.);
and much more amongst the posted ideas…

i actually did go throughout some of the posted ideas and made my vote, but it's impossible to go through all of them and, besides, it has a lot of repetitive and unclear ideas.
it is in SUteam "heads" the decision on "SketchUp"! it is you who we have to count on, don't let us down!

mA said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mA said...

CROWDSOURCING: TURNING CUSTOMERS INTO CREATIVE DIRECTORS
By Fiona Graham
Technology of business reporter, BBC News

Not everyone is so sanguine about the benefits. Jaron Lanier is a US computer scientist, virtual reality pioneer, and author of You Are Not a Gadget. He made Time magazine's 2010 list of the world's 100 most influential people.

His concern is that by "mining" the crowd in this way, the wealth that results from the work done remains concentrated in the hands of the people who put out the call - ultimately endangering jobs and the economy. Lanier also believes that crowdsourcing threatens creativity.

"The wisdom of crowds is what we call in the trade an optimising function, meaning that if you can set up a problem where you just want a simple answer. Crowdsourcing is good at that but for synthetic creation there just aren't any examples of it being good - it leads to what we call design by committee, dull derivative stuff.

"Do you really think that Simon Cowell would have promoted the Beatles through some show where the crowd was voting? Of course not."

(…)

"I think the features for crowdsourcing are not very complicated to develop. What's complicated really is to keep your promise. Because consumers can like something but eventually if you don't do anything about it, it's frustrating and disappointing for people who trust you with their votes."


read more of the article at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11437839

Lewis Wadsworth said...

John, I don't know (or particularly care) why others want SU to be 64-bit or “LargeAddressAware” -- my issue is that the majority of Windows PCs now shipping, and the majority of Windows OS systems being purchased are 64-bit. All three of the non-Linux computers in my office run Win7-64bit now. There are real advantages, if not in 3D modeling, in other graphics applications (most notably, Photoshop) in having 64-bit.

It is my understanding that any 32-bit application (3D modeling or not) run on a 64-bit PC takes a small performance hit, as the 64-bit system has to use resources to emulate 32-bit. I actually believe I have been able to observe this small degradation of SU performance (using a benchmarking Ruby script) on a PC that was upgraded from 32 to 64-bit, although of course I am not about to uninstall the newer system to just confirm it.

If Rhino and even Open-Source Blender have moved to 64-bit to avoid a poorer user experience due to this "emulation overhead" degradation, why can't SketchUp?

polytown said...

How about fixing the shadow bug once and for all? this seems to be always skipped upon.

SU really needs to evolve it's basic modeling tools to handle geometry in better ways and on mass. some ruby scripts demonstrated this is possible but for a pro version this needs to be done in core and by the development team - brainstorming in house coming up with things we can't possibly suggest.

Don't fall back to populism - develop creative tools that will solve most common issues but expand the possibilities too.

SU Pro is treading water ever since Google came on board. This is how I feel about it - Still an amazing tool though... I use it daily.

Thomas Thomassen said...

@Lewis: the overhead is there regardless when you use 64bit app. 64bit app means all the data handles is larger and that require more processing.
Going 64bit isn't a speed boost.

tml said...

With "data handles" you mean pointers I guess. And yes, if you are tight on memory, the increased size of data structures that contain pointers can mean a slowdown. But don't forget that the x64 architecture also provides other improvements than just a larger address space. Like more registers. And if you need to work on data that just won't fit in a 32-bit address space, well, you probably aren't working on some memory-starved box anyway.