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A recap of SketchUp 3D Basecamp 2012

Almost two months ago, hundreds of the world's most dedicated SketchUp aficionados descended upon our hometown for 3D Basecamp 2012. On the first day, we packed into the Boulder Theater for presentations from the SketchUp management team, several plugin developers and a keynote by Bre Pettis of MakerBot.

The first day of Basecamp took place at the historic Boulder Theater.

Leaders from SketchUp and Trimble talk about what's in store for our product. They address such questions as "What's next for SketchUp?" and "Why did Trimble buy SketchUp?". (46:14)

The SketchUp leadership team takes questions from the 3D Basecamp audience. (17:06)

Representatives from seven SketchUp photo-realistic rendering plugins outline their product offerings in rapid succession. (17:07)

Four very different companies present their SketchUp-related technologies: BuildEdge, Sunglass, Product Connect and 4D Virtual Builder. (56:57)

 MakerBot Industries co-founder Bre Pettis delivers a terrific keynote presentation about 3D printing. (31:35)

That night, we gathered at a local spot for a party, where the highlight was undoubtedly the SketchUp ShootOut: two heroes competing to make the audience guess a mystery word by modeling on side-side computers. Bulldozer! Cabin! Bubble tea! Melancholy! The winning guesser and the winning modeler both won free drinks, but everyone seemed to be having a blast. Note: I beat John in a best-of-five match with "glove", "foyer" and "cook". It may be the proudest I've been all year.

Hotshot modelers squared off against each other in the first-ever SketchUp ShootOut.

Tuesday's proceedings moved to yet another venue for a full day of barely-contained mayhem. The morning's three blocks of unconference sessions coincided with three hours of beginner Ruby training. After lunch, we squeezed together to watch scheduled presentations by the likes of Daniel Tal, Nick Sonder, Mark Carvalho, and teams from 3skeng, ARmedia and SightSpace 3D. Three more hours of unconference sessions and a repeat of the morning's Ruby 101 class followed, then everyone went straight to bed. I assume.

Landscape architect and author Daniel Tal presents a wide-ranging set of tips, tricks and best practices for modeling everything from terrain to site design. (40:31)

Architect and video tutorial star Nick Sonder outlines his process for using SketchUp Pro and LayOut to create complete sets of construction documents for his projects. Note: We subsequently made a set of six videos with Nick that describe his process in detail. They're easier to watch and understand than this recording—just an FYI. (52:06)

We planned a Design Charrette for Day 3; participants split up into teams to tackle a challenge that we created in collaboration with Impact on Education, a local non-profit that acts as a kind of R&D department for the Boulder Valley School District. The design brief involved re-imagining a classroom to take into account the way teaching and learning have evolved with the introduction of mobile technology. At the end of the two-and-a-half hour charrette, a dozen teams presented their designs (in SketchUp and LayOut, of course), after which an illustrious panel of judges from IoE picked their favorite projects. The winning team members then squared off against each other for several rounds of SketchUp trivia. The victorious Michaels (Tadros and Brightman) each won a Replicator 3D printer, generously donated by our friends at MakerBot Industries.

While the designer-types did their thing, about twenty plugin authors spent Day 3 across the street at our first-ever Ruby Developers' Conference. They huddled and schemed and plotted the future of our API (application programming interface). They even held a competition of their own: Dale Martens, a.k.a. "Whaat" and the creator of the Artisan organic modeling tool set, won the hackathon by coding a working first-person shooter game that runs inside SketchUp—in a couple of hours. Needless to say, Dale got a MakerBot, too.

Participants in Wednesday's Ruby Developer Conference posing as if they're a sports team.

All in all, we're pretty proud of how well our first Basecamp at Trimble went, considering how quickly we planned it and that Dusty (our Event Manager extraordinaire) isn't on the SketchUp team anymore. The space was at times tight and A/V and internet access are forever thorns in my side, but the vast majority of attendees we surveyed said they enjoyed themselves, learned some things, met cool people and (most tellingly) would happily join us at another 3D Basecamp.

Which brings me to my last point: When's the next Basecamp? Good question. We don't know right now, but given that our plan is to move to an annual release cycle starting next year, and that conferences are a great way to celebrate product launches, we'll do our best to make sure there's a 3D Basecamp in 2013. If you'd like to be one of the first to know when we announce it, you can add your name to our Next Basecamp Notification List.

Feel like looking at lots of pictures from the event? This album should do the trick.

Posted by Aidan Chopra, SketchUp Evangelist

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Unknown said...

Are there any cool Basecamp 2012 t-sirts available??


Thomas Thomassen said...

Participants in Wednesday's Ruby Developer Conference posing as if they're a sports team.

I thought we where!?! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pavel Vanicek ( said...

Aidan is funny and brilliant as always! Unfortunately I missed this conference.

Brad Askins said...

I'd like to see the alternative photos of us wearing ThomThom's hat

Andrew Dwight said...

I have some after hours photos of the Sketchucation crew in the pub. If laughter is supposed to reduce your age Mike, Pete, Csaba & I are now all 21 again. Great times. Thanks Trimble for supporting the Sketchup tradition. I look forward to the next one. Merry Christmas all, Kind regards Andrew Dwight from down under.