note: Since Google's purchase of @Last Software and subsequent
announcement of Google SketchUp,
this fee-based product is now referred to as SketchUp Pro
5. This review refers to that version.]
The application that many in the Macintosh
architectural community could not imagine living without
was updated to version 5.0 last year.
The original creators of SketchUp, @Last
purchased by Google Inc.), have continually refined 3D
modeling and design on the Macintosh since version 2. Now
has been around for awhile, users are starting to take real-time
3D modeling and push/pulling for granted. Other popular CAD
and 3D design software companies have felt the pressure and
are introducing similar features to make modeling with their
software easier. SketchUp 5, however, sets the bar even higher.
SketchUp's popularity and maturity has approached
a level where we can accept user friendly, real-time 3D modeling
and be critical about new capabilities and features. Like
all application development, new versions of SketchUp must
provide additional functionality while keeping existing capabilities
easy to find and use. SketchUp
5 shows that you can introduce
new features without adding complexity. Notable features
that were introduced with version 5 are as follows:
- Updated and unified user interface across Macintosh and
- The Sandbox: tools for creating and editing terrains
- Improvements with displaying and managing model components
- Modest improvements in real-time rendering styles
- Ruby script improvements
- Speed increases in some modeling operations
- Significant import /export improvements
- Main Tools
- Sandbox Tools
Refining the Interface
The Mac version of SketchUp has sported an elegant, easy-to-use
interface from the beginning. The Windows version's interface,
while similar in functionality, differed from the Mac version.
SketchUp's support staff and users switching between both
platforms had a difficult time navigating the differences.
SketchUp 5 has consolidated the two into one familiar interface.
Luckily, the end result for Mac users hasn't changed much.
Snappy palettes, and larger, more informative tool icons
and cursors are the most apparent improvements to the Mac
version's interface. These seemingly small improvements make
the program more accessible to new users (see
image 01 above).
SketchUp 5's interface is still surprisingly simple for a
application that must accommodate hundreds of settings. Such
accommodation has been positively merited in previous Architosh reviews,
as keeping powerful tools simple is a real challenge for
developers and a virtue of the Macintosh experience.
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