Kitchen Design Plugin for Sketchup, Sketchup training.

Basecamp 2012


It's been about 6 months or so since Sketchup was aquired by Trimble.  As much fun as Basecamps always are, I was really interested to see what Trimble had in store for us since they're now settled at their new home.


Monday started up with a presentation by Trimble folks, and John Bacus, the product manager for Sketchup.  While there was no announcement of a new version of Sketchup, there were some very interesting things.  First, Sketchup will now be released annually, and the next version will be called "Sketchup 2013" so that basically confirms we'll see something early next year.  Also, the Sketchup team really recognizes that developers are so important to what they do.  For starters, they have release AND open sourced "TestUp".  TestUp used to be an internal testing tool for the Sketchup team only to root out bugs, but now it will be available to any developer.  This was met with a tremendous applause by the developers in the crowd.


The next major announcement is that Sketchup has reached out to developers who have written STL import and export tools and worked with them to open source those plugins so that they will be available to Sketchup users.  It sounds like these plugins will be baked into Sketchup soon as well.  For those of you that use STL, or have a MakerBot (more on that later) this is huge.

The other major encouraging news we heard during this opening keynote was that they are hiring developers.  At Google, it seemed like Sketchup was a bit of an odd fit at times, and they didn't put a lot of engineering effort into the software.  Google engineers program many web based languages, and Sketchup is based on a very different language.  My guess is that they were unable to shuffle engineering staff around Google to fill needs, and they never really hired outside.

That's just speculation on my part, the big news is that Trimble is ready to throttle up development big time on Sketchup, which I think is fantastic.  So if you're a great Sketchup developer and you want a job, now might be the time!

Followed by John Bacus, we got to have Bre Pettis, the CEO of MakerBot Industries give a keynote speech.  I've had the chance to hang out with Bre and he's a pretty interesting guy.  He's also a huge Sketchup fan.  Sketchup is what gets a lot of the models into the machines that his machine builds.  Check out to see how these incredible 3D printers work.

Another highlight of the week was the MakerBot lounge.  There were several machines running all weekend pumping out all kinds of wonderful widgets, all from Sketchup models.  If you go back in this blog, you'll see how the Markbot works.  Check here:

At the end of the first day, all 280 of us went to a local bar.  But we didn't go there to eat and drink, we went there to pitch ideas for the "unconference" the next day.  The way an unconference works is that everyone in attendance who wants to present pitches an idea, and then they go right into presenting sometimes with only minutes to prepare.  It can be fun, chaotic, and always interesting.  If you were there for this particular pitch entitled: CAD MUST DIE! You were in for a real treat.

Now besides all the informative learning I did the rest of the week, Sketchup pictionary was about the most fun thing I did.  It's a little hard to see here, but there were two big TV's, two identical computers with Sketchup connected to a screen, and hundreds of avid Sketchup fans willing to step up to the plate to model words for the crowd to guess.  Fueled by creativity, drink tickets, food and energy from the crown, this insane contest went on for hours.  It was so entertaining!  I definitely want to do this again next year!

On the last day we did a design "charrette".  This was a design challenge where teams of 10 people were set the challenge to come up with the classroom of the future.  We were given just over two hours to design a classroom, and come up with a presentation.  We had to present to a panel of local teachers and were judged.  The winning team was then pitted against each other in a "death match" round of Sketchup trivia.  Last modeler standing won a MakerBot.

This was an absolutely fantastic trip to Boulder.  I'll be honest, when Sketchup broke away from Google, I was a little nervous.  In the months following the acquisition  I was more optimistic.  After going to Basecamp, I am genuinely excited.  Trimble loves the community that they have gotten, and they want to support us and give us even better tools to work with in the very near future.

Big thanks to Sophie Feng for all of these pictures!



Maker Faire NYC 2012 recap

As you may know, I had the pleasure of attending Maker Faire in NYC with the Trimble Sketchup team this past weekend.  It was an absolutely fantastic and inspiring experience.

3D printing was big at Maker Faire.  There were two tents devoted to it entirely and they were packed.  I'm proud to say that I was in the booth that featured Maker Faire's largest 3D printer.  Yes, the Cat D6 you see in the background is actually a 3D printer.

So this is the largest 3D printer I've ever seen, and it was certainly the biggest at Maker Faire.  How does it work?  See those two big masts that stick up from the blade in front?  Those are highly sensitive GPS receivers.  Inside this monster machine there are servos that are hooked to the steering controls.  Feed in some terrain data and all an operator has to do is get in and push the gas pedal and the blade moves around to cut the terrain to centimeter accuracy.

How do you get that terrain data into the bulldozer?  Well, you need a terrain scanning, autonomous scanning drone!  Also something we had on hand.

That's right, with Trimble's Gatewing you can scan terrain, modify it in Sketchup, feed it into the dozer, and automatically reform the land.  Unfortunately due to what I can only describe as "ridiculous" regulations, we were not allowed to send the dozer around digging up the Hall of Science.

But that wasn't the only 3D printer we had in the booth.  Thanks to MakerBot Industries, we also had three MakerBots working overtime to make all the plastic widgets we could dream up.  I've always been fascinated by 3D printers and CNC machines, going so far once as to build my own CNC machine.  I've never had a chance to play around with a MakerBot.  It was certainly a treat to use one.  The ease at which you could take a Sketchup model and "print" it out in 3D was amazing.

The machines we got to use were these:

We made everything from replacement cell phone parts, to camera mounts, Bat wings, and Deloreans (in flight mode of course).  In the coming weeks I will be posting more specific details about what we were making.

Bertier Luyt brought his EggBot which is a CNC machine for writing on eggs and other round objects.  Yeah, I didn't get it either, just watch the video:

As if the weekend didn't get any more badass then getting to play with some of the coolest stuff a nerd could think of, I got to take a tour of Makerbot headquarters, lunch with Bre Pettis, their CEO and a tour of their new store in New York City that just opened.  Check out what they have in the front window...  This is a ball bearing roller coaster that aside for a few steel supports to hold the whole thing up, was made entirely with a Makerbot:

So it was truly an inspiring and amazing weekend.  I've got so many pictures and stories to tell.  I can't thank the Sketchup team enough for this amazing opportunity!

Stay tuned for more!

More Information about Trimble

In the wake of yesterdays announcement that Google has sold Sketchup to Trimble, we've been doing a little more reading on Trimble to see what they're all about.  This excerpt is from their investor relations page:

Solutions are focused on applications requiring position or location—including surveying, construction, agriculture, fleet and asset management, public safety and mapping. In addition to utilizing positioning technologies, such as GPS, lasers and optics, Trimble solutions may include software content specific to the needs of the user. Wireless technologies are utilized to deliver the solution to the user and to ensure a tight coupling ofthe field and the back office.

There is also this video that shows a run down of what industries they're involved in.  (Thanks to David Pillsbury for sending this in)

And if you are interested, a link to their current stock price:

So far it looks like they're a very capable company.  Hopefully this means a bright future for our favorite modeling program!


BREAKING: Sketchup has a new home

The Google Sketchup blog is reporting today that they have sold Sketchup to another company, Trimble.  After Google has been axing many of it's "Labs" products, and streamlining operations, I am not entirely surprised about this.

Here are some excerpts from the announcement:

That’s why I’m sharing today that the SketchUp team and technology will be leaving Google to join Trimble. We’ll be better able to focus on our core communities: modelers who have been with us from the beginning, as well as future SketchUppers who have yet to discover our products. Designers, builders and makers of things have always been the heart and soul of SketchUp. With Trimble’s commitment to invest in our growth, we’ll be able to innovate and develop new features better than ever before.

It's worth reading the entire post.  From the sounds of it they are going to keep Sketchup the same, and develop it even further.  If that's the case, I'm all for it.  Trimble looks to be a GPS solutions provider.  Since Google originally acquired Sketchup to augment their mapping products, this could be a very good fit.

There is also a great FAQ on the Trimble website that is worth reading.  I'd be very interested in hearing everyone's comments on this.

There is also a discussion going on over at SketchUCation if you are interested