SketchUp Basecamp 2012 recap

So many things happened at SketchUp Basecamp 2012 that I couldn’t fit it all into one blog post! In this post I am going recap the week and in my next post I am going to focus on what we brought to Basecamp.

Basecamp stage

The main stage at Basecamp.

In the three days of Basecamp we have learned a few things that people are probably curious about. First, the next version of SketchUp will be SketchUp 2013. There were no huge announcements about the product (like no SketchUp 9 announcement at Basecamp) but reassurances from Trimble that they are invested in improving it. Next, Trimble will continue SketchUp Free but is expanding the product to fit with Trimble’s focus on different industry sectors. My read is that there will be a Free version for the forseeable future but we will see a lot of great new features in SketchUp Pro as a professionally-focused product.  The audience, me included, was very pleased to see Trimble and appreciated that they came to Basecamp.

Basecamp focused extensively on plugins and these are written in a programming language called Ruby. Because 45% of Pro users have at least one plugin installed, Basecamp acknowledged their importance and also expanded tools for Ruby Developers. These include a new Developer Console and TestUp, now both available on GitHub. They SketchUp team said that there will always be room for plugins because they focus on solving problems that affect the largest number of people whereas plugin developers can be more niche.  One of our developers attended the Advanced Ruby conference on Day 3 where there were presentations and discussions on improving plugin support within SketchUp.

Some of the most interesting discussions revolved around 3D Printing, its market, and future potential. Bre Pettis, co-founder of Makerbot, gave an enthusiastic keynote and was very pleased that SketchUp now has an STL importer/exporter to make 3D Printing easier (download on GitHub). There were competitions as Basecamp to win a Makerbot (1st gen) and lets just say that we didn’t win. At this point, Makerbot is very much focused on people with 3D modeling skills. We had the opportunity to see Makerbots in action when they print in plastic and a maximum of two colors.


A Makerbot (1st gen) in action.

One a side note, if you needed a job, this was the place to be. SketchUp is hiring and this is further evidence of Trimble’s commitment.

There were some great product presentations. The BuildEdge plugin is impressive because of how much easier it makes to model walls and roofs. I was already familiar with Product Connect and their great catalog of manufacturer products (all with editable information). Their models are high quality and very professional. A new company, SunGlass, is bringing collaboration to SketchUp. SunGlass has potential but make sure you have a robust internet connection.

It was an enjoyable three days of meeting new people and seeing old friends. Later this week I will post on our presentations, unconferences, and the new products we brought to Basecamp along with our partners, Shaderlight (see Part 2 now). It will be mobile, Augmented Reality, and cloud as we talk Shaderlight Cloud Viewer and Sightspace Free-D.

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About Dr. Errin

Errin is a principal at Limitless Computing Inc., a Boulder, CO company specializing in mobile Augmented Reality and cloud computing. As a former former archaeologist and NASA consultant, she has a diverse background and interests including satellite remote sensing, geophysics, GIS, and climate studies. Errin holds a PhD in anthropology where she specialized in utilizing high resolution satellite imagery to locate archaeological sites across Central America.