Google Sketchup: A Wonderfully Magic Black Hole

Google bought @Last Software and now there is a free version of Sketchup. Now, this is awesome, let me tell you, its the best little CAD program I have ever used. Knock down drag out the best. You can pick it up in as little as an hour and grock it in a few days. Thats the good part.

The bad part is the app is a black hole. You can import all sorts of formats into Google Sketchup, particularly AutoCAD’s DXF and DWG formats. This rocks for hobbyists because lots of plans are out there in DXF format and Sketchup is easier and cheaper than AutoCAD. The problem is there is no way to get your work back out of Google Sketchup. You can export a 2d image at an undetermined scale, thats it. Thats totally useless.

Google, if anyone there is reading this, please for the love of hobbyists everywhere, give us a way to print from this thing! Ideally I want 1:1 output of a view/selection to PDF. For extra points allow us to tile or split the PDF to a particular paper size. That way you could print to a consumer printer and reassemble the pages to produce a pattern or plan. I think that functionality would cover 90% of the hobbyist’s need to get output from a CAD tool. I also don’t see it eating into Sketchup pros sales much either as I doubt most hobbyist types would spring for a copy.

Now for the sketchy part. If you download the trial of Sketchup 5 Pro you can get 1:1 PDF output and export to DXF. The trial lasts just 8 hours so use it only for exporting. It can be installed side by side with Google Sketchup. It takes me about a minute to do an export to PDF and DXF so that trial is going to last a long time.



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