SketchUp Mobile Viewer

Now that the semester is winding down, I can finally look back and post about the great SketchUp 3D Basecamp conference that happened 4/14-4/16 this year in Vail, Colorado.

As in years past, this was a meeting of SketchUp users, plugin authors, technology vendors, and, of course, all the makers of SketchUp. What was especially good this year was that the conference was held in the same place where everyone stayed, making things very convenient. Once we all arrived there – which was not all that easy due to a late-season snowstorm – we got to enjoy the beauty of Vail and the hospitality of the Vail Cascade hotel.

As part of days one and two I gave a presentation on “Components are our friends: How component-based modeling can improve your life” and a workshop (together with Daniel Tal) on “Plugins and Scripting for Architects”. There were actually too many great presentations for anyone to attend, so the best way to catch up is actually to watch them at your leisure on YouTube (see below). For a list of all the presentations, check out this page.

So what’s new?

Since SketchUp 2014 had been released beforehand, the event was not a release party for it. However, the SketchUp folks got to release a new iPad viewer for SketchUp models (see image above), a LIDAR point cloud plugin (see image below), and a Ruby script debugger (which should make all of the programmers happy). There was also quite a bit of focus on the new IFC integration in SketchUp.

While the iPad viewer is certainly a great addition, I was mostly impressed by the LIDAR plugin. It approaches the problem of extracting geometry from millions of points differently than other software. In short, raw LIDAR data first gets processed into Trimble’s RealWorks format so that it can be read by the plugin. Once the data is in the plugin (and its non-SketchUp-based viewer), the user either imports extracted geometry (mainly construction lines and faces) or picks individual points that then appear in SketchUp. Since both are usually used as the basis for further modeling, this approach is very efficient.

Trimble Scan Explorer for SketchUp
Trimble Scan Explorer for SketchUp

It was interesting to see that vendors this time didn’t focus so much on rendering (as last time), but more on “BIMmy” topics like parametric building elements, 4D modeling or building performance analysis. You can find the complete list of vendors here.

Got any links for me?

Sure! As it turns out, there has already been quite a bit of coverage of 3D Basecamp, so here’s more to read:

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