18 June 2009

'Tis the season for updates

Check this out. If you've spent any time around this blog, you know that I'm mad for Google's SketchUp 3-D modeling software. SketchUp is a powerful (and free) program that designers, architects and regular Joes and Janes use to model three dimensional objects. It's as equally adept at drawing houses as it is at drawing carpet tacks. If there's a three dimensional object in life or in your imagination, SketchUp can draw it.

SketchUp users have at their disposal a primarily user-created collection of objects and models called the 3D Warehouse. The models and objects in the Warehouse can be downloaded directly into a SketchUp model. This is really helpful if you're doing a room layout and you need an Eames Lounge or two. Rather than drawing it from scratch, you can go grab one on the Warehouse and then download it directly into your model. The Warehouse is a real time saver.

But the Warehouse is more than just a collection of objects, it's also a place where SketchUp users can upload, store and share models. And as of last week, Google enhanced the ability of an existing SketchUp model to be shared.

Here's a simplified example. Suppose I'm a humble architect at the firm of Shreve, Lamb and Harmon. For the sake of argument, let's call me Gregory Johnson. Now, let's say I have an idea for a cool building that would look great on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. I stay up all night one night and draw a model of a building. The next morning, I want to show it to my boss. Again, for the sake of argument, we'll call my boss William Lamb.

I decide that I want to e-mail my boss and tell him about my idea. Because I'm smart, I uploaded my model to the 3-D Warehouse as soon as I finished it. So rather than adding a bulky attachment to my e-mail that won't work unless Mr. Lamb also has SketchUp installed, I can just e-mail him a link.

Mr. Lamb,

I have an idea about what to do with the vacant lot on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 33rd Street. Follow this link:http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/details?mid=ce8a4aa401c82e92776079129397a44

If we do this project, I will let you take all the credit.


G. Johnson

Cool, so now my boss knows about it. If I can generate some buzz about my idea, Mr. Lamb will hear about it from his friends in addition to hearing about it from me. This will make a better case for my idea than I can make on my own.

I, Gregory Johnson, know that the reigning who's who of Manhattan society are currently enamored with MySpace, so I decide to embed an interactive copy of my model in my MySpace page. Snap! 3-D Warehouse generates the embed code for me. A couple of clicks later and this baby is gracing my MySpace page.

So here it is, moments after I completed my model and already there's a buzz building about it. As luck would have it, Pierre S. DuPont came across my embedded model moments after seeing it and fell instantly in love. He decided he wanted to be the principal investor and by nine o'clock Mr. Lamb had a check on his desk for $24 million. And the rest, as they say, is history.

The point of all of this is that now 3D Warehouse users can embed interactive, 3D models on blogs and other web pages. Check this thing out again:

Once you click on the model, you can use the flywheel on your mouse to zoom in on it as you spin it around. That's really cool!

As always, anyone can set up his or her own private section of the Warehouse too. This is especially helpful if you're collaborating on something that needs to be kept from public view. In that case, the same linking and embedding are still fully functional, but for members only. Slick!

So, they did it again. SketchUp gets more useful and usable with time and that is a very good thing.


  1. You are soon going to have me convinced to at least try it. (My son was suppose to have downloaded it. Must check to see if he has.)

    King Kong would even be impressed! -Brenda-

  2. As with a lot of this stuff, the fact that I can embed an interactive anything is pretty cool in and of itself, but it points to a future that's pretty exciting to think about. We live in amazing times.


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