News: SU 7+ Panic

The Google SketchUp team made an announcement on Friday about the next version of SketchUp and the SU community is in a webwide panic. What's the cause of the outcry? SketchUp announced that they would be switching their file import/export format from dwg/dxf to COLLADA in the free version of SketchUp. Users, especially those in the architectural field, use dwg/dxf formats extensively to traverse between SU and other programs such as AutoCAD, so, if Google had been taking this feature away from everyone I could understand the outcry. However, you don't have to read too deeply to see that Google say that dwg/dxf importers will still be available in the Pro/paid version of SketchUp, as well for a limited time as a stand alone converter. Of course the community chooses not to read this and instead runs around crying that the sky is falling.

Let's put aside Google's motives for a second; they are, after all, a commercial company who answer to their shareholders - SketchUp needs to be a commercially viable product. Whatever the reason they feel they must make this change, even if it is just because they want to make money and sell more professional licences, they are within their rights to do that. Let's ignore the fact that, if you're a professional user of SketchUp, working for an Architectural services firm the price of SketchUp Pro is a bargain and you should buy it and not expect to get a professional tool for free. For the rest of us, for whom $500 may be a little much for a hobby piece of software we should marvel at what we get for free and stop moaning about the professional features we are being denied, even if that were true.

The truth is Google says they will provide us with a importer to get us over this hump:
"For those of you who depend on the importers we plan to remove, we'll be providing an optional download that enables them again. But remember! This installer will only be available for a limited time, and it will not be supported at all in our next major release."

Just keep this installer safe, or why not keep a version of the current SU7 installed on your machine? If you need to import something from AutoCAD first open it in SU7 before working with whatever the snazzy new features the SU7+ program is going to provide. I know the interweb loves a drama, and that seems to hold true even in our little SU niche, but let's not panic until we have a reason to. I'm sure that the free version of SU will continue to be an amazingly complete and powerful tool and we would do to remember that old adage about gift horses and looking in their mouths.

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