Friday, October 9, 2009

Free SketchUp 7.1 without 2D DWG and DXF Import - Ways Around

Recently the new SketchUp 7.1 was released. The most negative surprise from its free version is that import of 2D drawings in DWG and DXF standards has become impossible. Now this option is available in Pro version only.

It was a strange decision of Google to strip off the option: http://sketchup.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=161784, but anyway there are some ways to deal with it:
  1. It seems Google feels that they have done something bad and to sweeten the pill a little bit they are offering optional temporary plug-ins: one for Windows and another for Mac... But it can not last forever and with the next version most likely the option will be gone completely.

  2. One of possibilities is to keep an old working Sketchup version around. It can be kept on a hardware computer or on a virtual one. The former costs more as Hardware + MS license, but it should be fine if there is one extra Windows box around , the latter - is just for MS license (I don't know the deal with Mac). It's a pity there is no Sketchup for Linux, so the only option is to run it under Linux with WINE - some people say that it works.

  3. Use another program to import DWG and DFX and then convert it into SketchUp file. I know one such program - Alibre. Alibre is a true dimension/parameter driven 3D mechanical development tool (SketchUp as we know is not) and there is a free Xpress version offered. The free version has some limitations as 5 unique parts in assembly, for example, but it still enough for a small project. I actually prefer to use Alibre for part and assembly development and then if needed I export design to SketchUp format. For the exporting there is a plug-in for Alibre called Alibre3DPublisherForGoogleSketchUp.exe. The bad news is that Alibre stopped providing the plug-in for download from its site officially and seems they do not want to support this option in the future, but it is still available from Alibre FTP libraries: http://www.alibre.com/alibrelibraries/ftp/addons/Alibre3DPublisherForGoogleSketchUp.exe; the good one is that the plug-in is still working fine with the new 12.0 version of Alibre.

2 comments:

Skrooge McDuck said...

I don't know what they were thinking. Now all those students who were using SketchUp for they school projects will have the negative feel about Sketchup - why bother if you have architectural software which is much better at precise drawing.

Since these students are to do all the digital drawings in the company later on they will not recommend SketchUp as a simple tool. Simply because they no longer have access to its basic function - importing the cad drawings.

What a shame. And Autodesk went the other way, they've made Revit free for students.

SVN said...

I agree – in this particular case it seems that Google is making a questionable step: removing previously available options can scare away new users. Google usually is more skillful with free cheese :).

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