|SketchUp is a 3D modeling program marketed by Google and designed for architectural, civil, and mechanical engineers as well as filmmakers, game developers, and related professions. The program, which is designed for ease of use, allows placement of models within Google Earth.
Google’s 3D Warehouse enables SketchUp users to search for, download and contribute free models.
SketchUp was developed by startup company @Last Software of Boulder, Colorado, co-founded in 1999 by Brad Schell 
SketchUp debuted in August 2000 as a general purpose 3D content creation tool, with the tagline “3D for everyone” and envisioning a software program “that would allow design professionals to draw the way they want by emulating the feel and freedom of working with pen and paper in a simple and elegant interface, that would be fun to use and easy to learn, and that would be used by designers to play with their designs in a way that is not possible with traditional design software. It also has user friendly buttons to make it easier to use.”
The program won a Community Choice Award at its first tradeshow in 2000. Key to its early success was a shorter learning period than other 3D tools.
Google acquired @Last Software on March 14, 2006, attracted by @Last’s Software’s work developing a plugin for Google Earth.
On January 9, 2007, SketchUp 6 was released, featuring new tools as well as a beta version of Google SketchUp LayOut. LayOut includes 2D vector tools, as well as page layout tools intended to make it easier for professionals to create presentations without jumping to a third-party presentation program. Other features were added to allow the user to extrude and widen as well as the ability for a face to “follow” the cursor around an object.
On February 9, 2007, a maintenance update was released. It corrected a number of bugs, but brought no new features.
On November 17, 2008, SketchUp 7 was released, featuring ease-of-use improvements, integration of SketchUp’s Component Browser with Google 3D Warehouse, LayOut 2, dynamic components that respond appropriately to scaling and enhanced Ruby API performance. Support for Windows 2000 was also removed.
On September 1, 2010, SketchUp 8 was released. Improvements include model geo-location with Google Maps, color imagery and more accurate terrain, match photo improvements, Building Maker integration, and scene thumbnails. Support for Mac OS X Tiger was dropped in this version.
SketchUp holds a U.S. Patent 6,628,279 on its “Push/Pull” technology:
“System and method for three-dimensional modeling: A three-dimensional design and modeling environment allows users to draw the outlines, or perimeters, of objects in a two-dimensional manner, similar to pencil and paper, already familiar to them. The two-dimensional, planar faces created by a user can then be pushed and pulled by editing tools within the environment to easily and intuitively model three-dimensional volumes and geometries.”
The patent was applied for in November 2000, and awarded in September 2003.
On April 27, 2006, Google announced Google SketchUp, a freely-downloadable version of SketchUp. The free version is missing some functionality of SketchUp Pro, but includes integrated tools for uploading content to Google Earth and to the Google 3D Warehouse, a repository of models created in SketchUp. A new toolbox enables a viewer to walk, see things from a person’s point of view, labels for models, a look around tool, and an “any polygon” shape tool.
The free version of Google Sketchup can export 3D to .dae and Google Earth’s .kmz file format, the Pro version extends exporting support to include the .3ds, .dwg, .dxf, .fbx, .obj, .xsi, and .wrl file formats.
Google SketchUp can also save elevations or renderings called “screenshots” of the model as .bmp, .png, .jpg, .tif, with the Pro version also supporting .pdf, .eps, .epx, .dwg, and .dxf.
GPS location information is always stored in the KMZ file. The building designs themselves are saved in SKP.
SketchUp and Ruby
SketchUp 4 and later support software extensions known as Ruby Extenstions or “Rubies” which are written in Ruby programming language and augment the capabilities of SketchUp by enabling specialized functionality. Developers may make their Rubies freely available on SketchUp Ruby Forum. SketchUp also has a Ruby console, which is an environment where developers can experiment with Ruby commands and methods. The free version of SketchUp also supports Ruby scripts, including workarounds for the free version’s import and export limitations.