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Google SketchUp 8 announced at 3D Basecamp

Friday, September 10th, 2010

Google SketchUp 8 was announced at Google’s user conference 3D Basecamp held in Boulder, Co. last week.


The released focuses on the following features: 


Some very straightforward access from within the modeling interface for SketchUp to all of Google’s geospatial data. “For an architect, we can give you a very comprehensive site model for any project you’re working on almost anywhere in the world,” said product manager John Bacus. “Obviously some areas have better data coverage than others, but we’re able to give SketchUp modelers direct access to Google’s aerial photography collection. We also have launched a new data service that provides high resolution terrain directly into the SketchUp modeler for almost any location on earth.”


Modelers have access to any 3D building models for adjacent buildings to a site they might be working on. Most of these models are coming from other SketchUp users, said Bacus. “For the last four and a half years or so, the SketchUp team has been working on building systems for users to make models of 3D buildings and now we’re able to give those back to the SketchUp modeling community in the form of site models, context models.and we also can give users access to streetview data for use in site reference or directly as photographic texturing for their models.”


The Building Maker app which was launched previously, gives people an easy modeling interface for buildng low rez photographically textured 3D buildings in places where Google had collected aerial oblique imagery, a birdseye type of view of a city. “We’re able to drag polygons on top of photography and do a kind of lightweight photogrammetry to figure out the precise dimensions of any building,” said Bacus. “In SketchUp 8 we’ve made that into a kind of feature in the modeler so you can bring up a window inside the main SketchUp interface and make a quick massing model for an existing building. Google will automatically texture it for you and send it back directly into the active SketchUp model in its proper scale and goelocation. For those users who want to start in Building Maker for a model, we also have a way to convert Building Maker models into SketchUp models. We’ve added a couple of new tools that make it easy to take the primitive massing model from Building Maker and add detail to it, clean up some of the messy geometry and add higher quality textures etc. The data is all freely available.”


SketchUp 8 also has a whole new set of modeling tools for people with experience in other 3D modeling packages. They include a simple set of Boolean modeling tools, which allow users to do unions and subtractions, trims and splits. The geometry model makes it possible to  now do objects that do volumes, so users can actually report the volume of collections of geometry in the SketchUp model. “If users are doing things like complex concrete form work, we can give them a pretty good first order estimation of the volume of concrete they’re going to need, so they can do a little more analysis on the model in that way,” said Bacus.


AutoCAD for the Mac and Mobile announced

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Autodesk announced yesterday AutoCAD for the Mac and Mobile, actually, these products were announced Monday, Aug. 30, in an article in The New York Times, but trade press had received an embargo to not print anything until after the press release went out on Tuesday.

AutoCAD for the Mac runs natively on Mac OS X. The company also announced AutoCAD WS mobile application for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch that will make it possible for users to share and edit AutoCAD designs in the field.

Autodesk discontinued AutoCAD on the Mac some 17 years ago, and in 2009 they surveyed users on their interest in re-introducing AutoCAD on the Mac. The query was met with an overwhelming response.  Are more architects using Macs these days, or are they used more in the entertainment industry? It may simply be what Autodesk states in their press release, that the reintroduction of the Mac broadens the number of platforms the software is available on. 

Nemetschek’s Vectorworks 3D BIM modeling product was a Macintosh only application for many years, and still remains a favorite among the Mac community.

Recently, the German-based company Graebert, a partner of Dassault Systems, released 2D drafting software ARES Commander for Mac OS. 

Autodesk Will Reintroduce Its AutoCAD Design Software for Macs, Miguel Helft, August 30, 2010, The New York Times (registration required)


Autodesk brings flagship software to Apple Financial Times, August 31, 2010


ZWCAD goes 3D

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

ZWCAD Software Co. Ltd (ZWSOFT) just acquired VX Corporation, a company well known in both CAD and MCAD industries for its 3D CAD/CAM solution based on their VX kernel.

According to the press release, “VX development team located in Florida will continue to create innovative 3D CAD/CAM software as a division of ZWSOFT but will now be aided by a much larger International team. As a wholly owned subsidiary of ZWSOFT, the VX and ZWSOFT will adopt this powerful technology for their latest product, ZW3D.”

Currently, ZWSOFT Services has 180,000 users worldwide.

The first indication that the Chinese 2D CAD company was going 3D could be found on their website dedicated to their 2010 Partner Conference held on September 25-28 in Guangzhou, China. At that conference, an event was announced:  “First Showing of ZW3D – ZWSOFT’s All-In-One 3D Solution“.

ZWSOFT has been growing exponentially, one sure sign of growth being that other companies are launching products built on it. ALITOP, a software company specializing in surveying and civil engineering, recently announced MDT for ZWCAD, a low cost product for surveying and civil projects.

ZWmech, an “integrated engineering add-on for ZWCAD,” designed to “speed up the modeling process,” was announced recently from ASVIC, a company that develops CAD based software products.


Comment on the building industry

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

“The whole [building] industry has been reminded that we’re actually driven by the credit markets, no matter what else we want to say, the banks determine how well architecture is doing. As long as credit is tight the big buildings don’t get built. We still see tight credit markets and that’s keeping the architecture side conservative.”

–Sean Flaherty, CEO, Nemetschek

New iPhone app for construction site clean up released

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

SmartBuilder Software in Ireland has just launched an iPhone application for construction professionals called “Site Clean Up” which sends warning notices to sub-contractors to cleaning up the site by a certain date.

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