Is Autodesk Trying to Take Out SketchUp?
Roopinder Tara posted on June 29, 2015 |

Autodesk is showing its conceptual modeling tool, FormIt, at the annual gathering of architects held by AIA. It appears remarkably easy to use. 3D buildings are easily created and modified with a push or pull. It’s like I’ve seen this somewhere before… Oh, yeah. It was called SketchUp.

Autodesk’s FormIt may remind you of another architectural conceptual modeling program
Autodesk’s FormIt may remind you of another architectural conceptual modeling program
Architects have almost universally accepted SketchUp, which has been giving away its easy-to-use 3D modeler for years. This has no doubt been a vexation to Autodesk, whose Revit software, while close to a standard as a BIM design software, does not lend itself to the type of 3D “sketching” architects need to do at the conceptual stage of design.

Autodesk must have chafed at the use of SketchUp, which they had knocked for not being precise, not being a real solid modeler and not being able to merge efficiently into “serious” design tools. But nothing could pry SketchUp from architects’ hands.

So Autodesk creates FormIt

Of course, Autodesk would never copy SketchUp, right? It would be preposterous to think a software leader of high standing would stoop to anything so low. The giant that has never admitted to even having any competition. And how would that look, when the giant has actively and aggressively pursued others for copying their software.

I am not making any friends at the Autodesk booth with my unwelcome comparisons to a product it could never have copied. So I wander over to the SketchUp booth to get their take on FormIt, where I wonder out loud if SketchUp should be worried about the giant’s hot breath on their neck.

The SketchUp guys have quite another opinion on the similarity of FormIt. Their product manager bites his tongue when he sees I am taking notes. He answers instead with a barrage of numbers, most of them ending in “million” that signify the immense following and insurmountable lead SketchUp already enjoys.

But I can’t resist. I have to tell them FormIt is a real solid modeler. And it does tie directly into Revit.

SketchUp doesn’t deny it.

“But have you tried using it?” he asks rhetorically. He piques my interest, and I’m curious enough to see what real architects have to say. 

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