Trimble a Surprise BIM Software Leader
Roopinder Tara posted on December 09, 2016 |

Roz Buick, head of Trimble Buildings, at Dimensions 2016 held in Las Vegas.
Roz Buick, head of Trimble Buildings,
at Dimensions 2016 held in Las Vegas.

Roz Buick, head of Trimble Buildings, leads a small group of media around the show floor at Dimensions 2016, the company’s biannual user conference. This year was the biggest Dimensions ever, said Trimble, with an estimated 4,400 in attendance. But half of them may be Trimble employees, judging by the number of blue shirts on the show floor.

Buick, who has a PhD in agriculture, has me hanging on every word. Not only because Trimble's software products are vast and varied and hitherto unknown to our readership, but also because of the New Zealand accent. Kiwis just want to make me buddy up. What is that?

Buick, a 20-year veteran of Trimble, has a very big job of making Trimble building software offerings the new stars of the company. It was in 1978 that Charlie Trimble started the company using software HP had no use for but was able to position surveying hardware accurately in the field. Since then, Trimble has made its fame and fortune in hardware. But that is history. In 2012, Trimble again bought software a larger company didn’t want (SketchUp, in a surprise deal from Google) to all of a sudden become the world’s leading CAD company. SketchUp, a delight to use and free (base version), has something like 40 million users. The number of users of the perceived industry leader Autodesk? One order of magnitude lower. Trimble had already bought Tekla the year before. More acquisitions are to follow.

Highlights of the Tour

Browser-Based my.SketchUp for Free or Cheap 3D Modeling

my.SketchUp is like SketchUp Make—free, but it runs on a browser. (Image courtesy of Trimble.)
my.SketchUp is like SketchUp Make—free, but it runs on a browser. (Image courtesy of Trimble.)

The world's most popular CAD software is coming to a browser near you. Similar to Onshape, for mechanical CAD, my.SketchUp aims to run on a browser, so it can be used off your desktop, such as on an iPad, and without the Microsoft Windows OS, such as on a Chromebook. Unlike the much-storied Onshape, which chooses an odd “private” model limit of 10 (the rest considered viewable by the public), my.SketchUp follows a more familiar pricing model. You can have one project, five users and 10GB storage for free, but only $10 a month gets you unlimited projects, more users and unlimited storage. But my.SketchUp does share Onshape's main limitation: It is useless if you are offline.

my.SketchUp is beta and has been for a long time. However, Trimble folks tell me—with a wink—it’s already quite usable. The company hopes to make it available as a commercial product the summer of 2017.

The main difference between SketchUp and my.SketchUp is the extensibility, says Michael Tadros, product manager in Trimble's Architecture division, meaning that none of the extensions usable with the desktop SketchUp can be used with the browser-based product.

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