It seems Google can't miss. I am constantly astonished at the quality, imagination and range of software that comes out of their labs. Whoever thinks Google is just a search engine had better get with the program(s)! Look here too. I discovered yet another of their innovations a couple nights ago. I was attempting to write about this in my last blog entry, but got sidetracked on Microsoft explosions. Oops, not going to go there!
I have no doubt Google is cooking up a software application for every dreamable purpose - plus a few. They even have a 3D program! Wow! How did I miss that? Google SketchUp is a super lean, blast simple 3D modeling program. It is not an overly robust, feature packed application and serves a very limited purpose in its current free state. But, boy is it cool to play with just the same!
In SketchUp, start out by drawing a rectangle on a plane and magically drag it up in the 3rd dimension. It is lightning fast, and incredibly intuitive. Just playing around, I made a weird piece of architecture. I have always enjoyed building things (used to make structures with blocks to no end), so this is a blast from the past, so to speak. I could fool around making abstract shapes for hours, simply because it fascinates me how easy it is.
Despite its coolness, I see virtually no purpose for the program. Infinite simple models can be produced and saved, but that is the end of the line. The projects cannot be exported to any 3D file format, so the models remain only in SketchUp with its severely limited (though refreshing) rendering and modeling features. The view window can be rendered to a bitmap, but there is no configuration involved. The resulting image is essentially a screenshot - no higher resolution than what is seen in the application.
I believe the 3D models found in Google Earth - mostly buildings - are created using SketchUp, one redeeming use. However, I have no intention on helping Google create a 3D map of the world right now, so I have little use for SketchUp. The Pro version of SketchUp offers more useful functionality, including common file 3D export, but I don't see any reason to buy it. In the end, SketchUp is just fun to play with, a pointless but fun toy.