With the launch of SketchUp 8, Google is making it easier for users of its popular 3D modeling software to integrate geo-location data and accurate terrain when creating site context building models. The latest version of SketchUp offers a range of new and improved tools, and additional special features are available only in SketchUp Pro 8.

New geo-modeling capabilities draw on Google's ever-growing collection of geo-spatial data. Now integrated with Google’s map program, SketchUp 8 makes it easy to add geo-locations to models, automatically importing high-resolution 3D terrain data, as well as including full-color aerial imagery. The new Solid Tools, available with SketchUp Pro, provide additive and subtractive modeling capabilities: union, intersect, subtract, trim, and split allow users to generate forms using the other forms in a project model by adding, subtracting, and identifying common areas. SketchUp Pro 8 also includes several fixes and tweaks to LayOut 3.

Other improvements include:

  • Scene thumbnails—Small image previews of the scenes in a model.
  • Back edges—Turn them on to view a model's obscured edges as dashed lines.
  • Angular dimensions in LayOut (with Pro)—LayOut 3 now has a dedicated tool for creating angular dimensions.
  • Push/Pull pre-selected faces—Users select a face, then push or pull to change the form's shape or volume.
  • Calculate volumes—The volume of any solid in a model is now displayed within Entity Info and included in reports generated in SketchUp Pro.
  • Outer shell—Users can automatically generate a shape that completely encloses two or more solids in a model.
  • DWG/DXF 2010 (with Pro)—The DWG/DXF 2010 format for importing and exporting vector data for models is now supported.
  • DWG/DXF export in LayOut (with Pro)—Allows sharing of LayOut 3 drawings as files accessible to any CAD system or 3D modeler.
  • Configurable dashed lines in LayOut (with Pro)—Users can adjust any of LayOut's dashed line styles to suit their preferences.
  • Precise Move in LayOut (with Pro)—Users can now place the center grip on any element where they like, establishing custom snap points.

Google's SketchUp 8 is available for download—in English, French, Spanish, Italian, or German—here; SketchUp Pro 8 may be purchased for $495, or upgraded from a previous version for $95.