Teaming up with Google Earth
While Google promotes SketchUp Pro 6.0 as an all-purpose 3D modelling package, we suspect that the folks who will put the time and energy into mastering its features will likely be generating architectural renderings. Google SketchUp Pro 6.0's ability to plop a building down on to a location in Google Earth has fascinating potential for people presenting real estate projects, for example. Google SketchUp Pro 6.0 imports geographic context (aerial photos and terrain) from Google Earth, and you can draw on top of that context. You can also export your model from Google SketchUp Pro 6.0 to Google Earth to share with others.
Why go Pro?
The fundamental tools in Google SketchUp Pro 6.0 are available in the free version. But for many professionals, the added features in the Pro version - the ability to export to professional CAD programs, as well as the ability to generate 2D presentations - are essential.
The included 2D presentation program, LayOut, allows you to rotate and adjust a model and apply effects before freezing a view as a 2D slide. LayOut works smoothly with Google SketchUp Pro 6.0, and I found it easy and intuitive to freeze a 2D perspective, and to generate a slide or printed view from it.
Free online resources for Google SketchUp Pro 6.0 include an online version of the book Google SketchUp for Dummies, which includes dozens of very useful videos. But tech support from Google is available with only Google SketchUp Pro 6.0.
Google SketchUp Pro 6.0's pricing scheme is unusual, but for the most part it makes sense. While the free version allows you to generate QuickTime movies, modelers creating professional presentations will need the 2D output (for print or digital display) available only in the Pro edition. In addition, the Pro version manages import and export exchange with CAD formats that are not supported in the free version. Google believes that the $495 price of the Pro version is justified for users who need those features, and that the pricing for the Pro version is more or less on par with this class of professional CAD programs.