Google Sketchup and your next project

So I keep seeing google sketchup pop up in conversations all over. There was allot of talk about Sektchup's 3D Warehouse at Maker Faire Detroit; I've seen several projects use Sketchup to help work out design problems, and even google maps' 3d view is using contributed 3d models from sketchup. So what the heck is sketchup?

Well, turns out sketchup is pretty freakin' amazing. I've used CAD programs in the past, and lets just say there is a reason I don't still use them. The software I remember was clunky, loaded with complex options for texture, lighting on top of the exhaustive list of construction, shaping, and placement tools. Now sure, if I were making a living designing 3d models I would find this type of software feature full and efficient. But if I am just trying to bang out a quick model of my spare bedroom and figure out what sort of furniture will fit in it, a hobbyist like myself would quickly get lost in all the options and forget about the original intent.

Sketchup simplifies the design process to such an extent, that I almost forgot I was using CAD software. In a few hours I was able to finish the design for a set of closet shelves, that will actually fit perfectly the closet that I have! I was then able to add annotations for measurements in just a few clicks. I printed out a wire frame model and BAM! I'm ready to go buy lumber.

So needless to say, sketchup will become a key part of my prototyping process in the future.