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Sketchup-ur-space Magazine - June 14

Author : Fred Abler

SketchUp Tips Hand – 3D Basecamp Registration

Registration for SketchUp’s upcoming 3D Basecamp opened earlier this week. SketchUp’s own Aidan Chopra said Basecamp half-sold-out in the first two hours of registration. There are still a few dozen spots left, but he doesn’t expect them to last through the weekend.

All in, SketchUp plans on hosting a total of 250 to 300 people. I’ll be one of them in Boulder, CO, Oct 13-15, learning about the future of Trimble SketchUp, and covering the event on the FormFonts Blog for those that can’t, don’t, won’t be there.

However, the SketchUp team is already throwing some heavy signals to the user/developer community. The theme of this year’s 3D basecamp (roughly) is celebrating the vast universe of plugins, add-ons and extensions that have been developed using SketchUp’s Ruby API.

“From individual hackers to full-fledged commercial outfits, a very large number of developers have contributed to making SketchUp into more than just a successful 3D modeling tool. This year’s 3D Basecamp will do its best to shine a spotlight on the people and plugins that have made millions of SketchUp fanatics happy and more productive.”

A few personal insights from the SketchUp 3D Basecamp conference registration process:

1) SketchUp is telegraphing strongly that it intends to deal with ongoing and new product line practice through the RUBY API, and possibly some developer-level tools. While no surprise, some may be surprised just how seriously the team is pushing the ‘code it yourself’ solution.

Trimble is a big company with 23 separate divisions, each with multiple products of their own. So the Trimble team will be plenty busy integrating them into the SketchUp platform for Trimble. And fair enough. At least with Ruby, third-parties will be able to develop in parallel.

2) SketchUp is basically holding an open casting call for talented Ruby developers. If you’re a Ruby-on-Rails guru and have any 3D inclinations, get yourself to Boulder for 3D Basecamp. Impress the Trimble team or any of the other third-party developers, and you’ll likely get a job offer on the spot. Script-kitties need not apply.

3) SketchUp may reveal new developer tools and APIs. Registration hints of a possible “advanced Ruby training session” at the end of the conference which is likely to reveal the deep-foo. If you seriously want to prosper in the new SketchUp ecology, you’ll want to be in that room.

4) SketchUp may be considering an ‘app store’ for Ruby developers. While this sounds like a good idea, our experience selling Ruby Scripts in the early days on FormFonts (2003-2004) showed there are many non-technical problems with app-stores.

And not to rely on ancient history alone, a May 2012 report on earnings statistics at the Apple App Store by Distimo, a market research company in the Netherlands, backs up our early findings. It’s worth reading (the average app on Apple makes only $7000 a year).

That said, third-party Ruby scripts, apps, and plugins going forward are likely to look a lot more like full-fledged applications that what we’ve seen before. They’ll probably require actual teams of Ruby developers, cutting-edge software product line practice, and dedicated professional marketing.

As for juicy insider tidbits regarding this years 3D Basecamp? Aidan says: “I can guarantee that this year’s BC will be 100% clown-free. Also, there will be projectors. A real hootenanny.” As long as Aidan and his inimitable style is still with us, SketchUp will always feel like SketchUp!

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