Pretty sketchy

The longest line I’ve seen at Expo so far was at the Google booth. The search company had been giving away socks to Expo-goers, but it ran out of the hosiery pretty quick. People were still lined up to get copies of the latest version of SketchUp, Google’s 3-D modeling software. I was impressed: They came for the socks, but stayed for the software.

Impressed but not that surprised: SketchUp is one of those gee-whiz apps that you’ve just got to play with. It lets you create 3-D drawings using a simple, drag-and-draw interface. A couple of drags-and-clicks, and you’ve got a cube. A couple more and you’ve added doors and windows. You can then view your model in 3-D, rotating it in every dimension. You can “paint” your models with different surface textures.

Because it’s from Google, SketchUp integrates nicely with Google Earth. That means you could actually create a model of, say, your dream home, and see how it’d look on your real-life lot. The version that everyone was leaving the booth #S616 with, SketchUp 6, adds the ability to base models on photographs, and a few other tweaks.

It’s a pretty amazing program, and it’s entirely free. (There’s a Pro version that lets you export your models to CAD apps and other formats, build presentations for clients, and get tech support; single-user licenses cost $495.) And you don’t have to stand in line to get it; just download it here.

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