Sketchup has always been known as an easy to use 3D modeling tool. With its intuitive interface, it has claimed the motto "3D modeling for everyone." With the recent acquisition of Sketchup by Trimble, Sketchup is no longer under the Google umbrella. Many people have wondered why Google sold it. But to answer that question, you must first understand why Google bought it in the first place.
Google's quest to model the world
Google has an ongoing, ambitious goal of mapping the world. This vision is delivered via Google Maps, and Google Earth. The two programs share many similarities in the way they show maps and satellite imagery. While I don't want to go into great detail about the features and differences between the two programs, the main distinction is that Google Maps is a web based application, and Google Earth is a program that gets installed on your computer.
In 2004, Google announced that it had acquired Keyhole Corp, a digital mapping company. The technology from Keyhole is what became the beginning of Google Earth and Google Maps.
Fun Fact - If you go to www.keyhole.com, it refreshes to the Google Earth website.
Google Earth started out as a 3D model of the globe, with 2D satellite imagery pasted continuously on the surface. Even though there was some terrain data integrated into the 3D part of Google Earth, the images were still pasted flat to the surface. Therefore, if you were to fly over a city, all the tall buildings and land features would appear flat on the ground.
3D buildings in Google Earth
In 2005, Google started to extrude the outlines of buildings in order to create a rough 3D model. There were no textures applied, and a lot of the building details were lost. All the buildings had the same grey looking surface. It lacked realism.
Google realized they would need to do something else in order to take their 3D model of the world to the next level. At the time, the only way to create a realistic model of a building was to manually create each one. It would cost way too much to hire people to create all these models, so instead Google looked to the community to create the models for them.
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