Very important update for SketchUp 8

In the world of software, the designation “M2” refers to “Maintenance Release #2”. Maintenance releases are mini-versions that come out between major updates. They aren’t really about flashy new features; they’re more like tune-ups for your car; squeaks and rattles get fixes, tires are rotated, fluids are changed. You get the picture.

It’s been a few months since we released M1; since then, we’ve collected a fresh batch of performance tweaks and bug fixes—over 150 of them, in fact. M2 is a free update for all users of SketchUp 8 and SketchUp Pro 8 in all 12 languages. The best way to get it is to open SketchUp and do this:

Windows: Choose Help > Check for Update
Mac: Choose SketchUp > Check Web for Update

Having stated that maintenance releases aren’t always flashy, we couldn’t resist adding a few shiny, new things that we think you’ll appreciate:

Better Ruby Script Installation

We’ve had a way for other folks to build SketchUp plugins and extensions for years. Anyone with coding skills can use the Ruby API (application programming interface) to whip up new tools that they can distribute any way they like. People have created thousands of great scripts—we consider the API one of the most useful things we’ve done.

The tricky part has always been teaching SketchUp modelers how to install and access the Ruby scripts (Rubies) that they want to use. Adding a sophisticated Ruby used to involve finding a specific folder on your system and putting a bunch of files in all the right places. Try explaining how to do that to your boss.

The Extensions panel in SketchUp Preferences has a new button…

 

In SketchUp 8 M2, we’ve added two features that should make using Rubies a whole lot easier: The first is a new button on the Extensions panel in SketchUp Preferences. Clicking it lets you install any properly-configured “.RBZ” (ruby zip) file, which puts the needed files into the correct spot, without having to dig around in your computer’s file system. It’s simple, but huge. We’ve also added a lightweight set of “hooks” in the API that should help scripters build their own script-management tools.

Better COLLADA

All versions of SketchUp 8 can read and write COLLADA, a 3D file format that works with lots of other 3D software. It’s managed by the Khronos Group, an industry consortium that decides which features COLLADA should support. As of M2, SketchUp’s import/export support for COLLADA is now compliant with over 90% of the official Khronos compatibility test suite, only leaving out support for animations and shaders—neither of which can be authored in SketchUp anyway.

We think you’ll like SketchUp 8 M2’s ability to seamlessly import and export clean and compliant COLLADA geometry. One particular thing to note: SketchUp now preserves texture names in exported files. This makes it easier to work with COLLADA files in 3rd party rendering tools.

Advanced Camera Tools included in Pro

Back in March, we announced the Advanced Camera Tools for SketchUp Pro 8. The ACTs let set designers, cinematographers, storyboard artists and other people in the entertainment industry work with simulated real-world cameras in their SketchUp models. Until now, the ACTs were a separate plugin that you had to install. In M2, they’re built right into every copy of SketchUp Pro 8.

More Straightforward Pro Trials

After you download and install SketchUp Pro, you can try all of the Pro features for 8 hours (of use) before deciding to buy a license. Up until now, we’ve simply switched off the Pro stuff if you don’t enter a license after the trial period. Effectively, Pro reverted to being just like regular ol’ SketchUp.

The problem was that lots of people didn’t realize that they weren’t actually running Pro anymore. Even worse, folks who had bought Pro licenses and had forgotten (or otherwise been unable) to activate those licenses were missing out on all the great stuff they’d paid for. Our Pro Support team has been fielding dozens of “Why can’t I import a CAD file?” questions per day. It’s been a bit of a mess.

Starting with SketchUp 8 M2, the SketchUp Pro Trial will no longer revert to “free mode” when the trial period expires. A separate version of SketchUp will still be available to download for free, but SketchUp Pro will require a valid license file to run after your trial period has expired.

Mac OS 10.7 Compatibility

Users of Apple’s latest operating system, take note: SketchUp 8 is fully compatible with your hardware. And I ain’t lion. Rawr.

The New Bing Maps Features

 

Coming back after the holiday season with a lot of energy, the Bing Maps team kicked off 2012 with releases of a new routing engine and the WPF control. Today–only 2 weeks later–we are now announcing several new features in the Bing Spatial Data Services and the Bing Maps Account Center. New features include a data source for traffic incidents, the ability to find points of interest (POI) along a route, wildcard-searches in your POI, incremental updates of POI data sources, improved reporting and more. Happy New Year! Are you feeling the love? Smile

The Bing Spatial Data Services provide a REST interface that allows you to geocode or reverse-geocode your own POI data sources in batch-mode, manage these data sources and query your own or some public POI data sources that Bing Maps provides in a spatial context.

Finding Traffic Incidents Along a Route using the new Spatial Data Services Query

In this release, we added the following features:

  1. Incremental Upload - Your own data sources now support incremental updates by setting the parameter ‘loadOperation’ in the Data Source Management API to ‘incremental’. So, once you’ve uploaded a data source of X number of locations into the Spatial Data Service, if you just want to add a few records you can just send those few records. We’ll handle the add and update functions for you!
  2. Wildcard Searches - New Query Options support wildcard searches through filter criteria. Let’s say you want to query your data source to find the nearest locations around a point AND you want to filter the results based on the beginning or end of a keyword. For example, let’s say you have a “Store Manager” field in your data source. You can look for said manager by last name, “%Smith” or first name “John%” so you get all the Smiths or Johns within a region.
  3. Traffic Incidents - Traffic Incidents for North America are now available as a public POI data source and can be accessed through the Query API. Now the traffic incidents you see on Bing Maps are available to you in your applications via a spatial query.
  4. Find Near Route - The Bing Spatial Data Service supports now an additional spatialFilter which allows you to search for POI along a route. This is a game changer. Let’s say you’re a coffee company and you want to empower your users to have the ability find all your locations along their drive from, say Seattle to San Francisco…now you can! The Find Near Route Feature allows you to spatially query the points you’ve uploaded into SDS within a 1 mile buffer of your route.

http:// spatial.virtualearth.net /REST/v1/data/
439698230d90496596083f3fe7aafeb2/
TrafficIncidents/
TrafficIncident
?key=[YOUR_BING_MAPS_KEY]
&$format=json
&jsonp=callbackFindTrafficIncidentsNearRoute
&spatialFilter=nearRoute(’47.678558349609375,-122.13098907470703′,
’47.60356140136719,-122.32943725585937′)

You will find a complete sample using the Bing Maps AJAX Control version 7 for visualization, the DirectionsManager class for driving directions, the TrafficLayer class for traffic-flow information and the Bing Spatial Data Services for traffic-incident information along a route here. Alternate versions of the SDK are available in PDF and .chm format, as well.

Note: Neither the Wildcard-search nor the spatial-filter ‘nearRoute’ are supported with the public data sources NAVTEQNA and NAVTEQEU.

The Bing Maps Account Center is the portal through which you can find information for development with Bing Maps, and also manage your account. It contains links to interactive and traditional SDKs, a facility to generate Bing Maps Keys, a web user interface to manage your own POI data sources and a reporting service through which you can retrieve statistics about your Bing Maps usage.

In this latest release we added the following features.

  1. Additional data validation has been introduced for the upload of your own POI data sources.
  2. Before it was already possible to add and edit records in a data source that you uploaded through the portal. You can now also download and delete data sources.M32small
  3. Image capturing adds now additional security during the generation of Bing Maps Keys.M33small
  4. Additional reports have been added to provide more details on the use of specific Bing Maps Keys.M34small

We certainly hope you’re feeling special (and spatial!). We’re investing quite a bit of energy into Bing Maps and hope to see some killer apps.

The Bing Maps Windows Presentation Foundation Control v1

Back in August, was announced the Beta for our Bing Maps WPF control. The uptake in the Microsoft Developer Community has been stellar and the feedback – immensely helpful. As a result and as promised to those across the Microsoft Developer Network, we’re officially releasing The Bing Maps Windows Presentation Foundation Control, Version 1.

Bing Maps WPF Control with an ESRI Topographic Map Tile Overlay

The control was built atop of the beta, so we still have all of the touch enabled greatness for Surface v 2’s Pixel Sense, inertia and full rotation. We’ve kept most of the classes, methods and properties in place from the beta – requiring little work to install and register v1. And, per community feedback on the Bing Maps MSDN Forums we added the following features (and fixed a few bugs):

  1. Support for tile layers – you can now overlay your own tile layers atop the map control.
  2. Turning off the base tile layer – this is useful for when you don’t need/want to use our base map tiles and instead would prefer to use your own without overlaying them atop of ours. The control won’t request the tiles which reduces downloads and improves rendering performance.
  3. SSL Support – since many of you are using the WPF control in secure applications, you can now make tile and service request over SSL without issue.
  4. Hiding the scale bar – if you don’t want a scale bar (perhaps your map is small and the scale bar clutters the map) you can turn it off. In fact, the only elements you can’t turn off are the Bing logo and the copyrights.
  5. New copyright service – provides accurate copyright for our data vendors.
  6. Additional inertia – inertia is now enabled for the mouse and is on by default for touch.
  7. Miscellaneous bug fixes – thanks for the feedback on the MSDN Forums, the Bing Maps Blog, e-mail and Twitter. Good finds people.

I have to give it up for my (small) crack team of people involved in the making of the WPF Control. This was one of those 10% projects that we all really had a passion to get done because it was the right thing to do for the Microsoft Developer Community. So, we found the time, slipped the release a month (for quality) and, as the guys over in Surface said, “just got it done.” Our internal motto kept stoking the fire to push this bad boy out the door…”WPF, FTW!”

Now, download the Bing Maps WPF Control, build a killer app and make us proud.