Just released, Google SketchUp 7 (for PC and Mac) is free and features some impressive-looking new features. Here’s the obligatory Google YouTube announcement for us the ADDled generation:
Most relevant for Google Earth users is the much tighter integration with the Google 3D Warehouse: You can search the warehouse from within SketchUp and import models directly. Sharing and and giving credit for your work is now also much more granular.
SketchUp 7 also introduces Dynamic Components, objects which can be given dynamic attributes and simple physics. For example, you can stretch a table and its legs won’t deform but instead will become a longer table. Doors can be made to open and close in a model. And if your objects have metadata, like part numbers or color options, you can track these as well in an associated spreadsheet.
The free version of SketchUp 7 can use premade Dynamic Components (Google has some ready in its 3D Warehouse), but to make them yourself you’ll need SketchUp Pro 7, which costs $495.
It’s not clear at this time whether the dynamic aspects of a model can be exported to Google Earth — there’d certainly be some interesting uses for it there, such as 3D models that can be made to reveal their interiors with a click.
But others will have to experiment… (ADD, remember?:-) [Update 10:43 UTC: I did try after all, and the answer seems to be No, dynamic properties are not exported to Google Earth.]