VR Sketch 14.0

VR Sketch 14.0 has been released.

The main new feature is the collaborative multi-user editing. This new feature lets multiple people join the same editing session, each with their own VR headset. Everybody is editing the same model from a single SketchUp, seeing and hearing each other like in the existing cloud-model viewing-only mode. Use the menu in SketchUp(*), “Collaborative editing…”, or the panel “Collaborate” in the Quest.

This should enable remote collaboration, teacher-and-students courses, and many more applications. It is also useful simply as a VR meeting room—and on the Quest with hands enabled, your hands are visible to other users too. Finally, we have already used this feature with some beta users who wanted to report their experience and small bugs with VR Sketch in general—it is much better than attempts to record videos and send them around, which never really worked for us.

This feature is in beta so far. There are still some issues, but hopefully nothing big. Of course, all people involved need this new 14.0 version. The “beta” aspect means that a future release might require everybody to upgrade again; but the longer-term plan is to relax the requirement that everybody uses the same version.

This feature does not reliably work if several people make changes on different parts of the model independently. If two people edit at the same time, depending on what exactly they do, their operations might unexpectedly influence each other’s.
For example, opening a group for editing is a SketchUp command, and that’s reflected back into everybody’s VR view. Or if someone makes a group and another person tries to move something else, then the new group might get selected also for the other person and he will unexpectedly move that group (even if it is far away from him). This is basically the same restrictions as existed all along between one VR person editing in VR Sketch and one desktop person editing in SketchUp; you need to keep people coordinated to some extent.

At the moment, everybody who joins the session can edit the model. We plan to give you the option to select who can edit and who cannot, but it is not there yet. And any other comments about the feature in general are welcome, too!

Other new things in 14.0:

  • Move Freehand: in “copy” mode, the groups/faces/edges remain in your hand after you press the trigger, allowing you to make many copies quickly. Also, the behavior of scrolling (touchpad/joystick) was changed: groups now fall down when you scroll downwards, and scrolling upwards toggles between move and copy. Finally, there is a new option “Keep vertical axis”.

  • Paint: you now have a mode (in the context menu) to directly paint individual faces inside subgroups. The older alternative paints the whole group at once—like in SketchUp, the new color shows up on any face in the group with the “default” material.

  • Extrude / Follow me tool: options to control the orientation of the end cap (try them out in the context menu).

  • Rotation tool might be easier to use now: the rotation plane was made more rigid.

  • Groups and components can be locked, which disables most operations on them. They can be locked from SketchUp in the usual way, or from VR Sketch with a context menu entry of the “Select” tool.

  • Selection is now generally mirrored between SketchUp and VR Sketch. You can select things in VR Sketch and they are selected in SketchUp too (this lets you use for example some third-party voice controller to run some SketchUp commands not usually available from VR Sketch). The other direction works too.

  • The SketchUp notion of curve, i.e. collection of edges, is still mostly unsupported in VR Sketch. Some operations like moving an edge still causes SketchUp to move the whole curve instead. However, there is now a context menu option (in the “Select” tool) to explode a curve into individual edges, which can then be edited freely.

  • New option to have all tools shown at once, instead of one submenu at a time (configuration dialog box, “options” page). Note that the difference is only visual: like in the past, you can pick any tool by moving the controller directly where you expect it to be, without manually opening its submenu first.

  • When configuring a custom skybox image and selecting Sun turns with model, then the skybox image turns too. (Not continuously, but as a single step at the end; continuous turning of the skybox causes major motion sickness.)

  • Trying to keep the computer from going to sleep (useful if you are not running a tethered VR headset).

  • As usual, many more small bug have been fixed, including performance problems when copying objects inside large models.


(*) Documentation is not written yet, but there is also a way to run the Collaborative Editing mode on PCs without having SketchUp installed on that machine, as long as you have the 9-digit code that you got from someone else exporting the model from his own SketchUp. The way is to download the .rbz file by picking “VR Sketch for PC/Mac 14.0” in the download page, then rename it so that its extension is .zip instead, and extract it somewhere (right-click, Extract All). You can then manually run the program VRSketch14.0.0.exe and enter or paste the 9-digit code there.

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