I recently voted to close a "how do I use Google Sketchup to make a vertical elevation of my house" question, based on Sketchup not being a GIS application and importing DXF not being GIS specific either.

I still think that is valid, but I could be convinced that Sketchup is a GIS tool (rather than a general purpose draw application that has (at a stretch) some "map" type capabilities - you can draw maps in Microsoft Paint if you want, but that obviously wouldn't make general Paint applications on-topic.

Any thoughts and considerations as to how we should treat Sketchup questions, and in particular, when a question should be considered "general computing" vs "GIS"?

  • I have had to deal with creating/importing 3D modelling into GIS from Sketchup before, it was popularized by Google (Google Sketchup) to get 3D Buildings into Google Earth etc. It was a cheaper way to do 3D than Autodesk etc products. Now Trimble Building the cost incentive as gone again.
    – Mapperz Mod
    Feb 12, 2014 at 14:51
  • 2
    @Mapperz, the free version of SketchUp is still available. It's now called "SketchUp Make": sketchup.com/products/sketchup-make
    – blah238
    Feb 12, 2014 at 20:11

4 Answers 4


I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss Sketchup. While the software in itself isn't a GIS Specific software, it serves as a wonderful way to generate 3D models, for use in GIS Software.

Models generated in Sketchup can be exported to Multipatch and used in ArcScene, or it can directly be used in Google Earth.

We should look at this on a question by questions basis, instead of blindly labeling Sketchup as a non-GIS software and blacklisting it from the site.

If the question is about using Sketchup for the purpose of importing that data into GIS, for analysis or visualization, then yes, the question should be on-topic.

If it is a general Sketchup usage question (like the one you voted to close) then that would be off topic.


If there is a BIM/3D Modelling StackExchange group then that would be the perfect place for this question. If there isn't, then I think it's maybe more appropriate here than just a general computing site. Whether it's GIS or not, it is certainly spatial.

  • 1
    Regarding BIM, I think that sketchup isn't really BIM either, due to the lack of attribute information in Sketchup. Sketchup is really only a 3d drawing program that happens to use real-world coordinates.
    – Alex Leith
    Feb 24, 2014 at 0:42

I think Questions involving Sketchup are only on-topic for GIS Stack Exchange when they are closely coupled to a GIS workflow. This being the case was not apparent in the cited Question.

Visiting the Sketchup home page reveals no mention of GIS being amongst what it claims to do.

  • 1
    Sketchup is a BIM (Building Information Modeling) product which a large scale GIS. Would be under the CAD and GIS Integration.
    – Mapperz Mod
    Feb 12, 2014 at 14:36
  • GIS StackExchange stopped being mainly about GIS years ago. It has become more of a (geo)spatial StackExchange.
    – R.K.
    Feb 24, 2014 at 6:06
  • @R.K. Perhaps you should try to revise the Help where it says "although the scope of questions appropriate here is wide ... The Geographic Information Systems Stack Exchange is for questions concerning geographic information systems and science." The bolding is part of the quote.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Mar 8, 2014 at 8:08

Sketchup can be considered as a GIS software since 3D city models can be generated easily and texture can be added to make it more realistic. It is also easy to integrate with a GIS package like Arcscene.

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