According to a comment to my blog entry earlier today about the proliferation of new 3D models for Google Earth, the guys at ZNO are NOT using SketchUp. ZNO has published over a dozen nice 3D models of unique building architecture around the world in recent weeks. Apparently they prefer to use an architectural-oriented CAD program called ArchiCAD by GraphiSoft (which has it’s own plugin for outputting KML in beta). Read the comment posted by ZNO for their views. ArchiCAD’s starter edition costs US$1500 at one distributor I checked, and a team (multiuser) edition costs US$4000. Not for your general user I don’t think. Interestingly, ArchiCAD actually provides a supported integration with SketchUp as well.
Given that the ZNO blog is published by an architectural firrm (based in New Zealand), it’s not surprising they would favor an application they are familiar with, and find useful for their work. However, I think many more non-professional 3D model developers are going to start developing their own 3D models with wide-spread dissemination of easy to use software like SketchUp. Especially if Google does something “crazy” like release a free version of SketchUp or even incorporates some of its basic modelling tools as an add-on module to a future version of Google Earth.
It’s funny, but just from looking at the models from ZNO and comparing them to the many SketchUp models out there, I had thought the ZNO ones were produced by SketchUp. I guess that’s why they wanted to clarify things.