Getting Started

Product Connect's installers provide an easy way for Mac or PC users to set up a "production" SketchApp. If you are using SketchUp in another environment (eg, WINE under Linux), feel free to contact me for help.

This page, in any event, will walk you through installing Product Connect, enabling the SketchApps developer tools, and trying things out.

About Product Connect

Product Connect allows SketchUp's Components and Materials to contain product information (eg, dimensions, names, sizes). This information can be extracted from completed models, generating "schedule" spreadsheets for project planning, etc.

Along with the SketchApps plugin framework, Product Connect includes several interrelated plugins, eg:

  • Product Editor - tool that allows users to create and/or modify
    product information in SketchUp Components and/or Materials

  • Report Maker - tool that generates product schedule spreadsheets
    from models that include PC-enabled SketchUp Components

  • Get Products - tool that allows users to navigate directly
    to PC-enabled SketchUp Components on the 3D Warehouse

Installing Product Connect

Product Connect's installers provide an easy way for Mac or PC users to set up a "production" SketchApp:

  • Go to the Igloo Studios web site.
  • Fill out the Product Connect registration form.
  • Download and run the appropriate installer.

Note: I am particularly interested in working with GNU/Linux (etc) users to develop, debug, and document a convenient and reliable installation procedure.

Now, start SketchUp and run the Get Products plugin (Product Connect > Get Products). This will:

  • ensure that everything is working
  • create needed files and directories
  • let you try out a typical SketchApp

If Get Products loads successfully, Product Connect is installed and working, So, quit SketchUp and enable the developer tools.

Enabling the developer tools

The versions of the developer tools and plugin framework in Product Connect 0.3.5 are somewhat out of date. Although ordinary users will not notice any problems, developers definitely will! So, let's do an update...

Download, then copy it to your SketchApps directory, eg:

  • Mac: ...home directory.../Library/SketchUp
  • PC: ...home directory...\Application Data\SketchUp

Now unpack (eg, double-click) the archive. The resulting directory tree should look like this:

| SketchApps/
| | CFCL/...              new file tree
| | load_sketchapps.rb    new loader file
| | sa_config.rb          new config file

We are now going to do some (careful!) surgery:

  • Remove the old file tree (CFCL) and loader file (load_sketchapps.rb)
    from .../SketchUp/SketchApps; replace them with the new versions.

  • Copy the new loader file into SketchUp's plugins directory
    (eg, "/Library/Application Support/Google SketchUp 8/SketchUp/plugins).

  • Move the new config file (sa_config.rb) into .../SketchUp/SketchApps_use.

Before trying out the example plugins, take a minute to inspect sa_config.rb; it contains a lot of useful configuration settings which control debugging features, logging, etc. For example, it turns on the Ruby Console, by default.

Note: All of the configuration settings can be disabled by changing the top-level "if true" to "if false". Individual settings can be also disabled (eg, commented out).

Now it's time to try out the example plugins. Have fun!

This wiki page is maintained by Rich Morin, an independent consultant specializing in software design, development, and documentation. Please feel free to email comments, inquiries, suggestions, etc!

Topic revision: r10 - 21 Jun 2012, RichMorin
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