What is Viso3D?

Viso3D comprised of two programs. One is a SketchUp plug-in that exports a SketchUp model so it can be viewed and navigated in 3D on an iPad or iPhone/ iTouch with the free Viso3D app. The Viso3D SketchUp exporter plug-in will convert SketchUp geometry, textures and scenes to a .xcs file format. It will also optionally, create a lightmap which will "bake" the SketchUp shadows into textures capturing the SketchUp shadows, sunlight and create ambient light.

The other program is the Viso3D iOS app that can view and allow the user to navigate in 3D the exported SketchUp model (.xcs file) on an iPad or another iOS device.

The Viso3D SketchUp exporter plug-in is $29.95. It currently only works on SketchUp 8, 2013, 2014 and 2015. Windows and Mac are in full release.

The Viso3D iOS app is free from the iTunes app store.

Installing Viso3D SketchUp exporter plug-in

Viso3D exporter plug-in requires SketchUp 8, SketchUp 2013, 2014 or SU 2015. Windows version requires Windows XP, Vista, 7 or 8. Mac version isrequires OS-X 10.7.x or above.

Windows Install are .rbz files

The Windows install versions are all .rbz file. RBZ files are simple to install. First download the .rbz file to any folder on your Windows computer. Download it from the free-evaluation page. Use SketchUp 8 or 2013 or 2014 or 2015, Install Extensions, located in the SketchUp pull-down menu ---->Preferences/ Extensions dialog box. Use Install Extensions to install the Viso3D_Win_xxx.rbz file. Make sure you match the Viso3D version with your SketchUp version.

After purchasing you will receive a 16 digit license code. If you need to reinstall Viso3D exporter plug-in for some reason, go to the Free Trial page and download the free evaluation version and activate the trial version with your license code.

Note: The trial period is 30 days from installation. Please download and install the free trial when you are ready to test it. You will not receive a license code with the trial version. You will be reminded how many days and hours left in your evaluation every time you use the plug-in. Once the evaluation has expired you will not be able to use the free trial again on the same computer. You can convert your free trial into a full version simply by activating the license.

Install Extensions and RBZ from within SketchUp. Install Extensions are located in the SketchUp Window/ Preferences dialog box. Open SketchUp, go to Windows--->Preferences-->Install Extensions. Then locate the Viso3D_Win_xxx.rbz file you download (if you downloaded the .zip file, unpack it). Select this and SketchUp will install it.

Viso3D is installed by SketchUp in these folders:

For SketchUp 8 In the \program files (x86)\google sketchup\ google sketchup 8\plugins\
For SketchUp 2013 In the \program files (x86)\sketchup\ sketchup 2013\plugins\
For SketchUp 2014 In the C:\Users\YourComputerName\AppData\Roaming\SketchUp\SketchUp 2014\Plugins\
For SketchUp 2015 In the C:\Users\YourComputerName\AppData\Roaming\SketchUp\SketchUp 2015\Plugins\

When it is installed successfully, you will see a Viso3D icon tool bar.

Uninstall - Use the SketchUp Extensions to uninstall. Go to SketchUp's Windows-->Preferences-->Extensions and check off Viso3D. This will remove the start up ruby script file. However, it will not remove the Viso3D folders. If you want to remove the Viso3D folders, go to the plugins menu and remove.

Mac Install - The Viso3D Exporter install program for the Mac is an .rbz file. It is simple to install. First download the .rbz file that matches your SketchUp version to a folder on your Mac. Download it from the free-evaluation page. Use SketchUp 8 or 2013 or 2014 or 2015, Install Extensions, located in the SketchUp Preferences/ Extensions dialog box.

2. Activate the License

After the Viso3D exporter SketchUp plug-in is installed, launch SketchUp and activate the license if you have purchased a license. Go to the SketchUp pull-down menu. Pick Viso3D Export and then license. Enter the sixteen digit alpha-numeric number that you received from your e-mail purchase receipt or from your reseller.

If you are using the free evaluation version of the SketchUp exporter plug-in, you have 30 days from installation before the trial will expire.

3. Operating the Viso3D exporter SketchUp plugin

The user interface is simple. You can invoke Viso3D exporter by selecting the Viso3D icon or selecting VisoExport from the Viso3D Export pull down menu.

Once you invoke the Viso3D exporter, the program will convert the SketchUp model, it's faces, textures and scenes to a .xcs format. On the lower left corner of your SketchUp display you will see the progress that Viso3D is making in the export process. The export process will require you to wait until it is complete before you can do anything in SketchUp. In some cases, the exporter will fail if the SketchUp model is so large that the exporter runs out of system memory to process.

The Viso3D exporting process will create an .xcs file and you will be asked where to save this file. This is the file that the iPad and iOS device can read. There are several easy ways to distribute the .xcs file to you or your clients so they can view the exported file on an iPad. Read about this in Distributing .xcs files to your customers section.

Once the Viso3D export process is complete and .xcs file is saved and a LightMap user interface will appear for you to optionally add a lightmap which will capture the SketchUp shadow and sunlight position to the .xcs file.

About SketchUp scenes:

The Viso3D exporter plug-in will export the SketchUp scene names and the scene camera position. It will not export any hidden groups or components or layers or changes in the sun position. Make sure that you unhide any layers, groups/ components and faces that you want exposed in the .xcs file in SketchUp before exporting. The shadow position of the current scene when exported will not change in the exported .xcs . Shadows will only be on, if you use the Lightmap option.

Two notes:

  1. Hidden objects are not exported. Objects such as groups, faces and textures that are hidden in the current view of SketchUp are not exported to .xcs file. This is done to keep the exported file size as small as possible. If you think the SketchUp model size is too large, you can hide as much of the model as you can and those objects will not be included in the exported .xcs file.
  2. Memory on the iPad. The .xcs file contains all the visible geometry of the SketchUp 3D model, textures and the camera position of each scene. If you add a LightMap to the exported .xcs file the exported file will increase in memory size. The most current iPad's system memory (RAM) does not exceed 1 gigabyte. In many cases, if the SketchUp model that you are exporting is very large, the exported file will fail to open in an iPad simple due to the limit of system memory. Keep this in mind as you export models for your clients to view on their iOS devices. There are some sample .xcs files to test on the Sample page.

Lightmap option - Using the Lightmap to add shadows to the exported .xcs file.

When the Viso3D exporting process is complete, a lightmap user interface will appear in SketchUp.

The Lightmap program will add the current SketchUp Shadow position and current sun position to the exported .xcs file. The Lightmap program will "bake" the SketchUp shadow position into the SketchUp textures, therefore simulating SketchUp shadows and sunlight in the exported .xcs file. It will also add an ambient occlusion light. The shadow positions can not be changed by the Viso3D iOS app that will view the .xcs file. Your customer should be aware that while viewing and navigating the .xcs file on the iPad, he or she can not change the sun position in the sky even though SketchUp scenes are captured.

Note: Adding a Lightmap to the exported .xcs file will increase the .xcs file size quite a lot. If the system memory of the iPad is a concern, you might consider creating both a Lightmap .xcs file and an .xcs file with no light map.

Lightmap options and what they do:

Light Map with all options on.

No Light Map

The first option is to skip the LightMap by selecting No Lighting. This selection will ignore the Lightmap program. This is a good option if your model is large such as over 4000,000 faces or with many large textures.

Light maps OFF with Edges on

Mesh Size

Mesh Size. The default is 5 cm. If you decrease the cm size, in theory, the exported shadow mesh will be have higher quality.

Sun Light and High Quality Shading

Sunlight and High Quality Shading are options to reduce the model size of the lightmap. But turning Sunlight off will take out the sunlight in the exported model and also remove Shadows. But the model will retain the ambient occlusion. As a default if you are using the Light Map you should use the High Quality Shading (which is the ambient occlusion) Sky light will still be on even if sunlight is turned off.

Light map with no Sun Light but with ambient lighting.

Start button
Start button is needed to be invoked regardless of what option you chose. The final .xcs file is saved to the folder you chose. The .xcs file is the exported SketchUp model that can be opened in an iPad or iOS device for 3D navigation. You can distribute this file by e-mail, by dropbox or another file manager or by using iTunes or by e-mail or a program like Dropbox.

Evaluate the Viso3D Exporter and Viso3D app before purchasing.

Before purchasing the Viso3D exporter plug-in, make sure the SketchUp models you want your clients to view, will export and load on the Viso3D iPad viewer. The Viso3D iPad viewer is available for free on the iTunes app store. Search for viso3D. If the SketchUp model is large such as over 500,000 faces and/ or has large amount of textures, you may not be able to load and view it on an iPad due to system memory limitations.

The Viso3D Export plug-in has a 30 day trial version which has all the features of the licensed version.

 Using the free Viso 3D iOS app:

Getting the app: Download and install Viso3D from the app store on your iPad or from the iTunes app store on your computer. Use the app store search to look for "Viso3D" or "viso3D". Alternately, download it on your iPod touch and transfer it to your iPad.

The Viso3D app will view and navigate .xcs files that have been converted from SketchUp (.skp) files using the Viso3D exporter. The Viso3D app does not read .skp files it can only open and navigate converted .xcs files.

1. The Viso3D File Manager:

When you first open the Viso3D app from your iPad, the Viso3D file manager is displayed. This will list all the .xcs files you have opened from e-mail or Dropbox or files you have moved from your computer via iTunes (please read the Distributing .xcs files section to read about various method of putting .xcs files on your iPad.)

The Update button is used when you transfer .xcs files from your computer through the iTunes. After syncing your iPad with iTunes, open Viso3D on your iPad and click Update. This will then list the .xcs files you transferred.

The Download button has one function. This will give you access to one sample .xcs model called the Barcelona-export.xcs file. It's a good model to test and learn the navigation tools.

The Edit button will allow you to select the listed .xcs files and delete them.

Navigation tools and menu items

Once you open a model, you will see the navigation and menu tool bar on the bottom right of the display as you see in the image below.

One figure gesture. One finger gesture or dragging your one finger across the iPad screen will always produce a walk around effect no matter which navigation icon you choose. This motion will ignore your navigation icon choice. Moving your finger up the screen will move the camera forward. Moving your one figure down the screen, will move the camera backwards. Dragging your one figure to the left or right , will move the camera in your fingers direction.

Two fingers. Two finger gesture or dragging two fingers simultaneously across the screen will have a different effect with each of the navigation tools. As a default, without any navigation tools selected, the two finger motion will move the camera position up or down and pivot the camera without moving the camera forward or backwards. This is similar to SketchUp's Look Around features. Two finger movement with specific navigation tools such as Pan, Rotate and Orbit will have different effects.

Pinch and Spread. Two finger pinch and spread will zoom the camera in or out.

Pan. When the pan icon is invoked and you use two fingers, the Viso3D camera will pan in a horizontal or vertical manner in one plane.

Rotate. The rotate icon moves the camera much like Look Around does in SketchUp. It will rotate the camera freely in all directions. Two fingers must be used.

Orbit. The orbit tool requires two fingers to work. This will orbit the camera around an axis point which is usually the center of the model.

The edge tool is not a navigation tool. Rather it will draw lines on the edges of the faces.

The light bulb icon will turn the lightmap off or on. With the light map off, the shadows and the ambient light will be removed.

The magnify glass icon simply moves the field of view forward or backward.

The home icon will bring the camera back to the original coordinate of the specific scene. It's very useful if you are getting lost.

The preset icon will display all the available scenes that were exported from SketchUp with the .xcs file. You can select the scenes and navigate around the model this way. Keep in mind, the shadow positions will not change when you change scenes. Changing scenes in Viso3D, changes the camera position to where it was located in the SketchUp scene.

 Distributing the .xcs files to you or your customers

Viso 3D .xcs files can be shared via email, or distributed througha cloud storage/file-sharing service like Dropbox, Box, OneDrive, or iTunes. Read more about sharing your Viso3D files here.

 Where to get support

E-mail support - Please e-mail us with any question, any time. You should get a reply within 24 hours and usually faster unless it is the weekend. The Forum is a faster way to get response. Telephone calls for support may not get answered.

Upload your models. If you are having problems rendering your models, feel free to upload them to the Forum our account. Make sure you send and e-mail to us to let us know you have uploaded a model to