Time to ditch OpenGL in favor of Metal/DX12

Many Mac ports of things that use OpenGL or Vulcan use a wrapper that redirects the internal pipe from the old API to the new one.
Previously it would report as Apple GPU or something below the area that would have said OpenGL.
Maybe an error showing something else, or maybe a workaround to help keep certain extensions working?

Hmm. It turns out that we are finally getting our wish, sooner or later.

I wonder how big the task will be, after 23 years, to switch to something else.

Certainly a big task: even the smallest changes in this year’s version cause difficulties for users and developers.


I hope the guy who loves OpenGL doesn’t try to sabotage this move. Every time I’ve posted or commented on a post about Sketchup changing the API, he comes up defending OpenGL, stating that it’s not OpenGL’s fault.

Although OpenGL does what it was designed to do, it’s old, creaky, and Apple has stopped supporting more updates. So, it’s time to rethink the SketchUp dependency. Posting announcing a change is proof that Trimble is aware of it. Regardless of what is chosen as a replacement, there will be a lot of work to be done and a high risk of failure. If the release is delayed, it doesn’t mean that some OpenGL fanatic is blocking progress, it just means that this is a major change that needs to be done with caution.


hey, you don’t know, I can imagine a meeting at Trimble HQ with someone in a suit nervously saying “guys, we have a problem, we have to delay our update for the millions of users, Jimmy420 on our forum I don’t think leaving OpenGL is a Good idea. We have to abort now! :clown face:

Also, Anssi’s point was not that openGL is superior to metal and d12. He wrote that claiming that one change in technology would solve all problems was incorrect. and has a point. The change will solve some problems, but you can be sure that it will generate new ones and fix bugs.

Just look at the framework change on the PC version in 2023, the impact on its appearance, and the bugs it generated along the way. However, I’m pretty sure most developers would say that the new framework is better than the old one.

That is unfolding for you. That’s why they often try not to fix what isn’t broken in the first place. unless they have to.

Just my point. Also, being an average retired old man in Finland who doesn’t work for SketchUp greatly decreases my chance of sabotaging SketchUp development.
I’m pretty convinced that the SU team has people who know what makes it tick and have an idea of ​​where the bottlenecks are. I am also afraid that there is no magic wand; if it existed, it would have been used already. The only quick fix to things I’ve seen was around 1988-90 when Autodesk rewrote the snap algorithm in AutoCad. That’s why I’m skeptical about the ability of users to tell developers how to do their job.


Totally agree! Having been a developer in a previous career, I’m always bummed out when someone who isn’t a developer posts something like “it would be easy” or “app x does this, so it must be possible for SketchUp too” without knowing how. SketchUp is actually programmed or what it would take to make the “simple” change.

Again, okay.


Can’t. For two reasons:

  • Trimble has already shown a willingness to take SketchUp in bold new directions that users either objected to or didn’t ask for, such as the web version and subscription license.
  • A much more likely scenario would be a meeting where the Suit tells the developers “that will cost HOW MUCH!! We are not going to spend that just to appease users.”

In your own words, can you tell us why OpenGL is the problem?

I don’t think OpenGL is the problem, rather the SketchUp renderer itself is very inefficient, but that’s another thing.
I think the I.Pad version uses metal (I think Apple already dropped OpenGL support).
And guess what? It doesn’t work much differently than the other versions.

Anyway; the point is that changing the graphics API itself will have little benefit.

The OpenGL version used on Mac is 2.1, while the Windows version is 4.6, all APIs improve their performance with each new version.
Apple removed support for OpenGL in 2015, so newer versions won’t support it.
I use other softwares like blender and archicad that have already ported their programs to Metal, and the performance gains are huge, especially in blender, it can handle huge models without any display lag, even with heavy textures, same model imported from sketchup but without textures it’s impossible to work, orbiting or zooming takes a lot of time, same for any other tool, getting out of a group/component is excruciating, I had to split the model into 10 parts and hide the 9 parts I’m not working with .

I’m not an engineer or software developer and I don’t know if moving to Metal will solve all the sketching and design problems, I’m just going by experience with other programs that have changed their API from OpenGL to Metal. Perhaps the sketchup renderer could be the problem and the performance gains may not be as expected if Trimble makes the switch, as a sketchup user for over 10 years and a fan of the program I just want it to improve so I can compete. with other softwares, this is one of the reasons why many people don’t take sketchup seriously, i think sketchup is one of the best if not the best software for architecture and i try to develop all my projects only on he but sometimes it’s just impossible to do it, I’d like to stop using and pay for Archicad but it’s still needed for big projects.

2023 reports 2.1, but I think it’s a bug that this is reported this way, other versions don’t say this.
4.1 was the last release of Apple’s OpenGL support.
2023 for some reason says 2.1, instead of 4.1 or APPLE GPU like it did previously.

Anyway, all I’m saying is that buying the magic wand that is METAL is going to disappoint you.
SketchUp surely needs some modernization in this department, but the API is not the crux of the problem.
Fortunately, SketchUp is working on new rendering engines for SketchUp and is investigating the impact it will have on the broader ecosystem, since such a big fundamental change will affect certain plugins or renderers.

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James D. Brown
James D. Brown
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