5 interesting things about CityEngine

Having the rather envious task of looking after CityEngine here at Esri UK, I get to play with all the new functionality that comes along. CityEngine has come on leaps and bounds with its GIS integration since we first acquired it and with the introduction of the CityEngine Web Viewer it’s now even possible to share your CityEngine projects on AGOL. Here are my top 5 things in CityEngine that you might want to try out.


1)  Scenarios can be viewed side-by-side in CityEngine WebViewer, perfect for considering different redevelopment possibilities. In order to do this, when you export your Web Scene (File|Export Models|CityEngine Web Scene), name the two layers you want to compare with the same name in the Layer Group. Then when it is exported the two layers will appear under the same layer in the Web Scene. Then simply press the swipe icon and both layers will appear side-by-side with a swipe tool to move between the two.


2)  Dynamic water effects can be added using a built-in renderer in CityEngine Web Viewer to enhance visualisations with large bodies of water.


All you need to do is add “__water” (double underscore) to the polygon which is your waterbody, by clicking on the layer in CityEngine and changing the name using the Inspector window.  Then when it exports it will automatically render it as water.


More water effects include:
<Name>__waterquiet (slower wave speed, less amplitude)
<Name>__waterstormy (higher wave speed, more amplitude)

For more info see: http://forums.arcgis.com/threads/88493-Animated-Water-Shader-in-WebScene 


3)   ArcScene 10.2 has greater compatibility with CityEngine and can now export straight to a CityEngine Scene, which can then be hosted on AGOL. Simply open the Export to 3D Web Scene tool (3D Analyst Tools/CityEngine), select the layer you want to export and preferably save it to a location within your CityEngine Workspace. Then you can either upload it to AGOL or open the CityEngine Web Viewer from CityEngine. 


4)   Much of Esri’s CityEngine content is re-usable, especially useful for those with little scripting or programming skills. Many of the rule files for the CityEngine tutorials and examples online (http://bit.ly/1a13iGQ) have been written in a way that can be applied to your data. For example, you are looking at the Philadelphia example (http://bit.ly/10NfIjr) and you like the way the streets look in it and want to recreate these in your work. All you need to do is download the project from online and then copy and paste the rule files along with the asset files (textures and objects it references eg. lampposts) into your respective CE project folders. You can then highlight all your street lines and apply the rule. This will then create these detailed streets in your scene and you can use the Inspector Window to configure the look of the streets. 

This method not only gives you free models (trees, lampposts etc) but saves you a lot of time and effort in writing rule files.


5)   The intuitive Polygonal Shape Creation Tool in CityEngine 2012.1 lets you manually modify buildings. It will allow you to extrude whole or part of buildings, divide up faces and create detailed model shapes without the need to script it in CGA. This is really useful for buildings with very complicated geometries or uneven faces.