CityEngine Rule of the Week

It’s been a while since I’ve posted I know! Anyway this year the CityEngine team at Esri have been publishing ‘Rules of the Week’ videos not only that they’ve been publishing the actual rule files as well.

A great way to learn CityEngine is to look at the code other people have written, and who better to (ahem) copy form than the CityEngine team itself.

It’s a bit of a shame that the audio quality is so good in places but if you like CityEngine it’s well worth a view!

Season’s Greetings

Okay I’ve been unforgivably silent on the blog for quite a while.  Work has got in the way and we’re planning at Garsdale Design something big for 2017! Stay tuned.

A Merry Procedural Christmas from Garsdale Design Limited on Vimeo.

In the meantime have a very Merry Christmas and a productive peaceful 2017. 

Life Changer

Last Thursday evening at the CityEngine: Hollywood’s VFX Tool for Massive Cities event, I finally got to meet someone very important in my life.  How important? Well ‘life changing’ important, okay not like meeting my wife and kids, but to say this person is only a small part of my life story would be disingenuous.

Upon meeting this person I couldn’t help but rather embarrassingly tell them that I regarded them as someone who had significantly affected my life.  He looked embarrassed, he laughed awkwardly and generally I’m sure he thought I was quite mad.

So who was this ‘gentleman of significance’?  Well his name is Pascal Mueller and he is the creator of CityEngine.

I'm on the left, Pascal is on the right (in case you're wondering)
I’m on the left, Pascal is on the right (in case you’re wondering)

Yup if you have read this blog more than once now you get it.  Before I came into contact with CityEngine I was drifting aimlessly through a career from Geographer to Planner never quite at home with it but content nonetheless.  Then on a project I was working on using SketchUp I became massively lazy, many will recognise this levelness of lazy as the kind that makes you trawl the Internet for many hours, possibly days looking for a work around to a work process you have just got very tired of doing.

  • I found CityEngine.
  • I downloaded CityEngine.
  • After a few minutes of using CityEngine and reading up about it I realised this was a game changer.  No, really.

The rest is history, I’ve made a business out of CityEngine services and met a whole new generation of people getting interested in 3D urban modelling.  It’s opened the door for me in the emerging academic field of Geodesign.  I’ve been asked to speak at conferences about our use of CityEngine.  People now specifically seek out our company for advice.  Genuinely it has changed my life, it is changing my life.

The lesson here is simple: don’t think for a moment your idea for a software product is worthless, it may just change someone’s life and they may just thank you for it.

Thank you Pascal.

GUEST POST : BRINGING SPATIAL DECISION MAKING TO THE MASSES (EsriUC 2015)

Quick note from GeoPlanIT’s Elliot Hartley: Ruskin Hartley (yes my brother) attended this years Esri User Conference in San Diego on behalf of Garsdale Design Limited, I asked if he could write a couple of guest blog posts for us, this is his first.

esriUC2015_ruskin

Geography is everywhere.  Of course, being a geographer I would say that. But for many people geography means a list of state capitals and perhaps the atlas published by the National Geographic.  I’ve just come back from the 2015 Esri user conference in San Diego and saw first hand that this is changing quickly. While much of the discussion was about new software and tools, the most exciting change is the way these tools are deployed.

Just as Google maps has transformed the way we navigate our world (when was the last time you used a paper map?!), spatial decision support tools are transforming the way we understand the world around us and how we make collective decisions. GIS – geographic information systems – is the tool enabling this transformation.

GIS is not a new technology. It’s at least 40 years old in its modern incarnation and I’ve been using it for about half this time. Having just spent a few days at the Esri user conference, it is clear that the power of GIS as a decision support tool is on the verge of being brought into the heart of the public domain. It’s exciting and has the potential to transform the way we live, work, and govern.

A number of trends are converging to make this possible.

  • Data is being collected in real time and near real-time. Our GPS enabled smart phones are at the front line of this data collection revolution. They are being rapidly joined by an army of drones, and matched up with unprecedented satellite images being updated on a daily basis.
  • Data is shared and available 24/7 on the cloud rather than being hoarded on hard drivesFrom the latest Landsat image, to a live twitter feed, to projections of sea-level rise, we all have access to curated and constantly updated datasets.  Served up through a geoportal, you can quickly find what you’re looking for and know that you’re accessing current data.
  • Powerful GIS analysis and publishing tools are available online. I no longer need a UNIX workstation,  thousands of dollars of software, and an expensive plotter to conduct and share an analysis.  Using ArcGIS online, or one of the other freely available online tools, I can quickly publish and share work.

Bring these three threads together and real-time analysis is available to anyone. In the classic production cycle, experts would take weeks to conduct a static analysis that was shared with the decision makers as a printed map. There was no way quick or easy way to interact with the results. Most of your time was spent preparing the data, rather than conducing the analysis. In the end, the decision maker had to accept what the map said – or risk another lengthy cycle to change things up. It was the classic top-down approach.

Now, I can throw the data up a on a web-site — pulling data feeds from many different places — and give the users simple ways to explore and visualize the data. They can dig in and draw their own conclusions. Or I can walk them through a story map to help them understand what is going on.

This will fundamentally remake the way decisions are made. The environmental review process for development and land use projects can become interactive. Companies can understand spatial trends in real time. In essence, decision making will become democratized as everyone has access to relevant data and analysis.

Does this mean GIS professionals will whither away? Far from it! Rather than just being the folks you go to to make a map, they’ll be at the core of how we collaborate and make shared decisions. Sounds like fun to me!

GISWORX2015 Conference, Dubai

 

2015-04-21 11.04.28
Nicely produced conference material

Last week Garsdale Design (that is myself and Matthias) attended, exhibited as well as conducted a workshop at the Middle East’s premier annual Esri GIS conference called GISWORX held in Dubai.   This is hosted and run by GISTEC an Esri Distributor. Those who follow me know I’ve been before, in fact I was the guest speaker the first time around (The Power of Play).

IMG_2962 5r
GISWORX2013 Guest Speaker…. Elliot

If you want to see Matthias in a suit click on to read more… 🙂

What’s new in CityEngine 2015.0?

CE2015 Splash Screen

It’s that time of year when a new release of CityEngine becomes available (okay we think it maybe the 9th of April)!  Yes we would love more bug fixes and features added, but they’re a small development team so we shall forgive them (this time…).  

As usual the Changelogs are publicly available here.

CGA Changelog

2015.0
CGAC 1.5
new functions:

changes to existing features:

  • split operations:
    • missing sizes are not allowed any longer. For instance, split(x) { A } does not compile anymore. The correct equivalent is split(x) { ~1: A }.
    • functions in size expression do not need extra parantheses anymore.
  • @Hidden annotation: changed propagation across imports. A hidden import hides all its imports recursively.
  • uid shape attribute deprecated. Use the getTreeKey function instead.

bugfixes:

  • Fixed a bug in the cgb decoder which failed to read compiled cga files with a large number of attributes/rules/splits.
  • Vertexmerger: fixed a bug which prevented hole vertices to be merged with vertices of other faces.
  • float() function: made string-to-float conversion independent of locale.
  • split operations: intensified internal mesh cleanup to reduce memory load, fixed a bug which led to undesired vertex-merges.
  • roofHip operation: avoid duplicate vertices.
  • offset, roofGable and roofHip operations: made offset / roof construction more stable on polygons with co-linear vertices and fixed a memory explosion bug.
  • cleanupGeometry operation: fixed bug which led to illegal material assignements (“filled holes rendering bug”) on edge cleanup for geometries with per-face-materials.
  • Fixed undefined behaviour if the same name was used for a scalar attr and a map attr.
  • CGA compiler: Parameteric rules and functions with a large number of parameters do not hang the compiler / CityEngine anymore.

 

Python Changelog

Status Commands
new get/setExportDatasetRelationships in FGDBExportModelSettings
new get/setExportFeatures in FGDBExportModelSettings
changed get/setAddObjectAttributes renamed to get/setExportObjectAttributes in FGDBExportModelSettings
new Several new methods in FGDBImportSettings
new setFloat in ImageExportTerrainSettings
new additional argument animate for View3D.restoreBookmark and View3D.setCameraPerspective
note Selection behaviour change in UI changes behaviour of ce.selection(), ce.setSelection() in cases where shape has a model. To get the shape from a selection with shape and model, usece.getObjectsFrom(ce.selection, ce.isShape)[0] instead of ce.selection()[0]

Sedbergh 3D meets CityEngine and LumenRT

Sedbergh Demo Video Title

I’ve been busy this weekend making some of my old demo videos more ‘presentable’!  We (Garsdale Design Limited) purchased 3D Sedbergh off of CyberCity3D so that we had a test bed for 3D workflows and so we can go outside quickly and check the model ‘in the field’ as it were…

smart cities start with smart data

I personally wanted Sedbergh my home town in 3D as I’m quite frankly fed up of seeing cities get all the fun 3D data.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, forget smart cities, what about smart villages and towns?!

People really struggle with CityEngine and what it can do, this is understandable as CityEngine is a very versatile and technical software tool.   We often start with pretty imagery and nice 3D models but we embed intelligence, the underlying 2D GIS data we already knew about.   What we do (amongst other things) is create nice looking 3D basemaps and take your 2D data and make them attractive and importantly useful.

 

This Sedbergh model we’ve added some landuse data (polygons and points) these represent trees, Listed Building status and community buildings.   For planners and architects imagine visualising your plans for a site with this technology.   If you want to view and interact with a Sedbergh model (not quite the one on the video) you can do so here.