CityEngine, SketchUp and Kerkythea: How to make them play nice.

My first rendered (albeit simple) CityEngine model

I’ve been looking at ways to import properly my GIS to CityEngine models into SketchUp, the trouble is that when I’ve opened them in SketchUp the model looks weird. In that I mean it doesn’t draw properly and doesn’t display properly. It sort of flashes on and off when I move around the model. Then when I’ve tried to render it in Kerkythea (a great and free renderer) it doesn’t work either.

I looked for a solution and it appears the answer lay in this forum post “obj export to Lightwave – problems with scale”.  What’s happening is that I’ve been importing my ArcGIS Shapefiles as “‘Cartesian'(disable projection)”.   This way I can easily export the results back to ArcGIS.   I’ll freely admit I’m not so good with projections and map systems!  Anyway while this is great for back and forth between CityEngine and GIS, the models produced (obj or 3DS, in my case) have an issue.

Basically the models are exported with origin points far to far away from the actual model.    CityEngine at this time does not seem to be able to sort this problem out.  Their solution is to import all shapefiles and centre the data by offsetting, but of course getting back to your GIS is not as easy as my preferred method.

My model is displaying a bit weird in SketchUp...

I’ve decided that I like too much the ability to go between ArcGIS and CityEngine so the solution lies for me where the problem manifests itself in SketchUp:

  1. Import your model into SketchUp (3DS or OBJ)
  2. Double click on the imported model so you are working inside the ‘component/group’ no right click off the mode to bring up the menu with ‘Change Axes’
  3. Now position the axes were you want it within the model you’ve imported.*UPDATE: Alternatively use the ‘Move to Origin and Center’ plugin tool which you can download from Smustard
  4. Close the component/group
  5. Viola! you should have a properly displaying model now.
  6. Now for getting the model into Kerkythea you need to download and install this SketchUp Plugin
As a footnote if you want the model to sit correctly in Google Earth, use SketchUp’s Geo-Location tool under the File menu.  Then just manually position your model.   It’s not a perfect solution but Google Earth for most people isn’t about millimetre accuracy!

 

 

ArcGIS: Dynamic Charting: What’s it good for?

Don't worry Sedbergh, it's only a test!

In my line of work sometimes I need an overview of what I’m plotting in ArcGIS.   For instance, how much land area is being covered by the feature I’ve just plotted?  Or am I getting the expected proportions of land-uses?   This can help ‘GeoDesigners‘!   We use ArcGIS for City Masterplanning so the tool has a definite use.

Dynamic Charting is a tool that does just that, install the add in for ArcGIS10 and add the button.   Once you’ve clicked on the Dyanmic Charting button you can drag the layer you’re editing over to the dynamic charting box and watch as you add features and the chart (pie or bar) is updated ‘on-the-fly’.

Brilliant.

You can read more about the tool here, as well as download it here.

Windows 7 : “Other User” account on login – FlipHD problem? Solved!

naughty flip software!

So today I booted up my Windows 7 laptop only to find that instead of the two login options (My account and Guest) there is now a “other user” account.   Now I’ve been here before with other issues and the obvious response is to think virus or malware.   But I’m pretty careful about the stuff I put on my PC and the websites I visit, so I logged in and raced to Google for a search for people with the same issue.

I couldn’t think of any recent software I’d installed plenty of Windows updates nothing else really…. anyway I found this very useful post

“Windows 7 login screen only showing last logged-on user and “Other user””

Now before you follow all the instructions here (beware you will be using registry edit!) just to let you know I only deleted the .DEFAULT directory in  “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList”.   Before you do this I recommend that you export the directory you’re about to delete in the registry just in case you need to reinstall it.

Reading the comments below this very useful post you can see the common thread seems to be the install of FlipHD software….ah now I understand I didn’t install any new software recently I just update flipshare…

Well thank you to Jon Gjengset on his Tech That! blog…. and thank you search engine for finding the solution for me so quickly.

Moral of this story? There isn’t one silly!  This is a technical Windows 7 problem not a moral dilemma.   I would say however not every problem is virus related…  in fact a lot of problems/issues are caused by updates or software you just installed.

New CityEngine section

Well you may have noticed I’m quite partial to all things CityEngine!  With that in mind I’m starting to put some of my rule files and functions on this site as well as adding tips and tricks for the marvellous city modelling software.

If you look at the top menu bar there you will see a new menu heading called “CityEngine Info” feel free to explore!

Personally I always look on the Procedural/CityEngine help file then the forums.   But I have thought that it would be nice to set up some kind of resource so that people can copy the code they need for a project.   The forums go some way to do this but I think there is room for me!

Remember if you are really stuck Procedural provide really good support (or have for me anyway) and if you use one of their support packages they can help you write code for you!

Anyway click here to go the new section of my blog, I hope this will get bigger and more useful in time.   I hope that people will help and contribute and discuss on these pages but it’s not essential!