I’ve talked about trees in CityEngine before, but not in any great detail. The fact is 3D urban models look really dull without a few trees and plants. Come to think of it so does the real-world!
I know the ESRI.Lib has a Plants directory and an amazing list of trees all in ‘Model’, ‘Analyical’, and ‘Fan’ 3D model types. The Plant_Loader.cga and Plant_Distributor.cga I consider one of the most useful rule files for users in CityEngine, simply because it saves us time. However it is quite North American in its approach and I’ve always meant to add to it with some ‘tweaks’ to reflect how I work and how I train others in my CityEngine courses.
So I’ve started a new project in CityEngine! It is the start of a British specific tree species rule file, I’ve adapted a list of the British tree species (native and non-native) from the Woodland Trust.
I’ve made simple small steps at first and I’ve started at the interface (inspector pane in the CityEngine interface). I’ve used the ESRI.Lib as a basis for an approach but obviously I want ‘British’ tree species.
After the overall structure of the interface and how it gets 3D assets to use is settled I will start trying to source 3D assets that represent these species. That’s the difficult bit for each species Esri has done 3 models (model, analytical, and fan). Whether I can finish this on my own is doubtful, so I will be adding this soon to my Github account and hoping others can help. Now, I’m not a big user of Github at all but it seems a good place to do this.
Feel free to contact me directly if you want more information or better yet want to help!
Update: I had a repsonse from one of the Developers about this on LinkedIn which is at the end of this (I have his permission to post it)
Bless those Esri developers in Zurich and Redlands developing cool new features and workflows! It seems they work so fast sometimes they forget to document the features they’re working on. With several releases/updates a year I can’t always keep up so perhaps they can’t either?
Those of you who use CityEngine for geodesign will love the dashboard, instead of reporting dry numbers you get these dynamic charts giving you visual and numerical feedback in to you geodesign projects. It can be very useful bu twhen I use it I’m constantly fighting windows and screens coding and visualising, now where did I put that dashboard. This tip gives you another option placing it in your web browser!
I only relatively recently noticed a message in the log tab (Window –>Show Log), you do use this window pane/tab right?! Well probably not, and only when you’re trying to figure out what went wrong. Double-clicking the message that says ‘Dashboards are also available in your browser’ and you’ll get this message…
Select and copy that web address that says http://localhost:60288 (or similar it does change each time, perhaps this could be more friendly??).
Ta da! Now you can have a dashboard in CityEngine’s interface…… and your web browser, sadly it’s not published out to the big world wide web but for local desktop use this could be useful. Now I’ve tested it and it all seems to work nicely, a change in one window is still reflected in the other.
That’s it, you may have sensed some frustration with Esri CityEngine’s interface design and documentation…. well perhaps you’re reading too much into it 🙂
So I posted this to LinkedIn and one of the developers added this comment which really adds to the information above:
Hi Elliot,There is a reason why we “overlooked” this “feature” in the documentation phase:) We don’t want to support it atm, means we don’t check and make sure that the dashboards render nicely in different browsers. There are other technical reasons that are taken into account and the main use case of it I guess is already covered by the dashboard tab beeing detachable from the main window. Thanks anyway for the nice article and have a good time, Chris
Over the last few weeks I’ve been working on some custom mapping for a range of products (digital and paper) to commemorate 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War here in Sedbergh.
It started with my experimentation of using ArcGIS Pro and the Ordnance Survey’s fantastic Open Zoomstack data product to create ‘fantasy’ type maps. I soon realised that there was more I could, do and with Remembrance day coming up I had an idea.
What if I recreated those old Ordnance Survey (6-inch maps) using modern data and symbolise the natural features of the area as some kind of trench and barbed wire network? This would represent the deep routed effects war had on the community and highlight the ‘battlefield’ of home, whether that be loved ones not returning, or returning not quite the same, and the ripple effect it had on the valleys around Sedbergh.
I started by making a basemap I could use in a printed product (a series of A1 sheets), but quickly realised this nice looking basemap (derived from OS data) could be used in some nice digital mapping.
Staff at Garsdale Design had been involved in the ‘Streams of Remembrance’ display in St Andrew’s Church in Sedbergh and had a list of names given to them by Sedbergh and District History Society. What I’ve done with this is create a geographic point file of where all the soldiers lived and their biographical details, then I constructed a web link to feed their details into the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website so you could click on the link and find where they are buried.
My feeling was that more viewers can relate to an age than they can to rank, status or anything else.
Symbology – I’ve wrestled with this for a while, I knew each soldier had to be represented by a poppy symbol of some kind. Was age important? Was rank? Was where they lived or died significant? I could not and did not want to answer, every death is a tragedy and significant. I did think however, that age might be a good way to group these people in the storymap. My feeling was that more viewers can relate to an age than they can to rank, status or anything else.
So I drew some poppies, single flowers, flowers on stems, and finally I settled on a collection of symbols. Single poppies when close together overlapped too much and you couldn’t make out individuals and I didn’t like it. I tried resizing the poppies based on age but was unhappy… so I asked for help.
so I asked for help.
After much deliberation I reached out to Kenneth Field**, if it’s one thing that those who know Ken would agree on is that he has an opinion! I gave him some background and asked for advice on displaying the poppies, I won’t repeat all of what he said (it was long and very kind) but basically my idea of sizing based on age was brought into clarity when he said:
…you could ditch age altogether. Is it important in the context of the map? Isn’t the fact each poppy locate a fallen soldier enough (mass of poppies = more in this sense cognitively). A larger poppy might also be seen as being ‘more important’ because it’s more visible. Is a soldiers age relevant to their ‘importance’
A poppy at various life stages is an interesting and beautiful thing. I liked the idea and in the end after much thought I used all the symbols on my map (with the bottom of the stem being where the point is on the map). Each poppy symbol would be distributed randomly, age would not be a factor, this also allowed me to avoid some of the overlapping symbology issues I was having. I know it’s not perfect and the image above looks a bit too delicate, but I think I’ll never be truly happy with any solution. Artistically I like this compromise the best. An unexpected outcome is actually the 3D view of these poppies looks much better than the 2D.
I didn’t want to write so much in one post, I do have a technical blog post about the making of this coming as well. I’ll end by saying I’ve created a number of maps paper A1 sheets, 2D webmap, StoryMap, 3D Scene, and a custom 3D mApp using the Esri JS API.
A link to the StoryMap and 3D mApp (this custom app allows you to get screenshots of an area and download them with a custom title) are ready and linked here below (click on the images).
** Shameless plug but Ken’s book “Cartography.” it’s a valuable resource for those who want to make better maps.
A first draft demo video of one of several cartographic products produced in commemoration of the end of the First World War. The map shows where the people of Sedbergh and District who died came from as well as some biographical details. The basemap was use OS Open Zoomstack data and hand drawn by myself custom symbology assembled in ArcGIS Pro.
Each point has a different poppy symbol based on a poppy’s lifecycle but not representing importance or an attribute, this is to help with potential overlapping of points. These points and the list of people came from the Sedbergh and District History Society.
I’ll be writing a blog post shortly to outline the steps in its production.
Just a quick Esri CityEngine news post for those who may have missed it, or (and more likely) for me about 2 months later when I remember there being a cool rule set for signs, but can’t for the life of me remember where the link is…
Those of you who use Esri CityEngine will already know that it is sometimes frustratingly lacking in useful content. Yes there is the ‘ESRI.Lib’ project directory which is installed in each new ‘workspace’. Some of the most used rules in that library are the tree and road rules, and the occasional text for labels.
creating generic rules for everyone is actually quite hard
I’ve always said creating generic rules for everyone is actually quite hard unless you can guarantee how they work and the structure of their underlying data (oh crikey I think I just advocated some kind of ‘standard’). Complicated generic rule files for all the Esri CityEngine users is hard to do, but simple focused rules (like trees, signs and simple streets) is much easier and in the end more useful.
oh crikey I think I just advocated some kind of ‘standard’**
The ability for us to ‘daisy-chain’ rules means and a consistent perpetual Esri CityEngine ‘ESRI.Lib’ directory means I can write rules that reference simple tree visualisations easily.
Now a very cool gentleman from Esri called Geoff Taylor has created a new rule package (for ArcGISPro 3D users) and CityEngine project that has done some hard work for you. USA street signs! Yes we’ve had signs within the Streets rules before, but this one is far more useful.
It contains the start of something that I’m sure will only expand and become more useful for those of us doing 3D modelling in the USA (some of this may be useful in Canada too). It also looks like this may end up linking up with the awesome Complete Streets tool from David Wasserman (you can get that here on github)