It’s that time again when Esri release’s a new version of CityEngine. Now supposedly the .0 releases I always though were where big features were released and .1 releases where improvements and bug fixes… but to be honest the recent releases don’t feel like that pattern holds. Yes, this weeks release does have some new features and whether they feel significant really depends on your work. Let’s discuss the headlines, you’ll get my mood is a little more downbeat for this release in places… maybe it’s just been a long week. Esri staff who have busted a gut getting this release out always have my eternal thanks but please don’t feel offended if I want more 🙂
Holding out for street improvements? They’ve changed the interface a little and I don’t think for the better in areas, I liked knowing numbers of what I was selecting and the icons are not I feel as clear as using words. Yes the new improvements allow for better selection but otherwise streets work the same as previous releases.
Selection methods are a key skill in CityEngine use and can make or break some workflows my clients use! I always lament the select by group being moved from the right-click context menu personally. In this release they have added a selectin lasso tool which honestly I am not sure was ever on my wish list! It’s a good addition but there is more I feel we could have here.
This has been sold as key improvement a new start-up experience. Considering most of the time I used to just close this dialog box down anyway, having it a permanent part of the interface isn’t quite the win perhaps developers thought it would be, certainly for me! For new users this means your previously open file history is in a proper window which I think makes sense, especially for new users.
Custom reference systems are better now and fit better with the transform tools. Not something I use a lot but for other industries I think this is probably important.
The big headline here is better support for Twinmotion with a checkbox option on unreal datasmith exporter… a small improvement but will have a big impact on those who (like me) love Twinmotion. Historically I’ve been using FBX with Twinmotion, I’ve had less work to do in Twinmotion and support seems pretty solid. I think this improvement will get me more involved in datasmith though. I support additional improvements for working with Twinmotion especially when it comes to terrains.
To be honest I always want more from every new release of CityEngine. This is a solid release (look at the changelog for more details) as previous ones are so definitely download it. As always, keep your old installations of CityEngine and work on demo data before adopting this fully into your workflows! Remember Esri can’t anticipate how you work with CityEngine always!
Sitting outside of Esri and working on real-world projects as well as training clients in a variety of professions means I see and feel the limitations of CityEngine more keenly hence my slightly downbeat mood today. From my experience CityEngine has had more interest from my clients in the urban design/city planning professions recently (last year) as their clients start to expect more intelligent design with metrics and high quality visualisations. If I was to ask Esri developers to focus on one thing it is workflows, and by that I mean data imports and exports of not just geometry but also metrics… make it even easier and smoother to do these things. Look at what their urban design/city planning clients are doing and want to do.
Lastly a big thank you to the Esri developers, I know it’s difficult please everyone! This is a good release, go and download it from your ‘my.esri’ portal thingy.