Tutorial 17: Desert city; Our first exercise using ArcGIS Pro with CityEngine

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The "Desert City" in this example is Jalalabad, Afghanistan at coordinates 34.430905, 70.45560. How did I figure this out? I went to File > Get Map Data and clicked "Topographic", then checked some of my georeferenced data against the map. From here, I could select a opt to download the street network and polygons -- pretty cool -- but we'll be using the data supplied in the tutorial.

The data for this exercise is contained within a .gdb geodatabase, so this seemed a good opportunity to start exploring the workflow between ArcGIS Pro and CityEngine, which is not part of the tutorial.

  • I opened Pro and created a new blank project in the same workspace as my CityEngine project.
  • From the Insert tab on top, I went to the Project section and clicked Connections and Add Database; then navigated to the data folder in my workspace and selected the existing geodatabase DesertCityGDB.gdb.
  • In the Catalog window on the right side of the screen, the database and all of the files within appeared in the file structure.

Next, we visualize the data:

  • Select Insert on the menu bar and in the Project group at the far left, Click New Map and then select New Map from the dropdown. We have created a new 2D map.
  • Select Map on the menu bar and in the Layer group, select Basemap and then World Imagery.
  • In the Catalog panel, drag the Buildings file from the database over to the Contents panel and above World Imagery.  Zoom in to the layer; you'll notice that not all buildings are there and some of the polygons don't match actual buildings very closely. Whatever. Resolution is apparently not critical.
  • Drag the Streets and the other layers over with the exception of TerrainExtent. Be sure World Imagery appears at the bottom of the drawing order or the layers will not appear. Change color and symbology as you want.
  • I symbolized my buildings by color by right-clicking on the Buildings layer in the Contents panel, then Symbology. In the Symbology panel that appears, select Unique Values; under Value Field, select Building Usage.
  • Choose a color scheme to your liking.  City planners use a standarized color scheme for land use, but we're not going to worry about that here.

ArcGIS Pro works in both 2D and 3D. To visualize our data in 3D, go to View on the menu bar and click Convert in the View group on the far right. After a little churning by your computer, you can navigate around your new 3D map as you would in CityEngine.

  • We can "link" the views in our 2D and 3D windows so that when we change perspectives in one, the other window will follow.
  • From the menu bar, click View and then Link Views in the Link section. Chainlinks will appear in the title tabs for each map.
  • To view multiple maps in a split screen, right-click the title tab at the top of a map window and select New Horizontal or New Vertical Tab Group. If you have your views linked, the two views will move together. You can navigate the 3D window as you normally would.
  • To close the split screen, right-click a title tab and then Move to Previous Tab Group.

Viewing linked 2D and 3D maps in a split display.

Now let's turn to CityEngine. When we open the Desert_City.cej tutorial, you'll see a bumpy, brown background behind everything. Turn off all layers to see the background unobstructed. You can pan and tilt around this background, but you can't zoom. What is this thing?

At the right of your tool bar, click the Edit scene light and panorama settings. Look at the panorama properties at the bottom and you'll see DesertSky.jpg has been selected as both your Environment Map and Reflection Map.  Desert Sky is simply a 2400x1200 pixel jpg image that will wrap around seamlessly -- here is a small version.

Hey, with the right software, you can make your own images!

Activate your Terrain layer and you'll see topography floating serenely in space. Why do we have this Environment image?  Anyone familiar with 3D visualization knows the best looking work is often diminished by the starkness of the horizon; it looks like the universe disappears into limbo just outside of your scene's extent. That is one reason. An Environment image improves your product.

In this installment, we have started to look at CityEngine and ArcGIS Pro side by side for the first time. Pro makes the partnership feel a lot more simpatico than it was with ArcMap. Both have their distinct purposes, which we'll get to later.

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