CityEngine Rules

12-11-2017 08:57 AM
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Esri Contributor

What CityEngine rules do you wish you had in your box of tools to make your 3D modeling easier?

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11 Replies
New Contributor II



My introduction to city engine has been recent, and while the tutorials are great and I have gotten to the point where I can adequately modify existing scripts to generally do what I would like. The creation of a script from scratch that has buildings like Elliot Hartley's are a very daunting undertaking. I need to balance getting stuff done with learning the intimate ins and outs of city engine. While I believe I can get there with many months of training, I need to be able to roll this out in the planning environment within the US more quickly. Here are the things that I observe would be particularly helpful/my wish list.


  1. Rules that work better for rural/urbanizing areas - While modeling in a city or urban redevelopment works well, much of the challenges faced by planners within the rural US revolve how to manage sprawl and represent rural scenarios to municipal supervisors.
    • More realistic looking “American” style housing/town houses that could be used to represent rural development scenarios.
  2. Parcel number control – Rather than a range of volumes, it would be helpful to be able to define maximum build-out in terms of allowable parcel subdivision This will better enable the display of build-out scenarios vs scenarios where we transfer density and maintain open space.
  3. Complete Streets Improvements –
    • Particularly merge lanes and intersections on highways.
      • These can be difficult to render in city engine.
    • Bike/Multi Use Path that properly intersect roadways
    • Pedestrian over/under passes
    • Wildlife over/underpasses.
  4. Structured Parking rules
  5. Not a rule, but, a consolidated library of models – much like the open date portals that are starting to pop up, or the Esri market place, it would be nice to have a searchable library of rules rather than the current method of looking for them in a forum, or searching through the tutorials.
  6. Not a rule, but, more in-depth tutorials on how to create convincing looking models, "American style" houses/townhouses.
Regular Contributor

Hi Jesse, 
Maybe we can have a discussion about overpasses for wildlife and what that would look like. Maybe a rule outside the street rule is appropriate to think about (thinking about elongated arch -something like they are talking about for the I-90). Do you think this should be built directly into the rule? At this time, I might actually advise against that. 
Underpasses might also be easier as separate shapes, but I would like to know what you are thinking. 
I second Jesse on merge lanes, path connections. Generally this is outside of the scope of what I can deal with in my spare time as I maintain the rule, and generally I think has more to do with how start shapes are dealt with in CE/available UV texture spaces. If streets are given a rewrite, it is a consideration to review. 


David Wasserman, AICP
New Contributor III


To continue Jesse's list, a curated repository of rules for CityEngine would be very helpful (if it doens't already exist) in a easy to access location.  Creating a cga script from scratch is, as Jesse points out, an arduous undertaking.  With enough time I could also learn to modify existing scripts but I have to be mindful of my time as a consultant.  And yes, a tutorial on how to create single-family homes in traditional styles (craftsman, split-level, colonial, Victorian, etc.) in CityEngine would be very helpful.  Thanks.

Jim Wooten

New Contributor II

For me as a worker in an oil company, I would like to have rules for :
- Well head for Oil wells .

- Storage Tanks ( rule of week 16 )

- Pipelines

- Beam Pumps

- Oil truck

- Electrical generators

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New Contributor II

You couldnt be more correct. CE needs a repository of rules and models, or a place the community can share those easily. If I had unlimited time and expertise in creating rules from scratch, I would be in business. However, I must be mindful how I utilize my time and resources.
Please give us a workshop!

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New Contributor II


Is the City Engine Rule of the Week on hiatus or dead altogether?

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Regular Contributor

I have the same question. 

David Wasserman, AICP
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New Contributor II

I guess its dead. Which is unfortunate because using these rules as a foundation was how I was learning.

The major problem with city engine, and its ultimate limitation in use among large planning firms with limited overhead will be the complexity of learning CGA, creating rules, and maintaining the year over year updates. Companies are not going to fund the overhead needed to learn CGA and believe it or not, most people do not have hours of free time to sit at home an teach themselves. City engine will undoubtedly have to develop what is akin to geoprocessing tools as are found in ArcGIS.

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Occasional Contributor

Hi Jesse,

There are CityEngine service providers that can help with this bridge..

Demo content as this rule of the week is usually just supposed to give inspirations of what can be done with CityEngine. I agree with you that it would be nice to have lots and lots of rules available, but in reality, each project is slightly different so that you often need code adaptions for each project. This makes it so hard to develop solid 'general purpose' rules. And of course: Planners are supposed to plan and not program.

This is why we for example developed a CityEngine (CGA) based planning tool, where you don't need any programming.

I know personally (I have worked in the CityEngine development team for almost 5 years) that the developers and content teams are very aware of some of the issues you mention - and they're working very hard on releasing more and more planning specific features.

Rome was not built in a day ..



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