Tag Archives: 3D

Tips and Tricks for Working with 3D Data on the ArcGIS Platform

3D data is becoming more ubiquitous nowadays and is especially promoted throughout the ArcGIS Platform. From web scenes, to CityEngine, to ArcGIS Pro, there are many different applications to import, manage, model, and share your 3D data. To get the output you are looking for, it may require numerous steps and tools. To navigate some of these steps and tools, here are some tips and tricks for working with 3D data in ArcGIS. Continue reading

Posted in ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS Online, ArcGIS Pro, CityEngine, export, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Getting Comfortable with JavaScript API 4.0

Now that the ArcGIS API for JavaScript 4.0 has been released for a couple of weeks, this is an excellent opportunity to take a walk through some of the new syntax and functionality. This blog will go through a sample 3D application focusing on the Search widget. You can follow along with the sample code from the Esri Developer Support GitHub repository, and run the hosted sample here: View it Live.

Functionality-wise, the app displays a 3D map with four widgets: Search, Zoom, Compass, and Attribution. By default, the View includes the latter three widgets, as described in the documentation. If you’re not familiar with the 4.x changes, all mapping apps contain a map and a view. The map holds the data, and the view contains the visualization information for that data. In other words, the map is the subject, and the view is the camera; complete with filters, modes, and settings. All 2D apps will have MapViews, and 3D apps will have SceneViews (note: the term ‘scene’ indicates three dimensions across ArcGIS). The same applies for maps from ArcGIS Online and Portal for ArcGIS: a WebMap is 2D, and a WebScene is 3D.

2D map + 3D scene

2D map + 3D scene

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Preparing Data for CityEngine

Looking for a way to model your city in 3D? Look no further! To create a 3D model of a real world city in CityEngine that can be used for city planning, modeling of 3D phenomena, or even in 3D gaming environments, all you need is a DEM, streets data, and building footprints.

For those with CityEngine 2016.0, please read this post that shows you how to quickly prepare data for CityEngine with the Get map data wizard.

Before you bring your GIS data into CityEngine, however, there is some data preparation involved. Here, we review key information you need to know before getting started.

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3D Analyst Toolset Recommended Workflow: Consider the geometry of the features being used

With the release of ArcGIS 10, new tools were made available, allowing you to use 3D objects in geoprocessing tools, and opening up new possibilities for proximity analysis.  One of the new tools is the Near 3D tool, which calculates the three-dimensional distance from each input feature to the nearest feature residing in or more nearby feature classes. However, when using the new 3D analysis tools, it’s always important to consider the geometry of the features being used. Continue reading

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What is Esri CityEngine?

CityEngine screenshots of Rotterdam

I am sure many of you have already heard about CityEngine, and some of you may have even already contacted Support Services with questions related to it. For those who haven’t been introduced, CityEngine is a stand-alone software product that provides professional users in … Continue reading

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If Only This Topo Map Was More Interesting

Topographic maps are some of the most common maps that are in publication. They come in many shapes and sizes, but how can you really spice one up? What can you do to make a regular topographic map (like the one below) more interesting?

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Where did my Skyline go?


The Skyline tool is a new tool for 3D Analysis in ArcGIS 10. Many of you may have seen this tool demo’d at the User Conference in July; don’t worry if you missed it though, the demo is still available. Watch the “ArcGIS is 3D Capable” (section 14) video available at the following link: http://video.esri.com/watch/43/arcgis-is-3d-capable. (The portion of the video that is specific to the Skyline tool and model begins at the 6:13 mark.)


The Skyline tool will create a feature that displays a line or multipatch feature class containing the results from a skyline silhouette analysis. The output can be combined with the Skyline Barrier Tool to perform shadow analysis, flight path analysis or can be used to evaluate how the skyline view changes with prospective building construction.


I want to take a moment to point out that there is a line in the Web help documentation that many miss that needs to be emphasized. The line appears in the first paragraph and states, “the analysis is conducted from observer points above a functional or virtual surface.” For the tool to work effectively, the observer points must be above the surface used in the optional inputs or not contained by the multipatch features in the ‘input features’ dialog box. When the point is below or contained, the output is not created successfully, therefore resulting in an empty feature, and no one likes an empty skyline feature.


So, as a workaround, if you are trying to create points that will model a specific point, you need to adjust the elevation of the observer points to be above the surface, especially if you are interpolating the location of the observer. Once you have determined the elevation of the observer point, be sure that it is not the same elevation as the surface.


If you are unfamiliar with how to increase the elevation of the 3D points you have created and do not have the elevation in the attribute table, consider the following workflow.



  1. Use the Add XY Coordinates tool to generate the X, Y and Z coordinates for each point. (Yes, I know the name of the tool says XY, but if the point is 3D it also includes the Z coordinate.)

  2. Add a field (double or float to preserve the decimal).

  3. Right-click the field, and use the Field Calculator to add to the elevation value (ultimately, it does not matter what value you provide, it just has to be above the surface).

  4. Now use the Copy Features tool and under Environments > Z Values set ‘Output has Z Values’ to ‘disabled’ prior to running the tool to make the feature 2D.

  5. Use the Feature to 3D by Attribute tool and select the new field for the elevation to convert it back to 3D at the new elevation.

Now the new observer point should be able to create your skyline normally. So to recap, be sure your observer point is above your surface or not contained by your multipatch, or else your Skyline analysis will be empty and you will still be asking, “Where did my Skyline go?”


Please leave any comments in the comment section below this blog post. NOTE: You must be logged in to your Esri Global Account to leave comments.


Jeff Swain, Esri Support Analyst – Raster group, Esri Support Services



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