Frequently asked questions



Procedural modeling

ArcGIS Platform

System requirements



What is ArcGIS CityEngine?

ArcGIS CityEngine is a desktop application that provides interactive design and procedural modeling capabilities for the creation of 3D cities and buildings.

What's new in ArcGIS CityEngine 2023.1?

See What's new in CityEngine 2023.1 for more details.

Who can use ArcGIS CityEngine?

ArcGIS CityEngine is used by professionals in the following industries:

  • Urban planning, design, and development (architectural visualization and local government)
  • Entertainment (films, commercials, games)
  • Real world simulation, emergency response, and defense
  • Academia

What is the long-term vision for ArcGIS CityEngine?

ArcGIS CityEngine is a desktop application for city planners, urban designers, and architects. It includes procedural master planning tools, interactive urban analytics on the GPU, and the management, comparison, and communication of redevelopment scenarios. It also integrates with the ArcGIS 3D platform, namely, with web apps such as Scene Viewer and ArcGIS StoryMaps and with VR/AR apps based on Runtime SDKs.


Can ArcGIS CityEngine export 3D GIS data to Unity or other VR/AR visualization engines?

Yes. ArcGIS CityEngine can export your 3D GIS data or city models to Unity, a tool for developing virtual reality applications (for example, Gear VR, Hive, and Oculus) or augmented reality solutions (for example, HoloLens). As a result, ArcGIS CityEngine writes the FBX file format, which can now be read by Unity. In the typical use case, an FBX instancing feature allows for small file sizes and high frame rates in Unity.

Does ArcGIS CityEngine support the creation of 3D KML files?

Yes. You can import and export KML in ArcGIS CityEngine. Industry-standard 3D object properties such as advanced materials and multiple textures are supported by ArcGIS CityEngine and can be read by KML viewers such as ArcGIS Earth.

Can I use ArcGIS CityEngine to generate 3D buildings out of lidar data?

No. ArcGIS CityEngine does not support lidar data nor are tools provided for the automatic extraction of surfaces out of point clouds. However, based on ArcGIS Pro and CityEngine RPKs, you can use solution workflows to extract building and tree parameters from lidar and generate procedural representation of buildings and trees at various levels of detail.

Can I use ArcGIS CityEngine to generate LOD1 buildings out of a digital surface model (DSM)?

Yes. If you have a detailed DSM (including buildings), you can compute the building height and automatically generate LOD1 buildings in ArcGIS CityEngine. To get the building footprints, you can use the ArcGIS CityEngine Get map data functionality, which imports OSM data and the underlying digital terrain model.

Procedural modeling

What is CGA?

CGA (Computer Generated Architecture) is a unique programming language specified to generate architectural 3D content. The idea of grammar-based modeling is to define procedural rules, or CGA rules in ArcGIS CityEngine, that iteratively refine a design by creating more and more detail.

How long do I need to learn CGA?

If you have programming experience and 3D knowledge, you can learn CGA in about a week. If you are a beginner, expect between one to two months to learn CGA.

What exactly is procedural modeling?

Procedural modeling means that 3D geometries and textures are constructed using rules (procedures) instead of labor-intensive manual modeling.

A single procedural rule can be used to generate many 3D models. For example, the rule can use feature attribute information stored in GIS data—such as the number of floors, roof type, wall material type, and so on—to generate a series of alternate 3D models that accurately represent the properties of each feature. The more attributes you have, the more accurate the generated model can be.

Where can I get these procedural rules?

ArcGIS Online.

ArcGIS CityEngine comes with a number of example projects that contain rules that you can modify to see how the rules drive the 3D content. Also, in the ArcGIS CityEngine Navigator, you can search Portal for ArcGIS for Rule Package (RPK) files that can be imported to CityEngine as procedural rules.

ArcGIS Platform

How is ArcGIS CityEngine integrated into the ArcGIS Platform?

ArcGIS CityEngine is integrated into the ArcGIS Platform by having capabilities such as the following:

  • Consumption of basemaps and elevation from ArcGIS Online
  • Publishing of 3D object layers (in SLPK format), Tile Package (TPK), RPK
  • Support for polygon feature layers
  • Managing, searching, and sharing items in ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Enterprise

How do ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS CityEngine work together?

There are several ways ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS CityEngine work together. Both ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS CityEngine can share layers via Web GIS, read and write geodatabases, and provide support for a wide variety of compatible 2D and 3D exchange file formats. While ArcGIS Pro is a general-purpose application that manages, analyzes, and visualizes GIS data on any scale, ArcGIS CityEngine provides unique interactive design tools, for example, the editing of multipatch features and the parametric modeling of detailed 3D roads, as well as 3D export capabilities.

Can I use ArcGIS CityEngine to author custom procedural symbol layers in ArcGIS Pro?

ArcGIS Pro includes system styles that contain procedural symbol layers. The latter derive all their properties and 3D geometry from RPKs. To create procedural symbol layers, you can find RPKs by searching ArcGIS Online. Alternatively, you can author your own custom procedural symbol layers in ArcGIS CityEngine and export them as RPKs for use in ArcGIS Pro.

System requirements

What are the system requirements for ArcGIS CityEngine?

On what operating systems does ArcGIS CityEngine run?

ArcGIS CityEngine runs on Windows (including Server) and Linux (verified on Red Hat Enterprise Linux). See ArcGIS CityEngine system requirements for more information.

Does ArcGIS CityEngine have native 64-bit support on all operating systems?

Yes, ArcGIS CityEngine is a native 64-bit application. Therefore, if needed, ArcGIS CityEngine could make use of all your memory (and not just 2 or 3 GB as in 32-bit applications).

Is ArcGIS CityEngine supported in virtualized environments?

Yes. ArcGIS CityEngine can virtualize well. The same user experience that is available on a physical desktop can also be delivered on a virtual desktop, that is, on all of the major virtualization environments. See ArcGIS CityEngine system requirements for more information.


I work for a city government and want to build my own city in 3D with ArcGIS CityEngine. How can I get started?

To get started, go to the ArcGIS CityEngine tutorials and there you can learn the basic concepts of ArcGIS CityEngine, such as workflows for creating a 3D city model, creating and sharing RPKs, exporting 3D models from ArcGIS CityEngine to various 3D formats, and publishing 3D layers to ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise. You can also search the course catalog for available ArcGIS CityEngine courses and training at the Esri Academy.

If I have an older version of ArcGIS CityEngine, how do I get the new version?

Visit My Esri to upgrade CityEngine.

Where can I get more technical information about CityEngine?

Visit CityEngine Resources for videos, blogs, technical information, and more.