User interface

The CityEngine user interface (UI) has several windows that can be repositioned and resized. The following image is a typical layout in CityEngine:

UI overview
The CityEngine UI overview is shown.


Scene Editor—Manage the scene, layer, object and scenario.


CGA Editor—Edit CGA rules.


Navigator—Manage and preview files in the workspace.


Viewport—Use single and multiple perspective cameras and scenarios.


Inspector—See a detailed view and edit selected objects and scenarios.


Tool Options—Manage tool options when using tools.


Dashboards—See an overview of main attributes by scenario.

The following are additional windows:

  • LogCityEngine messages
  • Console—CGA output
  • Problems—CGA compiler errors and warnings
  • Progress—Progress reporting of long-running CityEngine operations
  • Model Hierarchy—Inspect models generated with CGA

Scene Editor

The Scene Editor window is the central place where you manage your scene. You can create scenarios, sync features with portal content, and add resources such as 3D models, objects, and assets. A CityEngine scene is organized in the following layers:

  • Shape Layer—Static shapes, typically used as building footprints for the generation of CGA models.
  • Map Layer—Arbitrary maps (images), used to globally control parameters for scene objects. The scene terrain is also created using a map layer.
  • Graph Layer—Street networks and blocks, dynamic shapes (street shapes, building footprints), and generated models.
  • Static Model Layer—Static models, such as COLLADA files.
  • Analysis Layer—Visibility analyses objects, such as a viewsheds that display surfaces and structures that are visible and hidden from an observer.

You can navigate, delete or duplicate the layers in a scene and its objects as well as control the visibility of objects in the Scene Editor layer list. See Scene objects overview for more information about layer types.

CGA Editor

In the CGA Editor window, you can create, modify, and save rules. Double-click a .cga file to open it in Scene Editor or open a .cga file by clicking Rule File in the Inspector window. The CGA Editor window displays syntax highlighting and shows syntax errors.


The Navigator window displays files in your workspace for project and scene management. A project contains the following folders:

  • assets—The assets are applied by the shape grammar to compose the 3D models. Assets can be in 3D formats (such as .obj or .dae) or textures (such as .jpg or .png).
  • data—This folder contains additional data. These files can be imported into CityEngine as shape layers where shape grammar rules can be applied.
  • images—This folder stores additional imagery such as viewport snapshots.
  • maps—This folder contains the image maps used by the map layers. For example, a height- or water-map is stored here.
  • models—This folder stores the exported 3D models (.fbx, .dae, .obj, and so on).
  • rules—This folder contains CGA rule (.cga) files and other rules.
  • scenes—This folder stores CityEngine scenes (.cej).
  • scripts—This folder contains project specific scripts needed in the scene.

Use the Navigator window to browse and download content from your Portal. You can open content contained in your Workspace, My content, Groups, or All Portal.

You can also use the Navigator window to search for files in your portal. To filter the search results, you can type text or select the type of resource. Once you find the file you are looking for, you can preview it. In Preview, zoom, pan, or rotate the file as your would navigate a scene. For many file types, you can drag the files directly to the Viewport window.


The Viewport window is the main window to interact with a 3D scene. You can open multiple viewports to interact with your scene, such as with scenarios. Different viewports can be opened at the same time, but only one is active. Navigate in the Viewport window with the following controls:

Viewport navigation controls


Frame all viewports (F)


Pan (Wheel-click while pressing Alt)


Dolly/Zoom (Right-click while pressing Alt)


Rotate (Click while pressing Alt)


Look around (B)

Additionally, in the Viewport window, you can also change scenarios, visibility settings, view settings, and bookmarks. Use the View settings tool View settings to change the scene rendering to wireframe, shaded, textured, or a combination.

Viewport tools




Visibility settings


View settings




The Inspector is the main tool for viewing and modifying CityEngine objects, such as shapes, map layers, and models. You edit objects' attributes, materials, and object rules. You also have access to explore visibility analysis, manage scenarios, perform local edits, and change rules. The Inspector window supports editing of single and multiple objects and shows the attributes of the lead object when multiple objects are selected.


The Dashboards window allows you to create visual charts and graphs to help visualize vital information in your scene. Users can see important attributes and compare them with other development scenarios. Add cards, tables, charts, and graphs and customize the layout to fit your scene. The data reported in the CGA rules drives the attribute choices. You can see results of reports displayed in real time in the Dashboards window as well as in the Inspector window.