Sharing 3D models using Esri’s CityEngine Web Viewer
In a previous blog post, my colleague Mike Phillips showed us how to create geological block diagrams using ArcScene. In this blog, I will show you how to share your model over the web using Esri’s CityEngine Web Viewer. The workflows described require ArcGIS Desktop 10.2 along with the 3D Analyst extension.
Once you have followed Mike`s workflow and come up with a beautiful geological block diagram in ArcScene like the one below, how do you share it with others to help spread a better understanding of the problem at hand ?
Credit: Mike Phillips – Creating geological block diagrams 2
Well, you could create a high-resolution screenshot like the one above or maybe a video animation and send it to them. Or, you could create a layer package or KML and send that to them – this of course needs them to have desktop software to view it like ArcScene or ArcGIS Explorer.
There is another way, one that is easy to create, easy to share, needs no plugins or software, is highly realistic and is interactive! Oh, and it’s all in a web browser. Yes, that’s right – 3D GIS over the web!!!
Here’s how you do it…
It’s done using the CityEngine Web Viewer, which is an application based on WebGL technology that allows you to view 3D content in a web browser without installing an additional plug-in. WebGL is supported in recent versions of most popular browsers.
At ArcGIS 10.1 you needed CityEngine to make a 3D scene file (.3ws) but at ArcGIS 10.2, you can do this by using the new Export To 3D Web Scene geoprocessing tool. All you need is ArcScene 10.2 and a 3D Analyst license.
A few things to remember before running the tool
- Point or line features must be rendered with 3D symbols (such as spheres or tubes) to be exported.
- Any extruded features should be converted to 3D features using the Layer 3D to feature class tool.
- The output Web Scene will contain properties of the input ArcScene document such as stored bookmarks as camera positions, Layer visibility and Vertical exaggeration.
Once you have finished creating your 3D visualisation in ArcScene, all you need to do is save your ArcScene document (.sxd) and run the Export to 3D Web Scene tool to create a 3D WebScene file (.3ws). The tool is located in ArcToolbox > System Toolboxes > 3D Analyst Tools > CityEngine.
Finally, publish it!
Once you’re done, you can simply upload the WebScene file to your ArcGIS Online / Portal account and share it publically or to specific groups of people in your organisation.
Click the image below to view my example geological block diagram Web Scene in CityEngine Web Viewer (requires Firefox 16, Chrome 20, Internet Explorer 11 or higher versions).
Alternatively, if you prefer, you can host your own CityEngine WebViewer on your local intranet or webserver – smply download the free CityEngine WebViewer application package and follow the instructions.
Now you can easily share realistic looking, interactive and easy to use 3D visualisations created in ArcScene without the need for any additional software.
Posted by Dhowal Dalal, Senior GIS Consultant, Exprodat.