It should be noted that before beginning any land use analysis, there should be a phase for collecting data and running of series of analyses to better understand the context of your site. This should include a baseline analysis with market research, sensitivity studies, and land use mapping. Once, this step has been finished, the tool can be used properly.

Software Setup

To complete  the Intermediate and Advanced sections you will need the ET-plugin and CityEngine. Both are free below.

Download and install ET-Plugin (via

Download CE Trial Version

The intermediate section is divided into a Plan-Measure-Visualize format. The data used will be pre-loaded to help move through this process without needing to understand all the moving parts. Click here to download the pre-loaded data package that contains a sample File Geodatabase, helpful shapefiles, an ArcMap MXD file, a JPEG of the site map, an Envision Tomorrow Workbook, and a City Engine project package. Unzip the package in a working directory of your choosing.

Our example here will move through a Plan-Measure-Visualize process of a creating a site in Downtown Hutto, TX. Think of this as an expedited Downtown Revitalization initiative or Catalyst Project.

1.    Plan

  • In the ET_Intermediate_Package folder go to the 1_Plan folder and Double-click the MXD file.

  • Once loaded, repair any data connections if necessary by right-clicking on the shapefile and selecting Data> Repair Data Source and then navigating to the proper file.

  • So far, this should be your view in ArcMap:

  • Now if you loaded the ET-Plugin correctly, you should have an ET Paint Tool button somewhere at the top of your menu.

    If not, at the top of your menu go to Customize>Toolbars and try and locate Envision Tomorrow.

  • Once you have the tool bar loaded, in the ENVISION PAINT TOOLS menu go to File>Open File Geodatabase.

  • Now, select the ET_Catalyst_Project geodatabase and click Add.

  • After that has been loaded, define your layer by going to File>Define Scenario Layers>Scenario 1>Catalyst_Scenario_1

  • Now, make your scenario "active" for editing by selecting Edit Scenarios>Scenario 1

  • Now you are ready to paint. First select your brush:

    Then select your Development Type/Color:

    Then begin painting by clicking once on the map and then again to add anchor points. These anchor points will help outline the development you are creating. Once you have your shape, double click to complete the site.

Now we need to connect to our ET Workbook to measure the impact of these developments...

2.    Measure

  • In the ENVISION PAINT TOOLS menu, go to File>Open Excel File>Select and navigate to EnvisionTomorrowWorkbook Excel file in the 2_Measure folder. 


  • Now synchronize your scenario to the workbook by selecting File>Synchronize Data>Full Sync.  

  • After a few minutes, the data should load into the Excel Workbook. The changes for Scenario 1 will take place under the corresponding tab "SCENARIO 1". 

  • Now continue to paint and take note of the changes in the workbook. Indicators for new development will be under the "Summary New" tab. 

Now we will explore the possibilities of visualizing future developments, by connecting our Envision Tomorrow results to CityEngine.

3.    Visualize

  • Double click your CityEngine icon to get started. 

  • If you haven't opened CityEngine before this step, it will walk you through a "getting started" wizard. When you are finished, import the project package called CSD_BuildingLibrary. First, go to File>Import.


    Next in the Import Box, choose Existing Projects into Workspace within the Project folder.

    Now choose Browse and navigate to the 3_Visualize folder and click OK. The Import Box should now look like this:


Make sure that the CSD_BuildingLibrary Project is checked and then click Finish at the bottom right. The Project folder should now appear in your Navigator Window. Take note of the various folders in the console.  

  • Now open the project scene. In the scenes folder, double-click the Catalyst_Site.cej.

  • If prompted to "generate models", click Yes. You should now see a land use map that looks similar to the development you previously "planned". This scenario map was made ahead of time and loaded to expedite the process.

    Take note of the list in the scene console. 

  • Click on the Land_Use_Map name. Not the two icons to the left. You should now see something appear in the Inspector console to the right. If nothing shows up, press ALT+I.

  • Next to Alpha, type 0.4 and press Enter. This will give the map some transparency.
  • Now hold ALT+left mouse button and move the mouse to change the perspective. You can also press 1 to move to a set perspective. 
  • Click the eye icon next to Blocks and BaseMap. You should now see something like this:

  • Now it's time to visualize. Navigate to the rules folder and find the list of Development Type .cga files within the DevelopmentTypes folder. 

  • Drag and drop the DevelopmentType rule onto the blocks that have the corresponding colors above them. 

  • Wait a few minutes and the Building Prototypes will filter through and assemble themselves on the blocks. This is one alternate scenario using very basic, and pilot model, buildings. 

  • Underneath the Scene console, right-click on Blocks and choose Select>Select Objects in Same Layer.

  • Press CTRL + SHIFT + G to generate different scenarios.
  • If you'd like to continue with the visualizations, go to the BuildingPrototype folder under "rules" and drag and drop individual building CGAs.

  • Note: As the building architecture and software integration gets better, the Plan-Measure-Visualize process will become more streamlined and visually appealing. So, in a sense this tutorial on visualizing the future is itself a glance at the future (of planning technologies).

    This concludes the Intermediate section. If you feel ready to head to the Advanced section and learn how to use the Scenario Suite in depth and do the Plan-Measure-Visualize process from scratch, Click here.