GIS Tech News (#72)

15 Dec, 2008

Teaching the OGRE To Be Civil

An open-source game engine empowers civil simulation.

By Kenneth Wong
Kenneth Wong photo

What do you get when you marry AutoCAD Civil 3D with the open-source game engine OGRE? The offspring, as seen in Israel-based Sivan Design’s latest plug-in Civil Simulate, is a 3D environment that reflects your project, updated immediately as you make changes to it.

Two weeks ago, Shai Cheruti, Sivan Design’s vice-president of sales and marketing, and CEO Shlomi Sivan flew 7,300 miles from the company’s headquarter in Raanana, Israel, to Las Vegas, Nevada, to wow Autodesk University attendees with Civil Simulate.

Civil Simulate
When you install Civil Simulate, it gives you an additional menu called Simulate in your Civil 3D toolbar. This menu allows you to instantly turn your Civil 3D project into what looks like a 3D video game environment, complete with texture and weather. It should be noted that the weather simulation (snow, rain, and cloud, for instance) is an atmospheric touch, not an accurate rendering based on real-world weather reports of the project site. On the other hand, the virtual terrain is supposedly accurate within 2 cm of the CAD data.

Civil Simulate uses LandXML schema to overlay orthorectified aerial photos on Civil 3D data to create a rolling terrain, providing you with a 3D scene you can drive through or fly over. In essence, the plug-in lets you experience the project before it’s constructed. You can perform accurate measurements or safety audits in the simulated 3D project view, the company points out. Sivan believes Civil Simulate will make it easier for civil professionals to give presentations and propose projects to those who are unfamiliar with civil engineering software. The plug-in also works with Sivan’s own product CivilCAD.Read more »

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Cadalyst executive editor Kenneth Wong explores the innovative use of technology and its implications. Send him e-mail and read his blog, respectively, at the addresses below:,


CAD Clinic -- Civil 3D Tutorial:
Point Coordinate Transformations

By Phillip Zimmerman

Reading external ASCII files through a Point File Format creates cogo_points. Civil 3D has several pre-defined file formats. When using a Point File Format, it assumes the coordinate system or local coordinates match between file and drawing. However, there are times when the file and the drawing have different coordinates systems, i.e., NAD27 coordinates in the file and NAD83 for the drawing's coordinate system. If the file and drawing's coordinate systems differ and you want to transform the coordinates on import, then the Point File Format must have an assigned coordinate system. A coordinate system is assigned in the file-format definition panel's middle left. See Figure 1.

The second place coordinate transforms can occur when importing points directly into a surface. The point files process is exactly the same as importing points from an ASCII file to the drawing, but the resulting points do not become cogo_points, rather they become surface points.

The last place where point coordinate transformations may occur is when inserting survey points into a drawing. If the survey and drawing have different systems, the point coordinates transform when inserting them into the drawing. Also, when a survey's units are U.S. survey foot and the drawing uses international feet, when inserting the survey points into the drawing, a transformation occurs. Defining a Point File Format with a Coordinate System There are two places to define a Point File Format. The first is the Setting panel's Point branch, and as the second is a modification or copy of a format in the Import/Export Points dialog box.Read more »

Mark Your Calendar: GIS Events

Online Training: Working with CAD Data in ArcGIS Desktop
January 21-23, 2009
8:30 a.m. PST
This class from ESRI will teach attendees the fundamentals of using CAD data in ArcGIS Desktop and how to convert CAD data to GIS data. Read more »

International LIDAR Mapping Forum 2009
January 26-28, 2009
New Orleans, Louisiana
The ILMF conference and exhibition offers papers and work-in progress reports on all aspects of airborne and bathymetry LIDAR and also includes an entry-level workshop series. Read more »

Geomagic Convergence 2009
February 24-26, 2009
Savannah, Georgia
Geomagic's conference will feature presentations on how Geomagic technology can be used to enable digital shape sampling and processing. Read more »

Cadalyst's complete list of upcoming events is always available on our Web site. Our sister Web site,, also offers a full calendar of GIS-related events.