I wonder how many of you have heard or Esri? Before I go on to explain why I am writting about them today, here is a quick introduction to this very interesting company.
Esri Inc., based in California, are an organisation that realised the importance of geographic information and computerised cartography as early as 1969, and pioneered the technology we now know as GIS (Geographic Information System). GIS allows users to organise and analyse geographic information more efficiently, as well as generate high-quality maps for screen or for print. As this technology developed into a more mainstream product, Esri released ArcGIS, an all-in-one system for cartography, management of geographic databases, and spatial analysis.
The ArcGIS system supports a range of industries such as urban planning, architecture, computer game development and film production, and has been a vital tool in realising the value of GPS and creating on-line map services that we all now depend on.
Hoping I’ve sufficiently introduced you to Esri, let me now explain why all this is important.
Earlier this year Esri acquired Procedural. Many of you will recognise Procedural as the 3D software company who brought us CityEngine. Some of you might even have read a blog post I published a few months back that discussed the role CityEngine played in the production of Pixar's Cars 2. That is just one example of how CityEngine software has been used to simulate 3D urban environments from 2D data, to create realistic replications of cities.
As these two companies join forces, CityEngine is now being integrated with ArcGIS to create Esri CityEngine, replacing the more familiar CityEngine Advanced. This is a great new development for ArcGIS users who want to undertake the design of large-scale 3D urban environments. Users can continue working with existing GIS data, like parcels and street centerlines, while also reaping the benefits of immediate visual feedback on planning decisions. By integrating these two powerful technologies the user can now jump to the next level of interactive and analytical design, with one intuitive sketching tool.
Esri has confirmed that despite the merge, CityEngine as a technology will continue to evolve as a stand-alone product. Procedural will move forward by working in the interest of their current customers and meeting the needs of CityEngine users, and they have apparently expressed a keen interest in further integrating these two complementary technologies.
An exciting time for both companies, we send them our congratulations and best wishes on future developments.