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Importing DXF models

There are three ways you can import DXF information:

Overview of DXF Import Options


DXF Base Map

DXF City Item


Recommended uses Importing OS base maps, contour maps or other geometry to be 'traced' over with CityCAD routes.

Adding 3D objects to enhance the visualization - street furniture, buildings.

Adding whole blocks or masterplans that have already been worked up in detail. You can import a CAD model which will be automatically broken up into City Items and each placed directly into your model at the correct positions relative to each other.

Importing a network of route centrelines or building outlines, which will be converted into CityCAD routes.
How many can I import? Several DXF base maps can be imported. You can import any number of DXF files into your library, and then assign them to any City Item in your model. You import one DXF CAD model at a time. After each import, the lines become CityCAD routes in your model. You can repeat this several times to add new routes.
Snap to DXF? Yes - you can snap to DXF Base Maps and adjust the snap tolerance in the Snaps Preferences) No - if you are drawing routes in CityCAD they will not snap to anything on a City Item. The lines become CityCAD routes with nodes at each end, and you can snap to them in the normal way.
3D Faces? No - wireframe model only imported. (Although 3D lines will be displayed in 3D) Yes - faces and lines imported. No - lines are converted into CityCAD routes.
Layer Control? Yes - you can switch visibility of layers on and off once it is imported. Yes - you can switch visibility of layers on and off once it is imported. You can choose which layers to import, but once they are imported and converted to CityCAD routes they will no longer have layer information.
Can be moved? No - although you can remove a base map and then re-import it at a different location. Yes - you can move, rotate, cut, copy and paste City Items. Yes - the DXF lines are imported and converted to CityCAD elements which you can then move, copy and modify as required.

Import DXF Base Map

To import a DXF base map, either:

The DXF Import dialog will then appear with the 'Add DXF Base Map' tab selected:

At the top, you can use the tabs to switch between the three modes of DXF import

Base Maps

In this window, the Base Maps grid displays which DXF Base Maps have been imported into your city model.

Adding New DXF Base Maps

If you click 'Add New Base Map', then a dialog will appear where you can select a DXF file to import. Once you have selected it, then the DXF Import dialog appears:

Select Insertion Point panel

This controls where the DXF Base Map will be located in your CityCAD model. There are three ways of doing this:

Scale Panel

This controls the scale of the DXF base map being imported.

You can type in a scale factor to be used when importing the DXF information. For example, if you type '2', then the drawing units will be scaled down by a factor of 2. The higher the number, the smaller the DXF file will be when it is imported. (The size of one unit in the DXF file in relation to a drawing unit in the CityCAD model is displayed in brackets for reference)


The longest element in the DXF layers is displayed for reference and this can sometimes be a helpful reminder of what units the DXF file is in.

For example, if the longest element is 114, then it might possibly be a map file with roads in metres. However, If the longest element is 114000, then this might suggest the DXF file is a survey drawn in millimetres.

Advanced Import Settings

These allow you to refine the way that DXF geometry is interpreted when it is imported into the CityCAD model. If you check the 'Flatten 3D Model' check box, then the z-coordinate of all points will be set to zero.

When arcs and other curved lines are imported into CityCAD, they are broken up into several smaller straight lines.

Click 'Reset' to restore original defaults, 'Cancel' to exit without importing the DXF file, and 'Import' to proceed to import the DXF file.

The file will then appear in the Base Maps Grid.

Import DXF City Item

To import a DXF City Item, either:-

The DXF Import dialog will then appear with the 'Add DXF City Item' tab selected:

You can use this to create and manage your own library of DXF models which can be applied to City Items in your models.

There are two libraries:

All the models in each library is available in the Type menu in the General group of the City Item Properties panel.

When a model is used from 'My DXF Library', a copy of that model will be saved within the file so that if you send the file to someone else, the model will be visible.

For this reason, the same model may appear twice in the 'Type' menu - the first will be the model in your 'My DXF Library', and subsequent copies will be in the 'File DXF Library'.

When you delete a model from 'File DXF Library', if any models exist in your model they will be deleted. If a model is saved with the file (in the 'File DXF Library') but there are no instances of it ie. no City Items which use that model, then you can click 'Purge All' to remove these from the file to save memory. Please use this carefully as it means that if you send the file to someone else who does not have that model in their 'My DXF Library', then they would not be able to add that item to the model.

Auto-Import CAD Model

This option allows you to quickly import a CAD model and place it in the model at specific coordinates. Blocks (DXF blocks, not CityCAD blocks) will be detected in the DXF file and you can choose whether to import the whole model as one City Item, or import each DXF block as a separate city item.


DXF City Item Grids

When setting the base point, you have four options:

Click 'OK' to exit the window.

Import DXF to URB


This is a more complex procedure than the other two methods of importing DXF files, and may require some experimentation to import successfully.

Please note this feature will only convert 3D lines from a DXF file into CityCAD Routes, and create default blocks in any areas which are enclosed by those routes. It will not interpret any 3D geometry in the model into CityCAD blocks.

To import a DXF file and convert it to URB, either:

The DXF Import dialog will then appear with the 'Import DXF to URB' tab selected.

Import DXF as Routes panel

Avoiding Glitches

  1. Please make sure the the route type you have selected is appropriate for the information you want to import.
  2. Most CityCAD Route types are several metres wide, but DXF lines that are imported could be only a few centimetres long. If DXF lines are imported which are very short relative to the width of the route type, then the you may experience glitches. This is because there may not enough room to construct kerbs at the corners of the roads.
  3. If nodes are a reasonable distance apart (more than about 10m or so), then a normal street type such as 'Small Residential Street' can normally be used. To avoid problems, set the Small Geometry filter to a higher level, such as 5 or 10m.
  4. If in doubt, try using 'Boundary Routes' when importing blocks, and then change them into larger routes as required.
  5. If you want to import the outlines of buildings, then we recommend you select 'Boundary Route' as the Route Type. You may find it easier to select 'Open Space Block' in the 'Create Block Type' control, as these can be easier to see on the ground. Once the blocks are created, you can then click on them and set the properties as required.

Select Insertion Point panel

Line information in the DXF file will be converted into CityCAD routes. This panel controls where those routes will be located in your CityCAD model. There are three ways of doing this:

Scale Panel

This controls the scale of the DXF line information being imported.

Advanced Import Settings

These options are the same as when importing a DXF base map (above)

Click 'Reset' to restore original defaults, 'Cancel' to exit without importing the DXF file, and 'Import' to proceed to import the DXF file and convert it to CityCAD Routes.


If you find that you cannot easily draw the geometries you want in CityCAD, then you can use your normal CAD program to draw route centrelines, and then import them into CityCAD as a DXF file.

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