Getting Started - Overview

Are you evaluating CityCAD?

Don't hesitate to contact us at if you have any questions, or would like to organize a demonstration for your organization.

In this article:

  • Opening CityCAD for the first time?
  • Want to get started immediately?
  • Have you used other CAD tools before? We've made some comparisons that may help you get started with CityCAD.

See Also:

Opening CityCAD for the first time?

When you open CityCAD for the first time, the Welcome Screen will appear.


This allows you to choose your unit system, default location, ground plane colour and floor naming convention. Make your selection (remember you can easily change these later from within the program) and click 'OK' to start CityCAD.

(The welcome screen won't appear again unless your Configuration files are missing or deleted. After you click 'OK' on the welcome screen, new configuration files will be created at the location displayed at the bottom of the window.)

Basic or standard layout?


You can choose whether to start CityCAD with a 'basic' or 'standard' layout.

If you have used CityCAD before, or if you want access to all tools straight away, then click 'Start with standard layout'. If this is the first time you are using CityCAD, you may prefer to click 'Start in basic layout' to open with a simplified toolbar layout. If you click 'Start in basic layout' then CityCAD will open with a simplified toolbar layout' as shown by the image below.


After opening CityCAD, follow these steps to get a quick overview of how to create models:

Moving around your model

  • Hold down the mouse wheel button in the main 3D view, and drag the mouse to orbit around the view.
  • Hold down the Control key, then hold down the mouse wheel button and drag the ground. This is a useful way of moving around.
  • Scroll the mouse wheel up and down to zoom in and out. The grid is dynamic and will change depending on how far out you are. (By default the black grid is a 10m grid, the red is 100m).

Drawing your first CityCAD block

  • Choose the Route Tool on the main toolbar or by pressing 'R' after clicking in the main display window. You can start drawing streets in the main 3D display by left clicking on the ground.
  • If you draw streets which enclose an area on the ground, then a block is created. By default this will be a medium-density housing block. You can select what block type will be created from the Next Element toolbar.


  • When an area is enclosed on the ground by routes, a block will be created.


  • You can select streets and blocks with the Select Tool (the arrow), or by right-clicking with the Route Tool.
  • When a route or block is selected, you can change its properties in the Properties window to the right.
  • Hint: If you're outside of the UK, you can go to Edit Menu: Preferences: Units and select a different unit system such as US Standard Units.
  • After this, you may want to read in more detail about CityCAD concepts and Working with Routes, particularly the section on route networks.

Familiar with other CAD tools?

If you're familiar with using CAD programs, then many concepts in CityCAD may be familiar to you. However, please note the following:

  • CityCAD is not intended for detailed design, but is a conceptual masterplanning tool.
  • The CityCAD Ground Plane is a fixed size, and can be enlarged up to 50km x 50km in the Display Preferences. When importing some geographic information, please be aware that the origin point may be several kilometres away from the geometry. You may find it easier to move the origin point to a local point closer to the geometry before importing into CityCAD.
  • When importing dxf geometry, please check the scale. The default units in CityCAD are metres, but if your DXF information is drawn in mm then the scale in the DXF Import window may need to be set to '1000'.
  • To create a block, you need to draw routes to enclose an area on the ground. For more info, see Working with Routes
  • If you want to draw the outline of a building (ie. not streets), then choose the Boundary Route Tool
  • If you encounter problems with unpredictable snapping, go to Edit Menu: Preferences: Snaps, and click 'Use Narrow Range' or enter your own snap tolerances as required.

Further CityCAD Training - Learn Basic, Intermediate or Advanced Skills

Holistic City Software can organize a training programme customized to the needs of your organization.

Please contact for more information.

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