Welcome to Rescape
Frequently asked questions about Rescape

What is Rescape?
Rescape is open-source software that helps people redesign their neighborhoods to be pedestrian-oriented with comprehensive transit and ideally carfree or car-minimized. It intends to empower those with bright ideas and help popularize the carfree cities movement. Rescape has begun as a graduate thesis project by Andy Likuski of Tufts University Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning.

How do I use Rescape?
Rescape adds new functionality to Google Sketchup, which is free and available on Macs and PCs, to assist with pedestrian-oriented urban redesign of one's neighborhood. The tools provided by Rescape make it easy to reimagine your neighborhood with carfree spaces and comprehensive transit, bicycle, and pedestrian amenities.

Rescape guides the user through a set of steps to redesign their neighborhood. The user first downloads satellite images of interest into Sketchup, a built-in functionality of Sketchup. Rescape then allows the user to download map data from OpenStreetMap and displays it as editable surfaces on top of the selected satellite images. All way features are imported, including roads, paths, rail, and waterways. Users can change the surface to make corrections or implement desired improvements. The surfaces provide a 3D drawing palette upon which the user can repurpose public space.

What kinds of street features can I create?
Rescape allows the user to quickly and accurately lay down street surface components such as streetcar tracks, cycle tracks, trees, and other objects that need to follow along the road or repeat along a road. Since way data is downloaded from OpenStreetMap and is editable, street features can have a high degree of accuracy in terms of their arrangement.   It is additionally easy to apply the thousands of components available in Sketchup's 3D Warehouse to the design without necessarily using any of the features of Rescape, or Rescape can be used to place them with some frequency or distribution.

How can I get started?
Rescape will soon be available as a standard Sketchup plugin, which means that you simply install Sketchup on a Mac or PC and then download the plugin into a special directory where Sketchup expects plugins. The plugin will be a development version with missing features and errors while I complete the beta version. But enough functionality will be available initially to play with core features and possibly use Rescape as the basis of a neighborhood redesign.

I have an idea, how can I contribute?
If you wish to make a feature request or report a bug in Rescape, you can log issues at the project's code site: http://code.google.com/p/rescape/issues/list. If you are a software developer and would like to contribute to Rescape, you can email me at andy at likuski.org to contribute code to the project.

What is the software behind Rescape?
Rescape takes advantage of Sketchup's Ruby based programming interface and uses a Ruby library to download data from OpenStreetMap. Most of Rescape's code is written from scratch rather than relying on existing Sketchup plugins. Rescape uses a few other Ruby libraries that are packaged into the plugin so that no separate installation of Ruby libraries is needed.

What is the roadmap for the Rescape project?
My goal is to release a working version of Rescape sometime in Fall 2011, though many desirable features will not be complete at that time. The basic ability to download and accurately render ways and modify those ways will be complete. The ability to draw a wide variety of surface components, such as tracks and bike lanes will also be present. Other functions such as adding buildings and other 3D components to a model are already part of Sketchup, and I may add several tools to Rescape to make this more suitable to site design, such as randomly distributing bikes and people along the cycle tracks and pedestrian areas, respectively.

Once an initial release is complete, I hope to continue adding features and have other contributors do likewise. As noted above, Rescape can serve as a useful basis for a complete neighborhood redesign even if only its most basic features are used.

Have more questions?
Contact me anytime at andy at likuski.org.