Programmatically create and edit anchors in Geospatial Creator in Unity

This guide describes how to use Geospatial Creator to write C# scripts to quickly accomplish common tasks such as creating and moving ARGeospatialCreatorAnchor objects in Unity's Edit mode. This can be useful for creating multiple anchors from a predefined list such as a spreadsheet or a KML file.

Geospatial Creator in Unity lets you preview Geospatial content in the Unity Editor. Our Quickstart Guide introduces Geospatial Creator and walks you through how to build your first Geospatial-enabled AR experience with minimal programming, using the Unity Editor UI. For more advanced projects, you may want to create and manipulate Geospatial Creator GameObjects programmatically instead of using the Unity Editor UI.

This guide assumes that you are familiar with basic Geospatial Creator concepts introduced in the Quickstart, and you are ready to start adding Geospatial Creator anchors to a scene. You will need to have Geospatial Creator enabled and configured with your API keys, as well as initial AR session objects in your scene. If starting from scratch, follow the Quickstart guide through and including the "Enable Geospatial Creator" section before continuing.

Getting started

For this example, suppose you have a set of known locations around City Hall in San Francisco, California, USA, at which you want to place AR content. You will need to create anchor objects at each of these locations, and then attach basic geometry to those anchors.

Before you can create anchors, you should specify an ARGeospatialCreatorOrigin, which is a reference point for converting latitudes, longitudes, and altitudes to and from Unity world coordinates. The origin also will contain a CesiumGeoreference subcomponent and a Cesium3DTileset child object, which allows Cesium to render the surrounding area in the Scene view of the Unity editor. For this, you need a Google Map Tiles API key as described in the the Quickstart

Create an Origin

The API for Geospatial Creator includes a factory method to create an ARGeospatialCreatorOrigin in the scene and add the required Cesium components. The following code creates the origin at a nearby latitude, longitude, and altitude, and using the given Map Tiles API key:

ARGeospatialCreatorOrigin origin =
    37.77954, -122.417581, 0.0, "<MAP_TILES_KEY>");

By default, this object is placed at (0, 0, 0) in Unity world coordinates, which works well for this example.

Get the ARAnchorManager Reference

An ARAnchorManager is required to resolve geospatial anchors at runtime, so you also need a reference to the ARAnchorManager in the scene. If you started with the Geospatial Sample application bundled with ARCore Extensions, the Anchor Manager is attached to the "AR Session Origin" GameObject. Assuming you have exactly one anchor manager in your scene, you can get a reference to it like this:

ARAnchorManager anchorManager =

Now that you have an origin and an anchor manager, you can start creating the ARGeospatialCreatorAnchor objects.

Create Terrain anchors

Consider the following two-dimensional array of double values, representing the precise latitude and longitude at three points on the east-facing side of City Hall in San Francisco, California, USA:

double[,] _cityHallEastPoints = {
    { 37.77936, -122.418617 }, // in front of city hall
    { 37.77965, -122.418680 }, // right of city hall
    { 37.77917, -122.418577 }}; // left of city hall

Suppose you want to place a one meter cube at each of these locations, at ground level, in our AR application. The following code creates ARGeospatialCreatorAnchor objects and assigns their properties to the appropriate values:

for (int i = 0; i < _cityHallEastPoints.GetLength(0); i++)
  ARGeospatialCreatorAnchor anchor =
    new GameObject("City Hall " + i).AddComponent<ARGeospatialCreatorAnchor>();
  anchor.Origin = origin;
  anchor.AnchorManager = anchorManager;
  anchor.Latitude = _cityHallEastPoints[i, 0];
  anchor.Longitude = _cityHallEastPoints[i, 1];
  anchor.AltitudeType = AnchorAltitudeType.Terrain;

  GameObject cube = GameObject.CreatePrimitive(PrimitiveType.Cube);
  cube.transform.parent = anchor.transform;

This creates terrain anchors at each point. Geospatial Creator automatically places the anchors at appropriate Unity world coordinates, by calculating their location relative to the ARGeospatialCreatorOrigin object. To adjust the altitude of a terrain anchor, set the Altitude property in meters above or below the terrain surface.

At runtime, terrain anchors will resolve at ground level for the running app, offset by the Altitude property. In the Editor's scene view, though, they render at a WGS84 altitude of 0 by default, not relative to the 3d tile geometry. This often isn't where you'd like to see them, so you can override the default altitude of the anchor in the Editor's scene view by setting the UseEditorAltitudeOverride property to true and specifying the altitude in WGS84 meters using the EditorAltitudeOverride property:

anchor.UseEditorAltitudeOverride = true;
anchor.EditorAltitudeOverride = -13.5; // WGS84 altitude at ground level for City Hall plaza

These two properties have no effect outside of Editor mode, and are not compiled into the running app.

Geospatial Anchor in City Hall Plaza

Create a rooftop anchor

For our next anchor, suppose you want to place an anchor on the rooftop of City Hall. The anchor can be created in the exact same way, except the AltitudeType property is set to AnchorAltitudeType.Rooftop:

ARGeospatialCreatorAnchor cityHallRoofAnchor =
  new GameObject("City Hall Roof").AddComponent<ARGeospatialCreatorAnchor>();
cityHallRoofAnchor.Origin = origin;
cityHallRoofAnchor.AnchorManager = anchorManager;
cityHallRoofAnchor.Latitude = 37.77959;
cityHallRoofAnchor.Longitude = -122.419006;
cityHallRoofAnchor.AltitudeType = AnchorAltitudeType.Rooftop;

GameObject roofCube = GameObject.CreatePrimitive(PrimitiveType.Cube);
roofCube.transform.parent = cityHallRoofAnchor.transform;

Similar to the terrain anchors, you can fine-tune the altitude of a rooftop anchor in the Editor's scene view using the UseEditorAltitudeOverride and EditorAltitudeOverride properties. For this example, the WGS84 altitude of the roof is roughly 10.7 meters.

Geospatial Anchor on the roof

Create an anchor at a specific altitude

Our final anchor will be placed at the very top of the dome of City Hall. For this anchor, the precise altitude is important, so you'll set it explicitly by using a WGS84 anchor, instead of terrain or rooftop anchor:

ARGeospatialCreatorAnchor cityHallDomeAnchor =
  new GameObject("City Hall Dome").AddComponent<ARGeospatialCreatorAnchor>();
cityHallDomeAnchor.Origin = origin;
cityHallDomeAnchor.AnchorManager = anchorManager;
cityHallDomeAnchor.Latitude = 37.77928;
cityHallDomeAnchor.Longitude = -122.419241;
cityHallDomeAnchor.AltitudeType = AnchorAltitudeType.WGS84;
cityHallDomeAnchor.Altitude = 73;

GameObject domeCube = GameObject.CreatePrimitive(PrimitiveType.Cube);
domeCube.transform.parent = cityHallDomeAnchor.transform;

There is no need to use the editor-only altitude override, as the altitude is already specified according to WGS84. Of course, if the height of the Map Tiles geometry in the editor turned out to be incorrect compared to the real world, you could still use the editor override to reposition the anchor in the scene view.

Geospatial Anchor on the dome