The View Mode buttons allow you to quickly switch between a 3D and 2D view. With these view modes you can go from a virtual reality appearance (3D) to an orthographic map view (2D) and vice-versa in a single-click. The set view mode not only impacts how your data appears to you, but also how you navigate around.

The illustration below shows a rock wall from three different views. The left image is a side view of the rock wall and the middle image is from the top; both are in the 3D view mode. The picture on the right shows the same top down location but in the 2D view mode.

Changing the View Mode

The view modes are accessible in the ribbon through the VIEW tab

The status bar (bottom right corner) has quick access buttons that allow you to change view mode without switching tabs.

You can change the view mode at any time with the following keyboard shortcuts:  

Alt+KChange viewport to 3D view mode
Alt+MChange viewport to 2D view mode

3D View Mode

The 3D view mode shows the terrain data as you would observe them as if you were on site, as how your eyes perceive reality. That makes the 3D view mode a good choice for most of your surveying work. You can observe every position in a three-dimensional context and create your points and breaklines at the correct location. 

However, in some use cases, the 2D view mode is a better option.

2D View Mode

The 2D view mode shows the data as you would be directly above any location of your data. The data appears to you as on a map and all your vector data is shown on top of the terrain.

That makes the 2D view mode a good choice when you want to take a screen capture for a report (overview of stock piles) or when some of your data is covered or "hidden" by the 3D terrain. In the illustration below, the yellow lines that go under the bridge would not be visible in the 3D view mode.

While you lose the 3D component in the 2D view mode, you can still keep the link with the terrain topography by using the Terrain Lenses. The illustration below combines the elevation color, contours, and hill shade lens. Although the picture is made in 2D view mode, you can still get a very good understanding of the topography. 

Note! In 2D view, pressing the scroll wheel or the R-key only changes the angle with the north direction.