Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Orient Yourself

The navigation controls (pictured here) debuted with Version 4 of Google Earth and represent a vast improvement over similar controls in older versions of the software. The navigation ring within these controls offers a great way for you to orient your perspective in the 3D viewer. You can do the following with this ring:
  • Click the north up button to reset the view so that north is at the top of the screen.
  • Click and drag the navigation ring to rotate the view.
The navigation controls only appear once you move the cursor over the right corner of the 3D viewer. Until you do this, a compass appears (unless you have turned this off using View > Compass).

Learn more about using the navigation controls.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

KML Errors

Like invalid HTML or Javascript with web browsers, KML can contain errors that prevent Google Earth from rendering content correctly. The latest version of Google Earth contains setting for how the application reacts when it encounters an error. Learn more about using these settings.

If you edit or create your own KML, you can validate it as you would any other XML data. That is, you can use the KML schema with any XML editor to check for errors before you publish it.

Read more about using KML tags.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Improving Performance in Google Earth

Is Google Earth too slow on your computer? There are a number of quick steps you can take to improve performance. These include:
  • Reduce the number of items you have in your My Places folder - As stated in the user guide. "Each time you start Google Earth, all the places data is processed during startup, even if it is not turned on in the 3D viewer. Holding a large amount of data in the My Places folder can impact the performance of Google Earth, depending upon your computer. By saving folders to your hard drive, you can improve Google Earth performance by then deleting the data from your My Places folder once they are saved to disk. You can always open the data you save at any time.".
  • Make sure you have the latest video drivers for your computer- This can make a big difference with Google Earth and other graphic intensive applications.
  • Change 3D viewer options - These include display, detail, terrain quality and graphics mode. Learn more in the user guide.
  • Be sure that your computer meets the system requirements - Learn more about these requirements.
The Google Earth Help Center has a lot of information about tweaking performance.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

New KML Docs Published

My colleague here at Google just published an updated set of KML documents. These documents describe the specifics of using KML to publish information and exciting content in Google Earth. The documents include:

KML Samples - This document and sample KML file represent a terrific way to learn about KML. View these to understand the basic structure of a KML file and commonly used tags.

KML 2.1 Tutorial - These hands-on instructions acquaint you with the exciting new features found in KML 2.1.

KML 2.1 Reference - This contains a description for all KML elements.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Viewing WMS Imagery

Using a web mapping service (WMS), you can view alternate images in Google Earth. These appear as image overlays. This lesser known feature set allows you to display this information from any publicly available WMS. To do this, follow these instructions.

Available information from a WMS can include weather, geological features, seismic hazards, population depictions, time zones, forestry regions and much more.

Tip: Before you begin exploring WMS offerings in Google Earth, be sure to zoom in to the particular area on the globe that you want to explore. This improves performance and lessens the demand on the WMS servers that generously provide this free information.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Touring in Google Earth

Frank Taylor of Google Earth Blog posted a nice description of using the tour feature of Google Earth. Frank has authored a number of helpful posts about using basic features of Google Earth, including the Overview Map and navigation techniques.

Perhaps the easiest and most compelling way to experience touring is to start a sightseeing tour of the world. To do this, in the Places panel, check the Sightseeing folder and click the Play Tour button.

Learn more about touring:

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Expo Questions

I spent a chunk of today working the Google Earth and SketchUp booth at Macworld in San Francisco. It is very exhilarating to see first hand how much fun users have using our product. I thought I would answer some of the cross-platform questions I kept hearing at Macworld in hopes that it might improve your Google Earth experience:

Q: Can I create multiple point route driving directions in Google Earth?
A: As you may know, Google Maps recently enabled this very handy feature. While Google Earth does not exactly support this functionality, you can approximate it by creating driving directions, saving them to My Places and repeat. You can drag and drop these sets of driving directions into a folder and give this folder a meaningful name (e.g. "My Trip on the Oregon Coast"). Learn more about driving directions and places.

Q: Does Google Earth Pro provide better quality imagery?
A: No, all versions of Google Earth use the same imagery except Google Earth EC. However, you can explore different imagery using the WMS feature or by importing your own imagery as an image overlay.

Q: When I search for the address of my house, the result appears in the wrong location. How can I give directions to my place if this is the case?
A: This error can occur for a variety of reasons. For example. when you search for an address in Google Earth or Maps, these services show you the approximate location of your house based on known block numbers of street. This sometimes results in a depiction of an address that is not quite right.

One workaround is to put a placemark on the location of the house in Google Earth and create directions to this location or simply share this placemark. If you want to provide directions in Google Maps:
  1. Create a placemark at your home.
  2. Copy the the latitude and longitude coordinates from the New dialog box.
  3. Paste these coordinates in the Google Maps Search Maps field.
  4. Click Search Maps. Google Maps displays a map with an icon for this location which you can use to create directions.
Any other questions? Please let me know!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Realtime GPS Tracking

If you have a compatible GPS device, recent versions of Google Earth Plus and Pro allow you to track your movements as they occur. For example, you could track your travel progress in a plane or in a car with a GPS device connected to portable computer with Google Earth. Of course, imagery in Google Earth depends on an Internet connection. As a workaround, Frank Taylor of Google Earth suggests that you cache your imagery of your route before departing. Learn more about caching.

Like the time slider, it will be interesting to watch how Google Earth users apply this feature. I can envision live blogs of treks that use network links that describe interesting journeys that individuals embark upon.

Learn more about realtime GPS tracking.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Geographic Web Layer FAQ

As promised, I posted a new FAQ that describes how you can use and publish to the Geographic Web layer of Google Earth. This document describes how to make Wikipedia articles appear in this layer, details about Panoramio photos and more.

Please use the comment feature of this blog to provide feedback on this document.

Learn more about using layers.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Tracking Snowshoe Tracks

On New Year's Eve, several friends joined me for an unusual celebration of the year's end. After dark, we strapped on snowshoes and made our way up the side of a mountain near Donner Summit in California. Using mountain bike lights and the abundant moonlight, we found our way to a splendid view of Donner Lake and the surrounding Sierra.

Of course, being a GPS geek, I tracked our trek with my new Christmas gift: a Garmin 60CSx device. I wanted to view our route in Google Earth. The resulting track ended up being much more informative than I anticipated. As we climbed, we tried to find the famous train tunnel that cuts into this mountain side. Alas, due to visibility and some navigation confusion, we never ended up finding the tunnel.

Upon our return home, I downloaded the track into Google Earth. I immediately saw the train tunnel and using the measuring tool, I determined that we were only ~350' from the tunnel! It was hidden just behind an incline that kept it out of sight.

As an outdoor enthusiast, I absolutely love how Google Earth can help me scope out terrain that I explore on bike, foot or snowshoe.