Thursday, May 31, 2007

Future Development

Those of you who are interested in the developer side of Google Earth and Maps may want to check out this YouTube video. It shows Google Developer Day presentations by many key Googlers who work on the Google Earth product. These staffers address development features (APIs, KML v2.2 , KML search, Mapplets, etc.).

And if new Apple products turn you on, note that our own Michael Jones shows off an iPhone in his presentation :-) Those of us in the office wondered how in the world he managed to get a hold of this device. According to Michael, it was simple: "Steve Jobs said yes". Ohhhh, I see.

Once again, Frank Taylor is doing a terrific job on Google Earth Blog describing this event as it pertains to Google Earth.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

New Features and Docs

Like many of us who work in mapping-enabled technology, I spent today at the Where 2.0 conference in San Jose. Manning the Google booth, I was able to show off newer features of Google Earth and Maps. For a complete rundown of Google Earth happenings at Where 2.0, see Frank Taylor's blog.

As you may know, Google launched Street View, a cool new feature of Google Maps that allows you to view navigate within street level imagery (example). Note that Street Views are only implemented for certain cities and can only be viewed by users in the US at this time.

To this end, I have worked hard on preparing another set of user documentation: the new Google Maps user guide. Please take a look and tell me what you think; I am all for implementing useful feedback.

Speaking of new docs and features, the beta version of KML 2.2 is now available for you to check out. Busy times here at the Googleplex!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Feed Validator

Since this blog seems to be all about KML these days, let me point you in the direction of yet another tool: Feed Validator.

This popular web tool allows you to validate KML, as well as other content formats, although your KML must be posted on a web server. Also, it appear that the documentation on the site needs updating to reflect the tool's KML capabilities.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

KML from Google Maps

For some time now, Google Maps has supported KML. This means that much of the content you create in Google Earth (such as placemarks, overlays, etc.) can be viewed in Google Maps as well.

However, KML can move from Maps to Earth as well. If you are viewing KML-based content in Google Maps, you can export the KML out as a file that you can view in Google Earth. Just look for the KML icon and link in the top right corner of the Google Maps page.

Example: here is a mountain bike ride I did late last year. I tracked my ride using a GPS device, saved the GPS data to KML using Google Earth, then posted the KML on a web server. Notice the KML link in the Google Maps web page.

Another example: Any Google Maps content (such as this depiction of Kauai) created using My Maps can also be exported as a KML file and brought into Google Earth.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Keyboard Shortcuts

Like other applications, Google Earth offers a set of keyboard short cuts for quick access to commands, including navigation commands. View a complete list of keyboard shortcuts.

Here are some of my favorite, less-known shortcuts:
  • Down arrow - Selects the next item in the list (either folder or placemark). Works when the window focus is on either the Places panel or the Layers panel.
  • Up arrow - Selects the previous item in the list (either folder or placemark). Works when the window focus is on either the Places panel or the Layers panel
  • N - Reset view to "north - up". The focus must be in the 3D viewer.
  • U - Reset tilt to "top-down" view. The focus must be in the 3D viewer.
  • Scroll wheel - When an image overlay is selected in the Places panel, this changes the opacity of the overlay.

Monday, May 21, 2007

3D Solar Array

As you may have read, Google has made a significant commitment to lowering its carbon footprint by erecting a large array of solar panels at its headquarters in Mountain View, California. For months, Googlers have watched the construction crews toil away in our parking lots and atop our buildings to make these solar powered plans a reality.

You can see how there panels are implemented without traveling to Mountain View by viewing these 3D models in Google Earth or Google SketchUp. As impressive as this project is, only part of it is currently shown in these models, as other Google buildings in Mountain View have solar panels on or near them as well.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Starting Location

With the release of Version 4.1, users in many countries view their country by default in Google Earth. So when French users open Google Earth, the 3D viewer shows France, as opposed to some country on the other side of the pond whose name I forget ;-)

A related change is the debut of the Starting location placemark. This determines the default view that appears in Google Earth when you you start the application. In previous releases, this placemark was entitled "Default".

You can edit the Starting location as you would any other placemark. For example, I edited mine such that the placemark is on my neighborhood in California. I set the camera view (tilt and elevation) using right click > Snapshot View to capture the angle I want. Thus, everytime I start Google Earth, I see my house and the mountains behind it. Egocentric, I know.

So if you are in a country that does not use a default view of your nation, you can simply edit the Starting location file as you see fit. Or move this placemark to an interesting location, like the Swiss Alps, Mount Fuji, etc.

Learn more in the Google Earth user guide.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Publishing Your Content in Google Earth and Maps

On Friday, I made a presentation at the California Trails and Greenway Conference in Folsom, CA. The theme of the presentation was bringing trail and park information into Google Earth and Maps. I talked about how the attendees and indeed anyone can publish custom content in Earth and Maps.

Why would you want to publish content to these platforms? Google Earth and Maps have hundreds of millions of users worldwide. So when make your information available to users these products, you can reach an enormous number of people in a familiar user interface.

There are a variety of techniques of authoring and publishing data, but most involve creating content that is based in KML and putting this information on a web server or the Google Earth Community. Remember that most KML content is viewable in both Earth and Maps.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Google Earth Version 4.1

Today, Google released Google Earth Version 4.1. Read about the new features of this version:
Download the latest version. My favorite feature in this new version is a simple one: view the current Earth view in Google Maps. To do this in Version 4.1, do one of the following:
  • Click the Maps icon in the toolbar
  • Click Ctrl + Alt + M (Clover key+ Option + M on the Mac)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Cool, Easy Things

In case you have not seen this, the Google Earth user guide has a section entitled "Five Cool, Easy Things You Can Do in Google Earth". These suggestions include:
  • View an image of your home, school or any place on Earth
  • Go on a tour of the world
  • Get driving directions from one place to another and fly (follow) the route
  • View other cool locations and features created by other Google Earth users
  • View 3D terrain of a place
So if you were trying to introduce a friend to Google Earth, what would you show them? What easy, fun feature impresses you the most?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Changing Units of Measurement

You can choose how Google Earth displays units of measurements. There are two sets of options: one for Ruler tool and the other for elevation figures as displayed in the 3D viewer.

To set units of measurements used by the Ruler tool, click the Ruler icon in the toolbar. In each tab (Line, Path, Polygon and Circle), simply choose the appropriate unit and start measuring.

To set units of measurement for elevation in the 3D viewer, click Tools > Options > 3D view (on the Mac, click Google Earth > Preferences > 3D view). Under Show Elevation, choose the appropriate unit and click OK.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Layers Versus Places

So what is the difference between items that appear in the Layers panel and those that appear in the Places panel?

Layers content is created by Google and its partners. Google publishes all content you see in the Layers panel.

Information which appears the Places panel, however, can be created and edited by anyone using Google Earth or KML. For example, the Places panel can contain: