Monday, April 21, 2008

Navigating on the Ground

With Google Earth version 4.3 comes the ability to navigate on ground level. To do this, zoom into your favorite location so that your line of sight is parallel to the surface of the earth (you can do this using the Zoom slider). Navigate around by using the arrow keys on your keyboard. Press Alt + arrow keys to move slower.

Note that when you encounter a change in ground elevation (such as a hill or mountain), your viewpoint ascends and descends these objects, as if you were climbing over them. Google Earth returns you to your original elevation once you have cleared them.

Of course, you can stop anywhere and look around using the Look joystick.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Does Whatever a Spider Can

When I was a kid, I was a Marvel comic book fanatic, but no superhero held my fascination like Spiderman. I horded Spidey issues. I drew pictures of him. My family has pictures of me posing as Spiderman as I pretended to walk on walls and swing from building to building.

30+ years later, my fantasy has become realized in Google Earth 4.3. Few have noticed this new feature yet, but you can swoop to the top or sides of 3D buildings, then jump from building to building ala my favorite superhero. To do this, right click (CTRL + click on the Mac) on the building and drag the mouse. You can swoop from building to building by doing the same. Learn more in the user guide.

You can also view a 3D building from different perspectives. To do this, click the middle mouse button (Shift + left mouse if your mouse does not have a middle button).

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Version 4.3 Released

The latest version of Google Earth is available for download. Read all about the new features on Google Earth Blog, OgleEarth and Lat Long.

Personally, I am stoked about this release for aesthetic reasons (hey, eye candy is important). With the sun and 3D building features, the world looks so much more realistic and beautiful in this version. You may have also noticed that the atmospheric rendering is improved, making views around the world quite lifelike.

Previously an easter egg, the flight simulator now is available by default in the Tools menu. You can fly to some gorgeous views by using the flight simulator and sun feature. Try setting the sun to appear on the horizon, at dawn or sunset, and fly over the Swiss Alps. I should also mention that I've created a new section of the user guide devoted to the flight simulator feature.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Setting Views

As I mentioned in an earlier post, you can automatically assign a particular view to a placemark. But you can also set this manually when you create or edit a placemark.

In the New or Edit Placemark dialog box, click the View tab and change any of the following:

Latitude and Longitude - Coordinates for the placemark
Range - Distance from the placemark to the viewing position.
Heading - The orientation of the viewpoint relative to north.
Tilt - Angle between the viewpoint and the surface of the earth.

Click OK. When you or anyone else double clicks this placemark, the 3D viewer brings you to this specific view. Note that the settings above correspond to KML's LookAt element.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Approximate Addresses in Google Earth Pro

If you are a Google Earth Pro user, you can quickly obtain the approximate address for many locations. In the geeky GIS world, we call this "reverse geocoding". This means that you visually pick location and Google Earth Pro provides you its best guess for an address for this place.

Give it a try. Just navigate to the appropriate place, press down the Ctrl key and right click (Ctrl + click on the Mac) a location.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Dynamic KML

In this video, Googler Mano Marks demonstrates techniques for using view based refresh (VBR), and other dynamic querying techniques in KML.