Archive for May, 2008

Google Earth – the API

Friday, May 30th, 2008

I’ve been following the blogosphere re the recent introduction of the Google Earth API. Which is a slightly lightweight version of Google Earth packaged in a browser, but with a quite rich Javascript/KML hybrid scripting interface.

There has (IMHO) been some misconceptions about exactly what this is, the hype (and I partly fell into the same trap) seems to surround its bringing Google Earth (aka 3D) to the browser – which it certainly does, but as Ed Parsons notes:
“in that context it should become clear that the big announcement of the Google Earth plug-in, is more about adding a API to earth, than bringing 3D functionality to the browser.”
its not the biggest thing – its that it opens Google Earth to scripting!

And being browser based brings reasonably familiar, and cross platform, Javascript to the table, effectively obsoleting the unsupported COM API (and ActionScript?).

As many blogs note 3D in the browser is not that new, LiveMaps (or what ever it called now. virtual earth?) has had it for a while, not to mention WorldWind (java), and the myriad of other 3D globes.

(however the one area this is good on the web, is it allows much larger datasets to be displayed and intereacted with – in already existing Google Maps API mashups – with little work)

Google Earth in the Browser

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

Google has just announced a new Google Earth API – which allows embedding and fully functional Google Earth in just about any webpage. Even is easily intergratable with Google Maps API mashups – with very little extra code. (takes a number of seconds for that news to sink in!)

Be sure to checkout the samples, (particularly the milktruck demo!), I’ve also started trying it out with a few demos of my own

…Windows only btw…

Expect A LOT MORE from this very flexible looking API – the JS interface can quickly interact with objects (API is based around KML) and gets pretty good control of interface options.

Update: mentioned on which is a good introduction about what this is and what its not!

Update2: and to show it can basically be added to a ‘real world’ Gmaps mashup, in a few lines of code, see here

HowTo: Copy/Move features between My Maps (GoogleMaps)

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

Google Maps doesn’t include a method to copy/move features between maps, however as you can import and export features using KML files you can easily use these features to archive the job.

I’ve moved the meat of this post to a Thread on the Google Maps Group – better for Google to be hosting it.

Howto: Alternative to paging on MyMaps (GoogleMaps)

Friday, May 23rd, 2008


Update, 2nd August 2008

Suddenly it seems that the KML export from My Maps no longer pages like it used to, so this process is now a lot quicker!

Just use the link ‘View in Google Earth’, and paste it directly in the search box to get access to the geographical culling method. No more going and creating a kml file or any sillyness.



In order to keep the map working at reasonable speed Google Maps needs to limit the available features visible at once, quite simply the more features shown the slower the map gets.

For MyMaps the features are split into pages, so that a reasonable amount of data is shown on one page – effectivly enough that will work at a reasonable speed. This normally results in between 60-200 features at once, but sometimes that is not enough.

However Google Maps uses a different limited method when displaying KML files, a regional geographical culling based method. A certain number of features are shown, to give a reasonable overview, but then as you zoom in more features become visible. This often results in more results being visible, but importantly doesn’t impose the arbitrary pages, so its often more friendly on the user, as can just zoom in on an area rather than flick though pages to find their area.

I’ve moved the meat of this post to a thread on the Google Maps Group – let Google host it!

Howto: Save Directions to a MyMap (GoogleMaps)

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

Google Maps doesn’t include a method to save ‘Driving Directions’ easily into MyMaps. Fortunately they do include KML import/export for most features, so can export the route as KML then reimport it into a My Map.

I’ve moved the meat of this post to a Thread on the Google Maps Group, better for Google to be hosting it :)

(Google) GeoWeb Search API

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

I dont know when it happened, but the API to search Googles GeoIndex seems to have gone live. The documentation is here (http method) and here (javascript). I actully found this via the recently announced Google Maps API for Flash, which is also good.

/me wanders off to play (but dont have much time at the moment :( )

but before I go, I note that the api doesn’t appear to offer KML output :p

… unless of course the actual GeoSearch API is something bigger!

update: try it out:

Not much to look at, but does show the json in a slightly easier to read format. Of course need to make a Maps API based map to try it out, but not tonight… (but did get as far as KML output – with source code!)

update2: Its been formally announced! (also if you find the ‘blended’ doesnt return results you expect, see this thread

View Planet Mandelbrot

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

WorldWide Telescope is out…

Initial reactions, seems quite good, if a little jumpy in controls. And as noted somewhere the 3Dconnextion does work after a fashion but it quickly gets disorientated and needs to be unplugged :(