Thursday, April 2, 2009

Google Earth Plugin Five-O: Ocean, Touring, and More!

Last month, the Google Earth team made a splash in the news (pun intended) with the release of Google Earth 5.0. The update included the ability to dive underwater to explore the world's oceans, record and play back narrated tours, view historical imagery, and explore Mars in 3D. Today, our team is happy to announce the 5.0 version of the Google Earth Plugin!

Playing tours in the Google Earth PluginOcean in the Google Earth PluginMars in the Google Earth Plugin

If you've already installed the plugin, you should see the new version automatically within the next day or two. If not, you can download the plugin for Windows or Mac OS X by visiting any Earth API web site, such as Monster Milktruck and clicking 'Get The Google Earth Plugin now'.

We've added many of Google Earth 5.0's new capabilities to the plugin and API, as well as a few other frequently requested features. Here is a list of major new features in the plugin and API:

  • Ocean: Underwater terrain and the ocean surface are now available, along with support for the clampToSeaFloor and relativeToSeaFloor altitude modes. In the Earth API, these are ALTITUDE_CLAMP_TO_SEA_FLOOR and ALTITUDE_RELATIVE_TO_SEA_FLOOR, respectively. (See example)
  • (Issue 180) Tour playback: This is via KmlTour and GETourPlayer in the API. To play tours, you must first either parseKml or fetchKml a file containing a <gx:Tour>, and then use GETourPlayer to play the tour. (See example)
  • (Issue 43) Programmatic photo overlay viewing: This is via KmlPhotoOverlay and GEPhotoOverlayViewer in the API. See the note on touring above for details on how to do this, or see the example page.
  • (Issue 181) Mars: On plugin startup, you can connect to the Mars dataset instead of Earth. (See example)
  • (Issue 7) Time slider: The standard Google Earth time slider UI will pop up upon loading KML containing time primitives such as <TimeSpan> and <TimeStamp> into the plugin. (See example)
  • (Issue 47) Gray buildings: You can now add the gray buildings layer to the plugin with the LAYER_BUILDINGS_LOW_RESOLUTION layer. (See example)

Along with these major new features, we've implemented the following feature requests from the public issue tracker: 10, 27, 42, 49, 99 and fixed these publicly reported defects: 75, 118, 131, 148. Check the Earth API release notes for more details.

The full list of a new samples for this release can be found at the Earth API demo gallery.

On our agenda for the not-too-distant future is:

  • Getting the other new Google Earth 5.0 features into the plugin
  • More complete API support for KML tours
  • Native API interfaces for time primitives

Lastly, if you're yearning for more Earth API goodness, make sure to catch my Google Earth API session at Google I/O on May 27th and 28th. Discounted early bird registration ends May 1st, so register now before time runs out!.