Putting Google Earth in the Browser Window

So it has finally happened.

Today, I’m happy to announce the release of the new Google Earth Browser Plug-in, which brings the full power of Google Earth to the web, embeddable within your own web site. Driven by an extensive JavaScript API, you can control the camera; create lines, markers, and polygons; import 3D models from the web and overlay them anywhere on the planet. In fact, you can even overlay your content over different planets, stars, and galaxies by toggling Sky mode, letting you build 3D Google Sky mashups. You can also enable 3D buildings with a single line of JavaScript, attach JavaScript callbacks to mouse events, fetch KML data from the web, and more. Our goal is to open up the entire core of Google Earth to developers in the hopes that you’ll build the next great geo-based 3D application, and change (yet again) how we view the world.

So has this made you sit up and get excited (and rush off to download the plugin) or are you giving it a big “meh”?

I’ve been of the feeling that 3D is too complex for simple mapping applications and frustrates the community at large. That said I felt the same way about Google Earth when people started getting all excited about it. Virtual Earth 3D seems to be popular with folks so I see no reason why there won’t be a huge jump into embedding Google Earth in the browser.


Planet Geospatial Reboot is Here

My policy on Planet Geospatial has been if you want in, just ask, and you’ll be added. I’m not sure this can continue as the noise is just too much to make Planet Geospatial of any value. So I’m in the process of cleaning out the feeds and reducing it from the 144 that are currently in Planet Geospatial to about 60 50 (it ended up being 50 blogs). I know many bloggers will be unhappy that they got dropped, but the value of Planet Geospatial is at stake here. Those who blog original content should get precedence of those who blog news that has been covered elsewhere.

The end result will be something that I think will be of more value to the community at large than just an echo chamber.

If you want to grab all the feeds that made up the old Planet Geospatial list, you can do so by downloading this OPML file: and import it into your favorite RSS Aggregator.


Holiday Weekend Geo Search 2.0

The Friday before a holiday weekend is always nice. Traffic is light as folks cheat on leaving early for vacation, the office is excited about heading to the mountains for camping/boating/fishing and knowing you have an extra day for the weekend to get things done (or just sit in front of the TV) and remember those who gave their lives for this great country.

Well I did see this morning that the Google Maps API blog has some information about Google’s new Geo Sitemaps and Geo search API:

There are (atleast) two really cool consequences of this news: 1) you’ll be able to enable users of your mashups to instantly find international results where previously none existed, and to be able to find results for non-standard searches (e.g. “dog parks”), and 2) by indexing your content, waiting a few weeks, and then using the local search with a “” appended to the query, you get to leverage the power of google search on your own content with barely any code of your own

Should be interesting to see this data populate the Google search ecosystem in the coming months.

As many already know, I have resigned from TEC Inc effective next week. I’m going to really miss all my great coworkers and clients I’ve worked with over the years. When I came to TEC, there wasn’t any “real” GIS going on and I leave with TEC being a ESRI Business Partner and with a huge backlog of GIS work. I’m proud of what I accomplished there and wish everyone at TEC the best of luck.

I’ll go into more what I’m doing next week, but feel free to read up on BIM.


Don’t Give Away the Farm!

So Google and ESRI will allow indexing of ArcGIS Server services by Google (and anyone who crawls the web). So what does that mean moving forward. It really isn’t big news if you think about it because this “feature” (service description) is already enabled in ArcGIS Server 9.3. The problem with this is no one has really been thinking about what this means for everyone. If you expose these metadata pages to the Google Bot, you’ll be opening up your services to the world.

Now don’t get me wrong, this is a great thing. As a user of data, I’m always wishing that I could search datasets using Google rather than the haphazard way we do it today (luck has more to do with it than anything), but data providers will lose control of their datasets. Plus how do you monetize your information in such a world?

There are two types of organizations on the Internet, those who want to work with Google and those who don’t. A great example of a company that isn’t allowing Google to index their pages (well beyond the Whitehouse) is Facebook. You never see Facebook results on the web and that is probably why they have been so successful. Giving away your data to Google can be dangerous to your business model.

That said, I’d like for everyone to expose all their data on the Google so I can perform my job much easier. Maybe I’ll be surprised and there will be millions of new datasets available from ESRI servers by the end of the year, but I’m not holding my breath.


Pre-K Graduation

So after almost a year of “hard work”, my son has graduated Pre-Kindergarten.

He's got the diploma

I’ve told him he’s got 3 choices:

  1. Go to Kindergarten
  2. Get a job
  3. Enlist in the Army

He’s not freeloading on old Dad anymore.


ArcGIS 9.3 Release Candidate is here

The delivery guy just dropped off the package. I think we are looking at a final version in 4 weeks, just like Jack Dangermond said at Where 2.0. Remember, 9.3 is going to be a game changer for ESRI users with Javascript APIs, Google Maps/Virtual Earth support, KML support, the list just keeps getting better.

Esri Delivery


Google/ESRI Keynote from Where 2.0 2008

John Hanke and Jack Dangermond on the evolution of the GeoWeb.

Editors Note 01-10-2017:
Video was on which is now dead.


The Yahoo! Internet Location Platform

I guess interesting stuff does come out of Where 2.0. Simply put, the Yahoo! Internet Location Platform creates an ID called WOEID (Where On Earth ID) for every location on earth and has an API to geocode back and forth from that WOEID.

In simple terms, the Service allows you to look up the unique identifier – called the Where on Earth ID, or WOEID – for almost any named place on the Earth; it also allows you to resolve a WOEID you have received from a third party – such as Fire Eagle’ or Upcoming – to the place it represents.

The API is accessed via HTTP GET; the following examples can be cut-and-paste into a web browser to view the results (note that these links do not work properly with IE6):

Find the WOEID of a significant landmark:‘sydney%20opera%20house’)

Resolve a WOEID to a place:

Find the WOEID of a specific place:‘northfield%20mn%20usa’)

Obtain a range of WOEIDs that match a given place, ordered by the most likely:‘springfield’);start=0;count=5

Find the parent of a given WOEID (and return a detailed record):

Return the Placename for a given WOEID in a specific language (where it exists):‘usa’)?lang=fr

To obtain the representation of a place in JSON format:

To obtain a list of geographies that neighbor a specific WOEID:

The Yahoo! Local & Maps Blog explains it as “a more elegant way to abstract the relationships of location, and unambiguously describe places in a permanent, language-neutral manner.”
One of the overused examples of a place in Arizona is the Grand Canyon so lets put that in the system and see what we get:‘grand%20canyon’)

I like the hierarchy here: In the above example, Grand Canyons Village’s parent is the county of Coconino, whose parent is Arizona, whose parent is the United States. These relationships should help users get more information out of places than they did before.

Dan Catt has some details on his blog about WOEID and how Yahoo! is using it.


A look at PostgreSQL and ArcSDE

Dave Bouwman has some thoughts on using PostgreSQL as a RDBMS for ArcSDE (or ArcGIS Server Enterprise as we should be calling it).

Thus far I’ve simply come to realize that I have a lot to learn. I need to grok a lot more about Postgresql and PostGIS to start, and then add ArcSDE into the mix.

While everyone is really excited about PostgreSQL support at 9.3, remember it won’t be as easy to administer as SQL Server is (at least to those who already use SQL Server). Just keep that in mind before abandoning SQL Server outright for PostgreSQL.


Developing in a Virtual Environment

I’ve asked the question on Twitter, but I’d like to get a more broad idea of what people think about developing applications inside a virtual environment. Results were pretty much on both extremes, either people love it, or people told me I need to get a new IT staff. We do have virtual servers running already, but the reality of actually developing inside a “virtual workstation” might be totally different. The upside of having different virtual environments available to me to use and not have any spillover into my “real” operating system seems greater than the downside of performance (especially on my laptop). But what do you guys think?

Total Recall

I sure as heck don’t want to end up like Arnold