Another Small Step For Google, A Giant Leap for Earth

May 29 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future
Category: The Web   Year: 2008   Rating: 7 Hot

Google Earth is the ultimate palette for myriad developers whose products require geo-spatial context, but its utility and reach has been capped by the fact that it’s a stand-alone API that exists outside the standard browsing experience. As of today that’s no longer the case. With the release of the new Earth Browser Plug-in Google’s little Hulk), the future hub and entry point for many of the company’s offerings, has escaped its cage and is now free to roam the halls of the worldwide web and look for new friends… millions of them.

In the immediate to short-term, this allows those who have installed the plugin to embed frames of Google Earth directly into their web pages and to manipulate and mash objects and places.

“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,” writes Paul Rademacher, Technical Lead of the Earth Browser Plug-in project, “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.” (cont.)

Of course, this has already been possible via the stand-alone Earth API for quite some time, but the difference now is that we’ll be far more likely to encounter and find useful little Earth windows as we surf the regular ole web.

Over the long-term, Google’s move means that the company remains the leader in the simulated social Earth race and that it will win over a huge quantity of developers looking to capitalize on the platform. With Microsoft looking to close the gap with their own competing Virtual Earth platform, this is a very big deal as far as claiming coveted freebie developer hours.

Though Google’s got some cushion, already having integrated both its News and Street View products into Earth, the company seems to be wasting no time methodically building the ultimate Earth reference tool described in Stephenson’s Snow Crash.

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