Thursday, May 29, 2008

Google Earth Comes to Your Browser

Admit it: we're all spoiled by browser plug-ins and would much rather use an extension or browser add-in than a stand-alone application that we have to install separately. And that's been my big problem with Google Earth.

On Wednesday Google released an API and browser plug-in (sorry Mac users, Windows only) to eliminate the need to download and install the Google Earth app. From their blog post announcing the new plug-in:
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.
Even cooler, if you already have a Google Maps-enabled site, you need only add a single line of JavaScript to add Google Earth functionality: add the new G_SATELLITE_3D_MAP map type to your MapsAPI initialization code, and your site will support Google Earth via a button in the maps view, with existing 2D map code now functioning in 3D as well.

The list of browsers supported includes:
  • IE 6.0+
  • IE 7.0+
  • Firefox 2.x or 2.0x (Firefox 3.0 support coming soon)
  • Netscape 7.1+
  • Mozilla 1.4+
  • Flock 1.0+
Of course, until people start downloading the plug-in and installing it, most people are going to see nothing more than the image above. But that will change.

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