Sunday, July 17, 2011

Touring Google Earth

It has been a long time since my last post. I was busy with exams, projects and of-course with my first job! Few months back, me and few of my colleagues were working on a project. This was an essential part of our academic curriculum, and luckily, the selection of the topic and the scope was in our purview. So, we decided that we'll jump into virtual tour using currently available web resources and try out ways to provide better user experience in GIS.

What we did and what our objectives were are defined in the small technical guide which we have prepared. I have given a link to that document towards this end of this article. Below section is just an abstract description of the overall project.


Google Earth is a magnificent GIS tool for public users but you haven’t seen or experienced half its power until you start working wit Google Earth API for javascript. Imagine all the satellite imaging and height map information  provided by the Google Earth application and then add a comprehensive API on top of it, that’s the power you get.

As I mentioned above, we were trying to utilize those GIS tools to demonstrate ways to better present information. So, we decided to build a virtual tour application of Sri Lanka. At the time of coding Google Earth API had not provided a custom animation mechanism and had not incorporated geo-codes. This forced us to implement a lot of vector mathematics and a little bit of kinematics into the application.

The absence of geo-code meant that roads, and hence paths of motion, could not be built using default tools APIs provided by Google Earth platform. So, we ripped this functionality from the Google Maps API v3 (javascript) and mashed the resulting coordinates onto the tour app using Google Earth.

Here’s the link to check it out.

For a better explanation of how it works check out the Technical Documentation

Steps for playing the tour:

1 Enter the starting location and the destination
2 Click “Get Directions”
3 Click “Enter Tour”
4 Then Play the tour using “Play Tour”.
5 To pause the tour, click “Pause Tour”, to change camera views click “Change Cam”.
6 To move the vehicle back to the starting point and start the tour again, click “Go to start”

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