Today was the opening of the Where 2.0 conference. This conference is well organized, and the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose is a very nice location. The format of this conference is a little different from many technical conferences I’ve attended. They have a technique of greatly limiting the amount of time allowed for presentations. Even their big sponsors like Microsoft and Google only got 15 minute slots for their presentations. Unfortunately, I had to leave early after the afternoon break (I’ll explain why below). Here’s a run-down of my experiences today (this is a bit lengthy, but there’s some interesting things worth reading if you want to know what’s going on regarding Google Earth):
- During breakfast I saw a really classy thing – O’Reilly had a Where 1.0 map: a plain paper world map with a bunch of pushpins on a cork board. Yep, it was a really ironically pleasing thing to stick a real pushpin into a map to show where you came from to attend the conference. I’ll post a picture later. Very fun!
- Microsoft’s Steve Lawler, GM of Microsoft Virtual Earth gave his presentation in the first morning session. He started off by mentioning they had some significant new updates to the Windows Live Local in the previous two weeks. The new satellite photos in the UK, birds eye views in a few cities in the UK, street maps and directions in 30 countries now, and there new “collections” of pushpins feature. When Microsoft showed collections of push pins, it really seemed very weak (especially considering that there are many thousands of placemark KML collections – in fact nearly all of the ones Microsoft showed have already been done for months in GE). Steve did allude to how they are working hard to allow people to “fly” to earth destinations, and that Microsoft does in fact produce a pretty good flight simulator already. The point being they will be doing their own 3D globe.
- During the break I went to the exhibit hall. Google had a Google Earth booth showing the new version of GE and examples of texture mapped 3D models, and the new satellite photography. Skyline software (the guys who have been trying to sue Keyhole/Google were there with a booth showing their VERY similar-looking virtual globe. One thing I found interesting is they were demoing their virtual globe running within a browser window instead of as a separate application. ESRI was demoing ArcGIS, and of course ArcGIS Explorer in a booth near Google. I plan to get a demo of AGE tomorrow. I met Alan Glennon who does the Geography 2.0 – Virtual Globes blog, and had an enjoyable chat. Then it was time to go back to the sessions.
Wait, that’s not all, keep reading to see more.
- A little while later, John Hanke, GM of Google Earth at Google, and Brad Schell, GM of SketchUp at Google, got up and gave a presentation of the many things that were announced yesterday. But, they did an even better job showing them. They showed the new Google Earth V4, got nearly a standing ovation for supporting Mac with Universal Binary and Linux for both GE and Google SketchUp, they showed the significance and examples of the huge new database of aerial images, and Brad built a 3D building with textures with SketchUp and blew away the audience with how easy it was. The audience was quite enthusiastic.
- I had lunch with two of the guys doing Tagzania.com, which is a really great Google Maps mashup which also has great support for Google Earth. Their company is based in the Basque country in Europe, and so it was a real pleasure to get to meet them and see them attend this show.
- A little while later Brian McClendon, Director of Engineering of Google Earth at Google, and Lars Rasmussen (who is the guy who originally wrote Google Maps), gave a presentation of the new KML 2.1 and the ways KML can work with Google Maps now. I’m sure when all of these developers get their hands on these new features there will be some really great stuff to see. By the way, Jason Birch sent me an E-mail early this morning saying he has already developed a cool application which allows you to access ArcGIS WMS GIS servers convert them into KML 2.1 (use GE V4 to see) so you can see dynamic overlays of the data in Google Earth.
- At this point, I left the Where 2.0 conference because I was invited by Michael Jones (CTO of Google Earth at Google) to his house for a social gathering of Google Earth team members and the moderators of the Google Earth Community. The moderators are some great folks from all over the world who carefully monitor posts at the GEC to make sure things are posted in the right places, and to provide help to the many thousands of people who need help with the forums and Google Earth tips. Google flew them in so they could attend the big announcement and get a chance to meet face to face. Not only are they great people, but they all seem to be regular readers of Google Earth Blog and made me blush with their nice words about the work I’ve been doing. It was a thrill to sit down and talk and get to know these great guys and gals. Getting to meet some of the Google Earth team members was also a lot of fun as well, and even two of the top guys at SketchUp were there as well. The Google Earth folks look like a great team who are really careful and proud of their products and I know they will continue to work very hard to continuously improve their products.
That’s all for today. Look for more reports tomorrow! I already know one big thing I will be writing about tomorrow.