New Maps Mapplets Enable Google Earth Layers

KML files in MappletsLast Tuesday Google announced Google Mapplets at Where 2.0. Google is calling it the Mashup of Mashups. If you watch the Google Developer Day videos, you can tell Mapplets have significance judging from the amount of attention given during the Keynote and sessions. There is a capability which is not readily apparent in Google Mapplets (the site you have to visit to try Mapplets: maps.google.com/preview ). If you search or enter a KML file, while using the preview version of Maps, you not only display the KML content in the map (assuming it is a KML supported by Maps), but you also get a new link which says: “Save to Mapplets Tab“. This enables you to take any KML file supported by Maps and make it into a “Layer” in Mapplets. I say “layer” in the context of being able to turn on and off that “collection” of placemarks or other KML content.
In my mind, the new Mapplets feature in many ways acts like Layers, or really the Places pane, in Google Earth. You can have layers of KML files you can turn on and off as needed. In the case of Mapplets, you can also add Maps APIs which have been converted into Mapplets. So, this means you can collect Maps Mashups or KML layers. At Google’s Developer Day they emphasized Mapplets lets you mashup mashups. But, it also lets you mashup KML layers too. It’s really a powerful way to combine geospatial information from a variety of supported sources. In my mind this is an evolution of the ability to support content developed from both platforms (Maps and Earth) and view the content together.
Google Earth already allowed you to have layers of KML files turned on or off. And, most Maps mashups offered an ability to output their data to KML. Now Maps has this ability to aggregate collections of content as well. Maps has some limitations when viewing KML content, but I expect Google will start enabling more KML capability in Maps. They have already said Maps will soon support larger collections of KML content. However, things like 3D models in KML files probably won’t be supported in Maps in its current form.

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