Improved KML Support for Google Maps

UK Fall Leaves network link in Google MapsLast night Google announced improved support in Google Maps for more sophisticated KML files. In particular, KML files which use network links whose content in based on your current view are now supported in Google Maps. Google gave some examples of KML files used in Google Earth which work now in Google Maps like: Panoramio photos of the world, and Wikimapia. Cool as they are, they both have their own Google Maps versions – which you can find by browsing the Google My Maps directory – which work a little better (Panoramio uses smaller pictures for their My Maps version).
Mickey of is quite excited that several of his network links work quite well with Google Maps – see his GearthHacks most popular network link for lots of interesting sites (make sure you’re in “satellite mode” in Google Maps).
Initially I was also excited about this announcement and I rushed to try some of my favorite network links in Google Maps. But, I found many still would not work – or at least parts of them failed. I was surprised the USGS Earthquake Monitoring KML didn’t work (but, they have a My Maps version at least). Global image overlays still aren’t supported in Maps – so my favorite real-time global clouds network link still isn’t supported. The ones that work or don’t work are hit or miss at this point. But, obviously Google intends to continue to improve KML support in Google Maps.
Here is one very nice network link which works with Maps: UK Fall Foliage (read the story on it here). It’s a network link which shows the current color of fall leaves in the UK. Also, the large KML collection I developed documenting our sailing adventures in the Caribbean works quite well now in Google Maps (see post).
This new support for network links will enable people to develop even more KML files which will work with both Google Earth and Maps. And, they won’t even need to learn the Maps API to do it.

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.


  1. The USGS Earthquake KML is an interesting one. I had a map working with it just fine until recently, then about 2 weeks it stopped working and I can’t see why!
    Anyway – the announcement looks very encouraging and I’m sure KML support will improve. It looks like the recent announcement of KML support in Virtual Earth will probably help push Google to improve support too..

  2. Looks like SuperOverlays also work, but not very well. Very slow. Here is an example.
    Part of the problem with some working and some not may be related to whether the KML code includes the full URL in the network link or just the relative path. It looks like maybe the full URL needs to be present when Google Earth can accept relative paths.

  3. I try to create a database driven script which decides on a “output” parameter which KML to feed. I’d like to hear that Google makes more and more KML available in Maps, but I am still looking for a table which shows which KML tags are supported by which application. Perhaps I’d like to add VE and other KML aware applications to the script which could generate the right KML featureset for the right displaying application.

  4. Cheers Frank, thanks for mentioning my UK Autumn feed. It’s working for the third year in a row thanks to the UK Forestry Commission re-using exactly the same page – my screen-scrape of the colour for each woodland “just started working again” last year and again this year.
    The only thing I’m not happy with when using the kml feed in Google Maps is the starting zoom level. Google Earth will zoom to just contain the feed when you load it, but Google Maps starts at maximum zoom-out. I’ll have to search for a way to pre-set the initial zoom.

  5. Look this overlay is very cool.
    Add the below url to Google Maps,
    copy the code from Google Maps and add to your blog.
    Videomap for Your Blog

  6. alternative and perhaps better ,
    never miss ‘gdal2tiles’.
    Easiest way to get , download
    FWTools from
    BTW, gdal2tiles generates
    efficient pyramid and ‘standard’
    TMS tiling structure and at the
    sametime it targets:-
    1) KML Google Earth
    2) Google Maps HTML application
    3) OpenLayers application

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