Google Earth Plugin Adopted Quickly

The new Google Earth Plugin API has been adopted quickly by both Google Maps mashup developers and Google Earth developers. Given that Google Maps has long had limitations on the number of placemarks or other KML features it can show, the Earth plugin immediately enables more KML data to be viewed. That’s just one of many reasons why developers would want to quickly adopt the new plugin (besides the “show off” factor). I think this new plugin will be a huge hit and will be quickly adopted by many applications – especially once Google pushes out broader support on Mac and Linux as well. Right now, since the plugin is only working on Windows, developers should check what operating system people are using before presenting them with the plugin. No need to cause a plugin load error if a person is using Mac OS X. (See Gmap-Track below for the first example I’ve seen which addresses this.) In the 24 hours or so since it was released, at least 2 dozen apps have been released using the new API (probably many more than that just haven’t reached my attention yet). Below are just a few examples I’ve noticed, and there are links to more in other posts listed at the bottom. (NOTE: if you aren’t on Windows or using a browser supported by the new plugin – you won’t get to try all the links without a load error):

  • Takitwithme – this site lets you try any KML or Google Maps map with the new API, and lets you generate the code so you can embed the plugin on a web page (or blog post). It was developed by Virgil Zetterlind. See the post on this from yesterday.
  • GMap-Track – this handy tool lets you embed a map showing a location on your web page. Stefan Geens is using it on his blog OgleEarth. According to Stefan, GMAP-Track is now letting users choose to present the Earth plugin instead of Maps, and is smart enough to check operating systems before trying to show Earth.
  • GearthHacks – GearthHacks was one of the earliest web sites to aggregate content for Google Earth, and has evolved its site many times to take advantage of new Google mapping technologies. So, its no surprise that Mickey Mellen has quickly adopted some tests using the new plugin. Mickey has also developed another plugin example for another site he has developed called GolfNation.
  • Magnalox – Magnalox has long been one of my favorite sites which allow for GPS track visualizations (and more). They have very quickly adopted the new plugin by simply adding the Earth button to the familiar Google Maps control buttons. But, what is cool is that you can now show tracks with animations over time in Maps or Earth.
  • Housing Maps – The original Google Maps mashup – before there was an API from Google – was done by Paul Rademacher. Paul now works at Google, and in fact was the key designer behind the new Google Earth API and plugin. He gave a talk yesterday and showed how he updated his original mashup with the new 3D interface with just three lines of javascript.

Other examples can be found at OgleEarth here. Naturally, since this blog has been writing about innovative applications of Google Earth for nearly three years, expect many more posts of examples of Google Earth plugin and its API as adoption continues to grow.

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.

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.


  1. Great list of plug ins – we look forward to checkin them out. Looking forward to seeing more.

  2. GE Admin says:

    The question is already coming up in our company if the plugin license terms are the same as the Free version of Google Earth…which state that it cannot be used for business purposes. Terms of Use link on the plugin go to Maps API, which state only internal use. Is this finally the way GE client/viewer can be distributed across business/government environments? It was a lot easier to police (delete) unlicensed versions of GE from our corporate network than dealing with proliferation of this plugin, if it may not now take the place of GE free version. Thoughts?

  3. Two weeks ago the Google Earth free license was changed to allow broader use–especially in governments. Last week we launched the Google Earth API under the same liberal Terms of Service as the Google Maps API (essentially, free use for public-facing sites and inexpensive for inward-facing sites.) If you think there are legal barriers to your making good use of either, please have your attorneys review the latest agreements.

  4. I’m a wine writer. I’m negotiating a specialty book deal with Univ of CA Press which would provide some upfront cash to a project which would also have considerable downstream financial potential. I would very much like to meet a developer with GIS and 3D modeling experience in order to discuss map production. Note: illustration of elevation, gradient, and aspect will be more important than road location. Job can be either fee for service, or a business partnership with the right individual. In addition to wine expertise, I bring marketing assets and valuable data acquisition to the table.

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.