Enhancing Presentations with Google Earth

Dreaming New Mexico Presentation in Google Earth pluginEver since the Google Earth API and plugin was released last May, I’ve envisioned there would be a multitude of ways the plugin could be used on a web page to present content. Last week, Googler John Gardiner revealed a 20% time project he has been working on that uses Google Earth as a presentation tool to illustrate an energy proposal for the State of New Mexico. The presentation uses the Google Earth API, KML, and Javascript embedded in web page content. You have “Next” and “Previous” buttons to take you from page to page in the presentation. But, the most important part is the visual presentation of both locations, and data within the Google Earth plugin to illustrate the locations and visual “data” to make his points. Check out his Dreaming New Mexico presentation .
John helps write the online Google Earth documentation (like the GE User Guide), and helps communicate how to use the interfaces in Google Earth also through his Using Google Earth blog. So, it doesn’t surprise me that he would come out with such an excellent example showing one of the better possible uses of the Google Earth API plugin. I give John big kudos for helping give a better glimpse of what the Google Earth plugin’s real potential is for the browsing experience. In his demo John has shown us that Google Earth can be used to provide geospatial context, GIS data presentation, and some 3D perspective to a “presentation”. But, this is just a glimpse. I envision the plugin can be used in even more innovative ways to help present online content. And, not just for “presentations”, but other forms of content sharing as well.
Unfortunately, the plugin only runs on Windows so far. Google has promised multiple times that a Mac version will be released “real soon”. This is critical because many online content creators are very sensitive to wanting to deliver their content broadly and don’t want to have to apologize for being tied to one platform (even if it is the largest by far). GE Plugin is now available for the Mac.
There’s actually already some presentation tools available using the Google Earth plugin. Check out the EarthSwoop application which was created by Google Earth Hacks and GEB last summer. EarthSwoop lets you create your own “tours presentations” providing the basic geospatial context and 3D perspective on locations along with some basic content descriptions. You don’t have to know any HTML or Javascript to create the presentations, and we make it easy for you to save each location view for the plugin. There are also add-on layers that can be shown to provide more context (like Panoramio photos).
And another good example of a tool to help provide web-based Google Earth presentations is the new Earth Atlas. This tool goes even further trying to bring even more power out of the GE plugin to make it more like the real Googel Earth application. I’m pretty sure Google will be enhancing the API’s capabilities to add more GE power to the plugin. However, what I hope to see is even more online presentations like John’s to leverage Google Earth’s visualization capabilities to empower regular web content to be more informative. In fact, I’m working on this for both here on GEB and with the new site I’m working on for our sailing voyage on Tahina.

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. I really like John’s presentation model. It is such a brilliant idea and is ideal for many teachers / lecturers.
    It should be fairly easy to build a presentation template with the Google Earth plugin that would allow users to load their own kml files into the presentation.
    My preferred model would be to have the text next to the browser plug-in on the screen not underneath. This would avoid having to continually scroll up and down when giving a presentation, (as with the Dreaming New Mexico presentation).

  2. That New Mexico presentation is pretty slick. Between that Peach Tree City page guy and this NM dreamer, seems like a lot of good exhibits coming up with the API. Too bad it doesn’t do time support yet.

  3. I once used google earth on a power point slide but had trouble integrating the resolution. But when I did it right, it was a plus in terms of presentation elements.

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.