Introduction to Mars Tour with GE Plugin

Google recently updated the GE browser plugin to support version 5 touring features. As mentioned yesterday, some people have already started using the tour function on web pages. Like Keir Clarke, I wanted to do a Mars tour, but I wanted to get the excellent “Introduction to Mars” tour narrated by NPR’s Ira Flatow into the browser plugin.
First, I asked Google’s permission to use the KML file. Then, it turned out the sample code for the Earth API to load a tour was based on a simpler KML file (with only a Tour in the KML file). The Mars tour requires a “Tour resources” sub-directory that includes placemarks and overlays used by the tour. One of the Googlers responsible for the API sample code sent me an E-mail with a little javascript function (called ‘walkKmlDom()’) that “finds” the tour in a KML file. Once I modified the sample code, I was able to successfully load the Mars tour onto a web page. Google says they’ve now updated the sample code to include the function because so many people have asked for it. NOTE: Make sure you have the new GE 5 plugin – if you do NOT see Mars when you load the page below, then you don’t have it.

Screenshot of Mars Tour on web page

You can see Introduction to Mars Tour in a web page .
View the page source to see how I modified the sample code to load the KML. Not bad for a rusty old Fortran programmer!

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.

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