Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Google Earth 5.2 Thoughts

Sorry for lack of posts last week, my family is over from New Zealand so I took some time out.

GE 5.2 has already been reviewed well by Mickey and Stephan, I share their enthusiasm for the tracks, elevantion and slide in browser functionality. I've noticed some other features in the 5.2 Pro version (not sure if they're in the normal version) that IMHO deserve comment:

Table: (Tools > Table) This gives you a table view of the KML that you've selected in the places column so you can see the text in the description boxes of a number of placemarks at once, its similar in functionality to Northgates KML editor. Table isn't documented anywhere I can find and I was disappointed to find its read only, it really would be useful if you could use it to write to KML directly as per GIS tools and the Northgates tool.

GE gives you the ability to produce KML within the editor already but I'd love to see functionality where I could put time tags into KML without having to copy raw KML out to a text file.

Regionate: This is documented to a degree but it didn't tell me exactly what this functionaility does, e.g. it doesn't chop up paths into smaller segments. Maybe it only deals with placemarks?

I was also excited to see a contextual help button in the dialogue box. Contextual help in GE is something I've advocated before so I was disappointed to find its only in the Regionate and flight simulator dialogue box (given a cursory hunt around). Why not link to help files from all dialogue boxes?

Slide in Browser: Stephan makes a nice point about the slide in browser, I agree with him that maintaining the option of the split screen would be good. However, I think that the sliding browser screen would be excellent for using GE in presentations, set up a tour, fly into an area in GE then pan across a presentation slide in a browser from the web, use that to support your talk for a while then return to GE to continue the tour. I think Google should think about linking the Google Docs presentation tool with Google Earth in this way, I played around with the idea but currently:
  • It takes 2 clicks to open a presentation (open balloon, select link)
  • Opening a GDocs presentation in the GE browser currently crashes GE pro!
Polygons and Ruler: I was pleased to see that the polygon bug has been fixed, that was a real pain. Being able to save paths produced with the ruler tool is also smart.

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