Tuesday, September 16, 2008

GDD08: What's New in Geo

After lunch, and I decided to skip the code labs and head for What's new in Geo with Jean-Laurent Wotton and Russell Middleton. Which means, oddly enough, I'm back in Donkey Kong...

Jean-Laurent Wotton and Russell Middleton

Russell kicked the session off with a Google Maps introduction to get everyone up to speed with the API. Handing over to Jean-Laurent we're being shown how to use the Maps geocoding service.

Moving on from the introductory Maps material we're talking about cool new features. First up, is the AJAX Search API, which has actually been around for a while...

Next up is Static Maps API, which lets you embed a Google Maps image on your webpage without requiring JavaScript or any dynamic page loading, and last week started serving satellite imagery as well as the normal map type. Interestingly there is also a Static Map Wizard to allow you to build a (moderately) sophisticated map without any knowledge of coding.

Now Russell is talking about the Flash API, which lets you write the code in ActionScript 3, compile it against the Google interface library and output a SWF containing the Map. I'm not a Flash guy, no pun intended, but it looks fairly solid.

Jean-Laurent and the Google Earth API

Back to Jean-Laurent and the Google Earth API which was introduced a few months ago. Although of course, as a Mac user, I still can't get at the Earth API, and there doesn't seem to be any news on the arrival of Linux and Mac versions of the plug-in as yet. Cool demo though...

Next is Google's Street View Service and how to display these both in and outside the Maps interface. Also pretty cool, although it's not yet possible to overlay anything on top of the panorama as yet.

Moving on, the final new feature is location detection. Until recently the user had to centre/zoom in their location themselves, the solution is automatic detect the user's location using the Maps AJAX API. The Maps API now automatically tries to geocode the user's IP address, and if successful it will make this location available to the application. If successful you can also capture the city, country, country code and region.

Next up is image overlays, and how the Google Maps interface can be used to navigate custom images by defining a custom overlay.

Finally, we're moving on to KML and network links, where as it happens, I'm on fairly solid ground so to speak...

...and we're done.

Update: Except we're not. Jean-Laurent and Russell have handed over to Angela Rele from the Met Office about using Google Earth to show the global impacts of climate change and the Google Outreach project.