Geography 2.0: Virtual Globes

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Google SketchUp free

Google SketchUp is now free (download). Details can be found at Ogle Earth or aecnews. The differences between the free and pay versions can be found on the SketchUp website.

Google also has introduced the 3D Warehouse for sharing SketchUp models.

Students, get paid by Google to work on NASA World Wind

Google's Summer of Code program allows college students to compete for summer stipends (US$4500) to work on open-source projects. One of the projects is the Free Earth Foundation (aka NASA World Wind). Check out how the program works at Google's Summer of Code website. The World Wind Wiki offers several project proposal ideas, including:

Another Summer of Code mentoring organization is Refractions Research--an open source consulting company working on geospatial technology software. Their information and proposal ideas can be found here.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

NASA World Wind 1.3.4 released

NASA World Wind 1.3.4 has now been released, 20Apr2006, 1521PDT. Sourceforge: Download (Windows/~61MB)

Since it just released, if the download is slow, you might consider grabbing the software from one of the mirror sites (listed on the sourceforge download area).

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Microsoft / Vexcel finalized?

Is the Microsoft acquisition of Vexcel finalized? According to the blog rumor mill, like this 18Apr06 Liveside posting, the answer is, "Yes."

Notes on the origin of Google Earth

The blogs Ogle Earth and Aviran's Place note the 18Apr06 Google Librarian newsletter. The newsletter contains some comments from Mark Aubin about the origins of Google Earth, as well as a few Google Earth mini lesson plans.

Stefan Geens makes the following observation regarding Mark Aubin's entry:

So now we have Keyhole co-founder John Hanke claiming the inspiration was Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, Google Earth CTO Michael Jones claiming the inspiration was the tricorder, and Mark Aubin claiming it was Powers of Ten. Get your stories straight, guys :-)

For additional insight on the early development of Keyhole/Google Earth, see this 18Apr06 weblog post by Avi Bar-Ze'ev.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

NASA World Wind 1.3.4 beta [updated]

Beta 4 was released Friday, 14Apr06. According to this post by developer Randy Kim, final may be ready as early as Monday.

[NASA released beta 5 about an hour ago, so looks like it may be another day or two. --17Apr06/1853PDT].

[Beta 6 released 18Apr06/1537PDT]

[Beta 7 released 19Apr06/1458PDT]

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Celestia 1.4.1 changelog

I noticed the Celestia site is currently inaccessible. Maybe it got swamped since Celestia was on a PCWorld list of high-quality, free software.

Changelog from Celestia 1.4.1--version released 16 Feb 06 (download).

NASA World Wind: Jupiter and 1.3.4b3

A Jupiter plug-in/add-on has been released for World Wind. The total add-on size is 84MB.

NASA World Wind 1.3.4 beta 3 is out. Developer Randy Kim states that beta 3 has minor code changes and is "almost there." Again, I recommend visiting the World Wind Forum beta discussion before installing. Otherwise, the direct download link is here.

Experimenting with the Geography 2.0 RSS feed--which is off right now.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Some additional notes on NASA World Wind 1.3.4

I wanted to make some additional comments about Casey Chesnut's Virtual Earth plug-in and World Wind in general. To address possible speculation, my understanding of the NASA World Wind philosophy is that it includes the desire to keep the software's data public domain. Thus, though Microsoft is allowing data and functionality from their Virtual Earth business unit to be used within World Wind, do not expect the data to be included in the World Wind core product. Nevertheless, the Virtual Earth/NASA World Wind mashup is groundbreaking, and may signal the first glimpse of detectable competition for Google Earth.

Besides the measure tool mentioned in my earlier post, some other 1.3.4 features I noticed include:

  • An ESRI shapefile loader---for points, polylines, and polygons. It requires a user-created XML helper file, so things are far from automated. Better shapefile functionality is listed as a goal of the release

  • A movie maker plug-in bundled with the installation

  • Atmosphere effects somewhat similar to Google Earth as an optional layer

Though available in previous versions, I continue to appreciate the ability to "turn off" the basemap imagery.

NASA World Wind 1.3.4 beta

New builds of NASA World Wind 1.3.4 are being released every few days. Unlike the commercial software world, the ongoing releases of NASA World Wind 1.3.4 really are beta. As such, I would not recommend installing the beta unless you are a developer.

World Wind developer Randy Kim demonstrated today's build (5Apr06) in Santa Barbara, and it seemed pretty stable. I'm running beta 2, which is several days old, and it has performed normally. The 1.3.4. updates are discussed in an earlier post. I do not think it is on their formal list, but NASA also added a line/arc measuring tool.

Visit the discussion at the World Wind forum for information (and downloads):

Issues and bugs for 1.3.4 are being tracked at:

The Mars THEMIS imagery used by World Wind 1.3.4 is stunning. No reason to wait for Google.

On a different note...

Google Earth API:
The blog Let's Push Things Forward has a few notes and links concerning programmatically accessing Google Earth.

Virtual Earth plug-in for NASA World Wind

I heard today that Microsoft is allowing the integration of its Virtual Earth data with NASA World Wind. Here is a plug-in from Casey Chesnut that does it: