Monday, June 6, 2011

Time Aware UI for Google Earth/KML

I was leading up to using Fusion Tables (or another database) with selective queries to show time-based progressions on the map when I came across this sample:

Apparently Google Earth already has features for such things and rather than roll my own I'd like to use their feature for the project I envisioned.  Some benefits of using Time Aware KML are:

  • Putting all/several models in one KML file.  My other approach would have relied on separate files for separate date ranges
  • The UI interface in Google Earth is pretty nice, and without it I would have to rely on (buggy) attempts to create sliders with Javascript.  The slider problem will persist until browsers support the HTML 5 slider element.  So far, of Chrome, Firefox and IE, I have only seen support in Chrome.

What was my idea project, you ask?  A short while back, while reading European history in preparation for my trip to Italy, I kept reading about such-and-such people who moved or migrated from point A to point B, then later to point C, and D.  Keeping track of it all in my head was getting difficult, so I wished for an applet that could let me track the populations and their neighbors over time.  The problem was I could not think of a platform that would make creating this applet easy to build and easy to distribute.  And voila! Google Earth is perfect for it.

I hope to have a sample app up sometime soon to show you the idea.  I think the educational value is immense, and so far, the only site I've found that was even close to using the technology for this is:

Digital Archaeological Atlas of the Holy Land

However, I think using a fluid time-progression of empire geometries would be a lot more engaging for students or others with an interest in the human geography.

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