How did Webs put the world on maps? (Part 1)

5/3/2012 3:43:18 PM

When Google Maps is spreading out all over the world, Mike Bedford investigates many possibilities of digital map services and considers other options.

Mappa Mundi, created in 1290, is considered a great masterpiece of science of ancient cartography research by historians. Google Maps and Earth, published more than 700 years later, were equally well respected. With the fact that Google Earth has just passed 1 billion downloads milestone, it is almost certainly the most used world map of all time.

For many people, flipping the Atlas world map or viewing a map of local maps (Ordance Survey; OS) is so attractive that not any digital map can be equal. However, for most practical uses, digital maps are certainly the best way to find and disseminate geographic information quickly and accurately.

Google Maps is currently so widely available that it is the only map that many people have used, except for the map that they never see which is located in the satnav controlled by postcode and providing a foundation for these convenient guidances. The smartphone applications have strengthened the position of Google Maps, while for those who design and maintain the website, a link to Google Maps is the best way to connect any object with its real world location.

With Google Maps and Google Earth are rapidly becoming a standard practical map for all people, we have decided to dig below the surface to see some more advanced gadgets of them. We will also investigate whether other maps can provide something that Google does not have, and consider some options of more specialized maps for those who want to do more than just find hotels or find ways.

Description: Normal maps can be works of art, but for the convenience and accuracy, the digital map is now the champion

Normal maps can be works of art, but for the convenience and accuracy, the digital map is now the champion

Google Earth and Google Maps

Both Google Earth and Google Maps come from one company and they both have overlapping issues, but they serve very different services. Earth is the extremely popular toy when it was launched and there are still many enthusiastic fans, but the Maps have integrated it into many daily online interactions of us. To begin the evaluation categories of our digital maps, we will compare the two products so that you can see what you missed if you just stick with a product.

At first, Google Maps provides digital maps of the world, while Google Earth offers satellite images or space. But today, the boundaries are no longer as clear as that. Now Google Maps also offers photos, and while Google Earth does not provide maps, there is a button in the toolbar to open Google Maps which allows you to focus on similar locations on the surface of Earth. Moreover, these advanced features like Street View, allowing you to make a virtual trip along the road, and 3D buildings, are available in both.

The most important differences stem from the different ways that the two products are made. Google Maps ( is quite similar to any other web service in which you use web browser to access the stored information and manipulate on the remote server. However, Google Earth is an application that is installed locally on your PC (you can download from Although geographic images are transmitted via the web as needed, most of the processing is done on your PC.

This allows Google Earth to have a more advanced interface. For example, the 3D buildings are available for several major cities around the world. Although you can view them in Google Maps from a slightly slanted angle, in Google Earth they can be viewed from the street level, giving you the full 3D experience. However, situations frequently change, with the Maps become closer with the Earth more than ever. Google Maps users in Android or those who use the supported browser Web-GL like Google Chrome have seen improvements in the 3D buildings appearing in Maps.

However, it should take some time for Maps to catch up with Google Earth. Therefore, our guidelines are simple: if you like a map, as opposed to satellite images or space, goes to Google Maps. After all, this is where you will encounter if you click the Map symbol in Google Earth. However, if you want to explore the Earth in terms of images, Google Earth will provide a much better experience.

The differences between the two are not related to the application user interface. Google Earth also allows you to investigate the places you have never seen in Google Maps. Because Maps used the Marcator projection - a standard way to present the world on a square and flat map - you cannot see the opposite area. That is not the case with Google Earth, as you will see if you try to see the south pole. However, resolution is poor, because the satellites do not fly over the poles, and Google Earth are often confused at the point where all latitude lines converge.

If you really want to explore other places, how about the Moon or Mars? In case of the Moon, Google Earth - if it is not using the wrong name in this case - also presented 3D model of the six landing modules of Apollo which touched down its surface. Like the Earth, there are the equivalent full online objects ( / moon and / moon /mars), but in each case, Google Earth provides a much better experience. To view the Moon and Mars from the Earth, click View, then Explore.

The online maps are generally used passively; you only view data on screen. However, you can become more active by adding geographical information on the original map. A clear and useful example of this is that a link from your website goes to Google Earth to open the focus zoom into your position, with the pins representing your home or your office.

However, this possibility is only the beginning; what you may have is only limited by your imagination. For example, you can mark the point, area and route on a map, and insert the pop-up window like the image or text when the viewer waves on a particular point. All of these are done by using the KML file.

The KML files look very similar to HTML codes used for layout of a website, and can be emailed to your contact or link to your site. By either way, when someone opens the file or clicks the link, they will find your specific information piling up on the map. You can write KML file by hand using a text editor, but do it more easily by using Google Earth.

Bing Maps

Google Maps may be the most well-known, but it is not the only digital map. Other multi-purpose maps include Yahoo! Maps, OpenStreetMap, Nokia Maps and MapQuest. Perhaps the closest competitor of Google is Bing Maps ( / maps), which combines with Multimap and is owned by Microsoft.

Bing Maps and Google Maps share many things in common, as it provides mapping services and satellite imaging. In fact, in some areas of the Earth and at the specific zoom levels, satellite images of the two products are identical. It also includes something similar to Google’s Street View of what Microsoft called Streetside, although up-to-date coverage is still poor.

Description: StreetSide, the same as Streetview of Google, is a great resource, but sometimes it creates unexpected and interesting outcomes.

StreetSide, the same as Streetview of Google, is a great resource, but sometimes it creates unexpected and interesting outcomes.

Another good feature is the integration of the excellent Photosynth technology of Microsoft, allowing users to merge multiple photos into 3D scenes which can navigate. Photosynth is just one of many Map Apps (Map Applications) which is available on Bing Maps version granted power by Silverlight. To use them, you will need Silverlight installed on your PC; you can download it for free from / silverlight if you do not have it. Then browse to / maps / explore in Internet Explorer (we had problems with other browsers). For examples of what Photosynth can do, go to, to review the whole screen with the right button control panel and click the small image.

With multiple users in the UK, the biggest advantage that Bing provides more than Google Maps is the Ordnance Survey maps, extremely popular for hiking activities and entertainment. In the standard version of Bing Maps, OS maps can be selected from the menu map at the left corner, while in the Silverlight version, it can access through the OS National Grid Map App.

In either case, the OS map appears only when you have zoomed in far enough. When we implement this, the used OS map is Landranger series 1:50.000, while the situation related to the more detailed Explorer series maps 1:25.000 is still unknown. Initially, Bing let us know it was available, but later be said that it will add features at any point in the future. Moreover, being available via the Silverlight application is OpenStreetMap which is created by the community. It lets you quickly switch between the map types by using the Map Type button in the left corner of the compass.

Mark on Google Earth

Although you can perform KML code manually, the easiest way to add information to Google Earth is from the main Google Earth. We will add a place mark (orientation marker), but the process is similar for other factors such as trail or photo. In Google Earth, navigate to the relevant areas, select Placemark from Add menu and drag the unnamed Placemark to its location on the map. In the New placemarks dialog box, enter the name and description. You can also customize style and color. It will then be saved in the default location.

To share placemarks, you must save it as a KML file. Click to placemark, select Save Place As from the menu, provide the file name and select the KML (*. Kml) as the file type. If you do not want it to appear each time you start Google Earth, delete it by right clicking and selecting Delete from the menu.

To test it, close Google Earth and then use Windows Explorer, find the KML file and double click it. Assuming that you do not change the file association for KML file, Google Earth will launch and zoom your placemarks. You can email it to friends or colleagues or host it on your website with appropriate link.

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