Monday, May 7, 2012

Grr Google, Grr Esri

Over the last year or two Google has been moving to give all of its products a more uniform look. From blogger, to ad sense, ad words, Google Maps, Search, Google+, Youtube, everything looks distinctly more Googly than two years ago. When Larry Page took over as CEO he nixed the projects that weren't helping the company or didn't have the potential to be big ticket items and invested the money in developing projects like Google Glass.
I was easily able to embed that youtube video and if you watch it, the Google Ads will pop up and Google will make a few cents. I've come to except this sort of seamless compatibility across Google products (and even outside Google products). However, as Google Maps continues to expand, so grows my frustration with compatibility issues between Google Maps and Google Earth. A while back I made a video questioning why Google has a separate iPad app for Google Maps and Google Earth. While Google Earth the program is becoming more and more obsolete (because it's not browser based), the functionality of beginner level user generated material far exceeds that of Google Maps, the program which is no doubt used by countless more beginner level users. Combining the two programs seems like a no-brainer.

Of all the issues I've come across in the Google Earth vs. Google Maps conundrum, one stands out above the rest. Google's own Keyhole Markup Language does not render the same way in both programs. One can go into great detail and create engaging maps in Google Earth with little to know programming experience, but that same file will not be as rich in Google Maps. Pretty, scaled and colorful labels in GE are rendered as boring red points of interest on Google Maps, where the user has to click on the point of interest to get any info. And the customizations possible in GE pop-ups are not available in Google Maps. You can create excellent maps from scratch in Google Earth but you can only share them with people that use Google Earth. I'd like to think GE is installed on every computer, but its not.

I was hoping that Esri's free would be the answer to these problems. It is not. While it is orders of magnitude better at allowing edits to selected features (like changing all of the dots that represent swimming pools to blue, or all of the states with Republican Governors), it simply lacks full HTML integration, removing an infinite layer of customization. does not allow a user to create features, rather you must upload a shapefile. You're really only to create fancy things with subscriptions. Sure extra money for some advanced features are nice but the movement is definitely towards free and comes up a bit short. So, now we're stuck with three platforms, all of which excel at a portion of map making or editing but none of which is a consistent go-to solution.


  1. oh, you are soooo on target. all are frustrating in at least one way....



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