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The KML Handbook: Geographic Visualization for the Web Paperback – November 6, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0321525598 ISBN-10: 0321525590 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 1 edition (November 6, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321525590
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321525598
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #798,074 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Josie Wernecke,senior technical writer at Google, works with the experts who created KML’s first releases.  She wrote The Inventor Mentor and The Inventor Toolmaker and coauthored The VRML 2.0 Handbook (with Jed Hartman), all published by Addison-Wesley.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

"Learning to 'see geographically' means grasping an ever-changing world in an integrated way. It means getting to the heart of environmental and human problems. It involves balancing global and local understandings. It opens an opportunity to encompass themes vital to today's world: the working of the earth's natural systems, the increasingly problematic interaction between people and the physical environment, the nature of human social organisation with all its inequalities and struggles for power over people and nature."
From "Why Choose Geography?"
Geography Department, University of Liverpool

I took my only formal Geography class in the eighth grade from Mr. Granger, and I loved it. I'm intrigued by the different graphical styles of maps and continue to be amazed by the variety of information that can be shown geographically. By luck, two years ago I was assigned to a project at Google called KML, which has been as much fun as any work can be and as instructive as a year-long series of college seminars, lectures, and personal tutorials. KML stands for Keyhole Markup Language, and is a simple human-readable format originally used by Google Earth (and now by a host of other Earth browsers).

This book is an attempt to share the knowledge I've gained from the experts at Google. When I joined it, the KML team consisted of two engineers: Bent Hagemark and Michael Ashbridge ("Mash"). Bent and Mash's mission was to corral the existing KML into a formal XML schema, to create compelling examples that would represent good coding style, and to shepherd the language to its new and deserved status as an international standard. I was to create a website for KML and expand the existing documentation. I managed to complete that task, but it always felt as though I'd exposed only the tip of the iceberg. Well, here's The Iceberg.

The KML Handbook is also an effort to publicize some of the inspirational KML work by brilliant thinkers around the world---many of them technical experts in their own fields but completely new to XML, KML, and even to the basics of computer programming. They've discovered that KML brings raw numbers, arbitrary place names, and flat maps to life, and they've struggled and experimented to discover the hidden logic behind Google Earth's data format. I hope that, with this book at your side, there will be no more struggles.

Audience

This book is written for people who are curious about how to create customized presentations for an Earth browser such as Google Earth but have little or no experience with computer programming. It also contains information primarily of interest for "power users" who want to use the more advanced features of the language. The text suggests the level of complexity for each general topic, and the chapters follow a basic flow from relatively simple to more complex topics.

What You Should Know Before Reading This Book

This book assumes you are somewhat familiar with creating, storing, and loading files onto a computer and into a web browser and that you're connected to the Internet. Although it describes a few elements of HTML that are used in a placemark balloon, it does not attempt to provide an in-depth explanation of HTML. If you're new to HTML, you'll probably want to consult some additional resources on that subject. You do not need to know XML in order to use KML; this book teaches you the XML basics required to use KML.

If you want to set up a server to host KML files referenced in network links (Chapter 6), you'll also need to select a web server software package such as Apache or lighttpd and then install and configure the server according to the specific instructions for that product. Chapter 6 offers some basic information on this topic, but the details are best left to the individual product documentation.

What This Book Contains

Chapter 1, "A Quick Tour," provides an overview of the many different uses of KML, ranging from simple sets of placemarks to elaborate blogs and websites that use KML to make attractive, informative presentations of geographic data. This chapter describes a simple "Hello, Earth" example that illustrates the basic parts of a KML file.

Chapter 2, "Placemarks and Balloons," describes how to create custom icons and attractive ballon styles. It contains detailed information on how to specify colors in KML and how to create KMZ archives.

Chapter 3, "Geometry," goes into detail on specifying coordinates and altitude modes and also explains concepts related to geometry such as tessellation and extrusion. It includes examples and explanations of all geometry elements, including Models. It also shows you how to add elements describing the author and source of a KML file.

Chapter 4, "Styles and Icons," explains how to use shared styles and how to create all types of substyles: icon, label, line, polygon, ballon, and list substyles.

Chapter 5, "Overlays," describes how to create screen, ground, and photo overlays. Other topics covered here include the special processing required to add very large (gigapixel) photos to a photo overlay and how to specify a viewpoint using the Camera element.

Chapter 6, "Network Links," covers how to host KML files on a web server, where they can be refreshed periodically or processed by user-written scripts. It also introduces network link controls, which control certain aspects of the fetching network link.

Chapter 7, "Dynamic KML," provides detailed examples of the Update feature, which allows you to create, modify, and delete elements in KML files that have been previously fetched by a network link. This chapter also describes the time elements, which allow you to animate geometry in a KML file.

Chapter 8, "Dealing with Large Data Sets," contains important information on regions and custom data types. Regions are a powerful mechanism that allows you to control the conditions under which a given feature comes into view. If you're interested in creating a custom balloon style template for use throughout a KML presentation, be sure to read the section "Entity Replacement for Extended Data Elements."

Appendix A, "KML Reference," is an alphabetical reference that contains a brief description of every element and type in the KML standard, with syntax sections for all complex elements. This appendix describes the basic structure of a KML file and conventions of the language.

Appendix B, "Sky Data in KML," describes how to display astronomical data in an Earth browser. It includes the syntax for the "hint" used at the beginning of the KML file to alert the browser that the file contains sky data and also describes how to convert celestial coordinates for display in Google Earth and other "Earth" browsers.


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Customer Reviews

The writing is clear, crisp, and straight forward.
BizyBee
Good book for those who have a programming background but limited or no exposure to XML and/or KML.
Michael Mauch
In summary it is an excellent summary of KML and will appeal to both novice and professionals.
Eric

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Eric on November 14, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Just received my copy today and spent the afternoon pouring through it. In summary it is an excellent summary of KML and will appeal to both novice and professionals.

This is a step by step guide to writing and using KML programming language to produce enhanced graphics as overlays onto web based mapping programs such as Google Earth. But since KML is an open standard it can be used with almost any geographic program that supports it (such as Microsoft Virtual Earth, ArcGIS, EarthBrowser, etc.).

It has been a long time since a did any programing and I was worried that this book would be over my head, but it is not. It provides step by step directions with excellent colour screen shots to progressively walk the reader through several real world mashups using Google Earth. KML is based on the XML language but you do NOT need to know anything about programming in order to pick up this book and learn how to write and use KML code. Since KML is platform independent this book will be useful if you use PC, Mac or Linux.

Finally there is a website that has examples and KML scripts for downloading (to save some typing). I especially appreciate Appendix A which is a reference for the syntax of all of the KML commands.

In addition to this book, Google's website has a lot of information, examples and practice scripts on KML and how to use it with both Google Earth and Google Maps. If you are just interested in seeing what KML is and how it is used that would be the first place to go as it is FREE. If you like what you see and want to learn more this is THE reference/guide for KML.

Eric
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By calvinnme HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 19, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book is about KML, the language used for creating custom presentations based on Google Earth maps and many other geographic data display programs. The book was written to be read sequentially, with the basic concepts being presented at first and then more complex topics being presented later in the book. The compact appendix at the back of the book makes a great reference. This is not one of those IT shovelware books that are useful for about six months and then discarded. I can see me keeping this one around for a long time.

You do not need to have any programming skills to use this book. A knowledge of HTML and XML is probably required, and if you have that this book will make perfect sense. If you're new to HTML, you'll probably want to consult some additional resources on that subject. The book does briefly go over XML, but there probably isn't enough detail for you to grasp the concept if it is totally new to you. The following is a brief explanation of the chapters of the book:

Chapter 1, A Quick Tour, discusses the different uses of KML, ranging from simple sets of placemarks to elaborate blogs and websites that use KML to make attractive, informative presentations of geographic data. This chapter describes a simple "Hello, Earth" example that illustrates the basic parts of a KML file.

Chapter 2, Placemarks and Balloons, explains how to modify the KML file to achieve custom effects and paves the way for you to efficiently create entire websites with a custom look and feel. This chapter also explains how to package KML files into KMZ archives so that you can conveniently share them and post them on the web as one entity.

Chapter 3, Geometry, teaches you about a family of elements, derived from the abstract Geometry element.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Jay Sage on July 22, 2009
Format: Paperback
I do not share the high rating given to this book by other reviewers. First, the images in the book are terribly fuzzy, sometimes to the point of being unreadable. Second, some of the writing was very careless, and I found many errors that were not caught and corrected during the final editing. For example, some of the sample code violates rules set forth in the text! It is handy to have such a thorough compilation of the rules of KML code, but there's much room for improvement.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Xofer on January 23, 2009
Format: Paperback
I agree this is a good book for learning kml. And I realize this is a relatively new book so I hope it gets the editing it needs.

There are kml/kmz files referenced as examples through out the book and these files are available for a free download at the publishers website. The problem is, some of the files are not there.

Adding to the problem, some of the kml/kmz files you download, reference other files that are nowehere to be found, or network links that are broken.

The kml code is in the text so you can learn the concept and re-create the model - sometimes -

02/14/09 - The author has a follow-up in the comment. Synopsis:it's being fixed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michael Mauch on August 5, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book quickly provided the basics to write KML programs without having to read hundreds of pages. It's easy to read and follow; and doesn't get bogged down in details. Good book for those who have a programming background but limited or no exposure to XML and/or KML.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By JNKCMD on July 31, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I purchased the Kindle version of this book. I read through the book over the course of a week. It isn't the definitive guide to everything but it is great for getting up to speed on the basics. It fills in many of the gaps left on Google's KML site. One thing I would have liked to see fleshed out more are the differences between KML used on the web (in Google Maps) and KML in Google Earth. I still regularly refer back to the book when I am trying something new. I know I will eventually "outgrow" the book. But that's ok because that means it did it's job. It is easy to understand and set up in a good order if you are seeking to teach yourself and the chapters are well arranged for quick reference. I am happy with my purchase.
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