Friday, August 17, 2007

Google Funds COLLADA Support for Mac and Linux

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Google Code - Updates: Google Funds COLLADA Support for Mac and Linux

COLLADA, the standard 3D interchange format, makes it much easier to translate complex animated 3D models across Google Earth, Google Sketch-Up, Adobe Photoshop, Epic Games' Unreal Engine 3, Autodesk Maya, and many other applications. COLLADA integrates 3D geometry, textures, complex material, complex skeletal and facial animation, physical simulations, and many more aspects. With such power comes complexity: integrating COLLADA from scratch in your application is not for the faint-hearted. Luckily developers have created reusable libraries to simplify this process, including FCollada, which is open-source, well tested, can import all versions of COLLADA and has been integrated into many applications.

We've worked on development of FCollada over the past two years, thanks to support from Google's Open Source Progams Office. Until recently, the library was only offered for Windows; it is now available for Mac OS X and several Linux distributions.

Google's sponsorship also enabled us to distribute and support two additional tools for Linux and Mac OS X enthusiasts:
  • ColladaMaya, a complete COLLADA translator designed for Autodesk Maya. It's now available for all three major platforms under the MIT license.

  • Feeling Viewer, a reference viewer for COLLADA content, supports all standard COLLADA features. A stand-alone version of the viewer is available for free on Linux and Mac.


Google Developer Podcast Episode Seven: Mashups in the Enterprise

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Google Code - Updates: Google Developer Podcast Episode Seven: Mashups in the Enterprise

Gregor Hohpe is a Googler who has spent a lot of time in the enterprise. He authored the book on Enterprise Integration Patterns, and has been watching and helping the integration world.

We were both at MashupCamp and started to talk about how Mashups could be called EAI 2.0, and started to discuss the similarities and differences.

Gregor also wrote an article titled Google Mashup Editor and Yahoo! Pipes: Friend, not Foe, which does a great job of explaining the mashup landscape by example. He shows how to use the Google Mashup Editor, and how it can work with Yahoo! Pipes and other tools.

In this podcast you will hear about all of these topics in that special style that only a German can offer. There are some really fun analogies here. Listen out for the graffiti artists in the Mashup world.

Oh, and on behalf of two europeans, we apologize for saying "San Franciso 49ers" when we of course meant the Giants.

You can download the episode directly, or subscribe to the show (click here for iTunes one-click subscribe).



Dreamweaver Tools for Google

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Google Code - Updates: Dreamweaver Tools for Google

We keep making more services available to mobile users; in addition to Google Mobile Search, you will find that Google News, Google Maps, and more have had a mobile presence for a while. So, we want to make it easy for developers to link to and use these services in mobile web sites. I'm therefore pleased to note that we've collaborated with WebAssist to add new mobile tools to their Dreamweaver Tools for Google plugin. The newly-released version 2.0 of this free tool includes, among other things, one-click access to embedding Google Maps, News, Mobile Search, and Send-to-phone in a page.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Plant a Seed, Watch It Grow: Improvements to GeoServer

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Google Code - Updates: Plant a Seed, Watch It Grow: Improvements to GeoServer

Last year, Google's Open Source Programs Office funded the GeoServer Project to add support to output data to Google Earth. In the venture capital world, there is a notion of 'seed funding': putting capital into a new, usually risky, project to try out an idea and help it reach a state of sustainability. Google wanted to promote the idea of using 'Network Links' in KML to enable organizations to put large amounts of existing geospatial data onto Google Earth. They found fertile ground in the open source GeoServer Project, where the seed would not have to grow in isolation, but instead could flourish alongside other improving components.

GeoServer was started by a non-profit called The Open Planning Project (TOPP) in 2001, with the goal of making geospatial data more available through open standards - not just images but the actual data, the 'source code' of the map. This opens the information to enable analysis, modeling and user corrections. Today it is a vital open source project, with many outside contributors. The latest release (download) contains a number of new additions for Google Earth, which the community has helped shape and improve over the last year.

New features include the ability to easily customize placemark pop-ups from existing data, support for 'Super-Overlays', powerful time visualization, and automatic generation of legends. These are all available from a variety of data sources, including PostGIS, Oracle Spatial, DB2, ArcSDE, Shapefiles, GeoTiffs, and ArcGrid, with more being added every day by the community. There are also several related improvements, including the ability to overlay data dynamically on Google Maps, as well as GeoRSS and GeoJSON output.

Other Google Earth-related news: TOPP is participating in a testbed put on by the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) to help figure out what the next version of the KML specification may look like. The GeoServer team is very excited about KML becoming an OGC open standard, as GeoServer already implements the main OGC standards. For the testbed TOPP will build support for the new version of KML in to GeoServer and OpenLayers, an excellent AJAX mapping client. To follow and participate in the work being done on the next version of KML, subscribe and contribute to the ogckml page on


[Gdev] iPhone Mobile Terminal

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Google Code - Featured Projects: iPhone Mobile Terminal

iPhone Mobile Terminal Screenshot
A GUI Terminal application for the iPhone


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

[Gd] DragZoom + Marker Manager = Cluster Zoom!

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Official Google Maps API Blog: DragZoom + Marker Manager = Cluster Zoom!

Check out Richard's first guest blog post here: DragZoomControl 1.1.

Like many developers, my maps often have a great number of markers in a small geographic area, but these areas may be few and far between in the larger area of the full map. Perhaps you are advertising Mercedes dealerships and there are 23 in greater New York, 19 in Chicago and 51 in Palo Alto. If you put all these markers on a US map, you would end up with 3 indecipherable blobs at these locations. One solution is called "clustering", and by using the Marker Manager, you can just put a single marker at each of the three cities. These "cluster markers" serve as proxies for the many underlying markers. Typically an application would allow clicking on one of these cluster markers to zoom you in to that particular location, exposing the underlying markers. But wouldn't it be nice to be able to get back to the original map view in one click?

After working on the DragZoom back button, I thought I should do something similar for my cluster zooms. Then I thought "Why have two special controls and potentially two back buttons on my map?" The end result was by adding a method and one more callback to DragZoomControl, I could utilize the back button functionality for my own custom cluster zoom.

In the example below you will see a map of greater New York. Start by doing a DragZoom encompassing Manhattan (about 1/4 of the map), and a single cluster marker will appear. Click on that marker, and you'll see a close-up of Central Park with several small markers. You can now click on the markers or use DragZoom to zoom in further. At any time, you can click the back button to reverse the zoom sequence. Notice that the back button text changes to indicate whether it's a standard DragZoom or a cluster zoom.

DragZoom + Cluster Zoom Example

Want to add a DragZoomControl to your map? You can grab the new code from the 1.1/src folder, or wait two weeks for it to be pushed into the release directory. You can also read through a full set of examples or the class reference. As always, you can post in the developer forum with questions or suggestions.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Open Source Developers @ Google Speaker Series: Michael Still

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Google Code - Updates: Open Source Developers @ Google Speaker Series: Michael Still

Tired of your current DVR? Prefer to DIY? If so, please join us for Michael Still's upcoming presentation on Practical MythTV . Michael, one of Google's Site Reliability Engineers and MythTV developer, will be joining us on Thursday, August 16th, to discuss this powerful, open source personal video recording software. Michael will also discuss some of the current challenges with obtaining television guide data in the United States and highlight some forthcoming features.

Like all sessions of the Open Source Developers @ Google Speaker Series, Michael's presentation will be open to the public. Doors open at 6:30 PM at our Mountain View campus; guests should plan to sign in at Building 43 reception upon arrival. Refreshments will be served and all are welcome and encouraged to attend. Michael's presentation will also be taped and published along with all of the public Google Tech Talks.

For those of you who were unable to attend our last session, you can watch the video of Raph Levien's recent presentation Lessons from Advogato.