New Developer Features in Google Earth 5.0

Google Earth 5.0 is deservedly a major applicaiton release.  While the new Ocean, Mars, and Historical Imagery features are getting a lot of the immediate attention, there are significant changes to the underlying KML engine that will enable developers to create much more featured 3rd party applications.

Google has updated their KML documentation and have highlighted new and updated features.

Here are some quick highlights:

1. New gx:altitudeMode tags which provide ‘clampedToSeaFloor’ and ‘relativeToSeaFloor’ options for overlays, placemarks, etc…  See our 3D Nautical Chart exampe at

2. New <gx> tags for Animated Tours.  These tags can be used to programmatically create Tours based on the new Tour Recorder options.  You can control location, viewpoint, view time (see #5 below), balloon pop-ups, and even audio narrations – all via KML.

3. Major Upgrade to the Balloon Window HTML rendering engine

  • Now based on WebKit (as is Google Chrome)
  • Support for most CSS
  • Support for most Javascript
  • No support for cookies
  • Links to Local Content disabled by default (unless within a KMZ file) – users can override in the Google Earth options menu.  
  • Support for iframes (no cookies) – see our YouTube Interactive Query demo
4. Polygons and Lines are now ‘hot’ clickable.  This can create user-interaction issues with complex datasets so it’s best to check previous KML to make sure it still works as expected.  Polygons will now autofill if normal/highlight behavior’s been set – also a potential issue if you have multiple overlapping polygons.
I’ll add additional changes as I find them.
5. You can now specify gx:timeStamps in LookAt and Camera views.  Google Earth will set the sun angle and historical imagery accordingly.  New documentation in the KML Time reference.

2 Responses to “New Developer Features in Google Earth 5.0”

  1. I’ve discovered that the latest Google Earth is creating a border around image lays by stretching out the outer most pixels of an image. This creates a nasty little problem when a batch of image tiles are brought together for bigger image overlay. Does anyone know how to stop this behavior?

  2. Maplify says:

    Can you provide a sample? Is it over land or water?

    I’ve found a few minor cases in large overlays of small gaps, especially over water and assume they have a few bugs to work out with the new 3D terrain.

    - Virgil

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