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Google Earth

Google Earth API Will Be Retired On December 12, 2015 75

An anonymous reader writes Google [on Friday] announced it plans to retire the Google Earth API on December 12, 2015. The reason is simple: Both Chrome and Firefox are removing support for Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface (NPAPI) plugins due to security reasons, so the API's death was inevitable. The timing makes sense. Last month, Google updated its plan for killing off NPAPI support in Chrome, saying that it would block all plugins by default in January and drop support completely in September. The company also revealed that the Google Earth plugin had dropped in usage from 9.1 percent of Chrome users in October 2013 to 0.1 percent in October 2014. Add dwindling cross-platform support (particularly on mobile devices), and we're frankly surprised the announcement didn't come sooner.
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Google Earth API Will Be Retired On December 12, 2015

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  • Ouchy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 13, 2014 @09:40AM (#48588627)

    The reason why so relatively few dare putting their long-term stuff on Google App Engine: they suddenly feel the need for a spring cleanup and, boom, your investment goes south.

    Yup, I went through the calendar api death amongst other things :(

  • by jrq ( 119773 ) on Saturday December 13, 2014 @10:04AM (#48588665)
    Not that I'm complaining, but you really do need to pay attention to Google's plans if you have any applications that make use of their APIs. They do love to cast things adrift on a pretty regular basis. Maybe I don't do enough development to pay the proper attention, but does Google have a single source for announcements like this? Perhaps an RSS feed would work, then I could use Google Reader to keep an eye on things. Oh, right.
    • does Google have a single source for announcements like this?

      I believe developers who have registered to use a particular API are notified by e-mail of changes to that API.

      • by jrq ( 119773 )
        That's fine for APIs that require registration. But I use the Calendar API. It doesn't require registration, and like many people I was caught out on the hop on November 17th when the v2 API was shut down. Like I said I'm not complaining. The v3 API is superior, but I would like to know if there is simple notification system available.
        • That's fine for APIs that require registration. But I use the Calendar API. It doesn't require registration, and like many people I was caught out on the hop on November 17th when the v2 API was shut down. Like I said I'm not complaining. The v3 API is superior, but I would like to know if there is simple notification system available.

          Well, in that case I think the best answer is to pay attention. I mean, the v2 API deprecation was announced at least three years prior to the shutdown. I don't know exactly when, but there are mailing list posts from 2011 telling people that v1 and v2 were deprecated and v3 should be used.

          • by theCoder ( 23772 )

            And those of use who just used SW using the API are just SOL. One day I came into work and found that my calendar integration between Thunderbird (Lightening) and Google Calendar was no longer working. And I couldn't upgrade the Google Calendar provider addon because the new version required a new version of Thunderbird, which I cannot install because it doesn't work on RHEL5 (they are slowly upgrading to RHEL6).

            I was able to get it to "work" by switching to ICS, but that is read-only (apparently). So at

    • you are funny and typical of slashdot crowd, whining when a large company eliminates little-used things. Other than niche geek crowd, no one used Google Reader, average person has never heard of it

      • If this is what your company thinks of its users, I hope I never use any of your products.

        Where I work, we have fairly strict rules about documenting altered or deprecated features well ahead of time, even in the products we give away gratis.

        OTOH, we actually make our money from selling and supporting our software, whereas for Google it's merely a loss leader.

        • What foolish world do you live in where a global company with ad-based revenue has to support a niche project that flopped without large user base? They ARE thinking of the majority of users, their survival depends on it. Of course they cull the flops as they well should. There is no question of right or wrong, ethics or any other bullshit you seem to imply for their gratis services.

          Your happy flying unicorn world only exists between your ears, no one has to abide by it

          • I'm sorry, am I a Google fanboi or a Google hater today? I keep getting categorised as one and then the other so often that I've grown confused.

            Or is it that I'm an idiot because I think users should be treated with a bit of respect?

            I can't tell any more.

            I do know that where I work--as I said before--we don't consider how many or even IF there are any users of a particular feature or API before we drop it. We have a deprecation process for such things, and AFAICT we stick to it.

  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Saturday December 13, 2014 @11:37AM (#48588957) Homepage Journal
    Google Earth is a nifty thing and I can think of several applications I'd really like to build around it. I'd actually been kicking around the idea of using the Google Earth plugin to do some stuff, but I also know Google's tendency to do stuff like this. I'd also been looking into getting around some of the limitations in Google Earth by setting up a socket server that pretends to be a web server and shoveling KML into Google Earth via fast-refreshing network links. That kind of works, but it's awkward. My other alternative is to use OpenLayers [], but then I have to write more of my GUI in JavaScript, which I kind of hate.

    One of the things I do with Google Earth is install a GPS tracker on my cell phone and take it on a skydive. I use MyTracks to log my coordinates every second and use a little application I wrote to turn the MyTracks data into a KML file, detect where I deployed my canopy and drop a push-pin there and plot the jump on Google Earth so you can see the jump in 3D. MyTracks actually has an "Export to KML" option, but it doesn't handle altitude very well and just clamps your entire track to the ground. Apparently the developers didn't consider the "I'm 2.5 miles above the surface of the planet" use-case when they wrote the thing heh.

    The cell phone isn't a great GPS tracker to use for this -- the GPS hardware in the Samsung Galaxy S5 I'm using now is actually almost usable. The S3 used to regularly lose 2/3rds of the points on my jump. There are custom skydiver GPS units available that have much higher accuracy, and they're used regularly in wingsuit competitions and stuff like that. It'd be really neat to plot an entire load of skydivers together on Google Earth and do a real-time replay of each one's position along their track during the jump. I could pull this off using the socket server method of putting KML into Google Earth and updating a new point for each wingsuit's location every second. It wouldn't even really be all that much work, but I don't really like how I'd have to do the design, and that's kept me from it.

    • Is there a "MyTracks" equivalent that just works offline on the phone?, I had a buddy install it on his and then it asked to be tied to one of two proposed google e-mail addresses. While not highly tech savvy he just refused the "deal", because uploading your location every x minutes or seconds smells of science-fiction dystopia. An offline KML or similar file on the phone you can load on the computer via USB and then into Google Earth, that would have been more acceptable.

      • by Greyfox ( 87712 )
        It's been a couple of months since I looked at it, but last time I did, it was storing its points on the phone's internal memory. You might also be able to convince it to store them on the SD card. I'm pretty sure it only needs network access if you try to export your points to Google Drive or E-Mail. Now you've got me wondering, though, so next time I'm in the mood to play with it, I'll have to turn off its network access with Cyanogen's privacy manager to see if it's doing anything else.

        I think there's

      • by Ark42 ( 522144 )

        I've hiked in the backcountry for a week in Airplane mode with MyTracks recording just fine the whole way. MyTracks can also save your KML or other formats to your SD card for easy access last I checked.

    • I'm not sure I understood what you want to do.
      Do you just want to display your 3D path?
      If so, gnuplot or matplotlib would do.
      If you want more information and more interactivity, just use SketchUp.
      You can write a small Ruby script to display one path for each skydiver, geolocate the model and display a map on the ground.

      • by Greyfox ( 87712 )
        Ultimately what I'd like to do is leave my tracker running all day while I'm at the drop zone. At the end of the day I'd like to shovel my points into an application and have it break out the jumps. I could drop points at the exit location, canopy deployed location and landing location and compute total freefall and canopy time for that day. I could potentially store that data somewhere for my logs. I'd also like to look at each jump on some map app and potentially replay the jump by moving a point along th
        • If you have an array of (t,x,y,z) points, it shouldn't be hard to do.
          It sounds like you clearly know what you want, so you could either code it or make someone code it for you.
          Python+maplotlib or Sketchup+Ruby would do just fine.

          • by Greyfox ( 87712 )
            As it so happens, I DO have an array of t,x,y,z points. My GPS tracker records time, latitude, longitude and altitude. I wrote a bunch of code in C++ and have a data factory to get the points from the GPS tracker into an array. From there, I convert the points to ECEF so that I can do linear speed measurements on them. ECEF is an X/Y/Z coordinate system that measures its coordinates as meters from the center of the geoid. IIRC the two axes are the north pole and the intersection of the prime meridian and th
  • So no harm done.
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