Sharing your tracks and photos on-line

Whilst the KMZ file you could create of your track-log and photos is great for looking at on your own system, it isn’t great for sending via email - due to the size of the embedded photos.  What you really want to do here is to make use of an online album somewhere to host the photos - and then just include links to the photos from within the kmz file.  This is what I did for the track log from my Tour de Mont Blanc trip.

I’m sure there are dozens of ways of doing this, but I found that the simplest was to use google’s picasa online album system.  

  1. Upload: Locate your geotagged photos using Picasa on your desktop - and then upload them to an online picasa album
  2. Grab KML: Look in the bottom right hand side of the online album view, and you’ll see a little map that looks something like this.  Right-click on the ‘view in google earth’ and download this KML file to your desktop.
  3. Combine with track: You can then open up the KML file in Google Earth and you’ll find your photos shown on the map - and in a folder in the places window.  From here you can drag the photos to another folder to combine them with your track-log.
  4. Save KMZ: Finally - save the new folder containing track-log and photos to a new KMZ file.

Now you’ve got a much smaller KMZ file, containing your tracklog, and pointers to the photos on Google’s Picasa site.  You could simply host this KMZ file on a website, or send it to your Mum, but it’s much more fun to embed it using the Google Earth API - so viewers can fly around the area without having to download the file.  If you’re a coder - then go ahead and play with the API proper.

Embedded gadget

If you’re looking for a quicker solution - use the embedded KML viewer gadget.  Take a look at this example from one of my hikes.

  1. Upload: your KMZ file to your website or some other open on-line file-storage facility
  2. Customize viewer: Head to the embedded KML viewer gadget page, and tell it where your file is; then give it a title, width, set the colours, Set fall back to 2D on error, and then preview changes
  3. Grab code: Once you’re happy with it, grab the code - and drop it into a web page

Full-screen viewer

If that’s too complicated, or you need a URL that you can paste into a discussion forum, you can create a single URL to show the KMZ file using the kmlpreview function in full screen - as per this example. To do this, you need to build the URL manually.  

  1. Start with ‘http://earth.google.com/kmlpreview/#’
  2. Choose if you want to see a terrain or Goggle earth view with ‘maptype=earth’ or ‘maptype=terrain’
  3. Locate your KMZ file by starting with ‘&url=’ then add the link to your KMZ file substituting %3A%2F%2F for ://, and %2F to replace all of the /s.
  4. Complete the URL with ‘&terrain=1&borders=1&roads=1&buildings=1’

This should form a URL that looks something like this

http://earth.google.com/kmlpreview/#
maptype=terrain &url=http%3A%2F%2Fandybryant.squarespace.com%2Fstorage%2Fhikes%2FTwo_Lakes_Route.kmz
&terrain=1&borders=1&roads=1&buildings=1

If you’ve got a better way to do this, let me know in the comments.