Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What's in the EarthBrowser pipeline?

If you aren't interested in wading through my sleep inducing 30 minute Google presentation, I'm planning on detailing much of what I said in a series of blog posts.

Contrary to almost every bit of advice I've been given I'm going to lay most of my cards out on the table about the future of EarthBrowser. For a single guy trying to go up against multi-billion dollar corporations, I need as much attention as I can get. However I'm not going to reveal everything, I've got some pretty cool things under wraps for release later this year.

Flash 10: I'm very excited about Flash 10 and believe that it will open the door for real-time 3D in the web browser. For me the most important aspects of F10 are native matrix operations, hardware accelerated rendering and a shading language. This will enable EarthBrowser to have true 3D navigable terrain with mountains, valleys and even underwater exploration, right in your web browser or in the desktop authoring app. I am hoping to get a 50-100% increase in rendering speed and be able to do really pretty things like normal mapping and atmospheric scattering.

3D Collada models: I'm not really a big fan of the obsession by Google and MS to put accurate 3D buildings on the earth, but if you have the data it isn't really hard to do. I've got more interesting uses for 3D models which will become more apparent in future versions.

GPS track importing: A very easy feature to add for people to edit and share.

iPhone version: I still hold out hope for Apple and Adobe to get Flash running on the iPhone so I haven't allocated much of my bandwith to this project yet. However after some exploration of the problem space, I estimate it will be relatively simple to port from my current codebase due to the nicely abstracted rendering backend.

My next blog post will detail the geometry / time coordinate extension that I hope will make it into the KML standard at some point. Time coordinates are designed for use in feature animation, which is an obvious use but was never a design consideration for KML. I don't really have the time or desire to submit and shepherd a proposal through an OGC standards committee. Perhaps there could be something like the Boost Library for KML where proposed extensions are selected to become part of the standard after being tested and refined by use in the community. Seems like this would be a great place for me and the WorldWind developers to start taking a little initiative and advance the state of the art for virtual globes.


Adam Estrada said...

I must say that this is definitely an impressive product! There aren't a lot of geoapps out there that make good use of Adobe AIR technology. It looks like Google might be starting to get it too. Keep up the good work!


Johan said...

Hi Matt,

I totaly agree with you about the
"accurate 3D buildings" i am not a fan about them either, and i don't think they look that fancy at all.

I am looking forward to the 50-100% speed increase,
and the 3D terrain so awesome that will be.
EB 3.0 is sooo much better than GE.

Keep up the good work, you are awesome Matt.

Regards, Johan

Martin said...


As as long time fan of EarthBrowser, I am excited about what you have done and where you are going. I look forward to the GPS, 3D terrain, and iPhone features. Couldn't really care about building rendering.


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