Sunday, January 6, 2013

Fusion tables

Ira reads the books and carefully finds relevant coordinates to retell the author's story in a multidisciplinary way. He includes images and activities for each location. The activities include: videos, music, art, history and remote sensing. Many locations employ the richness of the Google Earth layers. The intent is for the user not only to read classic maritime literature but to become enriched about additional topics along the way. The chapter tours act as a thread connecting the story to content that technology has made available in the past decade. In order to keep track of all this material in a structured way, you need tools, preferably with spatial awareness.
The best known tool available is the Spreadsheet Mapper. It has come quite a long way and is currently available in a rather robust 2.0 version. It's very versatile but unfortunately tends to become unstable with large amounts of data and many edits. So the Beagle with 315 locations and an ever increasing amount of activities per point was a challenge.
In the past year Google Fusion Tables (a beta on Google Drive), has matured enough to be a valid alternative. Users can easily collaborate when handling large amounts of data. Also FME (see earlier post) can connect to it. We therefore migrated to Fusion tables and have not looked back. Fusion tables are spatially aware and generate KML files. So here is a KML of Charles Darwin's "The Voyage of the Beagle" as Fusion tables generates it:

click here for a large map

This KML is used as input for FME to generate more fine-tuned KML and tours. We will publish a beta this week of the first chapter of "The voyage of the Beagle", so stay tuned....