Quick tutorial on network links (using Flickrmap as an example)

One thing I noticed about Mark Zeman’s otherwise excellent Flickrmap multimedia tutorial (see previous post) is that he spends a good deal of time at the start explaining how to set up the network link that allows you to use Flickrmap with Google Earth. Indeed, setting up a network link can be quite tedious: Add Network Link from the menu, right-click on it, choose edit, change the name, type a longish URL, set refresh preferences… It’s not rocket science, but it is typo-prone, and perhaps a bit overwhelming for beginners.

But there is an easy way to circumvent all this if you want others to have a network link to your precise specifications:

First, set up the network link exactly as you like it. Then, right-click on it, choose Save As, select KMZ as the file format, and save. The resulting KMZ file, when opened by anyone with Google Earth installed, will automatically result in your network link appearing in their Temporary Places, no setup required. KMZ files are zipped, so they are mailable, downloadable, uploadable, linkable, etc… So instead of telling people how to make a specific network link, you can just give them a link.

Why is it so simple? Because network links are just a piece of KML markup. Mark’s Flickrmap network link, for example, looks like this:


(I got this text to reveal itself by saving the network link in Google Earth but choosing KML as the file format, which is just a text file format. I then opened the resultant file in a text editor.)

So, to make a long story short, here is Flickrmap’s network link [KMZ] for you to download and start using in Google Earth right away.

(For extra credit: Network links themselves don’t have to be static files. GEWar, for example, provides each new player with a dynamically generated network link. Each network link points to a different URL, in effect giving each player their own unique view of the game.)

[Update 2006-01-07: Mark reports that he’s fixed it and changed the tutorial to reflect this.]