Brian Flood’s post on Friday about superimposing Google Maps tiles onto ArcMap reminded me of the early hacks by Dan Catt and Bernhard Sterzbach that superimposed those tiles onto Google Earth. (BTW, Bernhard’s hack still works!). This in turn led me to wonder whether it is possible to write a network link that overlays Géoportail tiles onto Google Earth. I think it should be very possible, technically. I’m not a programmer, though, so it’s beyond me. Perhaps somebody else…?
IGN might not like it, but that would just drive home the point that data and delivery are two very different pursuits, and that trying to tie specific data to a specific delivery mechanism is just silly in this age of open standards.
I think Géoportail’s tiles on top of Google Earth would give me and every French citizen the best of both worlds, (literally, ha). It would even allow us to watch the Tour de France on top of IGN data. And who could be against that? :-)
Meanwhile, now that I’ve actually been in and tested Géoportail, I cannot say I’m impressed. I think it is very much a second-rate implementation of the 2D mapping genre:
- Many of the overseas territories, such as French Guyana and St. Pierre & Miquelon, do not have any imagery whatsoever, just scans of maps or relief maps. As for French Polynesia, you can click on it, but then you get the message that there is no data at all available for it. So much for that much-vaunted consistency.
- I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to zoom in on a farm in the French Pyrenees where I spent many summers growing up. The darn tile just refused to load. Often, it feels like you’re navigating a chess board instead of France.
- In Firefox on a Mac, i regularly get told off for unresponsive scripts, followed by the announcement that Géoportail has encountered an unexpected error and needs to close. Remember, this is not beta.
(And lest anybody think I’m anti-French, I’ll be rooting for Zidane and his team in the finals.)