Authoring tools for Google Earth?

James Fee lauds Brian Flood’s Arc2Earth (which the cool people already call A2E).

A2E (was that subtle?) is a conversion tool for stuff created in ESRI’s ArcGIS, the Microsoft Office for GIS pros (costing $1,500 and up).

All of which raises a broader question in my mind — let’s say you know nothing about GIS but you’ve been impressed with Google Earth. So impressed, in fact, that you’re inspired to contribute your own creations for the greater good of the Google Earth community. Given the conversion tools now available, what’s the best application to be creative with? What is the cheapest? What is the best value for money?

It’s an open question, and I don’t know the answer. I’m aware of ArcGIS (now with a 60-day evaluation CD), as well as SketchUp, for Windows and Mac, (free trial), Amber iQ (with, you guessed it, a 15-day free trial), Google Earth Pro Beta (7-day trial!) and then I run out of ideas. Could GIS pros be so kind as to help us neophytes with a leg up on the product offerings? Cheapness is definitely a virtue for a first application, given most of us are not about to get a student discount on ESRI GIS software.

5 thoughts on “Authoring tools for Google Earth?”

  1. I see GRASS and QGIS have already been mentioned. The only other package that might fit the bill is Manifold which goes for $245. I haven’t had much experience with the product, but it will allow you to create spatial data. Their website is little over the top to really be taken seriously though. Why would a commercial company can put something like ‘The best GIS ever !’ at the top of their website.

  2. You must not forget Avenza’s MapPublisher extension for Adobe Illustrator – While it is not a full-fledged GIS it does a fair job handling GIS data in a stable environment (plus it works on a Mac).

    A quick search of ESRI’s ArcScripts page for “KML” shows 4 different scripts already written. It seems that A2E will greatly expand the horizons.

    The “KML Home Companion” written by Jim Cser seems to be the best written so far and already embodies many of the components (except re-projection) A2E will in the future.

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