What you may have known: GPS Visualizer, a Swiss army knife for getting geographic data into Google Earth and Maps, lets you upload data files to produce KML. Just add the relevant column titles to the first line of the document (i.e. “name,desc,latitude,longitude,color,URL”) and GPS VIsualizer automatically knows how to parse rest of the file to output KML (or Maps, JPEG, etc.).
News: Adam Schneider, the author, has now gone one better. Uploaded files can now contain “thumbnail” and “photo” as column headers, with the fields pointing to URLs. The result? Instant georeferenced photo collections in Google Earth, with thumbnails as icons. Click on the marker, and you see the photo in its original size.
Adam says he’s working on beefing up the documentation to catch up on these undocumented features, and feedback is appreciated. In the meantime, he adds some details:
I know people are starting to geo-tag their digital photos more and more, so this could definitely be useful; the question is, how to make it easier for people? Do geotagging applications have an “export” function that could take advantage of this?
This stuff works in ordinary Google Maps as well; the thumbnails don’t initially appear on the map, but they’re in the mouseover labels, which is pretty slick.
The only thing to note is that a line can’t begin with a blank field (i.e., a comma or tab) or with a pound sign (#); that’s so that you can “comment out” some lines with “#” if you need to. So, just to be safe, it’s never a bad idea to make the first column “type” and put a “W” (for “waypoint”) on each line. (Obviously, this also comes in handy if you want to include trackpoints in the same file.)
The names don’t even have to be THAT precise. Anything starting with “lat” or “lon” will work for the coordinates; altitude just has to begin with “alt” or “elev”; speed can be “speed”, “velocity” or just “vel”; “color” can be spelled “colour”; and so on. I’ve tried to make it as clever as possible.