Sneak peek: CitySurf Globe

Late in 2006, Adil Yoltay and a small team of developers in Turkey wrote in to show off CitySurf, a 3D city viewing application for PCs with support for textured buildings that was the best in its class at the time.

The CitySurf website for that version of the application is still up, but that doesn’t mean that Adil and his crew have been standing still. This week, they sent me the newest version of the application, CitySurf Globe. It’s a true virtual globe (in that it shows the entire Earth in 3D relief, not just a small region) and I took it for a spin. It’s not ready for release yet, but they were happy for me to blog it. It turns out to contain some very innovate ideas. Here are some I like:


First thing to notice is that the UI has gotten a lot slicker, simpler, and is in English. (No more guessing at Turkish:-). They’ve also got a very nice take on the compass/controller: Nudging the ball in the middle doesn’t move the point of view as others do but instead rotates and tilts it simultaneously. I like it.

But what I really like is when an obviously good idea appears: The option to search just the visible region instead of the entire world. It happens often to me when searching for a specific place in Google Earth, say for a town in Egypt, only to suddenly find myself flying to Indonesia to a similarly named place that I wasn’t looking for at all. CitySurf Globe fixes this problem:


Also news is that CitySurf Globe has grown much more webfriendly, incorporating georeferenced Wikipedia- and weather sources. Most impressive, it can parse and display GeoRSS feeds — something that’s been promised for Google Earth for nearly a year, but is still not available there.



One reason that Adil was happy for me to blog CitySurf Globe is that they are still looking for sponsors. They have an efficient rendering engine, he says, but the small team can’t afford good global datasets. If you’re looking for a base onto which to build your virtual globe empire, you can always get in touch with them…