Last week I participated in a webinar we put on called “How to Prepare Data for Compelling Displays in Google Earth”. During the webinar we went through 8 scenarios and surveyed attendees, asking: Q: What are you interested in doing in Google Earth? Below I’d like to expand on the topics that resonated the most and how, using FME, you can deliver data in a form that leverages the full power of Google Earth.

But first, here are the poll results:

What are you interested in doing in Google Earth

Styling KML for Easy Presentation in Google Earth

In the first half of the webinar, our FME Evangelist, Mark Ireland showed how to:

KML Styling: Hurricanes

When it comes to showing data in Google Earth or Maps, it is all about the effective use of styling. My highlight from Mark’s demos was watching just how easily he could create compelling displays in Google Earth, all of which end users could readily understand. His hurricane demo was a perfect example. You could take any random Joe off the street and they would know immediately that they were looking at hurricane information. Due to the clever styling Mark used, our friend Joe could also easily tell you the relative sizes of the hurricanes and their paths.

KML Styling: Election Data

Here’s another great example of the styling work. In this example, Mark was able to display election data in Google Earth with almost no effort. He then went on to show how with a little more effort and only a handful of FME transformers the presentation becomes much more compelling, with more dramatic and easier to understand styling!

Using Google Earth with Large and Real-Time Data

After Mark, next up was Aaron Koning who demonstrated how to:

Live Data in Google Earth

Live Feeds in Google Earth

One of the highlights of Aaron’s presentation was showing how easy it is to set up FME Server to stream vector data out of a database into Google Earth, complete with client side caching! For added measure he drove home the point that this doesn’t mean you give up access to your data as he was still asked to authenticate before he could see the data!

His example was certainly compelling, and one we’ve seen before. Aaron took real-time bus data from San Francisco, in my favourite format, and used FME Server to bring that information into Google Earth. He was then free to customize the output so that it could appear in many different ways in Google Earth.

Large Data in Google Earth

In another of Aaron’s demos he answered the question: “How do I share large raster and vector datasets with Google Earth?” Here Aaron showed that with a single setting in FME Workbench, a user is able to generate a Raster Pyramid of any raster data that can be immediately consumed by Google Earth! Almost no effort and you are ready to go!

Let Your Applications Shine

I think the webinar also really gave a good indication of what we mean at Safe when we talk about getting data to applications. We don’t merely want to get the data there so it works; we want to get the data there so that the applications shine! (in this case Google Earth)

Google Earth Webinar RecordingIf you’re interested, I would encourage you to watch the full webinar recording. If you want to play with the data yourself – no problem. You can also download the data and workspaces too – and if you don’t currently have FME, you can download a free trial as well.

Are you struggling to get your data into Google Earth? Or can you get your data in, but don’t know what to do next? In either case, let me know – comment below and I’ll do my best to give some helpful advice.

FME Loves Google Earth

About Data Data Transformation Google Maps KML Real Time Spatial Data

Don Murray

Don is the co-founder and President of Safe Software. Safe Software was founded originally doing work for the BC Government on a project sharing spatial data with the forestry industry. During that project Don and other co-founder, Dale Lutz, realized the need for a data integration platform like FME. When Don’s not raving about how much he loves XML, you can find Don working with the team at Safe to take the FME product to the next level. You will also find him on the road talking with customers and partners to learn more about what new FME features they’d like to see.


5 Responses to “KML Styling and Live Data Feeds – Made Easy in Google Earth”

  1. Rick Morris says:


    Amazingly insightful and helpful blog. I am new to the world of live feeds for KMLs and was wondering if you were aware of successful open source products that I might be able to try out and learn with.

    It seems as if the examples provided in the videos for the live feeds are far more complex data sets than I am using. I am merely trying to automate the production and publication of KMLs to avoid the tedium of moving from a database to ArcView to a script that generates KMLs.

    I appreciate your assistance and thank you again for sharing your knowledge.

    – Rick Morris

  2. Don Murray says:


    Thanks for reading and for the feedback. While the examples in my blog post demonstrate what is possible, it is very easy to generate simple KML documents. Unfortunately, I am not personally aware of open source tools that would enable you to generate “live KML” feeds. It is however worth mentioning that there is certainly no need to use a server-based product if your goal is to generate KML documents on a periodic basis such as nightly or even hourly.

    It would be great to follow up with you to learn more about your needs. Suffice it to say that if you want to generate simple KML documents to share then the challenge is, as you elude to, finding the least expensive way to do that. In your case it could be that you don’t need a server-based product at all.

  3. Thomas C. says:

    Hello everyone! If you need a reliable free tool to create routes and you need to convert kml to gpx format and vice versa, please have a look here: It might be helpful.

  4. Ray says:

    Hi, my website which had Google Earth (GE) embedded into an iframe recently stopped working because GE does not allow the API to function any more. My web site showed live shipping AIS data collated from a multiple number of AIS receivers linked via a UDP feed. The AIS data was then sent to GE using a KML file with a networklink for the live AIS UDP port number and multiple static placemarks (shipping AToNs) I notice in your video that you have a live AIS feed going to Google Maps although I would prefer better icons to represent a ship. Will FME let me do a similar website which will show my live AIS data and display the static markers from my KML file?

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