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Google Earth add-in removed


adrian.rutter
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Groundspeak can't advertise on Google Earth, that's what it has to do with it! Keep the traffic on your site, you can make more money, can't you?

 

You pointed to an Ad in the forum.. Have you seen an increase of Ad's on the map page?

 

-Raine

 

Nope, no increase just the one served up from banman5.Groundspeak.com. Had to disable a tool to see it though.

 

Raine, can you fix up some css to make the gs google map half way printable please? Pretty please with sugar on top?

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Groundspeak can't advertise on Google Earth, that's what it has to do with it! Keep the traffic on your site, you can make more money, can't you?

 

You pointed to an Ad in the forum.. Have you seen an increase of Ad's on the map page?

 

-Raine

 

Nope, no increase just the one served up from banman5.Groundspeak.com. Had to disable a tool to see it though.

 

Raine, can you fix up some css to make the gs google map half way printable please? Pretty please with sugar on top?

 

No increase of adds on the map page but certainly an increase in the number of people viewing the map page thus an increase in the value of that one add space GS sells.

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As well as being faster and easier to use, Google Earth supports overlays. It is possible to have road and town names shown on the map. We even have a an overlay to show quality UK Ordnance Survey maps.

 

The performance of Groundspeaks mapping has worsened, to such an extent that it is unusable. The last few Sunday mornings, I have been unable to use the maps on GS website!

 

PQs are not an option, since they are restricted to 5 per day, and when I plan a holiday or trip, I will look at multiple locations (up to 20 locations for a 2 week holiday). Advance planning is no longer an option. Not to mention the time delay of waiting for them to arrive (if they do arrive)!

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Whilst I can see that plenty of cachers in the USA are clearly not happy about the removal of the GE Add in there is one area where it hits people outside America harder. That is the case of finding benchmarks (or trigpoints as we call them in the UK) nearer Geocaches. In America you can log your benchmarks on the geocaching.com web site, we can't do this but we can log them on this website uk trigpointing. Now whilst some of my fellow Brits are grumpy about the fact that we can't log benchmarks as geocaches whilst the USA can I don't really mind as I see it as two similar hobbies. I do however like to combine the two on one trip and find all the geocaches that are near trigpoints. Google earth was the only way to do this. It can't be done with pocket queries as you simply can't cover the required area with the allocated amount of pqs.

 

Anyway that's me seriously inconvenienced, and do you know what? I could have accepted it if I had been given an honest reason as to why it was done. As an example I accepted the reasons that additional logging requirements were no longer allowed even though I myself would still prefer to have them. Fair enough let's move on. Now in this case if the official line was what must surely be the real reason i.e. "it's our database, we want you to look at it through our geocaching.com website". I would have thought fair enough even if the thinking was related to advertising space because that's the way the internet works. To put out this absolutely ludicrous idea that it was removed because only 200 people used it is quite frankly insulting our intelligence. Next time significant changes are made I would recommend giving us the real reason or at very least coming up with a more convincing falsehood!

Edited by Foinavon
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The important point is that GE was negatively impacting user experience out of proportion to its usefulness.

Perhaps this has already been asked but can you expand on this a little because to be quite frank, I fail to see how this can be the case unless there is/was some horribly inefficient code generating the KML. At the end of the day, the KML Overlay is/was a location search like any other - it boils down to asking the database server to 'return the caches near location X'. The only thing that's different is the presentation layer. Instead of output in HTML (for bog standard location searches) or JSON for the Google Map, the output is a KML document. If it's the KML builder that's causing the slow-down, might I suggest a better solution might be to resolve the bottleneck within it rather than just axing a useful feature.

 

I feel that once folks get past the mourning period and start exploring other options you'll all be much happier. I am very sorry for those of you whose routine has been disrupted by this change. I know what that's like. I would just encourage you to adapt to a new way of Geocaching so you can get past this and back to enjoying the game. We'll get back to making the site better.

:laughing: I'm sure I'm echoing what's already been said here but the problem is not that you're "changing the routine", but that you're removing one of the site's most useful features. Sure, there are alternatives but none of them are as slick, easy to use and responsive as the KML Overlay. Further, those that want to continue to use GE to find caches they wish to hunt will now have to perform a PQ (GE opens GPX files quite happily and seems to understand the Groundspeak namespace to boot) but I'm sure I these extra PQs probably negate the performance gain from axing the KML Overlay :o

 

(Edited to fix broken quote tags :laughing:)

 

Well spoken but in the end I think futile. The frog has spoken and they have made it quite clear that they do not care if it was a better tool. It matters not that so many have pointed out that perhaps making a change in the way the KML was generated or implemented may have been a better solution. They have made it abundantly clear that they don't care to explain what the root of the problem was. TPTB are quite happy to say "Site performance" and leave it at that.

 

Me, I used to use my PQs as needed. As I was preparing to go caching I ran a fresh one and went with it. Now I am going to start using every one I can. Five a day. I will most likely delete 95 percent of them unopened but as long as I have paid for them I am going to give the server what little hit I can. I encourage the rest of you to do likewise. Will it help? I doubt it. Will it have enough of an impact to make 'em pay attention? Not likely. But we won't know if we don't try.

 

I've been out of caching a few months, with a new baby and all, but I was shocked to see THE most helpful geocaching tool outside of GSAK, the GE .KML file, shut down. Ack, what a horrible decision.

 

I'll have to take the above cacher's interesting approach now, too.

 

CLF.

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I've been out of caching a few months, with a new baby and all, but I was shocked to see THE most helpful geocaching tool outside of GSAK, the GE .KML file, shut down. Ack, what a horrible decision.

 

I'll have to take the above cacher's interesting approach now, too.

 

CLF.

 

And to think that it was done to "improve performance"... It's taken me 25 minutes just to log on to the message boards tonight. The "new" route tracking is working great, dontcha think? :o:laughing::laughing:

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I've been out of caching a few months, with a new baby and all, but I was shocked to see THE most helpful geocaching tool outside of GSAK, the GE .KML file, shut down. Ack, what a horrible decision.

 

I'll have to take the above cacher's interesting approach now, too.

 

CLF.

 

And to think that it was done to "improve performance"... It's taken me 25 minutes just to log on to the message boards tonight. The "new" route tracking is working great, dontcha think? :o:laughing::laughing:

If you read the announcements, you'd know that is Microsoft's server updates doing. It has nothing to do with the site changes.

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Well, someone asked for us KML users to post why we used it and why we don't like the alternatives. For me, just today, I was informed of an upcoming period of time suitable for taking a family trip. I was asked to "find someplace we can go to that has a lot of caches near it." I was going to use the GE KML to scan around the state to find a suitable place to go. If I had to use GM, then I would need to determine several different specific areas to search. With GE, I could just swing it around until I found a place that looked good.

First Groundspeak blocks another user from providing this type of KML, then they provide one of their own (good for them). Now they're taking it away again. Guess it's time for another user to step up and replace the function. Though no matter how things turn out, Groundspeak's behaviour has convinced me that they no longer deserve my money. And as for any ads on any of Groundspeak's sites, I have just 3 words for them: Ad Block Plus!

Edited by ScarabDrowner
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The frog that took my KML can KMA.

 

Although that's just oh so witty :o perhaps you should read the Forum Guidelines:

 

Forum courtesy: Please treat Groundspeak, its employees, volunteers, fellow community members, and guests on these boards with courtesy and respect.

 

If you cannot post constructively and respectfully, don't post.

 

Hey parrothead - - I agree, courtesy and respect! But I actually LOL'ed while reading these posts while waiting for geocaching.com to load in another window.....Thanks for the oh so witty post that brought a smile to my face while I am frowning at GC.com for site issues.

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I've been out of caching a few months, with a new baby and all, but I was shocked to see THE most helpful geocaching tool outside of GSAK, the GE .KML file, shut down. Ack, what a horrible decision.

 

I'll have to take the above cacher's interesting approach now, too.

 

CLF.

 

And to think that it was done to "improve performance"... It's taken me 25 minutes just to log on to the message boards tonight. The "new" route tracking is working great, dontcha think? :o:laughing::laughing:

If you read the announcements, you'd know that is Microsoft's server updates doing. It has nothing to do with the site changes.

 

If I had a spare hour or two, I probably could have.

 

PHP Fatal error: Maximum execution time of 45 seconds exceeded in E:\Inetpub\forums\GC\ips_kernel\class_db_mysql.php on line 457 PHP Fatal error: Maximum execution time of 45 seconds exceeded in E:\Inetpub\forums\GC\sources\ipsclass.php on line 1111.

 

The forums have been like this since at least 3:12pm EST. It's just before 8:00pm now. Oh well...

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opinioNate wrote:

I feel that once folks get past the mourning period and start exploring other options you'll all be much happier

 

If the other options were as quick, painless and easy as GE I'd be happy. Mapping has never been groundspeaks strong point. Getting rid of the Geocaching Network KML was a mistake.

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If the removal decision was based on economics, let the Premium Members vote with a termination of premium memberships and stop purchasing GS items through the GS store. I suspect the lowly 200 would suddenly blossom into a much larger group with an impact that could draw attention to the desires of the mass audience that is truly aggravated by the TPTB that made the change.

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I liked the Google Earth link and when it was not there over this past weekend I really missed it when I needed it most. You can still run a quiery and use that. Just open the gpx file from Google earth and you can see the caches that way. Just takes a little longer. Cache On !

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I find it interesting that this thread is still going on. Normally when GSP pull the rug out from underneath us, the outcry carries on for a couple of days and then goes quietly away. Indeed precisely that was predicted by Nate a couple of weeks ago.

 

This one however has been rumbling on for over a month - a sure sign if there was one that this is a deeply unpopular decision.

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Or perhaps a sure sign that people really weren't using it that frequently and are only slowly realizing that it's gone. :D

 

Not really, as it still seems to be working for a lot of folks. So maybe they haven't discovered yet that it is going away.

 

[Edited to repair my poor grammar. :P ]

Edited by Road Rabbit
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QUOTE(Motorcycle_Mama @ May 25 2009, 08:39 PM)

Or perhaps a sure sign that people really weren't using it that frequently and are only slowly realizing that it's gone.

 

Shouldn't matter if I use it once a year or once a day. It was a valuable tool. I might need a hammer 4 times a year. But if someone takes it away, I'll surely realize banging a nail with a brick stinks.

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Is it Groundspeak that got rid of the KML file or Google Earth that did??? And which database was being taxed by the use?? I am of of the 200 users that loved this feature and find it extremely frustrating as I can no longer plan effectively what areas I want to visit. BRING BACK KML!!!

 

This may come as a surprise to some users, so I'd like to offer an explanation. There are a couple reasons for the removal of the network KML. The network KML was implemented before we had a proper online mapping tool for Geocaching.com. Some of the more tenured cachers may recall the old GeoMicro maps that would reload the page every time you panned or zoomed (and how tedious that was). However, the subsequent introduction of full-featured Geocaching.com Google Maps has made the KML link somewhat redundant.

 

The other reason is that only about 200 users regularly accessed the Google Earth KML, and the performance hit to the site was grossly out of proportion with the return. In other words, it was making the site run quite slowly.

 

Groundspeak hesitates to inconvenience even a small number of geocachers. However, it is sometimes necessary for us to identify areas of performance loss as the site grows in order to keep the site responsive and available at all times, even if it means sacrificing a feature that some found useful. Obviously we would rather introduce new features than take them away, so we hope you can understand the uncomfortable situation this places us in.

 

Please keep in mind, however, that you can still use Google Earth to import .GPX files from Pocket Queries. In fact, the accuracy will be much better since the network KML has always randomized locations to some extent anyway. We'll continue to explore better ways to map geocaches that serve the needs of the majority of the caching community without jeopardizing the website's stability.

 

I get a kick out of this paragraph:

 

Groundspeak hesitates to inconvenience even a small number of geocachers. However, it is sometimes necessary for us to identify areas of performance loss as the site grows in order to keep the site responsive and available at all times, even if it means sacrificing a feature that some found useful. Obviously we would rather introduce new features than take them away, so we hope you can understand the uncomfortable situation this places us in.

 

I've heard that before from the IT folks at my company. "We've upgraded the hardware", or "We have a new release." I say it tongue in cheek, but those are words the users dread. It usually means slower performance or blotted software to eliminated the potential performance improvement by upgraded hardware. I really dig a lot of the features GS has come up with, PQs, Field Notes, and even the Tweeter app. I guess something has to give but I was one of the 200 users that enjoyed the KML feature immensely. I travel frequently, 4-5 different airports a month and really enjoyed using this feature to determine cache density around my work sites. I guess I'll have to go with Plan B.

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I have found the tool most useful for...

 

I geotag my pictures. It takes less than 1 minute after a full caching day. Then i view the pics in GE. The pics match up with the caches (viewable with the add-on) so it makes it nice since sometimes you forget which cache you were at.

 

I upload pics to caches i visit. I think it is nice for the cache owner and also for future/past visitors.

 

When the add-on quits working are there any new suggestions? Load the GPX in GE too? Ugh.

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Wow! Lots said since my first request to return the KML!

 

Sadly, several member's "simple requests" seem to have segued into a major "us against them" polarization, which I certainly didn't want!

 

I can understand that anyone who hasn't used the KML it might think that the maps and PQ's are as good or better, but I've tried both ways, and I prefer and really miss the KML.

 

I have tried the "maps" many times and found several limitations:

 

1) you must begin from a specific location and pan to explore, spending much time waiting for "requesting geocaches" just about every time you pan or zoom.

 

2) While the satellite maps do show buildings and roads, unless you know exactly which road you're looking at it's easy to get lost.

 

3) Essentially, they're fine if you know where you want to start and exactly what road you're "seeing".

 

4) You're limited in the number of PQ's and I don't always know exactly WHERE I want one for.

 

With the KML in Google Earth:

 

1) I could see all the caches ANYWHERE I decided to look, anywhere that caught my interest.

 

2) I could plan trips and days by zooming out and looking for a "cluster" of caches in the general area of interest and then selecting my route and destination to penetrate the cluster.

 

3) I could see at a glance the higways and roads BY NAME/NUMBER (in overlay) and "follow" a specific one, looking for caches along it and "seeing" rest areas and motels.

 

I'm really missing it as I plan trips and our vacation.

 

Please restore the KML!

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Just a brief comment... This "folder" of communication has been visited over *6,200* times since its start. It seems to me that there are a LOT more people interested in this feature than what GS might have originally thought. :ph34r::o

 

I am REALLY missing this feature, but you probably all ready guessed that. ::: sigh :::

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I have tried the "maps" many times and found several limitations:

<snip>

2) While the satellite maps do show buildings and roads, unless you know exactly which road you're looking at it's easy to get lost.

3) Essentially, they're fine if you know where you want to start and exactly what road you're "seeing".

<snip>

With the KML in Google Earth:

<snip>

3) I could see at a glance the higways and roads BY NAME/NUMBER (in overlay) and "follow" a specific one, looking for caches along it and "seeing" rest areas and motels.<snip>

 

Maybe I'm missing something, but in my map if I choose a hybrid, I get the lay of the land AND the street names I'm "seeing". Don't you?

 

c87f3e8a-076b-4cb2-ac2b-88f67bfa64e8.jpg

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Markwell already answered some of these but I'll respond as well because some are valid complaints and some aren't.

I have tried the "maps" many times and found several limitations:

 

1) you must begin from a specific location and pan to explore, spending much time waiting for "requesting geocaches" just about every time you pan or zoom.

You can type an address or a postal code into the Zoom To Address box to go directly to a location, and if you are fast enough you don't have to wait for the geocache to load as you are panning. It is a problem if you wait till you get the "Requesting geocaches", because then you do have to wait to continue panning. A possible enhancement would be to have an option to not refresh the caches on the maps after panning or zooming until the user clicks a refresh button.

2) While the satellite maps do show buildings and roads, unless you know exactly which road you're looking at it's easy to get lost.

See Markwell's post. You can select the hybrid view.

3) Essentially, they're fine if you know where you want to start and exactly what road you're "seeing".

Don't make numbered list and put in a sentence that only repeats what you said in the earlier numbers.

4) You're limited in the number of PQ's and I don't always know exactly WHERE I want one for.

This is not a limit of the Geocaching maps. It is a limit if you use the suggestion people have made of opening your PQ GPX files directly in Google Earth. I've suggested that the ability to preview a PQ in Google Earth might be a compromise to get around the limit on the number of PQs you can run. A KML file with limited information about the caches (no logs or description and possibly a fudged coordinates to keep this from being misused as a way to download caches) should not be that big of a load on the database.

 

With the KML in Google Earth:

 

1) I could see all the caches ANYWHERE I decided to look, anywhere that caught my interest.

This is how I used the networked KML. I'd be looking at something in Google Earth, possible not even geocaching related and wonder if there were any caches nearby. I'd just enable the Geocaching KML and do a manual refresh and voila! the caches would show up on the map. Of course this required know a bit how to set up the KML so it didn't refresh every time I moved in Google Earth and the caches didn't get in the way when I was looking a something else.

2) I could plan trips and days by zooming out and looking for a "cluster" of caches in the general area of interest and then selecting my route and destination to penetrate the cluster.

The KML file handled zoomed out view a bit differently than the Google Maps. If you zoomed out to show more than 150 (or 200, I forget the number) caches, you would see a random selection of caches. That allowed you to see some clusters where you could zoom in to see if there were more caches. In Google maps when you zoom out to where there would be more than 500 caches, you get nothing back and are told to zoom in. In some areas this may make it harder to find clusters of caches.

3) I could see at a glance the higways and roads BY NAME/NUMBER (in overlay) and "follow" a specific one, looking for caches along it and "seeing" rest areas and motels.

Road name/number already addressed, using Hybrid. Google Earth provided a number of overlays of POIs and borders that several people found useful in planning cache trips. This feature is definitely missing from the maps. I'd also point to the 3D view in Google Earth. While there are terrain and in some areas topo options in the Google Maps, the Google Earth 3D view made it much easier to get an idea of the terrain in the area. The only issue was that cache location itself was fudged so that you could not tell if the cache was on the trail. At that point you'd have to load a GPX file with accurate coordinates into Google Earth anyhow.
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I'd also point to the 3D view in Google Earth. While there are terrain and in some areas topo options in the Google Maps, the Google Earth 3D view made it much easier to get an idea of the terrain in the area.

Perhaps Groundspeak would consider enabling the 3D Earth API in the maps?

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Or perhaps a sure sign that people really weren't using it that frequently and are only slowly realizing that it's gone. :P

Bingo!

or, like me; I got a new computer and needed to re-load this 'feature' for GE and that is when I noticed it was gone. :blink:

Of course, a quick google search today and its up and running again. got it off the GC website. :P

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Or perhaps a sure sign that people really weren't using it that frequently and are only slowly realizing that it's gone. :blink:

Bingo!
[soup Nazi voice]No bingo for you! [/soup Nazi voice]

 

Mine's still working. I'll be back in full frothy rant mode when it finally stops :P

Edited by J-Way
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Clearly, no amount of people's complaining will change this issue. Regardless, I will chime in as well. Personally, I did not utilize the GE kml on a regular basis, but when I did it was useful and easy to use. The alternatives being bandied around are more cumbersome, including using the imbedded map option. Other points to consider: the GE map was bigger; refreshed faster when panning; takes much longer to preview a pq now than GE ever did using kml.

 

If Groundspeak is taking away key features, that we thought we were already paying for with our membership, they should introduce other useful features. Take something away/give something in return. Twitter is cute, but not a useful feature. Twitter already exists without using the SMS textmarks feature which doubles the amount of texts one uses by sending a reply with advertising. Plus, typing on the computer is faster than using a phone or gps to leave a field note that one has to download or revisit anyway in order to post. I would be happy with having the option to actually log a visit to a cache (find, dnf, etc.) via text just like sending a "tweet," maybe call it a "ribbet."

 

If there were only potentially ~200 users (at a given time?), how much of a load could the kml have truly placed on the GC servers? I'm no programmer or IT geek, but wouldn't it take more memory/bandwidth/etc to generate and display 500 results from a single pq by the number of people downloading and viewing at a given moment, than to display a few (I could never see more than a few hundred caches in GE at a time) by 200 people?

 

Sad to see it go.

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There is no way possible that only 200 people used the Google Earth network KML. I also didn't use it on a daily basis but I did use it to go quickly check an area I was going to travel to to give me a quick idea where the caches were located. I would usually then find one very near the spot I was going to stay then do a pocket Query using that GC number as my starting point.

 

I know there are other ways of doing this but I was familiar with this method and I will definately miss this feature.

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Or perhaps a sure sign that people really weren't using it that frequently and are only slowly realizing that it's gone. :D

Bingo!

or, like me; I got a new computer and needed to re-load this 'feature' for GE and that is when I noticed it was gone. :D

Of course, a quick google search today and its up and running again. got it off the GC website. :)

 

So you're saying caches still show when you're on Goole Earth ??? I don't think so....! I don't understand

why some people would still be able to see the KML's , while others can't when that option has been terminated. What version of Google Earth are you using and what did you "get off of the GC website" that enables you to still see the KML's (caches) ???

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Or perhaps a sure sign that people really weren't using it that frequently and are only slowly realizing that it's gone. :D

Bingo!

or, like me; I got a new computer and needed to re-load this 'feature' for GE and that is when I noticed it was gone. :P

Of course, a quick google search today and its up and running again. got it off the GC website. :D

 

So you're saying caches still show when you're on Goole Earth ??? I don't think so....! I don't understand

why some people would still be able to see the KML's , while others can't when that option has been terminated. What version of Google Earth are you using and what did you "get off of the GC website" that enables you to still see the KML's (caches) ???

I THINK SO!!! I still get the kml on GE I downloaded it about a week or two before thay said "no more"

It still works for me.

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