My former house

GeenStijl : ANP doet Google Earth na.

Ten years ago, I was a computer science student in Utrecht who was about to leave the Netherlands to live in Sweden. At the time, I had been living for about a year in a very spacious (50m2) attic room on a top location: Domplein, complete with nice view over the square.

A Dutch reporter took some photos from a balloon which gives a nice perspective on how nice this room was. I’ve highlighted which building was I lived in. The house, a four story monumental building was owned by a lawyer. The bottom floor was an apartment he rented out and he had converted the attic into two student apartments. The front apartment, which was the largest, was mine. The front two windows were both mine, as well as the little window on the side. Total rent was 675 guilders per month. Try find an apartment with that price in euros these days (at the moment of introduction, 1 euro was slightly overvalued at 2.2 Guilders). Anyway, at the time it seemed like a lot of money.

As you can see right next to my left there is a pretty big tower and half a cathedral. In fact this is the largest church tower in the Netherlands and you can read all about the missing half of the cathedral on wikipedia. It was noisy too, especially at night. But you stop noticing after some time.

Back from vacation

I just got back from vacation. The past two weeks I’ve been visiting Barcelona, my parents in France, Girona, Figueres, Lleida and Zaragoza. Despite having a car for only eight days, I still managed to drive 1650km. I updated my placemarks in Google Earth and regenerated my places website where you can find a complete overview of this trip.

I’ll add some photos later on. I filled a 1GB memory card so, processing them properly is going to take some time.

Doh! and phewwwww

This morning I had some more fun marking locations in Google Earth. I documented more holidays. Then I managed to lose all my additions by crashing google earth. It reset to the version I saved last evening. It turns out, it doesn’t actually save anything until you exit properly. :-(.
Next time, I’ll be saving and exporting a lot more often. Luckily I did some exporting just before it crashed. The exported file imported perfectly. But I came very close to losing a few hours of work. :-).
Anyway, I now have placemarks for all my summer holidays since 1998. The turkey and sweden vacations already have a lot of text on my photo site, so I did not bother to write much text. Both greece vacations will get some more attention later on.

Update 07-12-2006: Google introduced a feature that allows you to display kmz’s on Google Maps. This has now been integrated into the xsl so you can now view the kmz in Google Earth or Google Maps. Also I created a nice zip file distribution with some documentation (download here).


A nice feature in Google Earth is that you can export your placemarks as a kmz file. This is just a zipfile with a .kml file inside. This file in turn is just a xml format that Google uses to list your placemarks.

I spent some time creating a nice xsl file with which you can use to convert these files to html. I use it to publish some of my own placemarks on my website. Effectively, it turns Google Earth into a content management system for publishing information about places.

I do the transformation statically using an ant build file. But you can of course also let the browser do the transformation. However, search engines probably have difficulty handling the kml format. Also, not all browsers can do xsl, e.g. mobile browsers and screen readers. This is why I prefer to generate the html.

The stylesheet has the following nice features:

  • Generates link to Google Maps for each location. It also creates a link to Google Maps pointing to the original kmz file (note you need to set the base url in the build file for that to work)
  • Generates the coordinates of the location formatted using the geo microformat. This allows firefox extensions such as operator and future browsers that support microformats to detect the coordiantes.
  • Produces nice semantic html (makes it easy to style using css).
  • It works for nested folders of placemarks and structures the page using nested unordered lists.
  • Preserves any html you type in the descriptions in Google Earth. So you can add links there and have them appear in the html.
  • Of course includes a link to the original kmz file.

Update. Since posting this I made several updates to the xsl and the css. The link above always points to the latest version of the stylesheet. In the zip file you will also find the css and a ant build file. As part of this update, I also rewrote the text above.

Places where I lived (2)

A few months ago I posted a set of placemarks with all the places where I ever lived marked in Google Earth. Last week, Google updated the imagery for the entire Netherlands so I had to revisit those places and found that in a few cases some adjustments were needed. Most of the places are now clearly recognizable and in most cases I tried to position the placemarks roughly where my bed would have been (as far as I can remember): Places where I used to live