kml2html.xsl

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.

Microformats

I’ve been reading a lot about web 2.0, microformats and the social/semantic/whatever web lately and decided to start supporting some of this stuff on my blog. Specific actions I took:

  • I use the XFN features that come with word press in my links to people I know in the sidebar. I’ve been doing this for a while
  • I joined del.ico.us and added links from that site to my sidebar using the javascript they provide and the nice widgets plugin for wordpress that allows me to mess with the sidebar.
  • I installed the structured blogging plugin (read my hReview compliant review of that).
  • I converted my contact page to be hCard compliant. I wrote it by hand and pasted the HTML but you can also do this using the hCard creator. A nice feature is the download vCard link which converts the hCard to a vCard.

This enables a number of interesting features. For example the tails extension icon now detects stuff on my page; technorati picks up my reviews, etc. Btw. use your favorite search engine to look up most of the terms above, I’m not going to add 20 or so links to this post :-o. Of course this post is highly buzzword compliant so you might have found your way here using some of those words in a search query :-).

Structured Blogging Test

Rating: 2 out of 5
I just installed a plugin for wordpress that allows me to write blog posts in a structured way and ensures that such posts comply with all sorts of microformats. The main benefit of this is that it facilitates automatic processing by sites such as technorati.com and many others, which understand these formats.

The installation procedure is basically dump files all over the place in the wordpress directory and then activate the plugin in the wordpress UI. Easy but it would have been nicer if the plugin would just have its own directory in the wordpress plugins directory.

The user interface of the plugin integrates with the wordpress administator UI. Under the write menu I now have a whole bunch of new options for creating reviews, events, lists, etc. The text editor for the review plugin which I am using to write this review appears to be just a textarea instead of the rich text editor that comes default with wordpress. This is of course annoying, especially if I want to use links or bullet lists. Writing all the tags manually sort of sucks. The rest of the user interface sort of is intuitive but too elaborate. It would have been nicer to have this more integrated with the write post UI. That is probably more difficult to implement but it is much more user friendly.

So I’m giving this 3 2 stars out of 5. It’s a nice plugin to have but there’s the integration issues and the issue with putting files where they don’t belong on my server. Lets see what happens if I click publish.

Update: it looks like it worked. It looks quite nice and the edit link below, which you don’t see since you don’t have write access to this site, works as expected: it brings up the review editor rather than the default wordpress edit UI.

Tags: microformats wordpress
Update 2: I just removed it for the following reason: it doesn’t seem to use the ping facilities in wordpress. Instead it forces you to create an account on a site called outputthis.org. The site is very brief on what it is all about and I don’t feel like creating an account there when I have a perfectly fine working pingomatic already. As explained in this lengthy rant, these structured blogging guys have their own agenda. I don’t feel like endorsing their services (at least until I know what they are) and without pingomatic being pinged I have no use for their plugin. So I’m removing it.

Update 3: I also removed the semantic formatting since it was screwing up my page layout.