Working through template updates this weekend to add the Google Earth plugin to map pages for those that are XJSail members. If you don't see the plugin right away, be patient - all the templates should be updated by the end of sunday, 1/11.
Some of you will notice that your blog has a new link in the side bar that reads "Current Position (Map)". Here is why its there, how it works, and how to turn this off if you'd like.
All members have the ability to load a current latitude and longitude pair into their profile (for XJSail members, this is over-ridden by your personal mapping). If you are not an XJSail member, this position is used in a number of places, most notably in the Member Map and in the "Local Waters" block on your quick news feed in the admin.
What we have done is upgraded the Member Map to use the Google Earth browser plugin (very cool, be sure to load it - just follow the instructions in your browser). When a visitor clicks the new link in your sidebar, they will be taken to the main Member Map, but unlike the old Google Map of the world, the new member map will center and zoom to your specified location.
We wanted to make it easy for all members to show their current position as this is a great feature for your visitors. So if you've not added your position, try this out - just update your profile info with a lat/long pair. If you have added a position, make sure you keep it up to date so your friends and relatives can keep up with your travels.
If you have loaded a lat/long into your profile, this link will appear automatically. If you do not want this link on your blog, there is a checkbox in the Theme Settings (Blog Manager->Theme & Colors Tab->Theme Settings), uncheck the "Show Link To Member Map" box to remove the link.
And XJSail members: don't worry, there will be more Google Earth goodness for you in the near future as well.
Happy New Year from SailBlogs!
Back in 2006, SailBlogs was the first blog system to integrate support for Google Earth and the KML/KMZ file format. It was such a natural extension to SailBlogs that it was a though Google wrote it specifically for us. Since then, it has become a very integral part of offering the best mapping capabilities to our members. Moving forward we will continue to be focused on using this world-class platform within SailBlogs. To that end, look for some exciting new developments in XPlot, our map tracking system, in 2009.
In early summer, the Google Earth web plug in moved out of beta and into full release for Windows platforms. At that point, we began testing with it for possible integration into SailBlogs. The plug in application allows visitors to have a Google Earth experience right in the browser window, without having to fully load the whole Google Earth application. What this means for SailBlogs members is the ability to have the richest, most detailed and dynamic map right on their blog page.
In early December, the plug in because available for Macintosh as well, and moved fully into wide availability to all web users. With this update from Google, SailBlogs will now be working to add this feature into the tracking system in early 2009.
To see how this might look and feel, check out Pete Goss' current Spirit of Mystery adventure, currently nearing South Africa. Pete's tracking not only includes his boat's position, but also the route he is tracing and a real-time global cloud map. We have been working with Pete for a few months testing this system with live data from the Spirit of Mystery.
Look for this and other additions to the XPlot mapping system coming in the next year!
Thanks and Happy Holidays from SailBlogs!