Geo-Animate - Moving from Google Earth to Cesium

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This is a guest post by Erik Hellstedt, creator of Geo-Animate, about his transition from Google Earth to Cesium. For more info on moving from the GE plugin to Cesium, see the tutorial series. - Sarah


I love maps and I love history. Geo-Animate, a site for tinkering with maps and exploring history, began as a hobby. I started out animating some historical events in Google Earth to better understand their scope. For example, I animated the time and place of all British Commonwealth graves from 1914 to 1918 to better visualize the front of the war. The quality of the animations was crude, but I was soon addicted to the closer view of history the animations provided.

Google Earth's plugin soon presented a challenge as plugins and new programs were too much of a bother for many like-minded historians. So I changed from Google Earth to Cesium. At first, Cesium's invisibility to the user was its best selling point. But over the course of the past year, I have come to believe Cesium's flexibility is even more important to the future of this project.

A quick note on my Cesium learning curve. I began with zero programming background. At first I was overwhelmed with the evolving APIs and implications of using one or another. At this stage I would have benefited from more consistent documentation on the Cesium/CZML websites. Through a combination of Cesium's Sandcastle, documentation, and most importantly the Cesium forum (which has some endlessly helpful chaps), I've incorporated Cesium/CZML, php, and MySQL into an application that is easy to use and robust, and which I believe will create even more like-minded historians.

I'm happy with the transition and continue to develop new animations using Cesium. My current focus is on the Battle of Normandy. While the animation is not complete, you can explore the British 6th Parachute Division's movements to get an idea of what the completed animation will look like.