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Cesium and Open Source Google Earth Enterprise

Google Earth Enterprise Logo

Since it is widely used throughout the geospatial industry, it was a big surprise when Google announced the deprecation of Google Earth Enterprise (AKA Fusion or GEE) in 2015. While the Google Earth client remains closed source, the server code has been open sourced under the Apache 2.0 license and is now available on GitHub.

Helping users migrate legacy Google Earth applications to Cesium continues to be a priority for us. We maintain a Google Earth on-ramp section in our documentation and many questions on our forum are from new Cesium users porting a Google Earth-based application. With Fusion server now being open source, we wanted to explore additional integration options to help with the migration process.

While Google plans to release additional white papers and documentation for the server, so far we have been reverse engineering formats from the code itself. Thankfully, Tom Fili was up to the task and managed to get imagery served by Fusion loading into Cesium and is close to having terrain working as well:

A typical default GEE base layer in Cesium.

A close up of San Francisco with some additional imagery.

We plan to finish terrain and imagery support over the next few weeks, so expect to see it in an upcoming Cesium release. We are interested in community feedback for other features, such as vector data.

Like many legacy software projects, GEE formats were not built with the modern web in mind. To deliver what we see as the future of 3D geospatial, we are continuing to develop 3D Tiles, which handle traditional GEE use cases of terrain, imagery, and vector data as well as 3D buildings, massive models, point clouds, and more. 3D Tiles, glTF, quantized-mesh, and CZML will continue to evolve with Cesium as the preferred inputs for streaming geospatial content on the web.

Support for connecting Cesium directly to a Fusion server is but one possible integration option. We are also exploring a migration path from Fusion to Cesium Composer so that organizations currently using GEE can use Cesium as a GEE client and then migrate towards Composer for what 3D Tiles have to offer.

If you have your own Fusion server and are looking to migrate to something else or are simply interested in using Cesium as a Fusion client, we would love you hear from you. Send an email with your thoughts.

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You can check out the source code for Earth Enterprise at the official Github repository.