Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Out of this World with the WebGL Globe
Now that the Google Earth API has been scheduled for termination I've been looking around for alternative 3d globes. A couple of years ago the Google Data Arts team released the WebGL Globe as an open platform for geographic data visualization.
The Chrome Experiments page for the WebGL Globe includes a number of great examples of what kind of visualizations you can create with this platform. These examples all seem to show visualizations of the Earth. It is worth noting that the WebGL Globe can also be used to visualize other planets. Have a look at these demos of Earth & Mars and the Earth & Moon.
If you like these 3d globes of other planets you might also like these virtual globes of all the planets in our solar system. These globes were actually created with three.js. If you want to know how they were created then you can read the tutorial, How to Make the Earth in WebGL.
If you want to create your own 3d globe visualization using the WebGL Globe platform then you might want to check out these two tutorials: Introduction to the World Wonders 3D globe and Using CartoDB and Three.js for mapping.
The good news is that creating a basic visualization with the WebGL Globe and JSON data is relatively easy. If you are also proficient in three.js then you can really get creative.