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Marble provides basic engine for free Google Earth replacement

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 172.17.9.242] on August 12, 2008 09:54 AM
So the question has been raised why we are working on "another" virtual globe which we call MARBLE. And of course the question is a valid one (although it got voiced the wrong way). We already do answer this question in our MANIFESTO which got created when MARBLE entered KDE SVN:

http://websvn.kde.org/branches/KDE/4.1/kdeedu/marble/MANIFESTO.txt?revision=829867&view=markup

Here are a few more thoughts though:

1.) Because we enjoy working on virtual globes and MARBLE !
I've personally enjoyed virtual globes since I've seen a black-white virtual globe the very first time in my life back in the early 80ies (on a Mac or ATARI ST). Since then I've been passionate about virtual globes ever since: There did exist lots of virtual globes in the 90ies before Google Earth ("GE") got initially released in 2005. And many of them were IMHO superior compared to GE in several aspects - except for the amount of data and the brand.
However none of the virtual globes I've seen so far worked and looked the way that I'd like to see: So I decided to create "my own" virtual globe back in 2003.
So what keeps our team ticking is mostly the love for the work on this kind of software. It's an extremely exciting and appealing topic to work on as it offers lots of interesting aspects of mathematics (I've studied physics ...), usability, education, the visual aesthetics of maps and of problem solving.
Indeed it would be stupid if the reason to work on MARBLE was to create a free software "clone" of GE (but as I pointed out already that's neither our intent nor our motivation) -- it would especially be stupid given that we all are working on MARBLE in our sparetime. So even if GE would become free software today we'd still continue to work on MARBLE because we enjoy to work on MARBLE! Because we've got a different vision for MARBLE and because we believe that we can do better than others!

That's why Bruce Byfield points out in his excellent article that MARBLE will probably never fully "replace" GE. Not because we wouldn't be able to do it technically but because our focus is a different one. And indeed if you look at MARBLE the experience is a different one. That being said we are open to all kinds of contributions. So if you feel that there is functionality missing that you'd like to see in MARBLE and if you want to contribute to it, we'd welcome your efforts and contributions! Creating a virtual globe is a very complex matter so we need more contributors to get it right! We'd love to see more people to

JOIN US! We still need more people for

- documentation: We'd like to see MARBLE's documentation being much better than today. It should not only describe MARBLE itself but should also provide related geography lessons and class projects.
- translation: MARBLE is afaik the most translated globe already (with about 30 languages and rising: ). We'd like to see more translations!
- knowledgable coders (it's good to have good math skills, GPS skills, etc.)
- artwork, QA and lots of other aspects that you feel is lacking ;-)
- aaaand maps (join the OpenStreetMap project and you will help MARBLE!):

2.) We like to create maps and we like to give them away for free. We believe that maps are such an important aspect of life that there should be some maps that people can use freely without restrictions (except proper credits and attribution). So MARBLE is not only Free Software (it's licensed under the LGPL) but MARBLE is also about promoting free maps and free content in general! That's why we are using free maps exclusively and that's why we are cooperating with the OpenStreetMap project. This is very much in line with the KDE philosophy which is not only about Free Software but also about what we call "Free Culture": That's why the KDE project is also working together with Wikipedia as we also think that information that is important to humanity should be a common free good.

Anyways, Thanks Bruce for this nice article and I hope some more people will consider to contribute to MARBLE and OpenStreetMap!

Torsten Rahn


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