This week we took a deep look at Google Earth and converting ArcMap files to be used in Google Earth. Google Earth is a great program to find or tour just about any place on the planet. I can't wait for the Deep Space edition or Journey to Star Gate Atlantis!
Converting ArcMap MXD files to KML or KMZ files is a pretty straight forward concept. We have the tools in ArcToolbox (ArcToolbox > Conversion Tools > To KML). There are two versions of the tool that I used. The first is the Map to KML. After you select the MXD you want to convert, the tool auto populates with "Layers" since we will convert all the layers in the current MXD. Then, you select an Output File and location. We also selected "Convert Vector to Raster (optional) since this turns all the layers into image files and groups the features together. This will help Google Earth to run faster and more smoothly by making the files smaller. That's also the reason our file are converted to KMZ not KML--the KMZ is a zipped version of the KML.
Though this saves space there is a downside to having the features in each layer grouped together; that is that you can't change these features later. By the way, you don't even have to have this map opened in ArcMap--the conversion can be done from ArcCatalog or a blank map.
There is another tool that allows you more flexibility, namely, the Layer to KML tool. However, to use this tool, the layer must be open in ArcMap. Once you select the appropriate boxes the conversion runs smoothly.
But the best thing about Google Earth is the views. Below I show you my KML map and a progression of views culminating with a cool close up on Tampa Bay. Enjoy!
Now I'm done!