Mar 22

Brady Forrest

Brady Forrest

Google is Supporting GeoRSS

GeoRSS, a very simple to use OGC format that extends RSS by adding location data, can now be consumed via Google Maps and the Google maps API. Congrats to Mikel and the OGC! As Google stated on the Google Maps API blog:

To start we now support GeoRSS as a data format for geographic content in Google Maps. We want to enable users to create data in whatever format is most convenient for them, and feel that by supporting both KML and GeoRSS we can enable a wider variety of people and applications to contribute content to Google Maps. We've built support for the Simple, GML, and W3C Geo encodings of GeoRSS -- all you have to do is enter the full URL of a GeoRSS file into the Maps query box to load the file. For example, take a look at SlashGeo's GeoRSS on Google Maps.

Most importantly, we've extended support for displaying geographic data -- both KML and GeoRSS -- into the Google Maps API. Now in addition to programatically adding content to a Maps API site, you can create your content as KML or GeoRSS and load it into the Map with a simple function call. This means that the more than 1 million KML files that are available from all over the web can easily be mashed up with the map on your site.
Additionally, KML is on its way to becoming an OGC standard (and as you can see from this Slashgeo poll it's a popular idea). It's great for them to begin accepting this OGC standard best practice as they begin that process.

Accepting GeoRSS and making KML a standard are very significant moves for Google and the geoweb. It's long seemed odd to me that Google, a company built on opensource software and such an avid supporter of open standards, did not follow a similar path in the geospace with these two formats (being proprietary with one and not accepting the open one). These moves are going to bolster the importance of both formats, lead to more web content being geotagged and keep Google feeling love from geohackers for a while.

I expect this means that GeoRSS will be accepted as a Google Earth layer soon and that GeoRSS will start showing up in Google Earth's Web Search. This would provide even further incentive content sites to join the likes of Flickr (as an aside compare with Flickr's map feature with a Google Map consuming the same feed - I think Flickr's is cleaner, but it does not have Google's flexibility) and Upcoming by exporting in GeoRSS (as if today's announcement wasn't enough). WordPress bloggers can start using the GeoPress plugin (Radar post) right away (I already do on the Ignite Seattle blog -- it's very easy to use).

The schedule for the Where 2.0 conference hasn't been updated to reflect some of the recent talks we've signed but I'm happy to say that John Hanke (Google Earth), Michael Jones (Google Earth, CTO), and David Schell (OGC, CEO) will all be speaking and I am sure that we will get their take on these recent developments and what is coming next.

Thanks Mike Liebhold for the pointer and Rev Dan Catt for the Flickr assist -- it turns out to get your Flickr photos exported as GeoRSS you have to add "&georss=true" at the end of your URL. I hope that gets a little easier soon - hint, hint

Update: Don MacAskill pointed out in the comments that his photo-sharing site, SmugMug, has had GeoRSS for over a year for every user's photo feed. They also have their own map for each user and gallery -- compare the SmugMug map with the Google map for the same gallery.

Update 2: I originally stated that GeoRSS was an OGC standard. It is not, though the OGC is heavily involved. It's most formal OGC status is "best practice". Mikel, the driver behind GeoRSS, has clarified this positioning in the comments and provided us with some of the backstory around the format.

tags: geo, web 2.0  | comments: 17   | Sphere It

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Google is Supporting GeoRSS "GeoRSS, a very simple to use OGC format that extends RSS by adding location data, can now be consumed via Google Maps and the Google maps API." (tags: rss geotag georss googleearth googlemaps kml)... Read More

Comments: 17

  Daniel Rust [03.22.07 03:14 PM]

yes defiantly a success when its adopted by google

  Don MacAskill [03.22.07 03:31 PM]

This is awesome!

I believe SmugMug was the first (by a large margin, more than a year) to provide GeoRSS in our feeds (automatically, with no need to add '&georss=true' onto your URL), so I'm very excited and I'm sure our customers will be too. We've also published all of our feeds in KML for years.

Now if only we could get camera manufacturers to include the GPS parts in their cameras, we'd really be cooking with gas!


  walweb [03.23.07 02:34 AM]

Lookup locations worldwide on satellitepictures easy by address and online?

Try PICSFROMSPACE, Lookup Your Place By Address!
Since september 12th available at:

  Paul M. Watson [03.23.07 02:54 AM]

Nice one Google. I think the main difference here is that Google Maps allows any feed to be pumped into the map while SmugMug, logically, only works with its own gallery feeds. That is as it should be, not taking anything away from SmugMugs pioneering work.

  Asbj¯rn Ulsberg [03.23.07 03:04 AM]

Does it support the GeoRSS extensions in an Atom feed as well, or only in RSS? And why do people keep extending RSS all the time, when Atom is a much better alternative in every concievable way? Haven't enough people heard about Atom, do they think it's too hard to understand, aren't there enough Atom libraries or what? I just can't comprehend it.

  Ed [03.23.07 03:48 AM]

Here's a live example.

Congrats to the folks at for moving one step closer to critical mass

  Mikel Maron [03.23.07 04:41 AM]

Asbj¯rn .. GeoRSS is an extension for any syndication format flavor. And Gmaps looks to be supporting Atom..

  Bruno [03.23.07 05:16 AM]

It is for Atom too. Actually RSS sometimes stands for "web feed" for historical reason. Besides, Google is more about Atom than RSS, see GData.

  Allan Doyle [03.23.07 05:32 AM]

A minor clarification - congrats to Mikel for being a great GeoRSS evangelist! But GeoRSS is not an OGC spec. GeoRSS is very much a grass-roots, community driven spec. Its origins go way back to things like the ICBM meta tags and then geo:lat geo:lon. "Modern" GeoRSS was developed on a mailing list and a website hosted by A lot of the earlier work can be found at and the rest is at

  Jef Poskanzer [03.23.07 10:40 AM]

It's not bad, although Google has implemented only one variety of GeoRSS, and in particular didnít include the Yahoo! extensions for geocoding.

For the flickr feeds, which do use this variety of RSS and do include numeric lat/long. itís fine. But see my URL for a more complete GeoRSS processor.

  Jef Poskanzer [03.23.07 10:41 AM]

Ok, the URL didn't show up in the headers so here it is in a comment body:

  anon [03.23.07 11:44 AM]

Wait, GeoRSS is an OGC format? No, it's not! A bunch of guys wrote it themselves and OGC put out a white paper on it (not sure what that means).

  Mikel [03.24.07 01:49 AM]

Allan and the anonymous poster are correct .. GeoRSS is not an official OGC standard, it's an open, community developed effort and in a paper
last year at XTech
I described a bit of the history.

The OGC has been involved in this open process. Several of the core folks in the discussion have ties to the OGC, and their expertise has been instrumental. When GeoRSS 1.0 was released, the OGC published a white paper, and promotes GeoRSS as a "best practice". This kind of approval is key
to reaching the traditional GIS vendors and developers.

The OGC also joined the W3C, and helped to set up the Geospatial Incubator Group. Part of their work entails reconciling GeoRSS for use in the semantic web. So you see, at least two standards bodies are involved, but the standard itself does not belong to them.

This kind of open development has influenced the standards bodies themselves. The OGC has started a "Mass Market" initiative, for lighter weight specs, which includes its work with KML and WFS Simple. The Incubator Activities at the W3C are designed to be more short term, focused processes, run as openly as possible.

As for the future, there are definitely issues with developing a specification in the open, as the interest increases. Consensus building on a discussion list becomes quite difficult as the number of opinions multiplies. There is a need
for some kind of process, but crucially the process should be open and transparent, in the community, and stay out of the way when
it's not needed. In some sense, this is new ground for standards work, but there are some similar, successful models out there, like microformats.

  Mikel Maron [03.24.07 02:09 AM]

Jef, it appears the Google Maps has complete support for all the flavors of GeoRSS, and perhaps all the geometries (though I haven't tested this myself..)

The "ymaps" namespace used by the Yahoo Maps API allows for specification of addresses for geocoding, and other styling controls of the map. It's been developed solely by Yahoo and not supported by most other APIs or software (yours excepting of course), but the concepts, with some work, have general utility. It would be great if those could come out into the open.

  Luistxo Fernandez [03.24.07 02:57 AM]

Tagzania (since its launch in 2005) supports the GeoRSS flavor proposed in 2003 by the W3C Semantic Web Interest Group, and its multiple feeds fit perfectly into Google's API now. As a matter of fact, Google used one Tagzania feed to construct their example for the announcement.

  Sascha Schmidt [04.04.07 02:14 AM]

Hi, Pointoo is supporting the GeoRSS since the start of our project - Pointoo - location bookmark service (

Hope we will see more and more offers in this directions ...

  Mike [09.09.07 12:48 PM]

My company recently released a product called GeoFeeder that converts traditional GIS format files to GeoRSS. You can easily put vector data from kml/kmz, autocad, shape, MapInfo and GML files onto Google Maps after conversion. Please check it out when you get a chance.

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