Programming on a New Platform – The Earth

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Since Google released Google Earth and, more importantly, its Google Map API, there is now a new platform — the Earth — on which for developers to write web applications. First, there are the “mashup” products on various web sites, such as those listed on

Now there are applications that take the Earth based programming to a new heights and scale that have not been reached before. Claim The Earth ( ) was initially developed as one of these games that allow players to stake claims on land like a Monopoly game. The unique thing about this game is that it has such a vast area of land for players to cover (the entire earth), it is currently applying for a Guinness World Record of “a Monopoly like game played by most players”. The game organizer intend to have the game last until either 5 billion points are claimed (resemble the population on the real Earth) or 1 / 4 of the earth surface area are claimed. Yet another amazing thing is that such a system is hosted on a couple of 233- MHz Pentium II PCs running Linux systems. It was unthinkable to run such big scale applications without web services or the “mashup” concept.

Emergence of the software applications like Claim the Earth signify serious attempts to take Google map into more business oriented application development than just mapping locations, displaying markers for local searches.

Creators of Claim the Earth have worked in GPS location based service industries for many years. Having customers to always submit neatly typed addresses for vehicle fleet based services has been one of the biggest headaches in the transportation industry. A customer might type in: “1234 Main ST”, “1234 Main Street”, “1234 Main Str”, “1234 Main”, not to mention mistyped words and other more complex scenarios such as “unit 4”, “#4”, “Apt 4”, “Apartment 4”, “atten: John Smith”, etc. in the address line, which have all been problems to be dealt with by computer systems. Yet, no previous systems have solved these problems well, when factor in problems such as: for instance, “1234 Main Street” could be valid addresses under several zip codes.

With the new programming platform — the Earth — a customer ordering pizza or parcel delivery / pickup can simply point to the location and order a delivery to (38.897596, -77.036648), the same way they can stake a claim on “Claim The Earth”. Of course, no human has to endure the suffering of remember latitude and longitude before making a order, it is all done via Graphical User Interface (GUI) just like no body ever need to remember any IP address to surf the web. Orders containing latitude and longitude will contain address information that is indisputably more accurate and precise than addressing from a traditional order taking system, with the advantage of being extra friendly to GPS navigation systems. Traditional address based location system, when getting translated to a format useable by an in-vehicle GPS navigator, could still be “garbage in and garbage out”.

In today’s environment with soaring gas prices, such GPS coordinates based ordering system will be useful for utility crew for public service companies as well. One of the often heard complaints from field crews for utility, cable, road repair companies has been: “I wondered around the entire morning just to find a spot that was miss-reported. If it were close to where I live or close to downtown, I would have picked that right up … , but this is in middle of nowhere … “

They can’t miss the location now with GPS coordinates contained in the order that is entered from a WYSIWYG GUI. Same concepts can apply in application development for oil and gas exploration, crime / news reporting, avalanche reporting, environmental services, etc. There is a new platform to rewrite many address based applications.

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