Storytelling with maps using Tour Builder

Storytelling with cards using Tower Builder

screenshot of the homepage Tour BuilderTour Builder uses the Google Earth plugin for its 3D map. However, because some major browsers (including Chrome) is the removal or reduction in support for web plugins. Tour Builder.

Topo Maps Earth is a narrative tool web based allowing you to easily create and explore stories and places in the world. Based on Google Earth plug-in, you can create a tour of a topic of your choice. Zoom to show the places where the events took place. And easily incorporate the text of the story. Photos and videos. Tour Builder. Tour Builder.

Storytelling with cards using Tower Builder. Tour Builder adds a 2D mode using Google Maps API in May 2015 and this tutorial focuses on Tower Builder 3D mode. Most of the features available in 3D mode are available in 2D mode, unless otherwise specified. Your visit will steal users from one place to another along the story of your visit. immersing them in the appropriate places. This tutorial will introduce you to Tower Builder. will guide you through the process of creating and sharing your own circuit. Tour Builder.

through imagery and Google Earth custom content you provide.

Before BeginOrder to complete this tutorial, you will need a text. Photo and video content to add to your visit. You can use your own text, photos and videos, or you can use the content of the sample provided by our friends at the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI). Just download the zip file below and extract the contents to a folder on your desktop. (Zip file 530k)

Storytelling with cards using Tower Builder

Preconditions Tour Builder.

Use Tower Builder and create your own business, you will need a computer with Internet access and ideally a Web browser that supports the Google Earth Plugin.

Click here for more information on the Google Earth Plugin and a list of plates – forms that currently support it. If you do not have a browser that supports the Google Earth Plugin, you can use 2D Tower Builder.


Access Tour Builder begin by pointing your browser to the address below:

In this section we will take a look at the home page and all the things you can do with Tower Builder.

Storytelling with cards using Tower Builder

Tour Builder Home

First page you see is the Home Tour Builder page. Here you can explore the existing tours, start creating your own tour, or access visits you have created in the past. It will look like the screenshot below. Tour Builder.


.comscreenshot of the homepage Tour Builder


It is always a good idea to connect to Tower Builder with your Google account, and it is necessary if you want to do something more than to explore guided tours of the Gallery. To log in, click the Login button at the top right. You can sign in with a Gmail account, a Google Apps account *. Or other e – mail address you used to sign up for a Google Account and password. Once you are logged in, you will see My Tours and Tours shared buttons appear. Tour Builder.

* Note for Google Apps users, you will have the opportunity to share visits with individuals, or publicly, but you will not have the option to share a tour with only your domain. In addition, some Google Apps accounts users can see issues where the downloaded videos on Picasa are not publicly visible. If you see this problem, contact your Apps account administrator.

Tour Builder button Sign-In

Go ahead and log in now!

collaborative editing

If you want to be able to modify a tour with a team of people. We recommend that you create the tour with a shared account, everyone can connect to. But make sure that one person edits at once, or you may overwrite eachothers changes. Tour Builder.

home button

Home button looks like a small house, is available in the top left of most pages Tower Builder. You can click the Home button to return to the home page.

my Tours

Click the My Tours button in the upper left corner of the home page. Tour Builder.

The My Tours button will take you to a list of visits you have created. On this page you can see all your visits. If it is empty, do not worry, at the end of this tutorial, you will have at least one tour you have created this page. Each visit, you get three links: Overview, Edit and Delete. Clicking Preview will show you tour as a user would see, read-only mode. Change will take you to the editing interface where you can add or change the content of your visit. Clicking Delete deletes all your tour … be careful!

My Tours button

Shared Tours button

Back to the home page and click on the Shared Tours button

Shared Tours button will take you to a list of visits that have been shared with you by other users. If nobody has shared a tour specifically with you, then this page will be blank. If there are visits here, you will be able to click on tours to view them. Tour Builder.

Shared Tours button

Gallery button Tour Builder.

Back to the home page and click on the Gallery button.  Gallery you button take you to a list of visits that were released publicly by other users. This is an ideal location to explore the fascinating tours on stories and amazing places. Take time to check some – some tours for ideas on how to create your own!

Gallery button

FAQ button

The FAQ button will take you to a page that answers frequently asked questions about Tower Builder. Including some product information, answers to technical questions. A link to provide feedback. Tour Builder.

View Tour button

Blue View Tower A button on the home page will open a selected sample tour for you to explore. See a Visit section of this tutorial will guide you through a tour and show you how to navigate, explore the map and content. Tour Builder.

View Tour buttonButton Create new tower

On the home page you will see two red buttons labeled Create new tower and create a business . Clicking one of these buttons will start the process of creating a new tour. Create a new tour this tutorial section will guide you through the creation process of a visit. Tour Builder.

Button Create new tower

See a TourThis section will guide you through Tower Builder, explain all the different parts of a tour. Give you advice on how to navigate through the content items. If you are already comfortable with viewing visits Tower Builder and you just want to create a turn, you can move to the next section: Create new tour. Tour Builder.

Start with the display of a visit, click on the logo Tour Builder top left of the window to return to the home page. If you are not already there. Tour Builder.

Open a visit

Open a visit that we can explore, or click the blue View Tower A button to open the headlining tour, or click on the Gallery button and click to view one of the tours available there – there. I’ll open the start of the tour of the Rubicon team of the gallery for examples – below. This tour tells the story of a group of Marines and how they started a relief organization in disaster. Tour Builder.

Example Tour Gallery

Tour Introduction

When you open a business, you will see the presentation Tour. On the left is a vertical list of maps of the locations of the tour. With the introduction top of the list, selected in red. Just to the right of the list is the content of the introduction of the tour, including the title, description and photos. And on the right is Google Earth, zoom to a preview of the tour. You can click on the map to pan and zoom around whenever you want. Tour Builder.

screenshot - round introduction

Take a moment to read the description and view pictures.

Places and Navigation Tour Builder.

Now that you have read the introduction, it’s time to go to the first position on the circuit. Each frame shows the next piece of history, with a specific view of the map, the text description and usually photos or videos.

There are three ways to navigate between locations on the tour, either by clicking the Back and Next buttons at the bottom of the content pane, clicking on the location map in the list of locations, or by clicking on the markers location on the map. The best way to explore is a tower usually follow the script provided by the creator of the tour, using the Next button. But we will try all options, so that you are familiar with them. Tour Builder.

Use the Next button

To get to the first location, just click the Next button at the bottom of the content area.

next button

You should now see the first location “House of Jake” selected in red in the list of sites, and text and picture content for the first location in the content area. Earth will be enlarged to show the first position on the map. This is the home of one of the team members, and content described a little about his past. Tour Builder.

screenshot of the location of a

Select from the list of locations

Go to the following location, click on the second position in the list of locations. You should now see the second location selected in red card, board content indicating “House Will”, and the flight plan to the new location. You may have noticed there was a line on a map connecting locations. Tour Builder.

capture location screen two

Select a location on the map

Tour Builder. To get to the third, we will try using the card. Zoom out using the mouse scroll wheel, or by clicking on the command zoom on the map until you can see many location pins tour on the map. Click one of them to see that you will start zooming at this place, and will update the content to the left of you about this place. Can you find the location called “Hurricane Sandy”, which was a landmark near New York City?

screenshot of three location

Viewing photos and videos

Locations can be one or more photos and videos associated with them, and it is easy to explore!


Smaller versions of the photos are displayed in the contents pane of the site. To view the larger version of a photo. Click the expand button (4 small arrows) at the bottom right of the photo. To return to the tour, simply click anywhere outside the picture, or press the Esc key on your keyboard. Tour Builder.

Display pictures

If there are multiple pictures or videos to a site, hover your mouse over the photo and you will see arrows on either side of the photo. Click these arrows to scroll through the photos and videos. This also works in the full-size view. where you can also use the arrow keys on your keyboard to scroll through photos. Tour Builder.

scroll through pictures


When a video is associated with a location, you will see a red play button on the video. Click the button to expand the video and again to start playback. If there is more than one photo or video, you will see the arrows that allow you to scroll through them. Tour Builder.

video playback

Browse map

At any point in your exploration of a tour, you can stop and discover places on the map. Just zoom in further to see more detail or zoom and pan to see the surrounding areas and get a better understanding of the location and context of the places around him. Tour Builder.

navigation map controls

Asiest way to move the map. Does using your mouse to enter the area of the map and drag to pan. You can also use the four arrow keys in the on-screen controls, or the arrow keys on your keyboard to move the map. If you use your keyboard is not working. try clicking on the first card, to make it the center of your keyboard commands. Tour Builder.

You also have many options to zoom in and out. To zoom, you can double-click anywhere on the map, or double-right-click to zoom out. If you have a mouse with a scroll wheel, just click on the map and turn the scroll wheel to zoom in and out. You can also use the zoom control to the screen or page-up and page down buttons on your keyboard.

To tilt, you can use the tilt controls on the screen, but it is often faster and easier to use the keyboard by holding down the Shift key and use up and down arrows (to tilt around the center the map view). or hold down the Ctrl key and use the arrows up and down (to switch around the current point of view of the camera). Tour Builder.

You can always press the R button to return to the straight down, north-up view.

Do not hesitate to explore the map and clicking pins you find to see where they lead. Tour Builder.

If you want more information on the navigation map in Google Earth, check out these articles:

– Navigation in Google Earth (see “Using a mouse” and other sections at the bottom)

– 3D viewer navigation (for all keyboard shortcuts)


Now create a new tour, it’s time to create your own circuit. We will guide you through it and help you tell a short story by taking your viewers in multiple locations and adding a text description. Photos and videos. You can use the content provided by the Jane Goodall Institute to the top of this tutorial to tell a story about chimpanzees, or you can use your own content.

Starting a new tour

On almost every page Tour Builder, you should see a red Create new tower on the top right button. You can also return to the homepage by clicking the logo Tour Builder top left, and find the red create a visit button in the center of the page.

create a new tour button

Click the red Create new round button to start creating a turn.

You should see the page below to request a name for your visit, and the author’s name (which is your name or organization name). These show that the title of the tour and the pen under the title where the tour is listed. Tour Builder.

lets begin dialogue

Complete the tour name and name of the author of the fields, then click the blue Create Tour button. Do not worry about your visit is completely private until you decide to share with others.

For this tutorial. I will use a business name “Jane and the Chimps” and my pen name, “Bill Shakespeare.” Click the Create round button when ready.

Changing the Tour Presentation

Now you are in the edit page for the Presentation Tour. You will see the name and the author just enter are listed here. You can change them if you wish.

Adding an image

Add a photo to the introduction page. We will use the photo: jane_peak.jpg from the zip file content that you downloaded in Before you begin this section – above. Tour Builder.

l'introduction add photo

Under “Select a picture Introduction,” click Add a photo . You will see the “Select a photo”. With options to choose a photo from your albums. Upload a photo, search the web for images, or select a image URL. Choose Add Photos . Tour Builder.

select a photo page

On the page. that appears, you can select an existing album or create a new one. For this tour, we’ll just use the default. Now you can drag the photo from your computer on this page, or click the blue Select photos from your computer button to go find jane_peak.jpg photo to download. Once you have downloaded the photo, and returned to the edit page tour presentation, a small version of the photo should be included. Do not worry, there will be greater in the viewer. Tour Builder.

Introduction (this is – it) Presentation box is the place where you can type a text description or introduction to your visit. This should explain that the overall tour is about. This box has basic formatting options, including bold, italic, underline, bulleted lists, indentation, and clickable links. There is also a Tx button that clears all formatting. Tour Builder.

Type some text in the description box. You can copy and paste this:

Jane Goodall is one of the naturalists and environmentalists the most famous in the world. His work revolutionized our understanding of chimpanzees. She began the Jane Goodall Institute, which works for the conservation of chimpanzees in Africa. Tour Builder.

Also try adding a link to a Web site, as the site of JGI:

text box introduction

Editing options Tour-Large

On the Introduction screen, there are a number of options that affect the entire tour, including how the lines are drawn between locations and which layers are displayed on the map. The sections below will show you all of them. Tour Builder.

Type of history

Type of history determines the locations you set for your visit are connected by lines on the map. There are five options as shown below.

type of story options

  • “Story 3D” – The locations are connected in the order they appear in the list, with 3D lines that arc in the sky from one place to another on the map.
  • “History 2D” – The locations are connected in the order they appear in the list, with flat lines that stick to the surface of the earth.
  • “Hub 3D” – The locations are all connected to the first location in a star pattern, the first location as the hub, and 3D curved lines from there to each of the other locations.
  • “2D Hub” – The locations are all connected to the first location in a star pattern, the first location that the hub and the other sites that are connected by flat lines on the surface of the earth.
  • “Off” disables the lines and means that the locations will only be shown on the map pins.

Choose the default “Story 3D”.


The color path lets you choose the color of the lines connecting the locations of your tour on the map. Click the drop down menu to display the options, and if you want a color other than the standard yellow, go ahead and select it. Tour Builder.

way color combo

Map Style

The Map Style section lets you select base layers to be displayed on the Google Earth map. Options include Borders & Labels, roads, 3D buildings and 3D trees (only available in some locations). You can select the one you want. For this tutorial, we’ll all light except for roads. Tour Builder.

Style Selector card

Options Carte Overlay

At the bottom of the panel, you’ll see a line that says “Add a KML / KMZ file by URL”. This allows you to add a set of geographic data as an overlay for the tour. For example, if you have your own location points card, or state polygons you want to display on the map during the tour, you can add it here. There will be similar options for adding data layers for each individual site you add, but any data layer you add here in the Introduction section will be visible for the whole tour. Tour Builder.

Adding a KML overlay card requires you to have a KML file with the data you want to view. All KML or KMZ file supported by the Google Earth plug-in browser should work. You will need to upload it to a public place on the web, and paste in the URL of the file.

If you use My Maps, you must use the KML URL of your card. For this, copy the URL of your card, which looks like this: change mid = ExampleMapID1234567890? … And change the “edit” to “kml”, like this : kML ? mid = ExampleMapID1234567890 .

the map overlay options

Adjusting the view

For locations that you add next, you can set the map view associated with each location. For the introduction Tour, this is not an option as a Tour Builder automatically chooses for the introduction to the tour based on places that you create. Tour Builder.

Save your work

There is a Save now the top right button when you’re in Edit mode. You can click from time to time while editing, to save your work. Once you click the button, it will tell you when the tour was the last backup. Tour Builder automatically saves your work from time to time, but if you make a major change and do not want to risk losing, just click Register Now. Tour Builder.

Register Now button

If you want to see what you’ve created to date, click the Done Editing button to switch to playback mode. You can always return to editing by clicking the Edit top right button.

your visit to the introduction date

Adding sites to your TourNow the introduction of options and tours to scale are set, you are ready to add a few places to visit. If you are not in Edit mode, click the Edit button in the upper right corner.

Edit button

On the left, find the blue + Add Location button and click it to launch a new location.

add the locator button

Mark your first location

When you click the + Add Location button to start a new location, you get two options to place the point on the map. You can search for a location or manually drop a pin on the map. Tour Builder.

new form of location

Search for a Location

To search for a location, type the location in the search box, and you’ll see a list of results appear as you type. When you see the result you want, click it, or if it is at the top of the list, just press Enter to select it. The card will fly there and show the marker on the map.

add search result to visit

Try a few places to see how it works. Now, search for “Bournemouth, -. UK” When you map flys in Bournemouth, mouse over the search results and click the blue Add Tour button to add the site to the tour.

Post a Placemark

Another method to add a landmark is to place it on the map manually. To do this, you click the drop Placemark button, then click the location you want on the card, then click the blue Add to visit button. We will guide you through this for the next place. Tour Builder.

file marker on the map and add to visit

Do not worry if you do not get the point exactly correct the first time. You can always drag the marker to move and re-set the view later.

Change your location details

For each location, you can give it a name, photos and / or videos, descriptive text, and a number of other details. This section will guide you through all the options.

Location name

Give your site a name. If you have looked for a location, the name will probably already in the Location Name box, but you can change it if you wish. For the tour we build, we will give the location in Bournemouth name: “Jane Home”. Tour Builder.

location name

Add a photo or video

Under “Improve story” is a place to add up to 25 photos and / or videos. Just as you did for the introduction, add jane_and_leakey.jpg picture there.

If you add captions to your Picasa pictures. Or you add a description to your YouTube video, those who will be translated as subtitles in Tower Builder. Tour Builder.

Photo and video interface

Start and end dates

Tour builder can display dates in just the place name. If you want to display a start date or end date, or both, you can enter here. Dates may the year only one month, day only, or any combination … all three are not necessary. The dates are optional, so we’ll leave them blank for this example.

Note that setting the start and end dates only lists the dates in the content of the site, it does not affect the imaging parameters of historical imagery (discussed below). Tour Builder.

the date of commands

Add some description text

Under “Tell the Story” is a text box, you can enter the history of this place. Like the introduction, you have basic formatting commands here.

For this tour, type or copy and paste something like this:

Growing up in Bournemouth, England, Jane Goodall was fascinated by animals, and loved to read Dr. Dolittle and the Tarzan series. In 1957, she went to Kenya and met the famous Dr. Louis Leakey who hired him as secretary. And finally helped her to start studying chimpanzees. Tour Builder.

tell the history text box

Customizing View

Now on to the map for a minute and customize the display of the map associated with this location. Using the techniques described above, go to a nice view. Let’s zoom in a bit and tilt the map to view something like the one below. Tour Builder.

zoom and tilt map, then lock this view

Once you have a view that you like, click the blue lock See this button in the top right of the map. It combines this view with your location, and when your users are going to this place, the card will go to this view.

Please note that this feature is not available in 2D mode.

Choose an icon

Back in the editing of content Location panel, under “Status Icon”, you can choose a map icon for your location. Click Change icon to display the options, and choose an icon from the available list. We will use the yellow icon to the house – it. Tour Builder.

Icon selector

historical Images

Google Earth. has historical images available in many places throughout the world. In some places, it may have one or two images available a few years back. Tour Builder. In other places there are pictures that date back to the early days of the collection of aerial images. Tour Builder. To see what is available near your location, check the Show historical images option and see that the time slider appears in the upper left corner of the map. Move the cursor on the date of your interest and look for the white marks of ticks on the scroll bar to find an available image close to that date.

Once you have set the cursor to the historical imagery you want, make – that the zoom view and angle of the map are what you want, and click the blue lock See this button the upper right of the card to lock in the view with the setting of the historical imagery. Tour Builder.

history and imaging time slider

Please note that the historical imagery feature is not available in 2D mode.

Added overlays

At the bottom of the edit panel location, there are options to Add KML / KMZ URL . This means you can add a set of geographic data superimposed on the map, and this overlay will be displayed when the user navigates to that location. Overlays defined in the introduction Tour will be shown throughout the tour, and all overlays you define for a location will be posted at this location. For this demonstration, we’ll add an overlay to another location. For more information on creating overlays, search KML and My Maps. Tour Builder.

Save your work

Visit bulider automaticallly will save, but you can still click the Save now the top right button, just to be sure.

Add a few other places.

Adds some other places so we made an interesting visit.

second Location

  1. Click the + Add Location button on the left to add a new location.
  2. Search for “Gombe National Park” in Tanzania, and when you find it, click the blue Add to visit button.
  3. Zoom out a little bit to show more of the park, and rotate and tilt the view looking from the lake to the hills of Gombe. Click the blue Lock this view in the upper right button on the card to save the view.
  4. location name change to: “Chimps Gombe”

  5. Add the first photo of chimpanzee at this location: chimps_fishing_for_termites.jpg
  6. Click the ” + ” button on the image to add another picture. Add more photos of chimpanzees gaia_and_google.jpg and gombe_researcher_observing_chimps.jpg .If you want to delete a photo, simply click on the trash-can the icon at the bottom right of the photo box to remove it.
  7. In thing “tell the story” description box, type (or copy / paste) as:

    Gombe National Park is where Jane Goodall has made much of his research, and showed that chimpanzees know how to make and use tools, like humans. His research team studied the behavior and follow the lives of Gombe chimpanzees for many decades. Tour Builder.

  8. Under Location icon, change the green tree icon icon.
  9. Click the Save now the top right button.

screenshot of the two locations and settings

third Place

  1. Click the blue + Add Location button.
  2. Gombe zoom the map path until you can see all of Central Africa.
  3. Click the drop Placemark button and drag the mouse cursor on the map. You will see a Click Drop target on the map that moves with your mouse. Click somewhere in Central Africa to drop the marker, may – be on Gabon and Congo (do not worry about the exact get anywhere near it work).
  4. Click the blue Add to visit button to add the marker to the map and start editing the details of this town.
  5. Set the Location Name: “Chimpanzee Conservation”
  6. Add a video on the site: Click Add photos and videos , select Search YouTube and search for “Jane Goodall ground to the cloud.” Click to select the first result, entitled “From the Ground to the Cloud …”, then click the blue Select button to add video to your site. If you have trouble finding the video via search, you can also add video by URL:
  7. In the “tell the story”, type (or copy / paste) something like:

    Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), works worldwide to promote conservation of chimpanzees in Africa. This map shows the approximate historical range of chimpanzee habitat, which has been reduced rapidly due to human incursion and deforestation. The video above shows how JGI uses Google mapping tools. JGI to help protect chimpanzees, learn more on their website and consider donating.

  8. Add a link to:
  9. At the bottom of the Site panel, click the GME map and in the box that appears, enter the URL to a map of chimpanzee ranges:Tour Builder

  10. Click the load button to load the overlay on the map. If you want to reset the view to better show the overlay, you can move the map and click on the Lock View this button.

screenshot of the site and three parameters

Rearrange locations

You can easily change the order of your sites by dragging and card from top to bottom location in the list. Try Tour Builder dragging a location at the top of the list and get back to where it belongs.

reorganize location maps

Let’s see how it looks!

You have finished creating your first tour and adding three points to her! Click the Register Now button at the top right just to be sure.

Now click the Done Editing top right button to exit edit mode and switch to playback mode.

If you click the top Presentation card from the list on the left, you will see the list that will host your users when they start your visit.

Tour introduction and overview of the card

Now click the Next button, or the first location “Jane Home” and look at the map to fly in this location. Click the second and third locations to see Gombe and the Chimp varies across Africa. At each location, you can read the story in text, view photos and videos, and explore further into the card. For more information see the visit See section near the beginning of this tutorial.


Sharing a tourNow you full circle, you can start sharing with others.

Sharing with individual people

Want to share your visit only with specific people. This could be because your visit tells a story you want to share only very specific people, or if you are still in development tour and you only want a few friends or colleagues to see and provide feedback. It’s easy to share a tour with people and specific, and they will need to login with their Google account to view.

  • Make – that you’re looking to visit you want to share and you are in playback mode. Otherwise, click the Change Done on the top right button.
  • Click the blue Share the top right button to go to the Sharing Settings dialog box.
  • Settings dialog share
  • To share only a specific person, enter their email address in the “Invite people”. You can add more than one person by separating the email addresses with commas.
  • Click the blue Done button at the bottom to save your settings. This will send an e – mail to the address (es) you have entered with a link to the tour.

Sharing more widely

When you’re ready to share your business more broadly, making it available to anyone with the link can access without the need to connect. This is useful when your visit is over and you are ready to share it on your website, blog, or social media.

  • Fashion point of view in the tour you want to share, click the blue Share the top right button.
  • In the dialog box “Sharing Settings”, look for “Who can access”, which should say “Private – Only the people listed below can access.”
  • To the right of this, click the Change … link.
  • Settings dialog share
  • Select “Anyone who has the link”
  • Click the blue Save button.
  • share visibility options
  • Copy the link at the top of the dialog box “Link to share.”
  • link to share
  • Click the blue Done button.

Now you can share this link on your site or blog, or send via email or social media. Anyone who clicks on the link will be able to access and view your visit and explore your story!

Share on Google Plus.

Click on the Google Plus button to share a link to your tour with your circles Google Plus or followers.

share with google plus

After that? Tour Builder to explore further, try adding a few other sites, customizing their map views, and adding more photos and videos on your sites using the various options available. You can also play with the date settings, historical imaging parameters, and maps overlay options including KML and GME cards in your tour.

Tour Builder

Discussion & FeedbackDo you have questions about this tutorial or about Tower Builder? Want to chat with other users and experts? Visit the “Outreach to non-profit / Education” on the Google Earth forum to find answers, ask questions, and discuss with others:

Forum Google Earth – profit non-Awareness / Education

If you have comments about Tower Builder, including problems you have encountered or suggestions for the product, click on the link. Comments at the bottom of the home page Tour Builder.


Storytelling with maps using Tour Builder was originally published on Earthtopomaps

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3D Overlay in Google Earth