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My question is, "Where is the competition?". GML is a network specification for serving geographic data, by request, to client applications (aka. browsers). The spec is available for public use.
If we look at the history of web browsers NCSA Mosaic arrived in 1992 and met competition quickly my Netscape. By 1997 Netscape had already been purchased by AOL and Internet Explorer and Firefox had attained market share.
That's a span of 5 years.
Here we are greater than 7 years after the dawn of Publicly available Google Earth and the industry is yet to see a major competitor arrive that is compatible with the spec. There is the Microsoft Virtual Earth, but once again this is a proprietary system meant to lock everyone into buying server product, and controlling the flow and use of information, just like Google Earth.
There doesn't appear to be an openly available server side specification for generating content. There are OGC specifications for WMS, WFS, et al. but those are bloated XML schema specifications that are not particularly efficient when compared to the way HTML is used.
If technological development is accelerating how is it that the geographic web browser market has remained almost static for 7 years?
There are so many ways the Google Earth application could be improved upon. To begin with, there is no API in Google Earth that allows GML mark up to be made dynamic and interactive in the same way as a web page. Sure, there are some kludges to allow people to put a floaty globe in a web page using a browser plug-in, there is a basic spec for KML, but when it comes to interactivity and programmability, G.E. is either broken or closed.
The lack of private initiative shown in this market segment seems a bit odd.
The public development of GML has also been stagnant. There is no body akin to the W3C to guide development and expansion of the GML specifications use, other than for strictly mapping.
Surprisingly, no web browser vendors have made platform independent extensions to the web browser to simply include GML, in either 2D or 3D, as part of the HTML(6-7?) specification. Once again, there are vendor specific plug-ins but nothing that generally takes the geographic paradigm and places it where APIs can be readily applied and extended.
So how do we get a 'Firefox' and/or Opera for GML?"