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Marble - Current Release

Visual ChangeLog: Marble 1.2

Marble 1.2 was released on July 27th, 2011 as part of the KDE 4.7 release. During the last half year since KDE 4.6 the Marble Team has been extremely productive and had a stand-alone release in the meantime (Marble 1.1). For our KDE users we'll include the features of Marble 1.1 at the bottom of this changelog.

To celebrate this release we've compiled some fact sheets for the Marble Virtual Globe:

In the good tradition of recent releases, we have collected those changes directly visible to the user. Please enjoy looking over the new and noteworthy:

Bookmark Manager

Possibly you collected a lot of bookmarks of your favorite places with Marble 1.0 or 1.1. Did you spell one incorrectly? Want to rename a bookmark or move it to another folder? The new bookmark manager let's you do exactly that. Additionally you can import and export your bookmark collection in .kml file format. The bookmark manager is available both in Marble's desktop and mobile version.

Tidy up your bookmark collection with Marble's new bookmark manager.
Tidy up your bookmark collection with Marble's new bookmark manager.

Marble Voice Samples for Voice Navigation

The Voice of Marble contest logo

Nothing beats a friendly human co-driver guiding you on your way. If there's none around, you can have Marble try to imitate one with our new set of high quality speakers for voice navigation. All speakers' voice samples were contributed by the community in the Voice of Marble contest. A huge thank you to everyone involved!

Marble's mobile version ships Bugsbane as the default speaker. For space reasons not all speaker files are included in the packages, but further files are available for download. The speaker files are not only available in Marble's format, but also for TomTom devices.

Please note that even though the contest (which had cool Marble T-shirts as prizes) is now finished, you can still contribute further voice samples. Given that we don't yet cover all of the nearly 50 languages KDE is available in, we encourage all non-english speakers to contribute further speaker files in their native language. Please follow our detailed instructions on how to create speaker files -- and spread the word among your friends!

Offline Search

Offline search extends the existing city search by addresses (streets and house numbers) and points of interest (supermarkets, tourist attractions, restaurants, hotels, train stations and much more). This feature is a natural extension of our offline routing feature, enabling you to use addresses and points of interest as routing targets without the need of an Internet connection. For your convenience the data needed is packaged with the Monav offline routing maps, so installing a country-level offline routing map (or upgrading it) will include the data for offline address search in that country.

Of course the offline search does also work in Marble's mobile version on the Nokia N900. Further instructions and some tips and tricks to get the most out of it can be found in a Userbase article.

Offline POI search on the Nokia N900.

Performance Improvements

With this release Marble is faster than ever: Several major and minor performance tweaks have been made. Some of them make the flat mercator projection much faster in order to optimize for OpenStreetMap browsing on the Nokia N900. The introduction of threaded texture frame calculation dramatically improves speed on computers with multiple CPU cores. This results in a smoother experience on a desktop computer as well. Another bottleneck in prior Marble releases affected placemarks: Placemark labels (e.g. on the "Atlas" or "Satellite" map) get rendered much faster during high zoom levels now. And we have also worked on improving launch time so that Marble starts quicker now.

Note that good performance also relies on the availability of good graphics drivers on your computer system.

Sharp Texture Mode

Marble uses ready-made bitmap graphics for visualization of OpenStreetMap data. During zooming and reprojection this approach results in a decreased image quality which makes text labels appear fuzzy at times. With Marble 1.2 the user can use the "+" and "-" key to zoom in discrete zoom-steps which deliver crisp and sharp texture display.

In future releases we plan to introduce vector graphics to have crisp and fast visualization at all times.

Position detection via Qt Mobility

With Marble 1.2 we introduce some optional support for the Qt Mobility framework: Qt Mobility is a collection of APIs and frameworks which are mostly targeted at mobile usage. Among other features Qt Mobility has some means to determine the position of the user. With this release Marble can make use of this position detection. This is especially interesting for Nokia- and MeeGo platforms which have GPS built-in: Here Marble can query the position information as provided by the native framework.

But in general Qt Mobility is not a strict requirement: Marble by default still works well with other means of position detection (such as gpsd or GeoClue) or even runs without these.

Improved Map Creation Wizard and Map Sharing

Marble provides a variety of map themes out of the box: Choose between topographic maps, satellite maps, street maps, educational maps, historical maps and more. Even maps of other planets are provided. For space reasons some of them are provided via the 'Get New Maps' feature that provides a convenient installation with just a few clicks.

Not all possible maps can be provided, however. Custom map themes can be created by users in Marble's own .dgml file format. Getting started with .dgml file creation was not too easy until now. That's a gap Marble's new map creation wizard fills out: It guides you through the process of creating a new map theme, queries needed information and sets up a fully functional map theme for you that instantly works in Marble. You can even share your map theme with other users with the built-in upload feature.

The map creation wizard supports three different kinds of map themes: Those consisting of one large source image showing the world, those accessible from tile servers (e.g. OpenStreetMap, Google Maps, Ovi Maps) and those accessible from WMS servers. Further information is available in a KDE Userbase tutorial.

We ship the map creation wizard as a technical preview. The map creation wizard in Marble 1.2 provides improved usability and additional features that could not be introduced in Marble 1.1 while keeping the library binary compatible at the same time.

We'd like to thank the openDesktop.org team for providing storage space for uploaded maps.

Marble's new map wizard in action
The groundwater map shown in the screenshot has been created with the help of Marble's new map wizard (foreground). Map data source: WHYMAP, (C) BGR Hannover and UNESCO Paris.

Earthquakes Online Service

(Marble 1.1)
Recent earthquakes being displayed in Marble
Recent earthquakes being displayed in Marble

The earthquakes plugin joins Marble's set of online services. It displays earthquakes which occurred in a given time span. Different colors indicate the magnitude of earthquakes. Please note that only historic earthquakes are shown; currently there are no plans to integrate real-time data from earthquake warning systems.

This feature has been completed in January already, so its appearance in this release is not related to the recent tragic incidents in Japan.

Open Desktop Online Service

(Marble 1.1)
The nearby Open Desktop community shows up in Marble
The nearby Open Desktop community shows up in Marble

OpenDesktop.org is one of the biggest online communities, social networks and portals for the free desktop movement in the world where developers, artists and users can share applications, tools, wallpapers, sounds, icons, themes and other artwork and stuff for the open desktop. Would you like to get to know your local OpenDesktop.org community? Just activate the Open Desktop online service in Marble and people around you will show up on the map.

Extended Plugin Configuration

(Marble 1.1)

Many plugins now let you change their behavior and appearance: Choose a different crosshairs icon, show the ratio scale in the scalebar, change the compass or show a GPS trail. Each info box can now be hidden or locked with a context menu. These changes are especially useful for users of applications embedding Marble.

Extended Plugin Configuration
Most plugins in Marble now allow advanced users to tweak the plugin as they prefer.

Map Editing

(Marble 1.1)
External OpenStreetMap editor selection
External OpenStreetMap editor selection

Did you spot a wrong or missing detail in OpenStreetMap? The wikipedia-like approach of editing the OpenStreetMap by community members makes you the best one to fix it instantly. Marble's KDE version simplifies this process now just like the Qt version did in Marble 1.0: Just use the Edit Map button to open the currently visible map region in your favorite external editor. Supported are Potlach (a web-browser based editor), Merkaartor and JOSM.

Voice Navigation

(Marble 1.1)
Voice navigation configuration on the Nokia N900
Voice navigation configuration on the Nokia N900

Marble's mobile version running on the Nokia N900 now sports voice navigation in a preview version. You can choose between sound output (turn points are announced with a sound) and speakers. We don't ship any speaker with our packages, but you can use TomTom voices: Download one of the free ones (some websites offer them for personal use), convert it with our web frontend and copy it to your N900. A KDE Userbase tutorial has all the details you need.

And more ...

There is a special version of Marble that doesn't require the KDE framework (it technically only depends on the Qt library). This version is commonly used for our Windows, Mac and Nokia N900 (Maemo and MeeGo) packages.

Marble on the Nokia N900 now uses stackable windows for an improved user interface. Other parts of the user interface have been polished as well.

New features in earlier versions are described in prior Visual Changelogs: Marble 0.6, 0.7, 0.8, 0.9, 0.10 and 1.0.



Last update: 2011-07-30

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