Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Google Earth Network Link Tutorial

This is a quick tutorial to show you how to add our club's CCBMW Google Earth file link as a "permanent" place in your collection of Google Earth Places.  This is actually very easy.  The article below provides you step-by-step instructions (including pictures) on how to do this.


If you do not already have the Google Earth browser, you can download it for free from  The Google Earth browser is similar to a web browser, but it displays geographical information (locations) rather than web pages.  If you have never tried the Google Earth browser, I high recommend it – it's a lot of fun!


Our club now has a file available that will add a network link to your Places collections in the Google Earth browser.  When you open the Google Earth browser and select the club's network link (by clicking the check box next to that Place entry), Google Earth will access another file stored on our club web site and provide you with the club's latest location information on motorcycling-related rallies and events.

The network link file is a Google KML, or Keyhole Markup Language, file.  KML files are simple text files that tell the Google Earth browser how to find and display geographical information.  The file being accessed by the network link file is also a KML file (it is actually a compressed or Zip file version of a KML file) stored on our club web site's collection of downloadable files.

Once you add the network link to your Places collection, you never need to do so again (unless we make available a "new-and-improved" version of the network link file).

The "Motorcycling Events and Rallies" file provides you location and background information on various motorcycling events and rallies scheduled during 2011.  This includes the International Motorcycle Shows, the BMW MOA and BMW RA national rallies, various local and regional rallies being sponsored by BMW MOA-affiliated and BMW‑RA-affiliated clubs, local motorcycle racing events at Virginia International Raceway and Carolina Motorsports Park, as well the 2011 World Superbike racing events.  I hope to soon add the 2011 AMA and MotoGP motorcycle racing event locations.  When events start being announced for 2012, we will be able to simply add these to the collection – you will not need to do anything different to have the latest information!

Network Link File Download

Using your preferred web browser, you can use the link below to download the network link file.

In Internet Explorer, right-click on this link and select the Save Target As… option to save the network link file to your computer's hard drive.

In the Firefox web browser, clicking on the link opens a dialog window which will allow you to save file to your computer's hard drive.

In the Google Chrome browser, clicking the link will download the file to your computer's default location for downloaded files.

Adding the Network Link to Google Earth

Locate the network link file that you downloaded to your computer's hard drive.  If you have Google Earth installed on your computer, double-clicking the downloaded network link file should cause this file to open in the Google Earth browser.  The "Motorcycling Events and Rallies" entry should appear in your Places panel on the left, under the Temporary Places folder.

To permanently add the new Motorcycling Events and Rallies entry to your "My Places" folder (which is shown immediately above the Temporary Places folder), all you need to do is answer a question when you close the Google Earth browser.  After you select the File, Close menu option, a dialog will appear on the screen to tell you that you have unsaved places in your "Temporary Places" folder.

If you answer Save (by clicking the Save button), the Motorcycling Events and Rallies entry will automatically be added to your "My Places" folder, and will appear there the next time you start the Google Earth browser.

Notice it will display a special "network" symbol next to the Motorcycling Events and Rallies entry.  To see the latest information, click the check box beside the "+" box located to the left side of the item in the list.  This will expand the list for that entry.  Checking the boxes beside items will make those locations appear in the main window.  Likewise, unchecking items (or folders) will make those items disappear from the main window.

Congratulations!  Your Google Earth browser now includes a network link to access our club's events and rallies information.

The current Motorcycling Events and Rallies list includes "Rallies," "Events," "Race Events," and the "2011 World Superbike Races."  On occasion, additional entries will be shown for things like a planned club ride event (for example, to show the proposed club ride route).

After you click the "+" box, you can scroll through the list and click on any item your want to display.

Double clicking the individual item will cause the Google Earth browser to zoom to that item.  For example, double clicking the Rallies folder will display all the rally locations in the main window.

Double clicking on any item in the Places panel will zoom to that location in the main window and display a "bubble" which provides further information about the location/event.

GPS coordinates for the location can be obtained by looking at the status bar at the bottom of your Google Earth browser's window (as shown above) or by right-clicking on the individual item in the Places panel and looking at it's properties (also shown below).

Future Information

Please help keep this information up-to-date for your fellow club members!  If you know about an upcoming rally or event of interest to our club members, please forward any information you have (especially the location and date) to  These can be events you have read about online or in a magazine, or events that you have learned of by word-of-mouth.

Let me know whether this is a useful tool for you.  You can leave comments at the bottom of this post, or provide them via email to

A future addition being considered is adding the locations for all BMW dealers in the U.S.  This could be done as part of the club's rallies and event places collection, or it could be done as a separate collection of places (which would you prefer?).  Since this is a lot of work to assemble, I would first appreciate feedback on the usefulness of this tool, before I invest the time.

Thanks for contributing!

Bill Murray
March 9, 2011

No comments:

Post a Comment