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Monday, November 12, 2012

Google Street View Image API

    Street View is one of most used feature of the Google Maps and why not? You can actually see any part of the world as if you are visiting the place at that very moment. And now with the Google Street View Image API, you don't even need to carry a camera with you to the places you visit. You can take-in all the scenic beauty without even bothering about clicking a single picture. You can come back from your vacation and get a few images using the Google Street View Image API and show those images to your friends and relatives. Create an album of high definition images and go ahead and share it on Facebook for your friends to have a look.

    Using the Google Street View Image API is very simple and anybody can make use of it without any programming knowledge required. I will walk you through the entire process of effectively using the Google Street View Image API. So if you are set, let's go on an amazing ride across the globe with the Google Street Views.

    The Google Street View Image API lets you embed a static (non-interactive) Street View panorama image in your web-page without using any sort of Javascript. You can might as well get the image using the API and save it to your machine, create an album and share it on Facebook, Twitter or any other way you wish to share! The viewport is defined with URL parameters sent through a standard HTTP request, and is returned as a static image. This means that, what you get in the static image is all controlled through a HTTP web link and nothing more.

The Faber Bistro atop Mount Faber, Singapore

    The image above is of the Faber Bistro atop Mount Faber in Singapore. This is an excellent place to visit in Singapore and should take the Faber Loop Walk here. You will definitely enjoy the views of the island city from here. The fries at this bistro after walking along the Faber Loop are definitely worth a try.

    Well, let's get back to the Google Street View Image API and how to use this API. All you need is to generate a HTTP request to get a static image. Take a look at the image below. This is the famous Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. You can easily spot the URL in this image. This is an example of the URL that needs to be generated. I will explain each of the parameters used in this HTTP request.


    A Street View Image request is of the following form:

http://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/streetview?parameters

    The first of the required parameters is size. Size specifies the output size of the image in pixels. Size is specified as width x height - for example, size=600x400 will return an image 600px wide and 400px in height. The maximum size of the image returned is 640x640. If you use the Street View Image API for Business then you can get images of up to 2048x2048.

    The next parameter that is required is location. Location can be either a text string (such as Marina Bay Sands, Singapore) or a lat/lng value (1.28821, 103.854121). The Street View Image API will snap to the panorama photographed closest to this location. Because Street View imagery is periodically refreshed, and photographs may be taken from slightly different positions each time, it's possible that your location may snap to a different panorama when imagery is updated.

    The third and the last required parameter is sensor. Sensor indicates whether or not the request came from a device using a location sensor, like a GPS to determine the location sent in this request. This value must be either true or false.

    The next four are optional parameters but very important. Proper use of these parameters will enhance the outputs of your Street View Image request.

    The first important optional parameter is heading. Heading indicates the compass heading of the camera. Accepted values are from 0 to 360 (both indicating North), with 90 indicating East, 180 indicating South and 270 indicating West. If no heading is provided, a value will be calculated that directs the camera towards the specified location, from the point at which the closest photograph was taken.

    The next important optional parameter is fov. Fov or Field of View is expresses in degrees, with a maximum allowed value of 120. The default value for fov is 90. When dealing with a fixed-size viewport, as with a Street View image of a set size, field of view in essence represents zoom, with smaller numbers indicating a higher level of zoom.

    The next optional and another very important parameter is pitch. Pitch specifies the up and down angle of the camera relative to the Street View vehical. This is often, but not always flat horizontal with default value being 0. Positive value, with a maximum up to 90 angle the camera upwards while a negative value with minimum up to -90 angle down the camera.

    These three optional parameters usually play the most important part in displaying the correct Street View image. To get the perfect image in the scope, you need to play around with these 3 optional but very important parameters. The fourth optional parameter is key. When you will have an API key for using the Google Street View Image API, you will have to use the key parameter as well.

    So, to summarize the parameters that form the Google Street View Image HTTP request call,
  • Required parameters
    • size
    • location
    • sensor
  • Optional but important parameters
    • heading
    • fov
    • pitch
    • key
    How you enjoy the Street View Image API. Do let me know how you would be putting it to use and which places you would visit through the Street View. Do share and comment and let me know of any questions regarding Google Maps that you would like to be answered! Till the next post, enjoy your vacations using the Google Street View.