A lot of activities in the Marble community over the last weeks are shaping up now to become part of the Marble library and applications. Much is related to the ongoing Google Code-in and this blog post introduces some of the new features that were realized by GCI students.
Popular star constellations — patterns in prominent stars within apparent proximity on Earth’s night sky — are now rendered by the extended stars plugin. Realized with much love for detail, Marble’s view of Earth from outer space is now more stunning than ever. See for yourself (yellow bubbles are manual annotations):
The screenshot also shows the new Earth at Night map theme which will replace the existing one. It features updated images with higher resolution. Further map themes have been completed or are in the works, among them Jupiter moons and historic map themes. To help you give proper attribution for derivative works, a new info box in the bottom right corner shows license information for the current map theme. Like all info boxes it can be disabled if needed.
Another main working area is KML support. While the most important KML elements are long supported, we are aiming for full KML 2.2 compliance in a future version. Towards this goal support for reading, writing and using more KML elements has been implemented. Among the new features is support for random color mode, reading and rendering screen overlays, reading balloon and list styles, rendering of remote images and writing of polygons, photo overlays, ground overlays and time spans. While preparing support for balloon style in placemark rendering the new webpopup plugin (annotated as map info dialog with webkit support in the screenshot below) was born. Given its nice look and generic applicability we’re currently replacing many QDialog based dialogs with it.
Much more has been realized in the last weeks and the above is just an incomplete high-level overview. Most of the features mentioned above are already merged into the master branch (to be part of Marble 1.6 / KDE 4.11). Some map themes will be deployed via GHNS and therefore be available in all KDE versions of Marble soon (File => Download Maps).
Google Code-in is still running for some weeks and we have a set of open tasks for volunteers to take. Check out Melange and search for Marble tasks (with KDE as organization) to see them. The marble.kde.org website has a lot of information to get started as well.