From the earliest days of Google Earth, (and even back when it was still called Keyhole,) developers have wanted control over the globe to create their own 3D Earth applications. In response to this need, the Keyhole team added a COM API to the Keyhole app, to allow further customization of users’ Google Earth experience. When Keyhole became Google Earth in 2005, this API was carried over. Though we never provided much support, developers discovered the COM bindings and a few intrepid developers sorted through the vagaries of COM programming. Eventually we had a small but committed development community demanding documentation, which we released in 2007. We saw some interesting uses for the COM API, particularly by Enterprise users and broadcasters. Mostly, though, people wanted to put Earth in their web applications.

In 2008, we released the Google Earth API and browser plug-in. This robust JavaScript API is more powerful than the COM API, and can be used on a variety of platforms to deliver compelling 3D applications over the web based on the Google Earth technology. At the same time, we stopped development on the COM API and began encouraging developers to migrate to the Earth API instead. Today, more and more apps are being written in JavaScript, and COM itself is no longer a widely used technology, so the time has come to retire the Google Earth COM API.

Today we’re announcing that the Google Earth 5.2 client will be the last version that supports the COM API. Earth 5.2 and older clients will continue to support the COM API while these versions are supported. Future releases will no longer have COM API bindings. We believe that the JavaScript API provides the best mechanism for reaching the most developers.

We realize that a few of you will be disappointed by this news, however we are happy to work with you to transition off of COM onto JavaScript. Please see the documentation for more information on how to work with the Earth API, and visit our active developer forum for support. Enterprise customers can also contact Enterprise support with any questions. If you have a feature from COM that you can’t live without, please let us know about it by adding it as a feature request in our issue tracker, and starring other requests.