Keyhole Mark-up Language


Keyhole Markup Language, abbreviated as KML, is a language based on XML used for expressing geographic annotation and visualization on existing or future Web-based, two-dimensional maps and three-dimensional Earth browsers like Google Earth. It provides a standard format to represent, store, and distribute geographical data. It is mainly employed for sharing places and directions on Google Earth and Google Maps.


The phonetics for “Keyhole Mark-up Language” can be represented as: “kee-hohl maahrk-uhp lang-gwij”

Key Takeaways

Three Main Takeaways about Keyhole Mark-up Language (KML)

  1. KML is a file format used to display geographic data in an Earth browser such as Google Earth, Google Maps, and Google Maps for mobile.
  2. KML utilizes a tag-based structure with nested elements and attributes, and is based on the XML standard which allows for easy understanding and creation even by humans.
  3. KML allows you to draw lines, shapes, and other geographical annotations on specific geographical coordinates, which can include features for placemarks, images, polygons, 3D models, and textual descriptions.


Keyhole Markup Language, also known as KML, is important in the field of technology due to its ability to format geospatial data for use on Earth browsers like Google Earth and Google Maps. It allows geographical information to be annotated with extra data such as lines, points and polygons, which can be shared in a standard and consistent format across different platforms. This interchangeability and customization enhance the user experience with powerful visualization representations. By using KML, a wide range of geographic information can be organized, stored, and shared, making it an essential tool in fields such as geospatial sciences, logistics, transportation and any industry that needs to visualize geographical data.


Keyhole Markup Language (KML) is a standard format for storing geographic modeling information utilized predominantly in software applications that render and exchange such data. Its purpose is to save and model geographic data, including Earth’s terrain and overlaid images. This technology allows complex geographical visualizations to be shared and utilized across multiple platforms, effectively enabling users to visualize, edit, and collate geographical data.KML is prominently used in Google Earth, where it provides users the ability to create and share complex geographical content. It can overlay images onto the earth’s surface, illustrate lines and shapes across the terrain, and even model three-dimensional buildings and structures. Numerous other mapping and geographical applications also use KML to store and interchange geospatial information. This includes travel routes, points of interest, and annotated ground overlays – all of which can be displayed on detailed maps for comprehensive spatial analysis or planning purposes.


Keyhole Markup Language (KML) is a file format used to display geographic data in an Earth browser, such as Google Earth, Google Maps, and Google Maps for mobile. Here are three real-world examples of its use:1. The ‘Gulag’ Google Earth Layer: In 2009, the human rights group, the Anne Frank Foundation, used KML to detail information about the so-called ‘Gulag’ forced labour camps set up by the Soviet Union. The layer allowed viewers to click on a camp and get details about the number of prisoners, their living conditions, and the period the camp was in operation.2. GPS Route Mapping: Recreational outdoor enthusiasts who are fond of hiking, running, mountain biking, and other sports often use apps which utilize KML. In these cases, the KML file will outline the path of a particular trail or route. For instance, apps like Strava and Garmin create a KML file that a user can then load onto Google Earth to visualize their route in 3D.3. Disaster Management: In 2010, during the Haiti earthquake, Google used KML files to help coordinate rescue operations. Satellite imagery was quickly updated and shared with rescue teams, helping them understand the extent of damage and navigate the affected regions. Similarly, KML files were used extensively in mapping the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina. These examples demonstrate how KML is applied to various fields, including human rights, outdoor recreation, and disaster management.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

Q: What is Keyhole Markup Language (KML)?A: Keyhole Markup Language (KML) is a file format used to display geographic data in an Earth browser, such as Google Earth, Google Maps, and Google Maps for Mobile.Q: How does Keyhole Markup Language (KML) work?A: KML uses a tag-based structure with nested elements and attributes and is based on the XML standard. It is used to store geographic modeling information, including lines, polygons, images, and text. It allows you to annotate and overlay visual data on top of standard Earth browsers, and can be used to create complex tours and animations, among other things.Q: Who uses Keyhole Markup Language (KML)?A: The individuals who use KML are typically developers and GIS professionals who want to share geographic data and want it to be accessible and easily understood. Also, individuals who wish to view geographical data in Earth browsers use KML files.Q: What software can I use to create a KML file?A: You can create a KML file with text editing software, a KML creator tool or an application that exports content to KML. GPS data can also be converted to KML using specific software like Google Earth Pro.Q: How can I view a KML file?A: KML files can be viewed with Earth browsers like Google Earth, Google Maps, and some other software that accepts the KML format.Q: What are some common uses of Keyhole Markup Language (KML)?A: KML is used in a variety of GIS and mapping applications, including planning, analysis, property sales and advertisement, and social and physical activities’ tracking. It can be used for tasks from mapping real estate listings to planning hiking routes or tracking weather patterns.Q: Is KML data secure?A: As KML is an open standard, the data stored within is accessible. However, the data’s security relies on how the KML files are stored and shared. If sensitive data is being shared, it is advisable to use secure methods of file sharing and storage.

Related Tech Terms

  • Geospatial Data
  • XML
  • Google Earth
  • GPS Coordinates
  • 3D Geospatial Visualization

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