Introduction to Marble
Many of you should already know Marble; some others might not be aware of this excellent application though. Well, Marble is a virtual globe and a geographical atlas. It is free software (available under GNU LGPLv2), meaning that you can freely use, study, modify copy and share it without any restrictions.
Last time I had used Marble, there were two of its features that caught my eye: the first one was an interactive map (globe) of the moon and the second one was a set of some online services that come with Marble. Who said that Marble is only about the Earth? ;)
Map of the Moon
In order to get a quick preview of the Moon, start Marble and select the tab named Map View, which is located on the left side of the screen. Go to Celestial Body and select Moon from the dropdown list. That’s it. You will then get something like this below:
It is recommended, but not actually mandatory, that you should have selected all the legends from the tab named Legend (it is found in the toolbar on the left side of the screen) to get the best possible experience. Having enabled all the legends will let you go through different places of interest. Left click on a name of a place, then click again on the name in the menu which will appear. A new window will be displayed; it will contain useful information regarding that area, including its coordinates and any historical references.
Clicking on the Wikipedia Tab will display a relevant article on Wikipedia as well. That’s really cool since you have everything you need to know about the place and there’s no need for additional searches over the internet.
Other Marble features, including (but not limited to) Measure Points, Overview Map and others will work with the map of the Moon, while others might not.
Now, that’s a quick taste of this map that comes with Marble. Remember there are also other planets to explore like Venus, Mars and others. If you’d like to stick with the Earth, then there’s a wide range of maps which you could use.
Online Services working with Marble
As it was mentioned before, Wikipedia is a service that is being used by Marble in order to provide information about areas and places. That’s not the only one though. Choose View -> Online Services to see the full list of services. Selecting Photos will present a variety of photos linked to places all around the globe, while selecting Weather will display the current forecast. Choosing Earthquakes will make different earthquakes which happened in the past displayed.
Downloading Marble and Getting involved
This article should be nothing compared to the real software. The best thing you can do is to try Marble yourself. It is available for Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. You can also use it along the N900. Grab your copy here. If you need any help setting up or configuring Marble, you might want to check out The Marble Handbook.
For more information regarding Marble, feel free to check out the project’s main page at http://edu.kde.org/marble/. Should you find any bugs, you may file a new bug report at the KDE Bug Tracking System. And since Marble is free and open source, you can always give back to the community by becoming an active contributor.