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KML toolbox

version 2.7 (3.09 MB) by

Create KML/KMZ files and view them in Google Earth. Supports 3D models, contours, overlays, and more



This class-based MATLAB toolbox allows you to create many different plots in Google Earth, by automatically creating the required xml-based KML files without user interaction. Also allows to save as KMZ packages, including any model & images necessary for the plot.

Comments and Ratings (64)


tuan (view profile)

Hi all

(1) Is there anyone know how to plot an animation for spatial contourmap?
(2) And how to add colorbar that corresponds to the plot has been shown by using k.contourf?

Thank you


Serge (view profile)

If anyone needs to export complex 3D geometry, be it a surface (xyz grid) or a patch (faces and vertices), textured or not, please try mesh2kml and leave feedback.


Serge (view profile)

If anyone needs to export complex 3D geometry, be it a surface (xyz grid) or a patch (faces and vertices), textured or not, please try mesh2kml and leave feedback.

Jianke Li

I wonder if the plot function has the options for plot symbols and colors, such as

kml.plot(x,y,'b+'), something that is already included in Matlab's plot function.



tuan (view profile)

Is there any function to plot and export filled color contour map? Thank you.

Ahmed Fasih

RunTests.m errors because BITCMP no longer accepts an integer second argument…

I've just started using this toolbox, and it is working great. It is very easy to pick up and use.

I ran into one problem. Whenever I used, GoogleEarth tells me it can't find the file at z:\filename. The filename is correct, but the path is incorrect. I found a solution. I work in a company where we are required to have our files on network drives. In Matlab you use: [p,fn,ext] = fileparts(filename);. On our networked system this returns an empty variable for the path p = ''. I don't know if this is a Matlab problem or a problem with how my company set up it's network drives. To solve this in kml.m I added the line p = pwd; to force the correct path.

line 138
    [p,fn,ext] = fileparts(filename);
    p = pwd;
    kmzFilename = fullfile(p,[fn '.kmz']);
    movefile([kmzFilename '.zip'],kmzFilename);
    this.filename = kmzFilename;
    this.filename = filename;

Since I don't know if this is a general Matlab problem or a problem specific to my company, I don't know if this should be patched in your distributed version.

Thanks for the toolbox.

This is an excellent toolbox that enables a wide variety of KML plots.

Regarding Sylvie's comment of 31 Jul. 2014 and Rafael's replies to Tomasz in July of 2013...

It appears that you can get uniform color axes by passing a vector to numberOfLevels in contourf, if you insert a kludge.

At line 147 of contourf.m, you have:

 levels = unique([C(:).l]);

I then pass the numberoflevels vector to levels once more.

    levels = arg.numberOfLevels;

This seems to work. One probably should put some code in to test for a vector when implementing this kludge.


Viljar (view profile)

I have a question concerning the layers in google earth. As i have very many layers and lot of data, showing them all at when opening the file almost crashes my computer. I want that when i open my xml file, all the layers would be deselected. How can i do that?


Jesus (view profile)

Dr Fred

I started using this recently - so far so good except possibly for the following:
1. Google earth identifies a mis-spelling of <tessellate>. 2. It also reports "<id> is expected to be an attribute, not an element." 3. The save to .kml (vs. kmz) feature may require a third boolean argument that is not documented in the help.

kmltoolbox v2.71

Google Earth
Build Date
Build Time
12:28:36 pm


Alex (view profile)


Dennis (view profile)


Mehran (view profile)

I try this toolbox,it's useful toolbox.
but I have a problem!! I'd like to load my images or models directly from internet, how can I do this?


Sylvie (view profile)

I found your toolbox and it is just a great tool to have. I do have a few questions about the plotting abilities:

-Is there a way for the contour/contourf plots to keep the colorscale/contour levels entered as input. I am planning on making movies and comparing footprints and I need the color scale/contour levels to stay the same from one plot to the other and right now even when I specify the color scale, if for instance the maximum value in the data to plot is less than the maximum in the color scale, the end results will be scaled to the maximum value from the dataset.

With contourf, you can force the contour level values by using caxis for instance.

- How can I get a colorbar that correspond to what has been plotted. I found ge_colorbar, but it seems like the even with the same color scale as input for both ge_colorscale and k.contourf, it is not quite the same contours being plotted.



Jacky (view profile)

Hi, very good work thanks! Using the transfer function its easy display plots on google earth. To set the coordinates, one can change line 80 in the transfer.m file.
(default:[west,east,south,north] = deal(xlim(1),xlim(2),ylim(1),ylim(2));)

[west,east,south,north] = deal(98.804192,100.834833,38.663767,39.876606);
works fine!


k (view profile)

Hi All,

I am trying to keep a folder hierarchy using the create folder function and gradually filling it up with plots at different times without overwriting the old plots.

Seems that whenever kml(‘name’) is called, the main folder and its contents is overwritten with only the plots created at that instance available in the hierarchy..

Any quick thoughts? ... (merging old and new kmz files maybe?)


yosey (view profile)

Suresh Raja

My data set is 1 hour average matrix and the concentrations are not constant. If I use a static number of levels it fails saying the interpolation requires two sample points in each dimension.

It seems like I will need to change the range based on the minimum and maximum values in each 1-hour data.

Any suggestions from anyone?

Suresh Raja

How are you doing the atmospheric back trajectories? Could you please put down a quick info? Thanks!


Eoghan (view profile)

BTW worked out how to get a colourbar
1. plot colour bar in standard matlab figure
2. save colour bar axis as a standalone image
3. write <ScreenOverlay> xml tags to the kml file referencing the standalone image


Eoghan (view profile)

Hi this tool is great, I'm plotting atmospheric back trajectories with it.

One question though, is there any way within the toolkit to export a colourbar into google earth and display it in space, to the side of the globe?

Or if there is no such functionality could anybody point me in the direction of some resource that might tell me how?

Thanks, Eoghan

Suresh Raja

Got the labels, thanks!

Suresh Raja

Is there a way to label the contours with the levels (z)?


Peter (view profile)


Hi Rafael, I'm using the overlay but I do not understand the format of coordinates west east south north. I have an image jpeg with the coordinates of the corners lat lon, I what way I can put them in the function. I tried to do this:
kml.overlay(kml_UPLlon,kml_LWLlon, kml_UPRlon,kml_LWRlon , kml_LWLlat,kml_LWRlat, kml_UPLlat,kml_UPRlat, bitmap_name,bitmap_name);
but It doesn't works. The error is:
Error using kml/overlay
No Static method 'overlay' in
class 'kml'.

Error in Alice_thresholds
(line 105)
kml_UPRlon,kml_LWRlon ,

Can you helpme?

Thank you in advance


Jim Tonti

Incredibly good implementation of MATLAB control to GoogleEarth via creation of KMZ files. I installed the package, and had plots up in Google Earth within 5 minutes!

Jim Tonti


Ryan (view profile)

Hi, I tried to install this tool. However, it didn't work.
I typed kml.install in the directory kmltoobox v2.6 containing @kml, @kmlAnimation, etc. However, it said,
>> kml.install
Error: File: kml.m Line: 1 Column: 10
A class definition must be in an "@" directory.

Who can help me about this.. Thank you !

Rafael Oliveira

Rafael Oliveira (view profile)

Hi Tomas,
you can force the contourf to always plot contours in the same way by passing in argument 'numberOfLevels' an array of values for the contours, something like:
k.contourf(..., 'numberOfLevels', [5 10 15 20])


Tomasz (view profile)

I am using the KML Toolbox to present temperature distribution using contourf. Since the temperature range changes over time, consecutive plots are not consistent, because the colormap stretch to min and max value. Is it possible to fix the minimum and maximum values, so that the colormap is always within the same range?

Sonoma Rich

I found a bug with the overlay function. If I try to add an overlay image with a path in the filename, it embeds the state path in the kml file, thus when I load the kmz file into Google Earth, it goes looking for the file at the stated path. It does not use the file embedded with the kmz file.

For example, if I do the following,


Google Earth will grab the image "C:\temp\myImage.png", not the one embedded with the kmz file. I suggest you remove the path from the filename that is used in the kml file.

Other than that, it is a great toolbox.

Hi Rafael,

in the file
function target = plot(this,long,lat,varargin)

I found an issue in the chech of the lat and long input value (line 14 and 15).
The function handle includes directly the check for the input value &&~isempty(lat). This must be &&~isempty(a).

This lines should be:
    p.addRequired('lat', @(a)isnumeric(a) && isvector(a) &&~isempty(a));
    p.addRequired('long',@(a)isnumeric(a) && isvector(a) &&~isempty(a) && numel(a)==nlat);

Rafael Oliveira

Rafael Oliveira (view profile)

@Ryan: thanks for reporting the error, you can fix it by changing that line to:

if iscell(arg.iconColor) && nc==nlat

I'll submit a fixed version of the toolbox.

@Alfredo: I've changed the save function, now it should be possible to save to other folders as well - thanks for the tip. And to avoid those lines, just make sure you end every plot command with a ;


Ryan (view profile)

Hi Rafael,

I really like this tool box, I have been using it quite a bit.

I wanted to report a possible error:

When using k.scatter3(lon,lat,z, ...

I get an error when plotting exactly 8 points
Cell contents reference from a non-cell array object.

Error in kml/scatter3 (line 131)

-It seems to happen here in the scatter3 function because nc==nlat returns true, and it should probably be false.
if nc==nlat
Thanks again for the toolbox


Ryan (view profile)


It would be cool that the function supported the path in the filename. i.e.:'path\filename.kml')

Now it ignores the path and saves the kml file in the current folder.
Thank you

Also, how can I avoid the display of the following lines in the Command Window? Thanks

ans =

    type: 'Placemark'
      id: [1x47 char]


It would be cool that the function supported the path in the filename. i.e.:'path\filename.kml')

Now it ignores the path and saves the kml file in the current folder.
Thank you

Just a quick comment, I'm doing some stuff that requires accurate lat and longs have gone through and changed

num2str(north) to num2str(north,8) to avoid loosing position accuracy

Works great

Robert Daly

Hi Rafael,
Thanks for making this great tool. I had a minor issue with the klm.transfer function not lining up properly. I discovered that this was because my plotting script used "axis equal". This resulted in the axes not filling the whole figure window during the image capture so the image limits were not quite right. perhaps you could add "axis normal" in the code somewhere so that it will always behave as expected.

Rafael Oliveira

Rafael Oliveira (view profile)

Sorry Tomas, but the toolbox needs a MATLAB version that supports classes, which are definitely not available at R2007b...


Tomas (view profile)

Matlab version 2007b:
??? No appropriate method or public field install for class kml.
When I try:
>>kmldoc %KML toolbox appear but its not functional.

Rafael Oliveira

Rafael Oliveira (view profile)

and for those interested in the animation feature, here is a little example of using it:

k = kml('testAnimation');
N = numel(longitude);
yaw = yaw - pi; %This is to correct the mis-orientation in the A320 model, you can ignore this for other models - or fix the model file
modelA320 = k.model(longitude(1),latitude(1),altitude(1),yaw(1),gamma(1),roll(1),'model','A320.dae','scale',10);
anim = k.newAnimation('Flight');

for i = 2:N
   dT = time(i) - time(i-1);
   anim.flyToLookAt(dT, longitude(i), latitude(i),1e4)

anim.flyToLookAt(10, mean(longitude),mean(latitude),1e5);;

Rafael Oliveira

Rafael Oliveira (view profile)

Hi John,
I've answered you by email, but in any case, the fix is to replace the num2str(id) with num2str(i). Anyway, I've submitted a fixed version of the toolbox, that also includes some other bug fixes.

John Fuller

John Fuller (view profile)

John Fuller

John Fuller (view profile)

I get the following error when I run the quiver function example snippet:

k = kml('my kml file');

% Create a sample quiver plot in the kml file
[x,y] = meshgrid(-5:.2:5,-2:.15:2);
z = x .* exp(-x.^2 - y.^2) + y.*sin(x);
[px,py] = gradient(z,.2,.15);

% Save the kml and open it in Google Earth;
??? Undefined function or variable 'id'.

Error in ==> kml.quiver at 61
        target(i) = f.plot(long2,lat2, 'altitude',arg.altitude,...

Any thoughts?

Seb Biass

Thanks a lot for the contourf function! Just fyi, the [~, ixMA] at line 137 gives errors on old (i.e. 2009) versions. Another question... are you implementing a way to specify the contour values rather than the number of contours?

This is a perfect toolbox.



Rina (view profile)

Rafael Oliveira

Rafael Oliveira (view profile)

Hi Seb Biass, I've finally added contourf to the toolbox :)
If you find any bugs on it, let me know!
@Stephan - I've almost finished screen overlay support, I'll update it as soon as I've time to finish and test it.


Would it be possible to include screen overlays?

Seb Biass

That is really nice, thank you! Any chance for a contourf type function?

Rafael Oliveira

Rafael Oliveira (view profile)

Hi Zeneida,
You can do it using the option 'numberOfLevels', as in:

k = kml;
[x,y,z] = peaks;
k.contour(x,y,z, 'numberOfLevels', 20);;


There is a way do more contours, I need that more contour lines in the map, but I don't know is it can be. In the contour.m from matlab I can specify the number of lines, but here?????
Thank you

Rafael Oliveira

Rafael Oliveira (view profile)

Thanks for the tip... I've included it in an updated version, together with a change removing the ~ from the function outputs. Now it should work with some older MATLAB versions too!

Very nice and useful! I made one very small edit to kml.m to get it to work on the Mac platform. Not sure if Linux has a common tool like start or open that is independent of distro.

        function run(this)
            if (ispc)
                system(['start "kmltoolbox" "' this.filename '"']);
            elseif (ismac)
                system(['open' ' "' this.filename '"']);
            elseif (isunix)
                disp('The KML file has been saved, open it in Google Earth');

This is a great program ... it has provided a great way to visualize my measurement results spatially.

scott lee davis

scott lee davis (view profile)

  • 1 file
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hey this looks great! Why not combine the two versions into the best matlab version? I am building at multilanguage version of the googleearth toolbox and would welcome motivated matlab development and extension.

Rafael Oliveira

Rafael Oliveira (view profile)

Hi Travis. I've used the same name, but they're all encapsulated inside the kml class... So, to call them, you need to create an instance of the kml class, for example:

mykml = kml('Sample plot');

And then use this object "mykml" to plot, as in:

mykml.plot(1:10, sin(1:10));



Travis Knepp

I am wondering why you built functions with the same name as MatLab built-in functions (e.g. plot.m, plot3.m, text.m)? This seems pretty counter-productive. Can you correct me on this?


Julien (view profile)

The object oriented version of the google earth toolbox. Wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing...



Finally moved to GitHub :)


v2.7: fixed a bug in the contourf function, related to contours with custom contour levels


(forgot to update version number)


v2.6: finally possible to save KMZ files(default)- auto includes models & images. fix num2str behavior, reported by Nick Mortimer. Fix to keep path when saving, reported by Alberto. Added lineWidth/lineColor to contourf, suggested by Keith Epstein.


v2.3: A couple more bug fixes (thanks to Reid Pulley for reporting them!), added one example of animation to the test folder


v2.2: A few bug fixes.


v2.1: Added support for gx:LatLonQuad overlays, so now you can add non-square images to the kml


v2.0: Some bug fixes in the filled contour, added animation support.


v1.9: Finally implemented the filled contour plot! And also made some changes to the other contour functions to match better the color scale from MATLAB.
Added also a surf function, to plot 3D colored surfaces.


v1.8: increased to the numeric precision when saving numbers as text. Added the polyMap function, to create a 3D map similar to surf, but composed of a polygons with height proportional to the cell value (similar to hist3, but without binning).


v1.7: small correction in the quiver3d function, and implementation of the classic quiver plot in 2D, without using models anymore.


v1.6: made it compatible with older versions that do not support ~ as function output. Also added the suggestion of Balam Willemsen, to make run work with OSX... Any suggestions on the Linux side are welcome :)


v1.5: updated scatter and scatter3 to accept an different icons for each point. You must supply them as a cell array with the same size of the latitude and longitude inputs.


Corrected the image in File Exchange


v1.4 - Fixed some bugs, added documentation, and a method to animate a model in a trajectory (kml.modelTour)


v 1.3: fixed a small error in the checkUnit function


v1.2: Updated to support both degree and radian inputs.

MATLAB Release
MATLAB 7.12 (R2011a)

Inspired by: Google Earth Toolbox

Inspired: mesh2kml

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