Know about KML File Format | Easy Guide

Learn about KML File Format for Easy Map Data Visualization!

Google Maps and Apple Maps have revolutionized the way we navigate and explore the world and one of the key features that enhances their functionality is the support for KML files. KML files allow users to overlay custom data onto the map, unlocking a range of practical and creative possibilities. Let’s learn more about these files.

What does KML stand for?

KML stands for Keyhole Markup Language.

What is a KML File?

A KML is a file format that uses Keyhole Markup Language to describe and store geographic data. It is an XML-based format specifically designed for representing geographical features and their attributes. It is commonly used for creating custom overlays, annotations and visualizations on digital maps.

These files can contain various elements such as points, lines, polygons, images, and text along with their associated geographic coordinates and properties. These files are compatible with mapping platforms like Google Maps and Apple Maps, allowing users to import and display their custom Map data on these map interfaces.

How to create KML?

Decide what type of geographic information you want to represent in your KML file. It could be points, lines, polygons or other spatial objects. Select a software tool that supports KML creation. There are various options available, such as Mapulator App, Google Earth, Google Maps, GIS software like ArcGIS or dedicated KML editors. Depending on the software tool you can either create the geographic information directly within the software or import existing data. Ensure that the visualization data includes the necessary attributes and coordinates to avoid any issues.

The provided steps are straightforward for creating a KML using the Mapulator app.

Step 1: Open the Mapulator app and create a new project. Use the available tools to plot the required measurements on the map and save the layer.

Step 2: Tap on the menu (three horizontal lines) and select the ‘Save’ option. Enter a project name and the KML will be created and stored in the cloud.

Step 3: To export the project as a KML file, tap on the share option. You can then directly share the KML file with anyone you choose.

How to open KML?

To open a KML, you can follow these steps:

Google Earth: Google Earth is a popular application for viewing and interacting with KML related files. To open a KML in Google Earth, you can simply double-click on the file and it will open automatically in the application. Alternatively, you can launch Google Earth then go to the File menu after that select Open and browse to the location of the file to open it.

Mapulator App: Install the app on your device then browse to the location of the file. Click on the file to open it using the Mapulator app.

Geographic Information System (GIS) Software: Many GIS software applications, such as ArcGIS, QGIS or MapInfo support the opening and visualization of KML related files. If you have GIS software installed on your computer then you can typically open the software then go to the File menu there you select Open or Import and choose the KML extension file you want to open.

Online KML Viewers: Several online tools and websites offer KML viewing capabilities. You can search for “online KML viewer” in a search engine to find these tools. Upload your KML extension file to the online viewer and it will display the content of the file then allowing you to interact with and explore the geographic information.

Remember, the method of opening KML related files may vary depending on the specific application or software you are using. Ensure that you have the necessary software installed or access to online tools that support KML viewing.

What are the advantages of KML?

  1. Ease of Use: KML is a simple and human readable markup language. Which makes it relatively easy to learn and use for creating geographic visualizations. It uses XML syntax, Which is widely understood and supported.
  2. Platform Independence: KML can be opened and viewed in various Earth browsers and mapping applications, including Google Earth, Google Maps and other software like Mapulator App, which supports the format. This platform independence makes it easy to share and distribute geographic information across different platforms.
  3. Rich Visualization: KML supports a wide range of visual elements such as placemarks, polygons, lines, icons and overlays. This allows for the creation of visually appealing and interactive maps with detailed annotations, images and 3D models.
  4. Data Integration: KML provides the capability to embed different data formats including images, videos and even other KML related files. This functionality allows for the seamless integration of multimedia content and additional data layers into a single KML resulting in an enhanced user experience overall.
  5. Collaboration and Sharing: KML can be easily shared and distributed among users across various devices. They can be emailed, uploaded to websites or shared via cloud storage services. This facilitates collaboration and allows others to view and interact with the geographic information. Mapulator app is already has this facility.

What are the disadvantages of KML?

  1. Limited Functionality: While KML is good for showing geographic information. It isn’t ideal for advanced geospatial analysis or complex data processing. Its main purpose is display and it doesn’t have extensive analytical capabilities for research purpose.
  2. Performance Considerations: KML files can become large and complex, especially when they contain a significant amount of data or incorporate numerous visual elements. Handling the large KML may require more computing resources and rendering complex visualizations can impact performance, especially on low-end devices.
  3. Standardization and Interoperability: KML is an open standard maintained by the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), but there may still be variations and inconsistencies in the way different software applications interpret and support KML. This can lead to compatibility issues and hinder interoperability between different systems.
  4. Data Limitations: KML is primarily designed for visual representation and lacks support for storing extensive attribute data associated with geographic features. While simple attributes can be added to placemarks and objects, KML may not be the best choice for managing large datasets with complex attribute structures.
  5. Lack of Offline Support: KML typically require an internet connection to access the underlying mapping and imagery data. Offline access to KML files can be limited or require additional tools and setups to download and store the required mapping data locally.


KML is a powerful and widely adopted file format for representing geographic data. Its flexibility along with support for various features and compatibility with mapping applications make it a valuable tool for sharing and visualizing spatial information. By understanding the capabilities of KML any user can create and work with KML more effectively, leveraging tools like Google Maps on the Mapulator app. This knowledge opens up a range of possibilities for exploring and presenting geospatial data.