The KMZ file format, stemming from the KML (Keyhole Markup Language), serves as a compressed version for storing geographic data in a format that can be easily used with mapping programs. Developed by Keyhole Inc., which was later acquired by Google, KMZ files encompass both imagery and three-dimensional models. These files have perpetuated through the proliferation of geographic information systems (GIS) and have become synonymous with sharing elaborate maps and terrain information.
Understanding KMZ Files
A KMZ file is essentially a zipped KML file. The KML file within the KMZ is written in XML format and specifies how geographic data is displayed on applications like Google Earth. By compressing this data, KMZ files facilitate quicker downloads and sharing, serving as a boon for users with limited bandwidth or storage space.
Various software applications can open and use KMZ files. Google Earth is the most prominent and widely utilized one, as it naturally supports the format. Other applications include Google Maps and myriad GIS software like ArcGIS. Outside of proprietary software, open-source alternatives such as QGIS also offer full compatibility with KMZ files.
Alternatives to KMZ
While KMZ files are frequent in the GIS domain, there are also other formats that serve similar purposes. Shapefiles (.shp) are often preferred for professional cartography and GIS work, owing to their ability to store extensive geographic data sets. GeoJSON is another popular format, favored for its compatibility with web applications. Both these alternatives provide different options for users with varying needs in the realm of digital mapping and geographic data representation.