RobRoyAus 3:50pm, 25 July 2005
What is FlickrFly?

FlickrFly is a script that can be linked from the description or comment of a geotagged Flickr Photo to fly you that location in Google Earth.

This is a new and improved version that adds optional control of the image size and view location.

How to use FlickrFly

To use on your own images simply add the following line of HTML to the description or comment of a geotagged image in Flickr.
<a href="">Fly </a>

The following version is better but still very simple.

<a href="">Fly to this location</a> (Requires <a href="">Google Earth</a>)

Example: see Evening Sky, Kings College, Cambridge.

For more control, you can add parameters to change the size of the displayed image and to set the viewpoint in Google Earth.

Parameters must be added in the format parameter=value with &amp; between each parameter.

For example, see - View from Hardknott Roman Fort. Note that I have chosen a low angle and short range to more or less approximate the viewpoint shown in the photo.

The html added to the description of the example is

<a href=";heading=-1.0&amp;tilt=81.0">Fly to this location</a> (requires <a href="">Google Earth</a>)

Available Parameters
You can add one or more of the following:

size= [(t)humbnail | (s)mall | (m)edium | m ] (choose one) Default is 'medium'. Note that first letter alone works, i.e. use s for small.
range= range of viewpoint in metres from the geotagged coordinates. Default is 3000
heading= angle of coordinate from the viewpoint in degrees where 0 is looking North. Default is 0
tilt= angle of view in degrees where 0 is straight down and 90 is from ground level. Default is 60.

Top-down view
Finally, for the original (v0.1) top-down view from directly above, use

<a href="">Fly to this location</a> (Requires <a href="">Google Earth</a>)

This view still allows use of parameters, but removes the defaults for heading, tilt and range.

Cost = free
Use of this script on my server is free, so enjoy!

Note, you need to geotag your image first before this will work. I highly recommend Firefox, the Greasemonkey extension and GMiF or Steeev's scripts for various online mapping systems.

How it Works
The script checks the url it was called from (the HTTP_REFER field), extracts the Photo Id, uses the Flickr API to get details of the photo then constructs a package of KML to feed Google Earth.

This documentation also at
brilliant work robroyaus!
btw heres a tip for getting the heading, tilt and range values.

line up the angle, range and heading in google earth that you would like, then click the "add a placemarker" button (its next to the tilt bar and looks like a pushpin), now tick the "advanced" checkbox, and then select the "View" tab. Et voila, there are the values you should use :D

It would be great if there was some way of grabbing these values programatically... hmmm anyone got any ideas?
Hi RobRoyAus,

Great work!

I would suggest you to propose a tagging convention just like geo-tag to describe these FlickFly parameters. E.g. ge:range=516, ge:tilt=81.0, etc... (ge means google earth)

Surely the FlickrFly can still check the referrer to get these tags as parameters. Considering the multiple sources of parameters, FlickrFly can follow the following priority:

1. parameters coming with URL
2. parameters from flcikr tags by checking referer URL
3. default value for size,range,heading, and tilt

Furthermore, steeev made a good script to geotag in google earth. Maybe he can add a feature to add tags for Google Eeath parameters too.
RobRoyAus 13 years ago
Excellent idea - will implement in a day or so after I finish moving house!
jmoliver 13 years ago
However, most of my photos already are geocoded, they contain the coordinates in the file's EXIF data (See for example Any chance you can use this info when it is available?

Seems doable - will implement when I incorporate .CKs great ge: tagging idea.
I would like to propose a prototype of Google Earth+Flickr application and what FlickrFly can do.

Check this image(an MRT map) first and observe the "ge:" tags.

We can overlay an image on Google Earth to create fantastic view, especially for a real map or a GIS image. Flickr is the best place that can host such images. If we can propose a tagging convention for google earth, it will be easier for FlickrFly to generate a custom KML file.

As you've seen above image, the result will be like this...

Taipei MRT map on Google Earth

The sample KML file is here.
jmoliver 13 years ago
Thanks RobRoyAus you rock!

The Flickr API exposes the emdedded EXIF GPS data using the getExif method ( The Geoblogger site also picks up this info.
.CK, that would also be an interesting new way to view a flickr photostream and sets of images, laid out over the earth, cool idea :)
Chuck Kahn 13 years ago
This is great! Thanks!
i was just thinking it might be beneficial to also be able to specify latitude and longitude via parameters, this would allow people with strict firewall settings to also benefit from flickrfly, it would also open the service up to lots of non flickr uses, but then again maybe you wouldnt want that.

BTW I just discovered another cool thing about Google Earth, Full Screen Mode! Wow! it really improves the viewing experience!
RobRoyAus 13 years ago
Adding parms for lat and long would certainly be possible (and easy) technically.

I'll give it some thought. If I was to add them it would be for the benefit of non-Flickr users - it wouldn't really help visitors with strict firewalls unless all geobloggers added them to every FlickrFly link. IMHO the best thing about FlickrFly is that you don't have to specify any parameters for it to work perfectly.

In any case I probably can't do much with FlickrFly for a couple of weeks as I'm mid-move and staying with friends who don't have an internet connection. Can you imagine!
dazzling ray [deleted] 13 years ago

In any case I probably can't do much with FlickrFly for a couple of
weeks as I'm mid-move and staying with friends who don't have an
internet connection. Can you imagine!


You staying in Sussex then? ;)
RobRoyAus wrote:
it wouldn't really help visitors with strict firewalls unless all geobloggers added them to every FlickrFly link.
true, though if the images in question were specifically relevant to people inside a company (or whatever entity) with a strict firewall policy, it could be useful for them to have the extra parameters available :)

IMHO the best thing about FlickrFly is that you don't have to specify any parameters for it to work perfectly.
I completely Agree :)
RobRoyAus 13 years ago
I've added setting of view parameters using Flickr tags, as well as recognition of EXIF location values if they exist

See the New Topic
Dermod 13 years ago
this is amazing - thank you rob!

any idea why it only works from geoblogger for me, and not from ? (It did work when I first tried it, but now I'm getting your Err 3 message from the flickr photo page.)

I am using explorer, (i know), but it did work no problem the first time. And maybe it's because I moved the location a few times to get it right?

Anyway, I'm just stunned and amazed in any case at what you've achieved.
RobRoyAus 13 years ago
Hi Dermod,

Thanks - you found a bug, (and not just your splendid photo of one!)

The regular expression to extract the photo-id from the URL wasn't handling a url without a final "/" on the end, but now it does.

Best of luck with the geotagging.

RussellChowning Posted 13 years ago. Edited by RussellChowning (member) 13 years ago
I installed the latest Google Earth version, and now the Info window that pops up in GE just shows the left 1/3 of the image, instead of the entire thing. Any ideas? Thanks!
will_cyclist 13 years ago

I have Google Earth intsalled and use firefox. even with firewall off I get your "oops" error message. Even when I use your example picture. is your server still supporting this script?

Many thanks,

imageo 13 years ago
Wow, what a great little script/link. (works fine for me Internet explorere & google earth 3.0.0336 (beta)
RobRoyAus 13 years ago
Hi Will,

Still working for me, and server is definitely up and working (about 5000 hits so far)

The critical bit of the process is that the "Referrer" part of the HTTP message gets through to FlickrFly. It uses this to work out which page the link was called from. This is the bit that often gets blocked by firewalls or...

Ahh... question. Are you using a proxy server??

Can't think of anything else at this stage. Will give it some thought, or perhaps someone else has a theory.

RobRoyAus 13 years ago
Take a look at the Troubleshooting section of the FlickrFly docs page for the latest discoveries re the mysterious referrer blocker.

Hint - its a Firefox/Mozilla issue.
Jerominus 13 years ago
This seems graeat! Just read it now. Tried it in a 'note' from a phot. Did not work (no permission)

Tried in a comment (no permission).

Tried in a description, error reads:

"The Flickr API returned error code #1: Photo not found"

What now doc?
Indrani Soemardjan Posted 12 years ago. Edited by Indrani Soemardjan (member) 12 years ago
Hi, the flickrfly script does not work with any of my photo: the error message is:
The Flickr API returned error code #2: Permission denied
All my photos are public. So i'm now confused.
However, flickrfly works with all of Robroy's photos. What would be the problem?
GeoGuy 12 years ago
If I can butt in here... Someone was having a similar problem with Flickr2Map and the problem was they had the "Hide my EXIF data" box checked under the You/Your Account/Your Privacy setting.

Tim Helton
neilbruder 12 years ago
This is the super coolest!! Great work!
Indrani Soemardjan 12 years ago
Thanks Tim, it is now working like charm. Although i'm not quite sure why flickrfly needs to read EXIF data? BTW thanks for your response!
ralphaverbuch 11 years ago
Hi All

I've read this thread and tried all the work arounds -- the vast majority of my images are geotagged and I do not hide the EXIF data in my privacy settings yet it still doesn't work for me with a variety of services -- anyone got any ideas why that might be? I've also tried it in IE& and Firefox. My suspicion is that the data just not being scraped from the page -- yet the links there to the map flickr supplies...


When I view its EXIF info...

...there's no lat/long info embedded, yet I know its there. In this case I can go into the organizr and see it
Lat - 55.981554 Long - -3.177108

Anyone tell me what I'm missing here? How is it some people CAN get it to work?? I know it does work because the other example of this from Flickr2Map works perfectly!!!!!! Grrrrr

The Flickr2Map example:


RobRoyAus 11 years ago
Hi Ralph,

I think you'll find the problem isn't with FlickrFly or Flickr2Map - my app (and I presume Flickr2Map as well) will rely on getting the location data for the photo via the Flickr API, and looking at the photo page I see no evidence of any location data.

Note that the final example you give (geoguy's photo) has "machine tags" for lat and long

If one Flickr sceen (say the Organizr screen) shows location then it isn't being "exposed" to the API, as that's the second of the location sources I try.

To quote the FlickrFly Docs Page, the sequence that FlickrFly checks is
* lat= and lon= in the Query string (aka "stand-alone mode")
* Flickr Map coordinates (stored internally to Flickr and added using the “Add this photo to a map” tool within Flickr
* Flickr Tags ("machine tags" - geo:lat=, geo:lon=)
* EXIF location
* If no location supplied, will generate an error page (what you're getting).

I'd work through the list. If you're hoping to store the location in the EXIF, then if you don't see the lat and long in the page then no application will be able to get the data either.

Hope this helps.

ralphaverbuch 11 years ago
Hi Rob

Thanks for the tips.

As it stands the 'only' place I see the Lat/Long data is in the organiser

See this link

Now clearly the lat & long info is there but I don't quite 'get' how it won't make itself available to any one of the scraping techniques you mention FlickrFly uses to grab that data and then redisplay it externally...

Rob, do you (or anyone else for that matter) have any ideas? Is there anyone else who has geocoded online using Flickr's own tools, as I've done, and HAS been successful at using 3rd party tools like FlickrFly et al?


ralphaverbuch 11 years ago
I wanted to let anyone else who has this same issue know that I made a tiny bit of progress in trying to find out if geodata added using Flickr's own organizer and map tool could then be extracted. It seems it can but, it seems to not work despite that....

It's popping up in the above feed twice per picture as a tag e.g.

55.909883 -2.896125



So that's some form of progress. Obviously Flickr can release geodata added latterly, to output, but, and here's the annoying thing, it doesn't appear to extend to the actual display page of the images in a useable format by any third party apps I've used so far.

For example, if I go back to the picture I used as an example initially and look at the page source...

...there is a meta tag embedded that says:

It also appear in the body html:


And in the info in the actual mini map on the page:


So there are multiple references to the lat/long info embedded in the page!!!

Does any of the above help shed light on why it refuses to work with your app??

Any advice VERY gratefully received.


ralphaverbuch Posted 11 years ago. Edited by ralphaverbuch (member) 11 years ago
I should add -- once i posted the last message the tags disappeared as it's seeing them as html i guess....

2nd try -- here's the meta tag I just added to the actual picture immediately after I added it in the Organiser

Picture here:

Meta info:
meta name="geo.position" content="55.909883; -2.896125"


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