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Google Street ViewGoThruGSV17PanoSkinStreet View

Google Street View Apps: PanoSkin vs. GoThru4287

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Metroplex360 private msg quote post Address this user
GoThru vs. PanoSkin.
-------------------

I'm comparing both platforms as they are on April 8, 2017.

Initial setup -
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PanoSkin welcomes new users and makes one feel right at home. Once at home, the first thing you want to do is create a tour ... but how? Clicking around takes you to creating a Client and specifying the maximum number of Street View Tours and Custom Tours. It's unclear what a Client should be and why the number of tours should be predetermined... Should I create 1 client account for my business and house everything there? If so, why offer clients at all? Should I create a client account for my first job? If so, I just need 1 Street View? Well... that's odd. After creating, I can go back and edit and then can have a 'number of allowed themes and a # of monthly visits... why would I weant to limit this... and what are themes? So far this is sort of feeling like a Ruby on Rails database without much direction. Hmmm...

GoThru gets right to business. Create Tour. No clients. I'm happy with that.

Creating a Tour.
----------------

FINDING THE MAP ENTRY.

Both editors prompt me to type the address of the business I want to use.

GoThru correctly places the map pointer when I type 'Gateway at Denton', then I click Create Nwe Tour and I'm in.

PanoSkin's 'Create Tour' button is a tiny PLUS icon ... it was not immediately very obvious. Next, I search for the location and it puts the map marker slightly south and I end up needing to key in the exact street location. When doing so, I don't see a map marker. I'll go ahead and assume it figured it out. Time to click 'start building' below the map.

-----------------

UPLOADING PANORAMAS

GoThru now shows allows me simply upload panoramas. I see a tab with '1' on it ... so I'm assuming I can add multiple constellations at some point. Neat. Click! Next I have the option to drag and drop my panos -- or to import from Google Drive. I'll drag and drop (although I did click the Google Drive option to see how it works -- it tells me to connect to Google Drive from the My Profile tab -- makes sense, I'll want to authenticate so that I can always use Google Drive with GoThru -- however, I'm skipping for now as I'd rather direct upload).

Panoskin immediately tells me to 'Add an island'. There is a cute image of a robot on an island and a check box at the top right that allows me to convert an island to a level. OK... well, I'm going to assume that 'Islands' are 'Constellations' -- and that's what Google used to call a group of panoramas... I have no idea if I want to convert an island to a level -- but I may as well add an Island. I add 3. After adding each, the 'Add an Island' bit changes to 'Add scenes'. Alright! I'm in a good mood about this because of the little graphic of the robot on the beach. He's very cool. But wait ... there are two sets of flip flops... who do the other ones belong to?

Between the two -- PanoSkin immediately identifies that I can create multiple groupings (islands). GoThru shows a '1' tab, which I figure means that there will be groups -- it doesn't tell me to upload my '1st Group/Constellation/Island/Space Station' ... but the '1' tab indicates that that's what I need to do.

Both systems need to explain themselves a bit better. GoThru requires 1 line of text -- PanoSkin needs to explain what an Island is, especially as I immediately have the ability to make a bunch of them before uploading my 1st image.

THE UPLOAD --

GoThru -- I drag and drop and click 'done' below. It returns me to the map. Something tells me that I'm supposed to wait for the upload to finish before clicking 'DONE'. I'm scared to click the '+' button on the tab bar next to the '1' tab incase I interrupt my upload again. These buttons should probably be disabled until the upload finishes. Time to try again ... uploading ... cute animation as each finishes... uploading... and done. I think there should be a message on the screen at this point prompting me to add more or complete... time to click the done button.

The map reappears and I see my panos scattered all over the place. Neat. But... I wanted to add the other constellations -- I guess I should have clicked +, not done. This was not clear. Luckily, there's a big 'Upload Panoramas' button that takes me back to where I was before. I don't see the images that I already uploaded, which is a bummer, but I'm going to go ahead and click '+' and make another group. I'm now prompted to name the new level ... which is odd as I was not previously asked to name my first level -- nor was I told that I was creating a level in the first place. I'll call this 'Leasing Center' ... except there's a 2 character limit and no explanation as to why it's limited. Ok... I'll call this '2'. Don't ask me questions if you don't want answers! Now, I've added this, but I'm still on the '1' tab ... it should have swapped... I'll click '2'... and ok... I guess I'm on two now as the tab is selected (but the content of the tab is the same ...) ... Drag and Drop .... automatic uploading... (no option to cancel mind you) ... and ... it's done. I'll add a 3rd level now that I have figured that out. And upload ... and now time to click on done.

Panoskin -- Each of my equirectangular files (2:1) ratio are greeted with an error -- XXXX.jpg was not recognized as a panoramic image. Please make sure you are uploading a stiched panoramic image with an XMP Gpano profile. Fun. I click 'HELP' and a 'Leave us a message' box pops up ... and that's not waht I wanted. I want to find out how to get my images to be recognized. When I first tried this, I spent 30 minutes Googling the solution... downloaded ExifToolGUI in order to add the meta data needed and further researched that. Somewhat tedious. PanoSkin sent out an e-mail that stated: 'If you strip your images of the XMP data, Google will not recognize your image as a spherical panorama. Please be aware when stitching your panoramas that the XMP data must remain available. If you are using PTGUI you should be ok, but be careful when editing your panoramas using a third-party software such as Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Light room.' But that doesn't really help. I didn't strip out any XMP data -- I never HAD any to begin with.

Luckily, GoThru will allow me to download all of the panoramas I uploaded - and they all contain the missing EXIF data that is necessary. I'm taking this route after trying to find an intelligent Windows-based solution for tagging over 100 panos with the right data... and I'm deciding to NOT run batch files on command line interface applications (exifer)...

Incidentally at this point I've jammed the lid to my Yeti cup due to the rubber rolling off and I'm having trouble there too.

----------------------

THE MODERATION

GoThru -- The Editor pops up and I start to link my panos starting from #1. It's easy to select a pano then select the next one that you would like to link to. An overlay appears and you can enlarge and pan on the next pano as a flattened image in order to line it up. It took a few minutes to get the concept, and then I was flying... it can be tricky, and getting the alignment just perfect is tough at times. I linked a few together and then went back to refine an alignment and couldn't figure out how to.... once linked, there's no way to fix a bad link that was off unless I tweak on the map -- and at that point, I'm sort of off-roading it. Enough for now.

PanoSkin -- Once in the editor, I notice it looks similar to GoThru... and it's pretty spartan. I can add two panos, align with the same methods of GoThru and drag pointers on the map to refine the links. One great feature is that the preview panorama displayed as a panorama - not a flattened image, which made alignment much easier. After 2 panos, I'd had enough, though. Looking through the rest of the UI, it's possible to click on any menu item and instantly leave all of your work behind without a warning message appearing. GoThru opens Moderator up in a new window without additional buttons.

I'm sorely missing the automatic linking that Google made possible as well as the ability to draw lines between multiple panoramas at the same time.

----------------------

The VERDICT

GoThru is online and ready for all to use now. Creating a new tour, uploading and jumping into the moderator couldn't be easier although a few lines of helpful text would be nice in certain places. Once in the moderator, things move smoothly as long as you work smart and drag and drop each pano in the order that you want them linked. If you make a mistake, it gets confusing when trying to break apart links. The map is best for this, but even so, I got a bit frustrated. The one tour I did publish was done successfully by linking everything on the map and repositioning my view.

PanoSkin has a beautiful setup procedure and fun graphics that are inviting. Beyond that, the organizational system is a little confusing and it's unclear what the organizational options are for.

When editing, GoThru is definitely a more mature platform and has more features, hot keys and seems more solid. Panoskin's system is NOT far behind at all.

Both platforms will be growing and developing over the next few months -- just like Google's API.

Final Verdict: Google should not have shut down the Business View uploader.

---

I'll post soon if I manage to finish the tour on either platform.

I -have- already posted one tour with GoThru several weeks ago while Business View was still online, but was not working. I reposted in Street View when that popped up as the auto-alignment was just more accurate than what I did -- and at no fault of GoThru's -- Google Business View was still allowing me to attribute the tour to me without linking to a G+ account. I don't want to link my tours to my G+ account. It took me about 30 minutes in Business View, and about 2 1/2 hours with GoThru simply because of Google's auto-alignment tool.

Business View should not have been sunset until the API had parity so that hard working developers like Alin would be able to deliver a full solution that exceeded what Google was offering. I personally don't think that they've been fair.
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jfantin private msg quote post Address this user
Excellent and useful description. Thank you very much @Metroplex360!

Your analysis is very good and helped me a lot.

I coincide with you in that Google shouldn´t have taken down its SV Editor until the other alternatives were fully ready and tested.

My SV business is not important, and I managed to use the SV Editor on April 6th a couple of hours before if was going to be deactivated! I am not sure if I want to keep working in the StreetView business anymore. It is too confusing at this moment, lots of opinions and no guarantee that it is a stable plattform to use with your clients.

Hopefully this will improve with the pass of time. Let´s hope it is just a matter of weeks.

As always, you have proved that you are a very valuable member of this community. Thanks.
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Metroplex360 private msg quote post Address this user
Quote:
Originally Posted by jfantin
I coincide with you in that Google shouldn´t have taken down its SV Editor until the other alternatives were fully ready and tested.

My SV business is not important, and I managed to use the SV Editor on April 6th a couple of hours before if was going to be deactivated! I am not sure if I want to keep working in the StreetView business anymore. It is too confusing at this moment, lots of opinions and no guarantee that it is a stable plattform to use with your clients.

Hopefully this will improve with the pass of time. Let´s hope it is just a matter of weeks. As always, you have proved that you are a very valuable member of this community. Thanks.


Hey, thanks @jfantin.

I do want to strongly underscore that I do believe that the other alternatives to the Google Business View editor are doing an excellent job with the API that they have been given.

I -will- finish publishing this tour and I am hoping to build it out in both editors in order to 'fully evaluate' both platforms.

I do have an ongoing issue with GoThru - which is that it's difficult to work backwards after making a mistake or wanting to fix some alignment issues. Beyond that, my complaints are largely that GoThru does not have the ability to automatically make computed alignments -- and this is a Google API issue, not a GoThru issue.

With PanoSkin... the big barrier was that I was not using a Ricoh Theta S or stitched images from PTGui that contained XMP data. Beyond that, the interface is not as intuitive as GoThru and there are a lot of little UI/UX bugs that seem framework related.

I had imagined that both platforms would be in a dead heat at launch. GoThru is ahead and the better choice.

I also should add that @Alin recently added a HELP dialog that is full of helpful shortcut keys and video tutorials that can be watched while 'moderating' a tour. It's a very classy move and there are quite a few cool 'pro' features he's added that make the videos worth watching.
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Panoskin private msg quote post Address this user
Thank you Chris for your assessment. Our team is actively working through all of these things, and from our interaction with the community, aware of some of the shortcomings. A lot of these are addressed in our introductory video and email blasts we've been sending out. Our tool is growing and still in Beta.

Will keep you up to date. Hoping round 2 will be more favorable!
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Metroplex360 private msg quote post Address this user
@Panoskin Me too! There's a -lot- to like. I also realized today that my BETA account is setup as a 'Reseller'. I'm not sure if this is standard for GTPs who are beta testing - but that explains the Clients business. Good luck guys!
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