I looked at a shareware software this morning called “Universal Maps Downloader 6.87. It is shareware, so you get a free (trial) version which is limited, but you can BUY the full version for $59.95. Check it out at: www.softonpc.com/umd/. I haven’t tried it yet. It is said to work with Google Street Maps, Google Satellite Maps, Google Terrain Maps, Yahoo Street Maps, Yahoo Satellite Maps, Microsoft VirtualEarth Street Maps, Microsoft VirtualEarth Satellite Maps, Microsoft VirtualEarth Hybrid Maps, and OpenStreet Maps.
One of the problems seems that it is not to be used for COMMERCIAL USE. Which brings me to what I have been doing with Google Earth. I do not have a $400 Google Pro license. In my work using GIS for WETLAND DELINEATION I have experimented with different techniques using the superior imagery of Google Earth.
In the first method I screen captured with “SnagIt Editor” (a fantastic screen capture utility for not a lot of $$) multiple images at the same scale. The reason I used SnagIt was that saving a clipped image in Google Earth pixelizes very quickly when going closer in. I used Photoshop to merge the images as one. Then I georeferenced the image into my project. That was fine until I read more closely the Copyright permissions of Google Earth. And it doesn’t work well if you have a large area to cover or you combine it with images from other sources.
The second method I tried was mapping on Google Earth the paths (in the case of stream locations). Then I took the KML and converted them into shapefiles, projected, etc. Being in California, I was using Digital Orthophotos (DOQQs_combined_color-nir-orthophotos) from NAIP (National Ag. Inventory Program) from Cal-Atlas as a background. It worked but it took a long time and seemed somewhat repetitive. Also you couldn’t really make edits to the paths in Google easily and interactively.
Finally, I realized that the best way to do it for me for the job was to use Google Earth as a reference on a second monitor but do the actual mapping on the orthophotos in your GIS program. That way you could interactively edit and attribute, you could save a step by not having to create paths in Google Earth, and you don’t have to worry about copyright issues.