Getting Started on Earth Blox

Modified on Fri, 19 May 2023 at 10:36 AM

This article will explain the main elements of Earth Blox and how to navigate the browser interface.

The At A Glance document provides a summary of the key features in a single graphic.


Welcome to Earth Blox

Earth Blox is a web tool that allows you to analyse spatial data in the cloud. The key things to note are:

  • Most of the data is stored on Google's Earth Engine, so you don't have to store any data locally. 
  • Google's supercomputing resource processes your data and allows large areas or long time series to be processed, not your own computer.
  • You only upload areas of interest and download the final result.  Because it is all done "on the cloud" you don't need a fast computer or a fast internet connection (although your final results will download quicker on a faster connection, and the time it takes for the map outputs to load on your screen).

Finding Your Way Around

When you log in, you should see something like this (one or two of the buttons may look different on your version):

  • The map on the right is where you can engage with spatial data (uploading or displaying). 
  • The workspace on the left is where you build workflows for your project and execute instructions and queries on your chosen data. 
  • The size of the windows should adjust when you resize the browser.  
  • The grey vertical bar in the middle can be used to adjust the proportional size of the two windows, which is helpful when you want to focus on a particular side of the platform.

There are four key parts to Earth Blox (see the image below).  

  1. The Map Window. The map on the right-hand side is used for selecting areas of interest and displaying the spatial (map) output.  To find out the purpose of each of the buttons see the article that gives an explanation of all the map icons
  2. On the far left is the Toolbox.  When you click on one of the three headings in the toolbox it will expand to give you more options. From each of these, you can select individual blocks by clicking on them. 
  3. By clicking (or click-and-drag) the blocks you can make them appear in the white canvas area - the Workspace.  Here you can connect blocks together to make workflows. You can also create multiple workflows within the workspace. You can remove items by selecting them and dragging them to the dustbin (trashcan). (You can click on the dustbin to see what you have binned recently, and drag items back into the workspace if you want to use them again). 
  4. The Dashboard tab is behind the map tab.  It shows tabulated or graphical output (if such output has been included in a workflow).  

Right-Mouse-Click Short Cuts

  1. A right mouse click on a workflow (or individual block) allows you to:
    1. Duplicate the workflow (or block);
    2. Add a comment to help you keep track of your thinking or to help share it with others;
    3. Collapse it to a single line (to reduce its size, and use Expand to bring it back to its original size);
    4. Disable the workflow (or block) so that it is still visible but will not be executed when the RUN WORKFLOW is initiated;
    5. Delete the workflow (or block). 
    6. You can also use the standard keyboard shortcuts to copy/paste/delete a selected workflow (or block).
  2. The workspace also has some functions available via a right mouse click. These are:
    1. Undo, to undo your last action on the workspace;
    2. Redo, to redo your last action on the workspace;
    3. Clean up Blocks, which moves all your workflows and blocks to a neat column;
    4. Collapse Blocks, which will collapse all workflows and blocks;
    5. Expand Blocks, which expands all the workflows and blocks;
    6. Delete # Blocks, which will delete all the blocks in the workspace (where # is the number of blocks).

First Steps

  • To learn how to use the toolbox, take a look at this article on Building a Workflow.  This will show you how to navigate around the Toolbox and understand the basics of the building blocks. 
  • To understand what all the buttons on the map can do, see the article that gives an Explanation of all the map icons.  There are quite a lot of buttons, so it's a good idea to familiarise yourself with all of them first. 
  • You can find out all the customisation options available on the map by looking at this article on The Map Window
  • To find out what all the Toolbox blocks do see the three articles on INPUT, ANALYSE and OUTPUT blocks. 

The quickest way to get started is to go to the WORKFLOWS LIBRARY list at the top of the workspace and choose a pre-built workflow.  Then press the RUN WORKFLOW button. 


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