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I'm trying to communicate how a product could/should/does behave with Network Links but am often getting tripped up by explaining the difference between the "link" and the "fetched content" -- which is a very important distinction when it comes to saving KML/KMZ, for example.

I'm aware of the shortcut to target file analogy, but I'm looking for something for more of the non-technical folks.

Any ideas of a real-world (preferrably non-technical) analogy to Network Links?

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In the simplest form Network KML are:

Network links allow you to tell more complex and dynamic stories with your KML files. They allow you to do many more things, from keeping content updated to changing content in response to what the user does.

Source and Excellent Official Resouces for Network KML is:

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Analogies are difficult in a situation like this as it is merely an implementation detail. The difference is:

  • KML files are like word documents or a PDF. You download once and then don't need to download anything more.
  • Network links need an internet connection to work and have a smaller download, more like a web page.

Of course the user only ever sees a kml/kmz file, and will only really care if they are trying to use the data offline or with a slow connection.

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It depends on what you are trying to communicate, and perhaps even to what end-goal, but assuming that you have reasonably proficient "web" users, then just say that the NetworkLink is like a URL - the web site address - for a web browser, and that you can get additional stuff (which might be images, or other KML) if your KML browser supports NetworkLink and can connect to the target of the NetworkLink.

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