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DaCor's diary

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iD Newbie friendly feature request

Posted by DaCor on 8 February 2014 in English (English)

A thought occurred to me a few days ago while using iD in work....

"If I was a new user and needed help what would be the fastest way to get that help to keep me interested in editing?"

As with my Local Chapters V2.0 diary post I'd like to preface the following by saying I do not have the necessary skills to implement what I am about to propose but I would hope that this post will prompt someone with those skills to run with this.

What I think might possibly address my original question above would be real-time 1-on-1 help.

The best way I see of doing this is by adding functionality to iD which would do the following

  • New user clicks a "Get real-time assistance" button
  • In IRC, in the main channel and applicable regional channel (if one exists) osmbot would announce to the channel that "User XXXX is requesting editing assistance in #osmhelp channel"
  • Anyone can then click on the #osmhelp channel name to join it and provide help

As for possible issues with doing this:

  • Why not send them to #osm?'

Simply because when its busy in there it can be very difficult to follow a conversation. In addition with all the techy chat that goes on in there (not a bad thing) it may be a little intimidating for new users

  • Why also announce to a regional channel?

Should mitigate against language barriers

  • What if nobody answers them, it will look bad on OSM?

The topic of a chatroom is the first thing someone sees when they enter a chatroom, adding a disclaimer to the topic along the lines of "Openstreetmap is run by volunteers so it may be a while before your query is answered" or something like that.

  • Is something like "really" needed?

Thinking back to when I first started editing. The very beginning was very frustrating but through a local site I posted about the issues I was having and was given the #osm-ie details. Within minutes of joining that chatroom I was flying and best of all, everytime I had a question about something, it was answered very quickly. If it wasn't for the help I received that first day I would, in all likelyhood, have given up on OSM.

Local Chapters v2.0 - A standardised starting point for new contributors

Posted by DaCor on 4 September 2013 in English (English)

For the TL;DR crowd, the basis of the following lays out what I feel should be achievable in providing a standard starting point to creating local chapter portals within the OSM ecosystem while at the same time allowing more active chapters to flourish externally but benefit from tools available to all. i would like to preface this with an acknowledgment that I do not have the necessary technical skills to create what i am about to propose, but maybe it might spark somebody into following through on even some aspects of this proposal. The idea behind this is to keep it as simple as possible for new members to tie in with existing members from their country / region. For myself, personally, I only got as involved as I did due to the fact of the #osm-ie Irish IRC channel where I got a lot of real-time assistance.

There are a handful of strong OSM local chapters around the world, a sprinkling of inactive or dormant local chapters and a gaping hole where no local chapters exist at all in any form despite there likely being some active OSM members from every country in the world.

I propose to change this using the starting point of account creation on openstreetmap.org

How I envisage this working is upon joining, more emphasis is put on the new member placing a "home location" marker. The small print at this point can state that it does not need to be their actual "home", but rather it can be a generic location like the city centre or a local monument if they so wish. Benefits of placing a home location marker should also be outlined at this point as:

  • Automatic access to region / country specific local chapter (more on this later) etc
  • Country/region specific statistics

Once new member registration is complete, they are presented with an option to edit the map, but there is an additional option to "access openstreetmap local chapter for your area" which will open a new window, the chapter portal.

The chapter portal will contain several simple indicators for that chapter, these would be simple active/inactive indicators to show which of the following are in use:

  • IRC related, i.e the chapter maintains an IRC channel (#osm-gb, #osm-ie etc) with a link to a browser based IRC client (keep it simple, don't involve IRC clients at this stage) which would ideally open with the chapter portal as a wrapper around the IRC chat window. This could be changed in preferences to open in a new window, or open client.
  • Mailing list, same as IRC above (it would be good if signing up for mailing lists be simplified/streamlined to allow for one / two click sign-up)
  • Mapping parties, can link to an external site like event brite, meetups etc or be an integrated part of the portal showing the the next / previous meet ups.
  • National page on the wiki
  • A chapter forum. Ideally this would be integrated into the chapter portal rather than linking out to the existing osm forums unless they could be configured to allow the portal to act as a wrapper.
  • Lastly, stats! Various national stats incorporated into the portal (see neis-one.org, osm-stats.org etc for examples)

I am sure there are a load of improvements that could be made to the above, however it would be a good starting point by which to tie new members into their local community and increase active contributors.

I do not see this as taking over from external sites that have been developed by certain chapters, rather, in those cases, this would act as a "first contact" location for new contributors.

I look forward to discussing this and many other things, with SOTM folks over the next few days

Looking for help tracing buildings in Galway City - aka Beginners Guide to MapCraft

Posted by DaCor on 23 March 2013 in English (English)

The stars have aligned to allow me a full weekend next week (29th & 30th Mar) of surveying in my city and I am planning on using it to gather as much address data as humanly possible for the west side of the city including the suburbs.

However, I need help adding buildings to allow for easier and more accurate surveying. The main reason is due to weird numbering in many areas where houses/businesses can be numbered as 1, 2, 3, 3a, 3b, 4a, 4, 5. When numbered like this it can be difficult to accurately map everything quickly. As an example, a few days ago I was able to gather data for over approx. 1,000 homes in just over 2 hours where the house numbers were not in a strict sequence simply because I had building outlines to tie everything to.

I have set up a job using Mapcraft to split up the task. If you know how to use MapCraft you do not need to read any further, just grab a slice and start adding buildings (pretty please) ;)

If you have never used MapCraft before, I have written a step-by-step guide on how to go about using it in conjunction with JOSM. To log into MapCraft, first, log into OSM as you would normally do, then click here to take you to the main MapCraft page. Hit login in the top right and allow it to link to your OSM account.

Firstly, you need to make sure you have remote control turned on in JOSM , here’s how to do it:

  1. Go to Edit -> Preferences or press F12 to bring up the Preferences window
  2. Click on the remote control icon
  3. Select "Enable Remote Control" and click OK.

Next, go to my MapCraft job. You will see the following screen:

mapcraft01

MapCraft Walk-Through

  1. Cake: Turn on/off the cake outline to switch between the cake slice view and the background map
  2. Settings: Adjust settings, default usually cover everything you need
  3. Info: Click here to see the Where / Why / How etc along with additional information and helpful links
  4. “The Cake”: Galway city (west) broken into “cake slices “ to allow for multiple people to edit the same area all at once without causing conflicts in the data. If you are editing a slice, its important you stick to your slice and don’t go outside the boundary of it.
  5. Owner: Click on a slice of the cake to select it, then click “Owner” to accept ownership of that slice. This prevents anyone else from working on that slice, again preventing conflicts in the data.
  6. Progress: As you edit, you can click on this to move a slider between 0-9 to indicate to others how you are progressing. The cake above shows slices in various stages of progress from not started to completed.
  7. Comments: Add a comment here (8) for a slice you are working on if you think it needs one. This can be used to highlight issues to other mappers if you release the cake slice to allow someone else to edit it. To add a comment, first you must click the number of the slice beside your name in the Users box (10). Once you type your comment and click “Add” it will show in the Comments box (7).
  8. See 7
  9. Remote: Click this button, it will load your cake slice directly into JOSM for you to begin editing, Note: It loads as a square area, not the exact same shape as the cake slice. Once your data has loaded in JOSM, on MapCraft, click Info (3) and click the “Remote” button beside the first link (WMS layer for editors). This will load the outline of the cake for you in JOSM so you can make sure you stay inside your cake slice until you are ready to claim another slice.
  10. Users: List of all users using this mapcraft job and a list of the slices they have claimed ownership for.
  11. Chat: Exactly what you think it is, a simple window to chat, or leave messages for other users. You can view the full chatlog by going to Info (3) and clicking on the second link (Cake Chat Log) to read back through previous conversations relating to the area being mapped.

Editing in JOSM – Showing cake slices to prevent data conflicts

When you load a slice in JOSM using the remote button (9) you will see something like the image below. It is essentially a bounding box encompassing the cake slice, but it also includes data from outside the slice so you can not just start editing. The image below only has a single layer (12) at present

mapcraft02

Before you start editing, you need to need to get the cake slice information which will show you, in JOSM, the boundary of your cake slice. To do this, in Mapcraft, click Info (3) and click the “Remote” button (13) next to the WMS layer For Editors link.

mapcraft03

This will add a new layer called Mapcraft-cake-223 (12) to JOSM showing the boundaries of the cake slice, in this case, cake slice # 14.

mapcraft04

This can be toggled on/off by clicking the eyeball (14) next to the layer name.

mapcraft05

Next, add your imagery layer using the imagery menu. This will add an additional layer (12) for, in this case, Bing imagery.

mapcraft06

However, now you need to move the Mapcraft-cake-223 layer above the Bing imagery layer using the blue arrow (15) so that everything is visible all at once, openstreetmap data, cake slice outlines & imagery.

mapcraft07

Now JOSM should look like this

mapcraft08

You can see a number of building outlines have already been added inside your cake slice but there are still a few missing at the bottom of the cake slice (highlighted)

Some are inside the cake slice boundary (16), these are safe to edit (17) and some are outside the cake slice (18). These should not be edited by you as another person may be editing that cake slice. If you both trace the same building it can cause conflicts or map errors, as in 2 buildings sitting on top of each other.

mapcraft09

That’s it, I hope this has been of some use and if you would like to show some love to Galway City I would be very grateful as it will make my surveying much more effective next week with the end result looking something similar to this area which I surveyed a few weeks back.

Location: Claddagh, Galway, County Galway, Connacht, Ireland

Adding Addresses

Posted by DaCor on 22 February 2013 in English (English)

Over the last month or two I've started to put more time into adding addresses in residental areas in my local area and according to Pascal Neis' great site, I have over 2,000 pieces of address data added since the beginning of the year. At this rate, by the time I've finished with my small city I will probably have over 100,000 pieces of address data added.

Here's the kicker though, until recently I was not aware of the importance/relevance of address data in OSM and I've done A LOT of mapping of the last 13 months.

Initially when I started I used my Android phone and Vespucci which has been my weapon of choice while out and about however for this kind of detail I found it too awkward and tried out a few other apps. I tried Keypadmapper and OSMPad and in the end settled on OSMPad simply because I could see exactly where on the map I was placing the address marker as I can't always maintain GPS lock. The ability to cache maps was also appealing for areas where there was a poor data connection.

How I gather my address info now is in 3 stages:

  • I add the buildings first(adding addr:street),
  • then go survey,
  • then dump the traces I've collected into JOSM and add details to all the buildings (addr:housenumber).

There are 2 additional benefits/side effects of doing it this way.

First, it is forcing me to go back over every single street, road, alley, walkway etc in my city and I am refining alignment, adding missed details (street lighting, speed bumps, stop signs etc) and generally improving every square inch of the map for my city.

Second, I am revisiting all of these areas again for a second time, however, where previously I would have just gotten the name of a housing estate from a sign at the entrance and moved on to the next one, I am now going INTO every estate and surveying all of it and finding

  • other estates/apartments tucked in the back that are not signposted at the main entrance
  • house names
  • guest houses
  • small businesses run from the home

Hopefully this post can help others to get started on this. Its not a bible on how to do it, merely a few pointers on how to get started

Galway City

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