OpenStreetMap

Rostranimin has commented on the following diary entries

Post When Comment
Nik4: mapnik → image 3 months ago

My suggestion would be to add some text directed at the ordinary OSM user/mapper. I'm one of those :-) I understand what Mapnik is, I understand the basic challenges of getting OSM mapping into a georeferenced image, I'm a pretty experienced mapper (years of involvement). BUT I don't have enough information here to understand whether this is something useful to me. This isn't a criticism - I realise there is a lot still to learn and that the onus is on me to do this - but some plain English words explaining what to you are utterly obvious things would help people like me (to whom they aren't obvious). Note that I'm not asking for more than a few sentences - that should be enough. Thanks.

Google Map Maker over 1 year ago

Interesting - but I think that's beside the point (we could get into a discussion about this without getting anywhere useful - and I'm writing partly based on my personal experience of both systems which is of course personal...) - there are many other examples in any case. My point stands - in a 'free market' it's not necessarily the best design which wins where there's competition.

Google Map Maker over 1 year ago

The target group I have in mind is definitely different from these two - it's people who want to use the map/data in the simplest ways.

This group is huge I think. It would include: John who wants to drive to a conference somewhere new. Jake who wants to know a good cycle route to his workplace. Jane who wants to check where the nearest Tesco store is. Janet who wants to print a map of her local area so she can show a friend where her new house is. Jackie who is trying to find her way around a strange city by bus. Jack who wants to see what rivers he could paddle a canoe on. Jo who wants to know the name of the odd building near her office.

None of these people initially come to the map to contibute data... but they all have the potential to do so. None of these people necessarily have any technical ability, beyond that required to navigate Google Maps.

Google Map Maker over 1 year ago

Aha, Richard, you're the Switch2OSM person. Very nice site. I've been close to creating an equivalent for new map users a couple of times... those just wanting to find their way around... but I've not quite found the time. Again, I don't think it's that huge a job, and would certainly be worthwhile if people took notice of it.

Unless you fancy adding something on this to Switch2OSM??

Strangely we seem to be stuck between (at least) two points of view. One says "this is data, not GM, not for finding your way around, so it doesn't need to be friendly to people needing this." The other says "this is a map project and should have a map on the front page like GM."

Ideally a combination of both the German system and the current one would be great - but technically harder I'm sure. A map on the front page yes, but without making people think that the one page is the totality of OSM - in fact making sure that they know that they need to dig a bit to make the most of OSM.

I suppose my starting point is that the German page needs work - but that it's SO much better than our current one...

Google Map Maker over 1 year ago

Richard - thanks for your comments. My main motivation for posting the original diary entry was to add to the motivation for change, not just to moan... so I'll certainly look up the suggestions.

As you say, this isn't easy... at least I think it IS easy, but only once people are motivated, and only once a big enough group understands why it's important. I had a go at adding improvements to the beginners documentation some time ago (just at the time that the phrase 'or some of the many other services' was added to the front wiki page), but became completely frustrated as easy language was converted repeatedly back to more technical/involved/detailed information.

For clarity, I'm not necessarily advocating advanced functionality on openstreetmap.org. One of the best things about OSM is that it doesn't depend on one page... what I'm pushing for is that the first encounter with OSM tells people this. That's not such a difficult thing technically.

One thing I'd like to suggest - if it were technically/politically possible - because this presumably would be technically simple - is that openstreetmap.org simply adopts the German front page (translated of course). Surely this ought to be possible?

Google Map Maker over 1 year ago

People keep saying that OSM is better. That's to miss the point. It's very much better... but GM is very very much more popular... by which I mean that interaction with GM is something which is part of the habit of a very large number of people. And it does some things stunningly well (Streetview particularly). This means that if people can accomplish things using GM they will - even if it would have been better accomplished using OSM. Right now that's not a problem, because most of what can be accomplished with OSM can't with GM, The real point is that as what can be accomplished using GM grows (it's growing steadily and shows no sign of stopping) the risk to OSM increases dramatically. OK maybe it'll not die completely - even Betamax video recorders retained a small geeky fan base long after the rest of us gave up on them...

Once again - my main point is that the effort to make OSM welcoming would be small and nothing at all would be lost! "We're not trying to be Google Maps" isn't a good reason for being unwelcoming.

And I'm not talking about 'contributing' mainly by the way - I'm talking about using the data. Recently I wanted to find my way about a new foreign city. That's where Openstreetbrowser (browsing OSM data) came in. It's a stunningly useful tool not for contributing but for browsing. Once you know what you are doing you can very very easily find your way around a city by public transport using this. Yes I know, there's a strong feeling among some that OSM isn't about finding your way around (I disagree) - but those finding their way around may well become contributors. I only started contributing once the map was worth using - I had no interest until then. Now I'm an enthusiast.

Is there any reason why we shouldn't be welcoming to ordinary people who just want to find their way from A to B? What could we lose by doing this? Nothing?

Google Map Maker over 1 year ago

Nice to have comments :-)

My point is that GM is starting to move towards fulfilling (badly just now) the same needs as OSM. I disagree profoundly that GM fill fail on this ground - it's building on an extremely strong customer base (as with the example I gave). This easily trumps the fact that OSM is better, that our data is free, that OSM isn't just a map but open data, etc etc. GM also has a strong commercial interest in moving into the space that OSM currently fills - taking up the competition that OSM has begun (I disagree that they fulfil different needs - perhaps just now they do, but GM is coming to get us, that's how competition works). It WILL move gradually into this space unless OSM increases its customer base. The only way for this to happen is for OSM to become welcoming and friendly to non-OSM people. To invite people in. To showcase its value not to hide it away for specialists (or a few people taught by specialists).

The reason I sound irritated by this (nothing personal intended - its a long term irritation) is that becoming friendly and inviting to non-OSM people really wouldn't be hard, and because nothing would be lost by doing this.

What's lost by having a front page like the German one? Or something even better?

Google Map Maker over 1 year ago

You can't can you? No argument with OSM being better!

impassable gate? over 1 year ago

Actually scratch that comment about putting 'access' values on the road - there's no good reason why it shouldn't be on the gate itself.

impassable gate? over 1 year ago

That looks pretty good. I like the thing about giving it a default. The only real issue might be that the access ought (I'd have thought) to be tags for the road/path not the gate. Perhaps I just have to get on my bike and investigate the other end of this to find out if I could do that... (if there is a similar gate at the other end it makes things simpler).

impassable gate? over 1 year ago

Opening hours might do it - although from the wiki entry this is more aimed at the idea of something being open to customers (rather than open for passage). I wondered about 'access' but that's aimed at the legal status of something and that I don't know about.

It doesn't help that I don't really know what's on the other side of the gate (other than what's mapped) having never been through it (only passing by on the road).

My concern is mainly that this looks (on renderings, but probably to routers too) like it's a viable cycle route / walking route when this is normally not the case... the 'tall' comment is irrelevant really, what I was aiming at was to explain that when the gate is closed you aren't going to get past (at least not without climbing equipment!). Gate is locked most of the time (except a for a few hours a couple of days per week).

First area mapping from survey over 2 years ago

Interesting stuff...

I was using the OS VectorMapDistrict vector information. Simple way to get data but I chose to use it to create the main stream way rather than using the riverbank data - this gives the illusion of accuracy even more.

I've assumed that this is the same data as on the Opendata tiles?

Surely streams like the one I was mapping couldn't easily have been done from aerial imagery. The trees - old ones on the whole I think - obscure the stream. I suppose with a low enough flight maybe?? It's the fact that the data is of the stream bank not just of the stream route which made me think that it was done accurately - and that small bridges which are completely invisible in Bing aerial images are included.

Central America - you are right, adding the hedges and walls will be good. I want to do a second check of these before I add them though as I'd like to include any gaps in them. Couldn't work out a way to tag a ruined wall with multiple gaps either. I'd used leisure=track previously for this same running track too - but the recent survey convinced me that what looks like a running track is in such bad repair as to make it unlikely that it's actually used properly any more (so I changed it to a simple track). The old tennis courts (middle rectangle) and old football pitch (south rectangle) likewise. I tagged these as leisure=pitch rather reluctanctly. Interestingly I've just Googled briefly for information and council minutes seem to confirm all old facilities except the grass football pitch (north rectangle) are unused. Is there some way to tag 'unused' or 'disrepair'?

Is it all of a stream which should be layer=-1 or just the bit under the bridge?

First area mapping from survey over 2 years ago

EdLoach: Yes you have the right area. You'll see (on the updated Mapnik rendering for instance) the green area running north-south through the town. I've corrected the natural=grass to landuse=grass which had just been a slip.

Anyone think that this kind of area should be left until it can be surveyed properly? It feels inadequate to be using out of date information and weak GPS traces. Where will the original OS data have come from for this kind of area? Did people do really accurate surveys with proper (pre-gps) surveying equipment? How long ago is this likely to have happened - am I right to assume it may have been a very long time ago, later to be copied from map to map??

I'm intending to return to this area another time to try to see if my mapping makes sense as I walk the paths. As a map-user I know I look for features like how a path gets closer or further away from the edge of a woodland, or closer and further away from the main stream, or how the stream or path bends left and right. These are probably more significant for a map-user than the actual exact geographical location of these features.

OpenStreetBrowser over 2 years ago

I love it. If you're a new user I'd be really pleased to receive comments on the instructions I wrote (with help from 'Skunk' who is the main person working on the actual application) here: http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/OpenStreetBrowser/Instructions
(And of course good edits to improve these instructions are welcome).

Getting started over 3 years ago

Hey - thanks for comments. Great to feel welcomed!

Getting started over 3 years ago

Yes - Cat Nick was a bit frustrating to work with.
Trust me to choose something difficult as a first edit.
There are all sorts of difficulties.
The feature is in many ways something which on the ground is absent rather than something which is present - it's a missing bit of cliff! It's not a bit of the cliff - and if it was I can't find how to designate this anyway - and if I did the name presumably wouldn't show up anywhere - but it's a name which should be shown in a rendering as its of some local significance.
And it's a natural feature - but not the kind of feature which is normally named by a lay person - but here it is named by lay people!
And it's something I'm sure about - having many years ago gone looking for it and (I'm now told illegally) having scrambled up it - but which has nothing to indicate the name on the ground.
And there's evidence on the internet for my case - but plenty of inaccurate (I think) information too to contradict me, some on quite reputable sites.
I'd be happy to hear comment about whether I've mapped this sensibly by the way. In the end I decided that a very small additional piece of cliff was by far the clearest option.
Oh, and just for good measure this is on 'Salisbury Crags' by which name people would normally mean the cliffs themselves, not the hill (because of its shape). The average person would say 'I'm walking to the top of Salisbury Crags... but they wouldn't be thinking of this as the name of the hill... but neither does it seem reasonable to omit a symbol for 'peak' given that it's such an obvious land feature.
I should have picked a road name or something to edit first shouldn't I!

Getting started over 3 years ago

Not so easy! It's no longer an open church and as such won't have a name on the building - and its on private land. And there have been 4 editors previously - none of whom have changed it's name...
But there's plenty of evidence on the internet about the name being wrong.
Maybe it would be polite to ask the last editor- at least this way I've made an attempt to be polite.
Thanks for your comments Strash.