The good boundary highlighting of Google maps

Posted by Sanderd17 on 27 August 2012 in English (English)

Some new added feature in Google maps is, when you search for something with a boundary. F.e. my city Roeselare or my country Belgium, the boundary of that feature is highlighted.

If you search it in OSM, the boundary is not highlighted, you only see an arrow on the middle of the feature.

This is while Nominatim does offer the possibility to get the polygon outline of a feature with a boundary. Just see this query:

Wouldn't it be nice to also have this on the main OSM site? Or are there services doing this Google-like boundary highlighting.

Comment from Pink Duck on 27 August 2012 at 15:17

Wait for it and you’ll get the usual response that the OSM map is purely for demonstration and for checking what has been mapped. Except there does need to be a site to demonstrate what can be done with OSM, comparable to Google Maps, and it may as well be done on the main OSM site where everyone goes expecting just that.

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Comment from Sanderd17 on 27 August 2012 at 15:22

Well, this would at least allow us to see that the boundaries are correct :D

The purple lines rendered with Mapnik don't help a lot.

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Comment from amm on 27 August 2012 at 15:40

Wikipedia show boundary outlines of geocoded objects in their articles. They use the OSM data for this through the WIWOSM project ( )

To see it, you go to a geocoded article like and then click on the globe in the upper right hand corner, at which point you should see a red polygon highlighting the extent (boundary) of an object.

If you go to e.g. the german Wikipedia, it is even shown on the familiar mapnik map.

For this to work, however, you need to add the wikipedia tag to the osm object, which is also now used in nominatim to determine the importance / ranking of search results.

Unfortunately due to technical problems the wikipedia-osm db is a bit (roughly a month) out of date, but hopefully soon, it should be updated daily again.

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Comment from Sanderd17 on 27 August 2012 at 16:12

@amm, I had seen that map before, we also have it in the Dutch wiki. but I've never seen the boundary feature. It's very nice.

Now, for Belgium, wikipedia was the last that needed this, as some user drew simplified maps (boundaries, water and residential areas) of all cities, even before OSM was active in Belgium.

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Comment from Vincent de Phily on 27 August 2012 at 16:37

The main osm website does have such a highlighting feature (here's an example link for Paris), it's just not linked to the nominatim searches. Sorry for the annoying FOSS answer but... patches welcome.

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Comment from Sanderd17 on 27 August 2012 at 16:51

@vincent, I knew about that (should probably have mentioned in the first post),but it's not useful for country borders (they contain too many nodes) and linking to search is indeed missing.

I assumed patches are welcome, but I would spend too much time learning Ruby, while I also can use that time to work on other osm stuff (mainly OsmAnd for the moment, and the data off course).

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Comment from Rovastar on 29 August 2012 at 00:46

Completely agree pink duck.

The single most needed feature for OSM is to have the site with all the features we can offer. Have routing and everything else in between on

The map looks so dated.

99% of people just look at the map (it is true no matter what the OSMers say that it is about data) and think we cannot do these things.

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