Zverik's diary

Recent diary entries

The State of MapBBCode

Posted by Zverik on 17 November 2013 in English (English)

Yesterday a new version of MapBBCode library was released, 1.1.1, and plugins for 4 forum engines were updated to use it. Full changelog is on github, here is a list of visible changes:

  • Documentation was moved to the official website and can be translated. There are Russian versions of some pages. Also I plan to write several guides, including a user's guide and a programmer's tutorial.
  • OpenStreetMap attribution link not only opens our website, but opens it at the location displayed on a map. A kind of permalink. It is the 8th leaflet plugin made for this library, and, like previous seven, can be used separately.
  • Some users requested zooming with a scroll wheel. It was turned off because it disrupts page scrolling, but I was hinted at the solution. Now you can zoom with mouse wheel after clicking on a map.
  • Adding proprietary layers, like Google's, has been made extremely simple. On some forums it's just a matter of installing an add-on or uncommenting a line in plugin's code. But since the library was made for popularizing OpenStreetMap, there is a restriction: non-OSM based layer cannot be made the default one.

During those two weeks, the MapBBCode plugins were installed on several forums, including the biggest offroading forum in Russia (Skif 4x4) and the second biggest cycling forum (Velopiter). I can't thank enough administrators of those forums. Shoorick and DKiselev have written simple unconfigurable plugins for WordPress and FluxBB, which are being tried by some people. In a week or two I plan to release a vBulletin plugin, which would allow granting maps to the biggest forums, like SkyscraperCity, Velomania and, with hundreds thousands of users.

MapBBCode: free maps for everyone

Posted by Zverik on 31 October 2013 in English (English)

It is now time to mark a milestone in my month-long programming marathon and announce the first release of the MapBBCode library: a way to integrate maps into almost everything, but primarily written for forums and blogs. There is a long introduction on the official site, but the problem it solves is very common and somewhat annoying, especially with biking and construction sites: they have no maps.

Mapping plugins for forums tend to focus on geolocating users, which is a dull and useless task. What if I want to draw a route and allow fellow bikers to download it as GPX before setting off? The world of embedded maps is dominated by monstrosities, like the one I've spotted in Shaun's blog (40€ for a map!). We have Leaflet, we have the best map in the world, and forum/blogging engines have API — let's get coding.


Map BBCode is a string enclosed in [map]...[/map] tags. It can be copied anywhere and edited as text; essentially it is GeoJSON with restricted set of properties and adapted for forums. A small javascript library turns it into a Leaflet map panel and allows editing code not by entering numbers, but by drawing on a map. You can try in on the project's page. There are also modules for phpBB forums: this Monday a popular local forum on road construction has installed it, and now I'm pushing it to local cycling forums. Someday there will hopefully be plugins for vBulletin, WordPress, SMF, MediaWiki and others.

As an example of library's versatility, MapBBCode Share website was born. The idea was simple: put strings in a database — and you've got a map sharing service, simple and accessible, like pastebin or imgur. And you can copy raw code to a forum or a blog. This vision started to shatter when GIS-Lab community used the site for planning a mapping party by openly publishing an edit link. And then I added import and export to a dozen of formats, personal libraries (so you won't have to store bookmarks locally) and API. It turned out that sharing maps is only a fraction of the site's potential.

MapBBCode Share

Now you can plan a trip together with friends, place markers, embed the developing map in a forum post, and a day before the trip you can download the route and waypoints in GPX format right from a forum page. You can import CSV and immediately download it as HTML with no external dependencies (besides Leaflet). No iframes — unlike every other service, MapBBCode Share produces full-featured HTML that works offline and can be included in a website by copying code. You can upload OSRM-generated routes, quickly edit poly files, inevitably export GeoJSON, — the site "competes" not only with and uMap, but even with JOSM. Privacy is bulletproof: you sign in with OpenID (google/yahoo accounts will do), your ID is immediately hashed before storing, so even the administrator doesn't know who is using the website. The hash doesn't leave the server, so no one can link maps to users.

Today I am releasing the whole package: more than 200K of code, 60K of documentation, 7 new Leaflet plugins, everything published under the most permissive license of all, WTFPL. The development goes on, but now all changes are logged, and the author is responsible for keeping backwards compatibility. Please use MapBBCode Share and write plugins for embedding the code into forum and blog engines. Let's make the [map] tag a standard, and make sharing maps no harder than sharing images or code.


Posted by Zverik on 21 September 2013 in English (English)

Want a new feature or bug fixed in any OSM tool? Learn java/javascript/actionscript/rails/whatever's popular this moment or suck it up. It's a do-ocracy: people don't matter, pull requests do.

Someone may help if you are obviously not a programmer, but god forbid you write a single script — you're done, from now on <see above>.

(a summary of my sotm talk, proved again this week)

SotM Baltics 2013 is not over yet!

Posted by Zverik on 20 August 2013 in English (English)

While participants are already home and preparing for State of the Map in Birmingham, organizers of SotM Baltics 2013 are still working, so the conference website doesn't get old and obsolete. We made a special page with links to all media mentions, photos and blog posts on SotM Baltics. If you blogged about it or forgot to publish some photos, now is the time.

We have our channel on Vimeo where new video recordings of talks are published daily. They are announced in the twitter and added to the schedule along with slides. At this rate you will manage to watch most of videos before the main SotM.

It's hard to make recommendations, because you would surely skip talks not mentioned, but if you have time only for one video, do watch "Jokes about Estonians", which will be published on Friday. It's not related to OSM, but we are glad it found a way into our schedule.

SotM Baltics 2013: the last day to submit your presentation

Posted by Zverik on 7 July 2013 in English (English)

SotM Baltics 2013

Between two grand conferences, states of the maps, there is a smaller one, just a bit more that a meeting of mappers, although from several countries. Hosted in Tartu this year, SotM Baltics will not only allow you to test and perfect your presentation for the main State of the Map event, but also get aquainted with mappers and OpenStreetMap users from "distant" countries like Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Russia. During two days of the conference you'll see the interior of the biggest university in Estonia, enjoy a summer city with all signs written in a strange language, and have a couple of fun events to attend while you are discussing the imminent fall of OSM with other community members.

So, this leads me to an announcement that today is the last day of the call for presentations! I know I should have been spamming all of you the whole week, like other conference organizers did. But still, you have the whole day to think up a title, it's not like we're requesting anyone to submit the whole presentation. There will be a lot less pressure on the stage compared to hundred-persons halls of bigger SotMs, so this is a prefect opportunity to get heard and discuss important topics with mappers who aren't as active in mailing lists.

State of the Map Baltics 2013 will be held on 3-4 of August in Tartu, Estonia.

Location: Kesklinn, Tartu linn, Tartu maakond, Estonia

Single Point of Failure

Posted by Zverik on 29 November 2012 in English (English)

On 27th Steve Coast wrote in his blog a big speech about people who take the sole responsibility for important elements of infrastructure in crowdsourced projects. He tells of points in OpenStreetMap which are controlled by indispensable people, and other projects members acknowledge that they have no idea what to do if those people would quit. It's time, Steve says, for them to leave, so we could «find out how we distribute the workload now while we only have 900,000 registered accounts instead of 9 million».

This is a familiar subject for reliability experts, the Single Point of Failure talk. In crowdsourced projects such points are people, of course. And indeed, several years ago only one man worked on Potlatch, another one made OWL, the mapnik style was controlled by third, and this chain of indispensable people went on and on. But Richard Fairhurst correctly notices in comments that today in all those control points communities have grown, and indispensable people are not indispensable anymore. Actually, I can name only one SPF in our project from the top of my head. And it's Steve himself.

Who is contacted by media when OSM has another victory over some proprietary cartographic service? Who is deemed visionary, who opens every State of the Map conference? Who our project is associated with by outsiders? Is it someone from the press contacts? No. It is the Chairman Emeritus of the OSMF Board and the Inventor of OpenStreetMap. What is his recent archievement in the project? On his site there is a list: "founded OSM" (2004), "started SotM" (2007), "co-founded Cloudmade" (2007 again), "kicked off mapstraction" (2010, take a look at djeo btw). Which are his latest two projects? FrontDoor, which allows to fix houses' entry points using Bing imagery. Last month James Fee asked Steve, where are the results. He evaded the subject. And OpenGeoCoder, for which Steve specifically chose not to use OSM because of Share-Alike license. His last edit to the map was in February 2011.

You know how most active people in our community respond to imports. Only recently there was a major flame war in mailing lists concerning French cadastre buildings. Few consider TIGER experiment in USA to be successful: last week's Operation Cowboy's main objective was fixing data imported five years ago. And what major problem does Steve identify in his yesterday note, what solution he proposes? Addressing, of course. US has too many buildings, and it is impossible for the mapping community to collect all the addresses. We just don't have enough time. And because there are vast emptiness in OpenStreetMap instead of addressing information, it is unsuitable for geocoding. And the situation is even worse in Europe and Japan. I guess no one ever succeeded in finding an address there. What could we do to save the project? Let's take TIGER data (which is, of course, horrific, but there is no other way), slap it into OSM and tell the community to fix it! Better than nothing, anyway.

Now I should remind you that Steve Coast still represents our project. Not Germans, Jochen and Frederic, whose articles I adore. Not Englishmen, Richard, Harry and Matt, messengers of reason. Not Simon Poole, current chairman of the OSMF Board, and not Richard Weait, an activist of Communications Working Group. Steve Coast. Only in October he was interviewed by James Fee, editor of the popular GIS-related Spatially Adjusted blog. In September he opened the State of the Map US conference, in November he told of his OpenStreetMap involvement to Czech GIS-portal. To this day Steve is a face of our project, despite being irrelevant. It was fun a year ago, but today I think he is starting to be harmful to project, slowing it down.

"We have points of control which are fully owned by single individuals. The people around them readily acknowledge that they don’t have a clue what we would do if they quit. I say that’s terrible. I say they should quit and we should find out what we have to do." Steve, who did you write this about?

(this is a translation of SHTOSM entry, and I'm sorry if something is translated inadequately)

Ночь оживших карт в Петербурге

Posted by Zverik on 6 February 2012 in Russian (Русский)

Завтра вечером, с 22 часов, картографы во всем мире проведут несколько часов (а то и всю ночь) за рисованием карты. Петербуржцы нашли помещение, чтобы собраться для этого вместе, недалеко от метро «площадь Александра Невского». Всё про встречу написано в заметке:

Приглашаем новичков! Если вам интересно рисовать со снимков, это один из очень немногих моментов, когда такое не только приветствуется, но даже поощряется. Опытные участники всё покажут и расскажут, от установки правильного редактора до различения типов растительности. Мы будем рады познакомиться с новыми осмерами из нашего города (а также с туристами, кому нечем ночь занять :)

Подходите на Старорусскую, 5 к 22 часам завтра, 7 февраля. Если сможете, запишитесь заранее (см. ссылку выше). От входа нужно позвонить GaM-у, +7 921 426-74-00, чтобы он поднял попу со стула и провёл вас в конференц-зал. Возьмите с собой ноутбук, мышку и какую-нибудь вкусность.

До встречи!

Location: Пески, округ Смольнинское, Центральный район, Санкт-Петербург, Северо-Западный федеральный округ, 190000, Российская Федерация

To All New Arrivals

Posted by Zverik on 27 June 2011 in Russian (Русский)


Спеша поправить карту, советую не пользоваться ссылкой «Правка» вверху страницы, потому что от того «простого» редактора возникают плохие привычки и мозговыносительные ошибки, не говоря даже о ежеминутном риске потерять часы работы просто из-за глюка flash или случайного нажатия «назад» в браузере. Воспользуйтесь отдельным редактором:


Posted by Zverik on 11 March 2011 in Russian (Русский)

О, из всех мест, где тусуются осмеры, я как-то забыл про эти дневники. Если вам интересно, что происходит в русском OSM — читайте форум и сидите в чатике. И мониторьте вики. В отсутствие времени на всё это можно читать только про самое важное:

Улиточное картографирование

Posted by Zverik on 17 October 2010 in Russian (Русский)

Обойдя три квартала у метро, решил сначала по-быстрому зарисовать дворовые проезды, а как-нибудь потом — собранные POI. Сегодня закончилось это «потом».

И, должен сказать, удовольствия от такой работы немного. Сидишь битый час, возишься с каждой точкой, нажимаешь «отправить на сервер», а там — всего 50 жалких объектов. Из них, дай бог, треть будет рисоваться на карте, и то лишь тип и название.

Час за часом, по сотне точек на квартал, пытаясь ориентироваться среди плохо привязанных фотографий (городская же застройка) и по мелко исписанной бумажке, вводишь данные каждого магазина, каждой чёртовой нотариальной конторы. Пытаясь разобрать время работы в отражении на двери, думаешь лишь: «в гробу я видел этот квартал!»

Но пройдёт неделя — и руки сами возьмут планшет, а ноги поведут к очередному белому пятну на карте.

Location: Коломна, округ Коломна, Адмиралтейский район, Санкт-Петербург, Северо-Западный федеральный округ, 190000, Российская Федерация

Mapping Party в Санкт-Петербурге

Posted by Zverik on 23 September 2010 in Russian (Русский)

Первая картосуббота — надеюсь, положит начало традиции периодических сборов для отрисовки нашего города.

Контейнеры для мусора

Posted by Zverik on 5 August 2010 in Russian (Русский)

В чём отличие amenity=waste_disposal от amenity=recycling? На последних всегда написано предназначение (картон/стекло/пластмасса и т.п.), и они стоят вне пределов Российской Федерации. Потому что видел я такие баки в Петербурге, пихают в них всё подряд, независимо от надписи. Поэтому в России контейнеры для мусора всегда обозначаются как amenity=waste_disposal. Ну, или amenity=waste_basket для небольших баков на улицах.

Это я к тому, что не пользуйтесь amenity=recycling без абсолютно точных свидетельств, что контейнер предназначен для переработки и им действительно пользуются согласно назначению. Я вижу и понимаю, что recycling там понаставлены только потому, что мапник их рисует, а waste_disposal — нет.

Пот, чёрт бы его побрал, латч

Posted by Zverik on 12 July 2010 in Russian (Русский)

Почти час рисовал разные дорожки, озёра и болота по IRS в потлатче. Переключаясь между окнами, случайно нажал Backspace. Опера услужливо вернула предыдущую страницу. Вся работа потеряна. Вот жопа!

Это к вопросу, чем жосм лучше потлатча.

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