Is there an OSM editor that doesn't suck?

Posted by kevjs1982 on 5 December 2010 in English (English)

What do all OSM editors have in common? They lose data and randomly crash, with rubbish error messages and horrible UI's

Potlatch 1 - So so slow, randomly loses changes and the flashing exclamation mark is too common a sight (although the live edit is awesome for checking how much, if any, of a failed upload has gone through - I hope this stays, if read only, in the future - also handy for checking what tags people have used).

JOSM - Can anyone really edit using this? So unintuitive, quality of background image tiles is dreadful, not to mention being java means it sucks up the resources of the computer like there's no tomorrow - one neat feature is the ability to break an upload into smaller chunks so a rejected change doesn't lose you everything.

Merkaartor - my personal fav (if only I could suss out how to use relations) but with the frequent crashes (although nowhere near as frequent as they were in recent releases thankfully) you end up having to save very frequently, and no Bing yet.

Potlatch 2 - been using this recently to improve some of my rubbish traces and add "private" stuff I've seen into the map, works reasonably well and just as I was starting to trust it I do my biggest edit yet with it, and guess what - yup a failed upload "couldn't upload data: 0 error #2032" - brilliant. And unlike Merkaartor's occasional failed uploads I can't export and try again later...

Sometimes I wonder why I bother.

(Can't you tell I'm annoyed with the latest crash - if only the uploading was quicker I would be tempted to do it much more often).

Comment from rsh on 5 December 2010 at 17:35

May be you have to try mapzen (

I'm using JOSM for about half-year (I'm not too long in OSM). My favorite editor, 'cos of a lot of features and plugins. Tested version is quite stable for me.

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Comment from Richard on 5 December 2010 at 17:46

"What do all OSM editors have in common?"

Let me guess - you haven't contributed any code to any of them?

Sorry, cheap shot. But we're volunteers like you and doing the best we can - honest. If you look at the amount of changes (read: improvements) made to Potlatch 2 alone recently, it's pretty staggering: . 100 changes in under a fortnight. From what I see of the logs, the JOSM and Merkaartor codebases are just as active. It's not enough - we could do with more developers, but OSM has had a chronic shortage of developers since day one. Potlatch 1 was largely a single-person effort. With P2 we're up to three or four core developers, which is a huge improvement (and unlike me, the other two or three are proper programmers ;) ), but still pretty minuscule.

With upload errors - we're looking at it but Flash (or strictly speaking the NSAPI plugin architecture) doesn't make it easy for us; if there's an error, there is no way for Potlatch 2 to find out what it was. Which sucks astronomically. There are almost certainly ways round it but it's not the sort of thing where we can commit a three-line, ten-minute code change to fix it, believe me.

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Comment from skystis on 5 December 2010 at 19:32

Try to use JOSM. For beginners it's hard, but after some time it's perfect.

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Comment from Sanderd17 on 5 December 2010 at 22:55

for the images: install the slippy map plugin. You can choose bing maps if you have the latest josm.

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Comment from Sunng on 6 December 2010 at 05:10

Merkaartor's Bing support was introduced in 1.7. Dec.4 release.
It's my favorite editor.

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Comment from Former OSM contributor on 6 December 2010 at 16:25

I've used Potlach and JOSM to compare which is the best for my needs. JOSM allows me to work very quickly, and as I use CAD software for a living, it was very easy to learn to use. The other beauty of JOSM is that your work can be saved to disk as you progress. As well as the plug-ins, it has a powerful search filter function. Added to all that, it can be run on Linux and Windows environments. As skystis rightfully says, Try it, but make sure you try out the plug-ins, they make mapping far much easier.

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Comment from compdude on 8 December 2010 at 17:02

I don't like JOSM very much, either. It seems to take a few extra clicks to do stuff. And also, the yahoo_wms plugin fails. I would use Merkaartor b/c of the simpler interface, but i've heard it crashes a lot. Also, potlatch 1 drives me crazy sometimes, especially when it "forgets" my changes. Yes I must agree with you about the fact that the OSM editors all suck--they do! But Potlatch 2 is really awesome!

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Comment from compdude on 8 December 2010 at 17:05

@Richard, Like many people, I'd like to help with programming w/ the osm editors but i don't have much programming experience. :(

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Comment from kevjs1982 on 8 December 2010 at 22:02

@Richard - unfortunately not, my programming skills don't lie with Java or Actionscript (more PHP and VB6).

My earlier comments were perhaps, with hindsight, a bit harsh but driven from the frustration of losing contributions yet again.

I will say that aside from that issue (and a few glitches which I will try to reproduce and raise bug reports for if they are in the new blue version) Potlatch 2 is a huge step forward, for most of the common things it's very very easy to do stuff - my only grumble is you can't hide the stuff to the left of Potlatch itself2! When Merkaartor and Potlatch2 work they are brilliant tools, which makes it more annoying they are not quite perfect.

One thing I have noticed is that once you commit the change set stays open which means hitting save more often won't leave a million sets behind - if I make a successful save, and then have a failed save will my whole changeset be lost or will it just be the changes since my last save.

WRT to Bing and Merkaartor - just downloaded the latest but can't see Bing anywhere - is there an issue with the Windows builds?

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Comment from Richard on 9 December 2010 at 01:06

We discovered a 'blocker'-level bug the other day which is probably what's causing stuff to be lost in P2. Basically, it happens if you delete a way where some of the nodes are off-screen, but are also shared by other ways. Unfortunately fixing this will require a minor change to the server API - otherwise I'd have committed a fix already - but hopefully we'll be able to get it sorted in the very near future.

You should be able to hide the stuff to the left of Potlatch - press 'M' (for maximise) after you've started editing. :)

Every successful save will go into the database. You can have several saves within one changeset, so even if the last one fails, earlier ones will still be fine.

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