Editing on steroids?

Posted by Gerhardus Geldenhuis on 26 December 2013 in English (English)

I have been a OSM contributor for just over a year and have created my fair share of new data. I started out using Potlatch2 on my slow Toshiba laptop and then migrated to JOSM after about 2 months. The migration to JOSM has been worthwhile and I can safely say that I am experienced in it if not yet a super advanced user. In JOSM I now use filters, most of the keyboard shortcuts and a few plugins to easy my life. I also really like the shortcut to give me full screen editing without the clutter.

I have since upgraded to a well specced Macbook on a fast internet connection with increased concurrent connection settings in JOSM for quicker download. I have bought a R.A.T. 7 mouse for general usage and have played around to program frequent keypresses used in JOSM into my mouse. I have considered getting a programmable keyboard and possible another screen or even a touch screen. The idea is to use a touch screen with fastdraw JOSM plugin to more quickly trace map data.

However I still feel that there is room for improvement. I am curious to learn about other people's efficiency optimizations and tools and shortcuts you find useful and would be grateful if you could share some tips with me.


Comment from Vincent de Phily on 26 December 2013 at 23:51

Tips depend on what you are mapping.

  • I tried fastdraw and found it worse than stargitforward add or using improve way accuracy on a big line.
  • For houses I use extrude all the time, it is faster than tracing the outline and orthogonalyzing at the end
  • For lakes there are tracing plugins, but it's only worth your while if you have homogenous imagery and many things to trace.
  • I typically trace 10-50 elements in a row without adding any tags, and then use the search dialog to select them and tag them all in one go. That leads to tracing objects by type instead of by area.
  • Some other tools you should try if you didn't yet: terracer, contour merge, merge overlap, replace geometry
  • I use the download continuously plugin all the time after the initial download. I have it off by default (I quickly toggle it when I need some data somewhere), and I have tweaked it to download with a generous margin but only at high zooms.
  • I use a trackball (that one) which I find greatly superior to mice: just as precise/fast if not better, no need for a "proper surface" of any kind, doesn't induce RSI in my wrist, and a single AA battery lasts years.

Comment from Gerhardus Geldenhuis on 27 December 2013 at 11:28

Thanks Vincent! The trackball is a great idea I am going to try that out.

Did you meant to type straightforward plugin? If so I will give it a go too.

I have tried one of the lakes plugins but could not get it to work and it is not great. It would have been brilliant if one could integrate something like ENVI with JOSM. I also think that JOSM should more easily make available settings of various tools. For example the simplify tool to customize the parameters. It would make it a lot easier to experiment with various options.

I've not used the search functionality as you suggest but I do activate a filter while editing rivers for example which only shows rivers and new data, making it a lot easier to work with. There is also a shortcut that I used to select all nodes which I have momentarily forgotten which is very useful to set power=tower on a long power line.

I have been mapping a lot of rivers and riverbanks lately as well as power lines, which means a lot of scrolling in which case I think the trackball suggestion would be good to try out. I have also recently did a lot of buildings in the Philippines for which I used a buildings plugin which is very handy.


Comment from skorasaurus on 31 December 2013 at 17:21

I too have tried both of the water tracing plugins (scanaerial and its older iteration, lakewalker) and neither had worked well enough to use on my typical workflow. the nodes would be often clumped together in excess or just plainly wrong.

One thing that haven't been mentioned yet is something whose name escapes me, but you can add and move additional nodes to an existing way very quickly and easily. I've been editing for just under 3 years now, and this trick/ability, added to JOSM in sometime in 2012, has been the most valuable addition to JOSM in the past 3 years! In fact, the printing on my CNTRL button is worn away from using this!

To activate it, select a way and then press W. With your mouse, you can move the node you've selected on the way and if you would like to add an additional node, hold down the CNTRL button.

If you're editing any relations, the reltoolbox plugin is essential.

Huge +1 on the buildings plugin. That is a very useful tool and makes things much more efficient.

I'd also checkout the JOSM tips and tricks page.

Comment from Gerhardus Geldenhuis on 1 January 2014 at 13:04

Hi skorasaurs, The tool you mentioned is called "Improve Way Accuracy". Firefishy introduced me to it and I can't manage without it any more. You can also use Shift to lock the node you want to move, I find it useful when there is a large number of nodes in a small area.

I'll work through the Advanced Tricks page.


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