How do you map house numbers efficiently?

Posted by RoadLessTraveled on 5 April 2014 in English (English)

I've been trying to find an efficient method for adding street numbers, but so far every workflow I've found has been rather horrific.

I like vespucci, but it's a lot of clicks to create each node and type in each number. I thought I'd found a possible solution when I came across keypad mapper 3 for Android. Trouble is, for something designed specifically for this purpose, the interface is still pretty unwieldy.

I put quite a bit of time, thought and effort into mocking up a better user interface and posted it here almost a month ago to no response at all:

Worse than that, Keypad Mapper 3 positions the nodes all over the place. On the street it's a neat , regular 10 meters or so between each house and each number goes up by 2. In the OSM file it makes, Often the node for one house might be 50 meters away from each other or more. When importing into JOSM sometimes it's hard to even tell which street the node is supposed to be on!

The GPS on my Nexus 5 phone's other apps, seem to function with good accuracy.

So does anyone here map street numbers regularly and have a decent workflow for this?



Comment from z-dude on 6 April 2014 at 09:30

some people interpolate numbers based on house numbers at the start and end of a street. I think they use Josm. You typically see 2 rows of dots with just address information.

This works in grid style streets in North America where street numbers increment on a known rate. This may not work well in older towns where the streets follow spaghetti network.

Comment from RoadLessTraveled on 6 April 2014 at 15:20

Thanks for your response Zmonkey,

Yeah, I came across that. In fact just about all the streets around here seem to be done like that already. Now I'm interested in getting individual house numbers in. Still trying to figure this one out!

Comment from guardcat on 6 April 2014 at 17:34

I am a sofware BA... I will take a look at your design. Do you have a working prototype for android?

Comment from RoadLessTraveled on 6 April 2014 at 18:53

Thanks Guardcat,

Unfortunately no, although I can provide the SVG. I'm more of a graphic designer than a UX person, but I hang out with a load of FOSS developers in various projects and have been part of many UX discussions over the years.

That's not to say I know what I'm doing, but I understand the basic concepts and put quite a lot of thought (and research) into this. A lot of the ideas came from looking for solutions to the problems being reported on the Google Play store reviews.

Probably the thing that I like the least about this design is that it doesn't do away with the current number entry system, but instead provides the option to toggle between the two. The main issue is that my system would be faster (imo) in the great majority of use cases, but for the really unsusual corner cases, you'd still need the slower, but more flexible system it has now.

Getting that first number for the dials is a bit of a challenge, too.

That said, it completely eliminates almost all of the repetitive entering of the same information over and over, is able to increment houses by the same amount each time easily and helps users track both sides of the road.

Comment from mcld on 6 April 2014 at 20:35

I like the screen design, and the way you've clearly thought about the number of clicks required and the persisting state through the task.

Why does it make you unhappy that you haven't done away with the keyboard entirely? IMHO that will always be needed, for the corner-cases, and it doesn't inhibit the workflow. Most users won't need to go near the keyboard option on that screen.

Getting the first number: keyboard view is first view?

Comment from RoadLessTraveled on 6 April 2014 at 21:45

Thanks mcld,

Yes, I agree that it's a necessary evil, at least, as long as there isn't screen realestate for all the buttons from both versions onscreen at the same time (possibly an option for a tablet / laptop layout). I guess I still consider it a necessary "evil" as I find the current GUI very slow and awkward, which is ironic given that it's whole reason for being is to speed up data entry.

That said, I should give credit where it's due... it is much faster than entering numbers manually in something with more general funcrtions like Vespucci or Osmand (both of which I love).

Needing two almost entirely different interfaces though does seem inelegant thoughm, even if one doesn't actually get in the way of the other. It just seems like more for the user to learn. Ultimately though, after thinking about it a lot, it does seem like the best option available. If anyone has any ideas of how to eliminate the need for the keyboard view, I'd be all ears.

I suspect if we start people off on keyboard view (which seems necessary), that we're going to have to do something to make them aware of the new dial view once that first street number has been found. Otherwise users are most likely to go on just using what's in front of them, never knowing that a much faster option is available at the click of a button.

I suggest, showing a pop up that tells them about the new dial mode and how to switch between keyboard and dial modes as soon as the first number is entered.

Comment from Vincent de Phily on 7 April 2014 at 08:28

FWIW, I do not like tools like Keypadmapper because they create either a node or a GPX waypoint which isn't merged with the existing data. Your mockup saves on typing but suffers from the same problem.

My workflow for housenumbers is to first trace buildings from imagery, then survey and map using Vespucci. I do this while walking and rarely stop, so there are "holes" in my mapping that I fix afterwards in JOSM. If some geometry needs to be changed (for example a building that needs to be split in two), I add a fixme tag in Vespucci.

I'd welcome a reduction in the number of clicks in Vespucci, but I'm not sure your mockup would help : it seems too specialized (I often map POIs as well when I do housenumbers) and only addresses the typing of the actual number (BTW, what about bis/ter/etc ?), not getting to that stage. To me, typing numbers is less of an issue than needing 4 well-aimed clicks to be able to begin typing.

Comment from DaCor on 7 April 2014 at 17:22

I do a similar process, but with a different app, OSMpad. Its designed for one thing only, to collect house numbers only so you don't have all the bells and whistles of Keypadmapper and Vespucci, both of which are still awesome app's in their own right.

How I gather data, I firstly map buildings from imagery, then go survey on foot, bike or car.

There have been afternoon's when I've collected close to 1,000 addresses.

I go down a street, mark the first house numbers on each side of the road, visually count down the row of houses, and work out what the last house numbers should be, drive down to the end of the street, if my estimation matches with the actual house numbers, I added the last #'s in the row.

Once finished, I email the completed traces through OSMpad to myself, open them up in Josm and begin adding everything I've collected, and fill in the gaps where I only gathered the first and last #'s.

One piece of advice, from someone who has collected thousands of addresses. When you are collecting, email the traces to yourself every 100 houses or so. Don't let your trace get too big otherwise you'll be cursing yourself when you go to add the data in JOSM, there will simply be too much fine detail to be added over too large an area. Keep the traces small and lean, that way you can quite easily sit down in one go and add 100 addresses quite comfortably.

Doing it that way, you will be surprised at how quickly you can collect and add address data for very large areas.

Comment from DaCor on 7 April 2014 at 17:49

I forgot to add, the beauty of OSMpad is the way is works, you have a set of cross hairs, you move your slippy map around to position the cross hairs where you want to add the address data, then simply add your house number.

This ensures you place the data accurately

Comment from SimonPoole on 7 April 2014 at 19:00

As long as you are still on the same street ,adding house number in vespucci is no more work than selecting the building outline or adding a node (long press), adding the tags by using the "repeat last tags" function and adjusting the number (around 3-4 clicks total). Every new road requires a bit more effort for the first address, but given the street name auto completion this is minimal.

This is naturally more effort (both clickwise and time) than with say keypad mapper for the surveying part, but you are already finished when you areat home and the addresses are where you really wanted them to be.

Comment from RoadLessTraveled on 9 April 2014 at 17:40

Well, I like the sound of the "you're already finished when you get home" part. What drives me nuts is that around here the street numbers are all in the thousands, so to map from 2100 to 2199 I end up having to type the 21 part... 100 times, unecessarily. Also just having to do a long press, multiplied 100 or more times really slows things down. I LOVE Vespucci, but for this is seems cumbersome.

I'll look into OSMpad, although having to trace all the buildings seems like far more effort than picking a location and adding a number...

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