New to OSM

Posted by Rusty Nichols on 3 July 2013 in English (English)

Dear Diary, July 3th 2013, my first entry... I was requested by my boss to create a restaurant map of the new location our company will be moving to in August. Using OpenStreetMap as my base map in Arc, I noticed this area lacking streets and neighborhoods and a huge shopping complex called Vintage Park. I manually created my own layers for the map and and using GE captured all the restaurant locations in a points FC. For my symbology I used a circle and a color ramp for each. I also numbered each restaurant and placed that number in the circle. After creating the legend I figured out you can't mimic the symbology by placing a number in the symbol unless I find a font with numbers 1-99 and build my own...So, after searching GIS blogs I came across an article talking about editing the OSM content. Followed the link, signed up, and added new streets to my AOI. I'm thinking, how long does it take before they are posted? and...should I add symbols in OSM to the restaurants and other establishments in the area? I don't really see that many businesses added except for hotels. and the big picture, am I the only one in Houston that's going to be entering content? This is a big city that's still growing and changing. I will try to keep up!

Location: Noble Energy Way, Kohrville, Harris County, Texas, 77070, United States of America

Comment from russdeffner on 3 July 2013 at 14:11

Welcome to OSM Rusty, You Are Not Alone! There's over 1 million registered users in OSM, and at least several thousands who are committed mappers. I'm based in Colorado, and although it's no-where as dense as Houston, it's also not nearly as populated (at least in my mountain community); so you may struggle to find other mappers in your area - but keep it up and you'll find some (or you may have to convert some). Point being, there is a vibrant community behind the map and it continues to grow; as with yourself. For some basics to get started, I suggest visiting - and feel free to reach out to me for more guidance.

=Russ russdeffner on OSM

Comment from russdeffner on 3 July 2013 at 14:22

Actually Rusty, I just looked at the area you are editing in on the main website, zoomed out to the majority of Houston, hit the History tab (next to edit if your on the main webpage) - and there is actually a user editing right around you today and another working the Northeast part of Houston. You can click through to their profiles and send them a message - it's a bit confusing at first, the history tab often shows changesets that don't necessarily have anything to do with your area, but if you look at the little map and see a 'bounding box' that is in your area you can 'highlight' it to see who it was, etc. As always, reach out to me if that doesn't make sense.

Comment from Vincent de Phily on 3 July 2013 at 14:27

Welcome :)

Finding local mappers can be hard, depending on your luck. One way to look for them is to use whodidit to find recent edits in an area, but those contributors aren't ganranteed to be locals.

Edits usually get rendered within a few minutes. See help.o.o for similar questions.

Remember that OSM is about the data before being about the rendering. There are many renderings available, and the easyest way to make your own is to use tilemill.

Comment from Rusty Nichols on 3 July 2013 at 14:30

Thanks for responding Russ! That brings up an interesting point. Overlapping work. If two users are capturing the same data, how does that get straightened out? I guess I should go visit for some insite...the co. I work for has an office in Denver, and one in Canonsburg, PA.

Comment from russdeffner on 3 July 2013 at 15:36

In a nutshell it depends on what editor you are using, but typically just save often and if you use on 'offline' editor, make sure you re-import the OSM data frequently. If you get an error when you try to save, it might be that someone beat you to editing one or more node you're trying to. Doesn't happen too often unless your doing a mapping event, then it's about trying your best to coordinate; if you haven't had a chance yet, head over to the main wiki for OSM - - there is a ton of info there (yes, it needs some cleaning up, i.e. also a volunteer project that doesn't get as much attention as the map, but still very useful). In particular you should look at the communication page:

Comment from russdeffner on 3 July 2013 at 15:47

Oh, unless your question was more basic than that - sorry, old hat - the beauty of OSM is that we as a community reach consensus about the data; the wiki gives suggested/'approved' tagging schemes, i.e. highway=motorway has a well defined usage versus highway=trunk (although in different parts of the world they may still be used differently). Start there, then if you find something that isn't clear or you think should be different in your area versus what the wiki describes (the project started in the UK, so their english sometimes doesn't directly translate ;) ), that's when it's usually time to reach out to the community - typically through the mailing list, but in CO we often discuss things at our meet-ups/mapping events, etc. and basically 'decide' how we as a sub-set of the community will tag and sometimes we'll get a volunteer to mediate with the larger OSM-US, and international communities.

Comment from cartinus on 3 July 2013 at 15:56

Other mappers active around Houston in the last six months:

Comment from Rusty Nichols on 3 July 2013 at 16:05

Wow...thanks Cartinus! nice link! I actually work in Northwest Houston but live in Sugar Land and might as well scout that area out because it's growing as well. I see one other person in that area...

Comment from grouper on 3 July 2013 at 18:05

Hi Rusty,

Welcome to OSM. Not sure if you are doing this, but make sure you don't copy information from Google Earth (I assume that's what you refer to as GE). Its OK to use Bing as reference imagery to place the restaurant points inside an OSM editor. But this needs to come from your local knowledge or a source that has a license compatible with OSM.

Brian May aka grouper

Comment from Rusty Nichols on 3 July 2013 at 18:25

Thanks Brian...good to know! I'll have to personally verify these places.

Comment from Rusty Nichols on 3 July 2013 at 18:47

Just a question about edits..what if they don't save? I live in Sugar Land and the actual street I live on is in the wrong location, which I tried moving, and the street Cottonwood Court is in there twice...

Guess I'll try editing later from home.

Comment from russdeffner on 4 July 2013 at 15:48

Rusty, Are you getting an error when you try to save? I addressed the issue of 2+ mappers editing the same node/way at the same time above - if that isn't it, maybe search at:

Also, you've probably found yourself living in a 'TIGER desert', see for some tips. I also was living in one, it will take some time to fix-up, but keep going, we'll get there.

Happy Mapping, =Russ

Comment from malenki on 5 July 2013 at 14:22

For embedding you shop with OSM into a website the easiest way could be:
Map it very detailed (with website= phone=* and opening_hours=*)
*Next day (after data update of the site) locate it on
*click on the round circle at the shop.
*Click on "html code"
*Use the code from the box at the left side.

(Hint: outlines of a building should have building=yes on them. This one misses it:


Comment from Rusty Nichols on 5 July 2013 at 15:01

Thomas, Thank you for pointing that out for that one building...I was wondering why it wasn't showing and the others did. That's good information you gave me!



Comment from Rusty Nichols on 5 July 2013 at 15:02

Hey Thomas, I spent some time in the Katterback Ansbach area...Germany is beautiful!!!

Comment from Rusty Nichols on 5 July 2013 at 15:04


Comment from malenki on 6 July 2013 at 06:45

I had to look up that place. The closest I've come to it was passing Nuremberg by train. :)

Some more notes for the building linked above:
You can also map opening hours and the complete address, I've added them there as an example.
When you map a rectangular building you can press "Q" in Potlatch to make the angles of the way rectangular, too. Since it seems you use ArcGis (as you mentioned "Arc" above, you are maybe better of using JOSM, the Java OpenStreetMap editor. It is far better to handle and faster then Potlatch (the online editor you used up to now.)
You can get/run it from here: and get an introduction, too.

Comment from skquinn on 31 July 2013 at 02:30

I used to live near Jones Road and FM 1960, still visit Willowbrook Mall on occasion, and my mom now has a job in the area, so I have a bit of an interest keeping this area up to date.

For the type of edits you've been doing, you may be better off using iD instead of Potlatch. While there is a lot to be said for Potlatch as a contribution to the OSM community, and we wouldn't be where we are without it, overall I've found iD to be easier to use and, pardon the expression, a bit more "newbie-proof". (Examples: iD will warn you about untagged ways and points, whereas I do not think Potlatch does; also, iD will join intersecting ways for you when you add a point at the right place, where Potlatch does not.)

When I started, the Houston area seemed to be a bit less active on OSM than some other areas; hopefully we can help change that soon.

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