WOF#5. importing id's and refs from external databases.

Posted by WorstFixer on 27 May 2012 in English (English)

Some users asked me about importing ID tags. I tried to make a small scheme about that. Hope it is clear enough.

Id-like tags

Comments? Ideas? Additions?

Comment from Skippern on 27 May 2012 at 20:51

1) Non-OSM ID tags are unusable in the OSM database

2) Non-OSM IDs makes unnecesary amounts of download datas for users with bandwith limitations and heavy data consumers

3) Non-OSM IDs are useful for data maintainers who maintain data from specific imports, maintained in external database

Comment from WorstFixer on 27 May 2012 at 20:58


1) Not always true. See "ref" section.

2) See mein "database bloat hoax" post for that.

3) Show me such maintainers. I have no examples. I have no examples when it is not doable without importing IDs into OSM.

Comment from pieleric on 27 May 2012 at 21:23

Hello, I agree with almost all your analysis. However for "externaldatabase:id", I'd be more prudent. In particular, there might be "databases" that can be complementary to OSM. We don't want to store everything in OSM, and they don't want to store everything related to location on earth. I have in mind the "wikipedia" tags, see


Comment from WorstFixer on 27 May 2012 at 22:23


Thanks for pointing to WIWOSM. It is indeed other case. I think of it as "url", not "id". It points not to some useless number. Contains human-readable text. Mainly, it is some thing really working.

"Wikipedia" tags need clean up too. Not removal. Make them follow same rules. Like not contaning whole link to wikipedia. Just language prefix and name. That is for separate discussion.

Comment from compdude on 29 May 2012 at 03:27

An example of a specific type tag that needs to be changed is the tiger:zip tag, which ought to be changed to addr:postcode since ZIP codes are the US equivalent of postal codes. The weird thing about these tags is that they are called "tiger:zip_left," "tiger:zip_right." What on earth does the "left" and "right" mean? Things that are on the left side of the road when you're driving north on it would be on your right when you're driving south on the same road. Most of the time they are the same (for both left and right) so I just delete one of them and change the other to the more-correct "addr:postcode" tag.

Comment from AndrewBuck on 29 May 2012 at 13:24

The zip:left and right are for the left and right side of the road, if you are driving along it in the direction of the way (i.e. the way the road would go if a oneway=yes tag was added).


Comment from compdude on 30 May 2012 at 17:24

@AndrewBuck But what if the road is two ways? Would the "left" and "right be defined as the way it's viewed on the screen?

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