Wynndale's Diary

Recent diary entries

One of OpenStreetMap’s greatest strengths is our worldwide platform backed by a worldwide community. As such we need to give our full support to our mappers around the world, including the ones in countries whose cultural and legal norms you may dislike and wish to work against. Supporting these mappers isn’t an endorsement of those norms; rather it is a commitment to worldwide mapping.

Any suggestion of ostracising countries would be a stand against inclusion of mappers, depriving them of the opportunity to talk about their specific issues both with each other and with the rest of the world.

Mapping London SW14

Posted by Wynndale on 4 June 2020 in English (English).

During lockdown it’s been difficult for me to go long distances to map; instead I’ve tried to fill in every house in the SW14 postal district, consisting of East Sheen and Mortlake, where only about half of them had been mapped before; I realised I could fit ground surveys into the allowed daily exercise. I have also tidied Mortlake station, which had been a complete mess, and completely redrawn the landuse polygons northeast of the level crossing, which had previously put retail in the wrong place.

Location: East Sheen, London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, London, Greater London, England, SW14 8LA, United Kingdom

After several years of work buildings are still patchy in OSM in London. The gaps are all too obvious when you use apps such as, and of course mapping houses leads to better mapped roads.

After a time when I solidly filled in all of the houses in an area near where I live, I decided to change my mapping approach. I am now filling in buildings and addresses facing A roads and bus routes in half a London borough, the bit of Richmond upon Thames that is south of the river and east of the rest of the borough.

I see these buildings as important because:

  1. People travelling along these roads get a full set of houses that they can follow.
  2. As these are the longest roads they are the most valuable to search using the whole address because the street name is not precise enough.
  3. This includes a large proportion of businesses that are worth mapping.
  4. The gaps between mapped houses are broken up, this makes them more attractive for the long tail of occasional mappers to fill in the gaps; some of them could be our next enthusiasts.

As I write there is still a bit of work left.

One thing that [ have ducked out of tackling so far is the landuse polygons, which are a mess. They often intersect buildings, the commercial landuse in Barnes bears little resemblance to the actual town centre and polygons that were drawn arbitrarily on the map in Richmond acquired concocted names. The only quick thing I could have done would be to delete them completely, which I do not want to do unilaterally.

What could be done is to redraw the polygons adding the extents of the relevant properties to create one or more residential/commercial/other polygon for every street block, as the logical conclusion of landuse polygons that exclude roads. Extents are now available for import though it may very well be better to add them from aerial imagery.

Location: East Sheen, London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, London, Greater London, England, SW14 8LA, United Kingdom

Every year (most of them anyway) OSM holds its State of the Map conference where our international community get together to show off the art of mapping and to talk to each other so we can make the best map of the world.

This year we are meeting in Brussels from 23 to 25 September. Having attended State of the Map in the past I found both the talks and the opportunity to meet other mappers positive, and I am looking forwards to meeting many of you there.

Location: Brussels-Capital, 1050, Belgium

Image of the Week

Posted by Wynndale on 10 March 2014 in English (English).

As has happened several times recently, there is again no image featured on the wiki’s front page on Monday. Maybe we should be promoting the image of the week. Maybe the proposals page isn’t friendly enough to passing submitters and needs to be made more welcoming. Maybe the community are no longer interested in featuring pictures and it should be scaled back or dropped.

Is there something about the project you’d like to show the world? A photograph of an OSM activity perhaps, or some interesting mapping? Maybe there’s an alternative rendering of our data you’d like to show off, or an application that uses our database in an interesting way.

We show an image a week on our wiki’s front page with the story behind it. You can suggest your favourite picture at Featured image proposals. If people come up with interesting ideas they’ll be shown off to the world.

You can also add a description for each featured image in your language. You can follow the editing links beneath this week’s picture on the wiki’s front page and community blogs or you can use the “Add a description in your language” link in the archive of feature images.

Have fun!

Beating the Bounds

Posted by Wynndale on 10 February 2013 in English (English).

Boundaries for London boroughs have recently been imported from OS Opendata Boundaryline. On balance I think this is a good thing because the boundaries are much more detailed than the straight lines that much of London had, being separate ways they are more robust than doubling up roads as boundaries and London has got a good enough community to take them on; that last is where I come in.

I have surveyed the boundary between the London boroughs of Richmond upon Thames and Wandsworth. Much of the boundary follows the Beverley Brook;this stream is roughly mapped at the moment. There are two places where the boundary goes in another direction. There is a chunk of Barnes Common that is west of the stream but in Richmond. The crossing of Lower Richmond Road is clearly visible in terms of signs and Wandsworth street name signs on the west sides of Hallam Road and Beauchamp Terrace confirm that the boundary is west of the roads. The other exception is Richmond Park, where the whole park was incorporated in Richmond in 1994.making mapping the boundary easy.

Location: Roehampton, London Borough of Wandsworth, London, Greater London, England, SW15 4DG, United Kingdom

Introducing Team Surrey

Posted by Wynndale on 25 January 2012 in English (English).

North-west Surrey was mapped early by a mapper who has not accepted the ODBL and contributor terms. As such, tagging doesn’t always reflect the latest ideas and it will go away in a few months’ time.

A few of us have been tackling this backlog. I’ve removed most of the non-compliant mapping from Weybridge so that mappers can work and most roads have been remapped. But there’s more work to do.

Team Surrey is a project to remap Surrey to the latest standards and to plug the ODBL deficit maintain the good mapping in the county.

Location: Weybridge, Elmbridge, Surrey, England, United Kingdom

Although the majority of the most active contributors to OSM have agreed to license their contributions under the ODbL, some people have not yet done so. The reasons for not having done so are many and varied: some mappers haven’t been contacted yet, some are opposed to the thought of their contributions being made available under ODbL terms, which I respect even though I disagree with it; some people still hope the Foundation will change their mind ignoring the damage to the community from supporters of the licence change being betrayed, some have fallen out with the project and want to go out with a bang, some lack confidence because they don’t quite understand what the licence change means and some are naturally cautious about signing any agreement.

Unfortunately a few mappers are seeking to gain an advantage by threatening not to sign up for as long as they can and twisting people’s arms in the process. Bullying is not of course unheard of in online communities; the licence change has give some bullies an opportunity.

My message to the bullies is that although we would like your contributions along with everyone else’s they are not so critical we need to grovel to your self-importance; they can and will be replaced. To anyone who’s been bullied about licences or anything else, we’re here to help.

A trick of the light

Posted by Wynndale on 14 June 2009 in English (English).

The side street that a previous mapper saw south of Gervase Street in Peckham, London (presumably on a photograph) isn’t a street at all. Visiting the area it turns out to be a private parking space.
And another thing — speak up more. I’ve never had any feedback about the quality of my contributions whether following on from mapping parties or elsewhere. I just don’t believe I’ve got everything right. Even when what I’ve done is good as far as it goes I’m sure I’ve missed useful tags. More feedback gives me and others a chance to improve contributions.

Mapping White City

Posted by Wynndale on 16 May 2009 in English (English).

After the Latimer Road mapping party I’ve been adding the blocks of flats in the White City estate. I haven’t managed to set up plugins yet in JOSM so I’ve been tracing over the Yahoo pictures in Potlatch. I’ve found I can trace over the outline at roof level in the photographs (although this is not as simple with pitched roofs) and then move it to where you can see the bottom of the building, remembering that you have to select the way itself intead of the highlight roun it. The ‘use thin lines at all levels’ option is useful here but the outlines still don’t seem as crisp as I’d like. Practice makes perfect I suppose.