Watching the map evolve

Posted by amm on 18 September 2009 in English (English)

It is always fascinating to see all the different places around the world where people work on the this project and how constantly the map is evolving and improving. There are a couple of wonderful tools already that visualise this constant buzzing of the map. Of cause there is the much viewed and cited A year of edits 2008 video, but that is unfortunately a bit outdated by now. There are also the Osmaware scripts, that generate a set of kml files with which you can see all the people and where they edit the map every day overlayed on Google Earth or any other kml viewer. If you want to be even more up to date, you can watch OSM Live, which shows you the edits rolling in in realtime (well, with a 5 minute delay) all over the world.

However, although I really like osmlive, it only shows you the edits on a global scale and you can't zoom in. As most of the edits still happen in a tiny part of the world called Europe, zooming in really would be good to see where the edits occur. So I went along and hacked together a little java program that basically takes the ideas of osmlive, but visualises the edits on a zoomable slippymap. The program automatically downloads the latest minutely diffs and shows all nodes that have been added (blue), modified (green) or deleted (red) on the map as they occure. As it uses the new minutely diffs, the delay should be down to about 1 minute now.

If anyone wants to try it out, you can find the program at Although it isn't really "useful" it is fun watching the edits as they happen and zooming in on them. Especially, if you manage to catch a whole new village just appearing in front of your eyes. :-)

Comment from Firefishy on 19 September 2009 at 02:26

Very cool stuff. I am addicted already.

Comment from Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason on 19 September 2009 at 11:08

That's very neat but also very resource intensive. After running it for 20 minutes on my laptop it was taking up 500 MB of resident memory along with a steady 25% of CPU, spiking up to 60% or so (presumably when it did updates.

That's on a 2.26GHz Core 2 Duo with 2GB of physical memory.

Comment from amm on 19 September 2009 at 12:03

Ah, yes, it could do with some optimisations! It keeps the entire list of Points in memory and needs to reproject them on every change of map. I probably need to start dropping older nodes after a while. But really, the problem is that there is too much activity in Osm... ;-)

Comment from rendle on 19 September 2009 at 12:03

Great work.

Comment from Antwelm on 27 September 2009 at 07:23

Nice :)

Comment from Firefishy on 4 October 2009 at 11:14

NOTE! Shift-Click on an "edit node" to bring up the changeset.

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