ca_hoot's diary

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Public perception and predjudice...

Posted by ca_hoot on 22 September 2012 in English (English)

After the failure of Apple to produce a usable map within the latest iOS 6 upgrade, there has been a lot of chatter about mapping on the main tech blogs and websites, I have been using the opportunity to try and spread the word about OSM, but I have been running up against the same argument against it repeatedly:

OpenStreetMap is too cluttered they say, too many colours too much going on...

I have responded with the usual answer to such questions, i.e the map on is not what OSM is about, it is about the data, how that data is displayed is up to the people involved.

But the public perception seems to be that OSM IS the slippy map on the main website, and that map is severely lacking in both the clarity, beauty and usability that people desire.

They have a point. The main slippy map is good as displaying everything, to the detriment of the above mentioned. I firmly believe OSM is getting to a stage where is it on a par, and even superior to what Navteq and Tele Atlas can provide, but I cant help but feel OSM is shooting itself in the foot with what is provided on the main website, which is what people seem to identify as what OpenStreetMap is... however wrong that may be.

Are there any plans to update the main map to be more user friendly? I recognise the need for a map that displays everything for contributors, but maybe the time has come for a map that is both appealing and usable for the general public and a separate layer for OSM contributors? There has been excellent work done by the likes of Skobbler and we have all seen what can be done with the data to make visually appealing maps... but I cannot help but feel the main Mapnik map is losing us both general users and contributors.

Lastly I mean no offence to any of the hard working people that have worked on the Mapnik renderer or the style sheets for this website.

Missing Roads

Posted by ca_hoot on 15 July 2012 in English (English)

Just a quick reminder for UK (or anyone else of course) mappers of the excellent ITO - OSM Analysis Map, activity seems to have tailed off a little bit recently with what seems like only me and a few others spending time adding missing UK roads in.

The recent licence change has removed around 3000 non ODbL compliant roads (with some areas to be run again, so this is sure to increase) according to the latest ITO update. Lets make a big push to get them all added back in!

Currents stats are:

  • Roads Missing from OSM (major) 91,799
  • Roads Missing from OSM (minor) 3,971
  • UK Percentage Complete 89.20%
  • Missing change last day 3,038
  • Missing change last week 2,168
  • Missing change last month -5,059

For anyone that doesn't know the ITO Analysis Map compares UK roads to the OS Locator database from Ordnance Survey, which then can be shown as a layer in JOSM or Potlatch so missing roads can easily be added in. Wiki Page

[Update] See map link for current redaction bot mess in Salford/Manchester.

[Update (again)] To address controversy in the comments. Obviously this kind of data should be used with caution! Don't destroy anyone else's work or rename streets that have been previously surveyed. My main reason for making this post was to highlight how ITO could be used post-redaction bot to identify missing streets etc. Ground surveys are always preferable. Sorry for any confusion.

Location: Unsworth, Bury, Greater Manchester, North West England, England, BL9 8JP, United Kingdom

The new Apple maps for iPhone Icon is interesting to say the least

Posted by ca_hoot on 21 June 2012 in English (English)

Apple maps logo

Not the greatest of advertising - not least because that is Apple's HQ in the bottom right, hundreds of employees can probably see that intersection from their windows.

OS VectorMap District Updated

Posted by ca_hoot on 28 March 2011 in English (English)

Something that may be of interest to UK mappers is that OS VectorMap District has been upgraded from Alpha to Beta release.

Some of the new features:

Foreshore – the inter-tidal area has been created as a feature in its own right. This new polygon means you can show the sea up to either high or low tide level. In the alpha release this was just a white space between two lines.

Land polygons – a Land feature has been added to cover any land areas that are not a feature in the specification (e.g. farmland). This enables users to alter the colour of this feature.

Combined underground/over-ground railway stations - separate feature code created to give greater detail.

Places of worship – not in the alpha release, a selection of these now included.

More details at the link below: