dankarran's Diary

Recent diary entries

I wonder if we can improve the way maps of places can be accessed on using short, friendly URLs...

If you look at pages on the wiki, they can (often) be easily accessed by typing something as simple as or because the wiki software will check for the nearest match and send you there.

On the main OSM site, we have a 404 page (see e.g. which currently doesn't do much, but could be put to better use to redirect people to either a known place or a search results page.

When I say known places, I mean we could include redirects for specific countries (e.g. using their ISO country codes and information about their bounding box. We could also do something similar for places in a more general sense, but because there will be overlap there, maybe a search result would be best for that.

Is there currently a way of linking directly to a search result on the main OSM site? I couldn't spot one, but I may have overlooked it.

Any thoughts? Would this be useful? Any drawbacks in terms of losing the static 404 page?

Icons for data browser pages

Posted by dankarran on 16 May 2010 in English.

I posted a while back about some tinkering I'd been doing with the OpenStreetMap data browser pages, adding icons to nodes and ways when they're shown in a list. I'm happy to see that TomH has now pushed those changes live:

There are some icons missing still, but this can now be easily improved by adding an icon and a line to the stylesheet. If you see anything missing that you'd like to add (and have an icon for - preferably the same used in the Mapnik stylesheet), please leave a comment here or even add them yourself if you know how to use Git.

I've been having a bit of a tinker with the changeset browser pages (e.g.) this evening, trying to improve them a little. It's great to have the browser as a reference, but it's not always easy to pick out objects that have tags on them unless they have a name tag, which would highlight them. For example, picking out nodes in a highway way that have traffic lights on them.

Demo version of icons

By getting rails to add some CSS classes, generated based on a subset of popular tag keys - such as amenity, shop, railway, highway, etc. - and their values to the links, a stylesheet could insert icons either as a generic icon for that tag key, or a more specific one for a particular key=value pair where available. The icons could be the same as the ones used in Mapnik for a bit of consistency, and would also allow for this same behaviour to be exposed in the data browser pane on the map.

The links would look something like:
<a href="/browse/node/296615763" class="node amenity restaurant">Gaucho Grill (296615763, v2)</a>

.. and the CSS something like:

a.node { padding-left: 20px; } { background: transparent url(shop.png) no-repeat center left; } { background: transparent url(restaurant.png) no-repeat center left; }

Is this something that people may be interested in seeing?

Micro-mapping mainline train stations

Posted by dankarran on 26 November 2009 in English.

If you have a mainline train station near you in the UK, you may be interested to know that you can now use the maps from the Network Rail site (e.g. this one for Birmingham New Street) to start filling out the details inside the station. Of course you could just go to the station and map it out using Mapzen POI collector or Walking Papers, but you're much more likely to be stopped and searched :)

I wrote to Network Rail recently asking if it was okay for us to use the location of points of interest from the maps, and they replied to say they're happy for us to derive that information from the maps as long as we reference where the information came from. I would suggest adding a source = Network Rail tag.

Location: South Bank, Waterloo, London Borough of Lambeth, London, Greater London, England, SE1 9NL, United Kingdom

Self intersecting relations

Posted by dankarran on 9 August 2009 in English.

Trying to add the Isle of Man cycle network routes to OpenStreetMap, I've come across a problem trying to add a self-intersecting one (where the route joins itself again in the centre). JOSM won't seem to let me add two stretches that I need to add in. Does anyone have tips on how to get this working?

The missing section is the A26 from Ballasalla to St Marks:

Location: Strooan Mooar, Ballasalla, Malew, Rushen, Isle of Man

OpenStreetMapping on an iPod Touch

Posted by dankarran on 28 January 2008 in English.

On my way back from getting some lunch today I tried out my new iPod Touch as a tool for quickly taking notes of roads that I passed (all of which had already been skeleton-mapped using the Yahoo imagery). The handy little Notes application allowed me to tap out the street names as I passed them so I could enter them onto the map when I got back home.

- Small and very portable
- Nice on-screen touch keyboard for taking quick notes

- Spell checker corrects things automatically, which doesn't work well for street names and abbreviations
- No direct access to OpenStreetMap for immediate editing
- Easy to walk into lamp posts or trip over broken paving stones
- Prime target for thieves

I think I'll stick to the traditional pen and paper for now, at least then I can draw little sketches to aid my memory as well as just taking notes of street names.

Stuttgart's Bohnenviertel

Posted by dankarran on 19 October 2007 in English.

Most of the Bohnenviertel and red light district in Stuttgart is now mapped. I went down there after work yesterday with the intention of mapping the area, but shied away, feeling very conscious that I was getting some strange looks, stopping on every corner to note down street names. It was a little earlier in the day today so it didn't feel quite so intimidating.

I also filled out some more bits of the Innenstadt while I was in town. There is an anonymous mapper in the centre as well... if it's you, maybe send me a message so we can coordinate?

Location: 70182, Baden-Württemberg, 70182, Germany

The already-started map

Posted by dankarran on 17 October 2007 in English.

Over the past few days I had to travel to somewhere I rarely go, so I took a bit of time to do some mapping there at the same time. I got back to my computer to find that actually most of that had already been mapped by somebody else. It's a great feeling when you see that happen as it just helps emphasis how the project is really accelerating in its coverage.

Luckily there were other bits I'd noted down that I could add to that area, so all was not wasted, plus it gives you a chance to verify that existing work. Now if only we had a way of giving thumbs up to data that had been verified by another user...

Location: 71032, Baden-Württemberg, 71032, Germany

Improved upon the friends feature

Posted by dankarran on 8 October 2007 in English.

I've spent some time this evening improving the friends feature here on, so you will soon be able to add and remove friends (they'll get a notification by email when you add them) and view that list of friends from your profile page. Hopefully soon we'll be able to do some more things like filtering diary entries by your friends, etc.

In Berlin for the weekend

Posted by dankarran on 9 September 2007 in English.

I came up to Berlin this weekend for the Europe Photobloggers meetup. Before coming I checked on the OpenStreetMap coverage and was amazed at how complete it was. So much so that I didn't really have any way of helping out with the mapping whilst out and about taking photos. Ah well, it did give me more of a chance to take photos instead of making notes about every street we walked!

I can't wait for mobile mapping tools that'll give instant access to (OpenStreet)Maps of the areas around you so you can see what's missing when you're actually there and be able to add in extra bits where necessary :)

Location: 10623, Charlottenburg, Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, Berlin, Germany

I was experimenting in Potlatch last night with trying to add an outline of Castletown, Isle of Man and all seemed to be going well. Until, that is, I downloaded that same area in JOSM so I could use some WMS mapping data for reference.

Pretty much everything that was completely enclosed within the new outline I'd just drawn in Potlatch didn't seem to exist in the data JOSM was showing me. Most of the streets (nodes, segments and ways) of Castletown had disappeared from the dataset it seemed.

Confused, I checked back to a previously saved copy of the data and got some IDs to check against the history data through the API. The ones I checked were all showing as being there. And sure enough, when I started JOSM from scratch, the data was once again there.

It was very weird, and I still don't understand why it happened... It sounds like a bug somewhere, but where, I don't know!