geohacker's Diary Comments

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Observe — photos, traces, way geometry editing and more!

There are 2 polar opposites in Mobile osm editing - StreetComplete/OSM Competionist and Go Map/Vespucci. Between them, there are/were many apps. Where do you plan to fit in with Observe?

Hi! I take your point about being able to draw without having to bother with the many steps to add nodes to create ways. Drawing like that isn’t exactly very performant when it comes to looking up node memberships, associating with existing ways etc. We’ll see what we can do!

In terms of where we see Observe fit in, there are few ways I’ve been personally thinking about. I’m sure other developers have more thoughts. But please consider these are open for further fine tuning. The point is not to prove that Observe is superior to other apps.

  • Get both platforms to use the same app. Comparable experience, performance. Making field workflows less cumbersome and training less of a hassle
  • Observe tries model things based on iD and leave room for customization.
  • If someone wants to build a version for mapping just trees that should be possible. I think this will be kind of the most important thing that Observe will try to do. To allow a range of functionality for mappers to decide how they would like to organize the field mapping experience.
  • We’d like Observe to become more of a survey tool than just a geometry editing tool. With potential integrations to Tasking Manager and other tools
  • Observe should or will likely never replace Mapillary in functionality. Their APIs, product and vision is much superior than just taking pictures on Observe. The goal for Observe was to easily take pictures as you map and associate them to features so you can look at them later as part of the same ecosystem of tools.
  • Observe will be less of a micro-tasking tool than a generic field mapping tool. I have huge respect for tools like StreetComplete and we shouldn’t try to conflate the two.
  • Offer proper offline editing and basic conflict management. Both kind of go hand in hand.
Observe — photos, traces, way geometry editing and more!

Is this Free Software? Any change to get this on F-Droid?

Marcos – that’s a good idea. I think we might be able to do that faster than on the PlayStore. I’ll read more and see if this something our team can do soon. If you have experience and time and are willing to help, please let me know. Thank you!

Observe — photos, traces, way geometry editing and more!

Ilya - thank you for taking the time to give this a shot and your feedback. I want to respond to a few things and also ask your opinion on some.

It saddens me a little that this development seems to be done without actual in-the-field testing

I agree we need to streamline this a lot. But, we have had several groups of people using Observe for various things over the last year. The way editing functionality is new but the workflow is something our teams in Peru have tested a fair bit. It’s true that they are advanced mappers, but we definitely test. We’ve also had groups within HOT giving this a test :)

You could focus on perfecting editing point features — which of all OSM-based apps only Maps.Me does tolerably. Collecting point features (shops, benches, trees, potholes, addresses) it still an unsolved problem in OSM field mapping.

Do you mind going a bit deeper into this and perhaps outline what are the things you wish that’s different in the current landscape of POI mapping in OSM, Observe included? What specifically do you think is unsolved? I’m personally really interested in trying make this better and I’d love if we can primarily focus Observe in this direction, for sure.

What could have been done is free-drawing on top of imagery: few strokes for service roads

I agree this would be a much easier approach to drawing new features and something we would like to do. Perhaps someone can guide us on what the best approach to implement this would be in a ticket keeping in mind how one would handle nodes and memberships. Also very intrigued by the JOSM integration approach. Would love to read more about how you imagine that as well and how it’s different from using traces.

Observe - cross-platform, offline, field mapping tool for OSM

I wasn’t able to log in with my usual OSM credentials.

Hi ndrw6 - you’d have to create an account on the OSM development API. This version of Observe doesn’t talk to the production API because we don’t to add test data there. You can create an account if you go here

Observe - cross-platform, offline, field mapping tool for OSM

Hey Martijn - I’m glad you are excited! I’m going to open up tickets for the things you raised. Some of them like telling there’s presets that can be searched, and also notifying that changes will be uploaded makes a lot of sense.

The zoom/pan inertia is not expected - what phone are you using? At least for a bit, I think we’ll want to point the app to OSM dev. It just gives us more time to fix obvious bugs and design issues. This feedback from you all is absolutely A+.

Observe - cross-platform, offline, field mapping tool for OSM

Hey alexkemp!

Are the tiles that you download compatible with MAPS.ME (‘MapsWithMe’)?

Good question, unfortunately no. The offline tiles from both apps may not be the same. We use react-native-mapbox-gl to download map tiles, and integrate OSM data as XML. And it does sound very challenging to make the data shareable between these two apps. Sorry!

Observe - cross-platform, offline, field mapping tool for OSM

Ilya - thank you for taking the time to test, really appreciate this from someone who has experience building! I won’t try to respond to each of your points, but I’ll open tickets on Github to the ones I think are bugs or absolutely interface problems, and it’ll be great if you chime in there too.

Overall, if you feel like it’s not polished enough, that’s understandable because this is just an MVP and we do intend to improve :)

In my post above, and the guide, we do talk about how presets work. At the moment, we don’t include all presets. Only a subset. And the search is limited to only presets that are compatible with point geometry. So if you don’t see something, that’s likely because of these reasons. Some of the other issues like reseting location while switching layers are known problem that have been captured and have explanation.

We’ll open a separate thread on changeset comments, and batching edits per changeset. I think it makes sense to batch edits into changeset. There are some ideas on the table and would be great to see what everyone thinks.

If you run into specific bugs, would you open tickets so we can try and reproduce? We’ll also need to know what device you’re using. Things like ‘notifications not going away’, for instance, I’m not able to reproduce on an iPhone X and Pixel 2. Same with the problem you report with ‘Zoom into edit’ button.

Thanks for all the links!

Observe - cross-platform, offline, field mapping tool for OSM

Hi Rory, thanks! You can ignore the TestFairy privacy policy because we’re not sending them any data from the app. It’s just an easy way to drop the apk and ipa files, instead of having them in different places. If you’re on iPhone, you’d be sending test fairy your device id. That can’t be avoided if you want to download the app because apple doesn’t allow test builds unless the device is verified.

Thanks for pointing out about StreetComplete. I’ll take a look! We’re not against batching changes, just thought of trying this but very open to feedback. Thank you!

Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, adopts OpenStreetMap as its official tourist map

This is a fantastic story, Stereo! Thank you for sharing!

Preparing accurate history and caching changesets

Hey PierZen - have you tried using - OSMCha let’s you query between time periods and filter by a bbox, and then visualise each changeset.

Preparing accurate history and caching changesets

mmd - Yes. An augmented diff may be updated after it has been published. There’s currently no way for consumers to know when a file has been updated. We do this using S3 notifications through AWS SNS, but I’m not sure how best to expose this externally.

Preparing accurate history and caching changesets

tyr_asd - Yes!

The state of the latest augmented diff is in a file called latest, like

You can request for an augmented diff this way: