OWL/History Tab Beta are back + UI feedback/ideas needed!

Posted by ppawel on 5 March 2013 in English (English)

After few weeks of rewriting large parts of the code and reimporting the database, OWL API and History Tab Beta are back on-line.

Currently the replication is running smoothly so new changes should be appearing within few minutes of uploading them to the main database.

History is constantly being processed but there is a lot of data to go through and it will take a long time (a month?) before you can check your edit from 2011 in the new history tab.

So what's new? On the frontend side - not much. However, backend side should be much more future- and feature-proof, e.g. my personal goal is to make OWL a source of up-to-date worldwide vector tiles so that the OWL API can be used with Kothic JS to render OSM data in the browser - this will create great opportunities for new visualizations as there will no longer be the need for heavy server-side stuff to create new styles.

However, for now (and probably weeks/months to come) I will be focusing on finishing what I started - the new history tab. There is still a lot of work to do, especially on the frontend side (the UI I came up with so far is not very usable so any advice/mockups/tweaks are very welcome). On the backend side there are things like support for relations and better RSS feeds that are still in the TODO list.

In any case, enjoy the beta and as always, report any issues/ideas on Github.

May the owl be with you!


Comment from craigloftus on 5 March 2013 at 10:29

Yay! Good work. It is great to have OWL back, and the history tab UI is looking pretty good already.

Is the RSS/Atom feed back as well? I used to find that really useful.

Comment from Tom Chance on 5 March 2013 at 11:34


It seems to be drawing weird diagonal lines where the object that has been edited extends outside the bbox of the changeset, for example click on the history tab here:

That big right-angled corner is an incomplete residential area:

Comment from ppawel on 5 March 2013 at 13:33

@craigloftus: Yeah, it should work (and works for me).

@Tom: Thanks for the report, I will take a look.

Comment from Tom Chance on 5 March 2013 at 13:52

More suggestions for tweaking the UI...

The title of each changeset and object should just expand the div in the sidebar, with a separate link to take you to the OSM changeset/object page. The current mixed behaviour is confusing.

When you select a changeset or object, the colour should change more noticeably. It would be easier to see what is going on if each changeset started life as grey lines, which turned blue when you select the changeset or object.

Something of a holy grail would be a visualisation of modified or deleted geometry, which may be beyond the scope of your project. Changesets very often include lots of ways, that may have simply been touched or moved a tiny amount. But sometimes in among the changes somebody has moved a footpath quite significantly, or deleted a building. I find it so time consuming to spot these that I don't even bother trying.

Comment from ppawel on 5 March 2013 at 17:10

@Tom: Great suggestions, thanks. I will try to merge those somehow with what people have already suggested on Github.

About visualizing modified/deleted geometry - what exactly do you have in mind? Filtering out "insignificant" changes? Deleted geometry should already be shown although I see there's some kind of bug in the frontend that shows it as "previous geometry" so you have to hover the "back arrow" to display it. I will correct that.

Modified geometry is also shown - you can hover the "back arrow" to see previous geometry - this is kind of confusing UI-wise, suggestions welcome how to expose this feature better.

Comment from ppawel on 6 March 2013 at 07:52

@Tom: About the strange "artifact" you found above - it is caused by the fact that areas (landuse etc.) are now proper polygons in OWL database and are served by the API as such. But at the same time they are served in tiles so what you see in your link above is a tile with a landuse polygon which contains only the part of the landuse that actually changed. This looks strange, not sure how to solve it. I will check the Leaflet styling options to see if it's possible to distinguish polygons somehow (e.g. with a fill).

Comment from ikonor on 7 March 2013 at 22:48

I'm still amazed that OWL is now actually showing detailed changes.

Also excited to hear about plans for vector tiles.

What are the plans for the OWL Viewer? When I first saw it showing change geometries, I thought there might be some synergies with the Augmented Change Viewer I'm working on. But after the switch to Leaflet I'm not so sure anymore.

Comment from ppawel on 8 March 2013 at 03:33

@ikonor: Thanks for kind words, the current problem is that the UI is not keeping up with the backend/API so there is a lot of stuff that is possible (like showing better way history pages - geometry for each version + way "sub-versions" - when a node changes currently there is no new way version - OWL has that so you can track actual way history) but I haven't had the time to implement frontend.

I do no plan to work on OWL Viewer anymore - I have precious little time left as it is and I plan to spend it on bringing OWL on production and then adding new features based on OWL to the main site ( instead of working on separate/standalone applications.

Comment from MKnight on 13 March 2013 at 23:18

Great work, thx a lot!

Mike (aka dexter in IRC)

Comment from MKnight on 13 March 2013 at 23:23

Oops, forgotten something ;) One idea: wanna get the future-feature to exclude someone in the output (for example my own changes)

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