skobbler introduces MapDust.com: A state-of-the-art bug solution

There is a huge gap between passive and active OSM users. In most regions, the map is maintained by a small number of users. Not everyone who intends to improve the map is capable of doing so. OpenStreetMap editors require a learning curve, as editing a map is not intuitive.

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However, there seems to be a much broader willingness to improve the map through the feedback channel. The GPS turn-by-turn navigation skobbler receives up to 1.000 suggestions for improvement per day. We have seized this suggestion and extended the skobbler feedback channel to an independent bug tool for the OpenStreetMap community: MapDust.com – a state-of the art bug tool.

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Bugs can be accessed through the Geo-RSS feed and the MapDust JOSM plug-in

The integration of the feedback channel has significantly simplified providing bug reports for the consumer. The number of incoming suggestions was overwhelming, even if not all of the reports have been helpful or relevant. To date, the feedback channel has been focused on the consumer, and that this why many of the bug reports “got stuck in the channel”.

We are now working on the other – the mapper’s part – to create a Geo-RSS feed and a JOSM plug-in to distribute the bug reports to the location where they can be processed.

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Why create a new tool if similar solutions exist?

We have seen that OpenStreetMap editors are very advanced. However, the tools for consumers to provide input have been neglected. Great editors like JOSM and Potlatch (2) exist as well as tools like the OSM Inspector. We want to provide a system where more input and contributions are received from people who only contribute on an occasional basis.

Filter allows a selective approach towards bug types

We simply wanted to increase the number of contributions by designing a slick and lean user interface. We see enormous potential to improve the map in many different aspects such as bus stops and house numbers.

We have received comments that the skobbler feedback channel contained bugs that are only very selectively relevant. Therefore, with the integration of filters, one can hide bugs that are not of interest.

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The Geo-RSS feed

You can submit suggestions and change requests for a specific region by selecting the desired map view, setting the filters and pressing the “subscribe RSS feed” button.

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Once subscribed, you are provided all new bugs that match the selected region and filters. Each feed post contains a small map view and the corresponding data as well as links to open the bugs directly in the JOSM or Potlatch editors.

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The wish list

Most of the MapDust features have been documented in the Wiki. We have also included a section entitled “wish list”. If there is anything you would like to see changed or added, please add your request to the wish list.

We wish you a happy 2011 and happy bug fixing!

Your skobbler Team

14 thoughts on “skobbler introduces MapDust.com: A state-of-the-art bug solution

  1. Maxolasersquad

    I hope this product matures. There are numerous bugs reported via maptdust in the area that I live in, but none of them contain the information I need to fix them. There’s one that shows a path and says "Missing Street", but there is no street missing on the map for that area. I don’t know if I should just close the bug or not, because I’m sure the person who posted it really did find a missing street, I just don’t have any way to get back with them on exactly where that missing street is.The lack of ability to communicate with the original bug poster is a big issue to me.

  2. Oliver Kühn

    @Maxolasersquad: The product is under avtive development. For Q1 of 2011 we are exactly addressing the problem of contributor communications. For any bug that cannot be reproduced even with local knowledge just close it. A lot of bugs are triggered by software problems rather than map problems. Thanks for you comment!

  3. russnelson

    Okay, I just tried the MapDust plugin. First, if there are no bugs, it gives you a warning that there are no bugs in my area every time I change the visible area. This MUST be fixed. I will remove this plugin immediately after posting this message. Unusable.Second, the first two bugs that I found are "Wrong Turn". This is completely useless without knowing what turn had been advised. Don’t even bother showing them to me unless you also include the information about the turn the person just took which was wrong. Better: tell me what the application told them that they consider to be wrong. That will give me enough information to fix it.

  4. maxolasersquad

    @Andrew: OpenStreetBug is, well, buggy. Case in point, it is not working right now. Plus, the mapdust site has a lot of killer features, like RSS, that makes it much more usable.@Oliver Kühn: That’s good to hear. I really like the ideas that have been implemented in MapDust so far. I’m excited to see the work your team will be pushing out.

  5. neuhausr

    so far, I haven’t found one of these bugs in my area that actually has to do with the map data, it’s all routing problems (ex: turns where there aren’t junction nodes) or things that don’t make any sense without context, as russnelson said. just annoying.

  6. Oliver Kühn

    @russnelson, @neuhausr:(1) The multiple warning issue has been been fixed in the latest version of the JOSM plugin. See http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/JOSM/Plugins/MapDust#News. It might not yet be included in the JOSM package. However, we plan to change the approach completely to make the info less intrusive.(2) You get additional information for bugs that were entered through the skobbler app when clicking on the bug id link in the "Bug Details" tab. A web site opens that shows the trace around the bug. We plan to show these information directly in JOSM in the future.(3) Most bugs are entered by people who would never ever use an OSM editor. We made it as simple as possible to gather local information from a wide range of people. The number of new bugs shows the acceptance among the users. Many of these users have no clue if the the bug is software or map related – they enter all strange or wrong behaviors with good intentions. It is much easer to understand the cause of the problem by people like you. Therefore, it should be no problem to mark software related or irrelevant bugs as "non-reproducable". The large number of contributors and the team behind MapDust are trying their best to improve the map. I think it is inappropriate to just call the solution "annoying" or "unusable".

  7. Pink Duck

    The Skobbler app for Android feels like an alpha release. Use OSMAnd instead, which has far better thought-out design and features. I’ve given up on mapdust.com due to the inordinate number of mystifying bug reports, a number of which I’ve managed to determine are purely the fault of the Skobbler apps themselves. Skobbler doesn’t use show the default OSM maxspeed limits for example, resulting in lots of missing maxspeed reports on residential roads. It also seems unaware of junction=roundabout tagging and mini-roundabouts, and even thinks there are roundabouts where there are none in OSM leading to mystifying roundabout-related bugs. Far too many of the bug reports lack minimum information to do anything with, yet at the same time can’t be sure that there isn’t some actual issue needing to be addressed. Having no-one to communicate with means that they remain. The filters on MapDust sensibly hide all bug reports with default comments of "Enter note…", since these mostly seem to be new users trying out the app or venting their general frustration with it. My favourite reports were the ‘River Thames not being blue’ and ‘B1140 mis-spoken as B1114′ in Skobbler’s speech directions

  8. Apmon

    I think I have mentioned this before, but I’ll mention it again. One thing I think would help would be if the Skobbler app included a bug category "Software", that then does not get included in MapDust. There are quite a number or bug reports that are clearly nothing to do with the mapdata and would benefit from the extra category to reduce the noise from OSMs perspective.An example is Bug http://www.mapdust.com/detail/117511Also, I find it a bit "unfortunate" that to close a bug as irrelevant, it jumps into the details page and you can’t return to the same position anymore, but have to zoom in again afresh.But overall I think it is already done quite well and is something that OSM needs. We just need to figure out how such a feedback system of non-OSMers can actually be made to work with out too much burden on either side, but it has already improved quite a bit and does provide quite a number of useful bug reports if you know where to look.

  9. !i!

    Not bad at all :) But hopefully we will get better details in Bugs (e.g. Max speed from ….to markers).

  10. IrlJidel

    Are you planning to use OSM for addressing rather than Google. Some addressing bugs submitted are due to bad google adress data, not OSM

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